Why Do the Eagles Seem Mediocre?

Louis Roussel, the Louisiana-based trainer of Risen Star, who won the Preakness and the Belmont in 1988, famously said, "Champions don't win by noses and necks. Champions dominate their competition."

Which brings us to this year's Philadelphia Eagles.

Even though they lead the entire NFL with an 8-1 record, the Eagles have yet to win a game by more than two scores so far this season. By contrast, Dallas and San Francisco each have five such wins, Baltimore and Buffalo each have three, and Miami has two, including a 70-20 blasting of Denver, the highest point total scored by an NFL team since 1966.

Yet interestingly, the Chiefs opened as a mere 2 1/2-point favorite at home against the Eagles on Monday night — a game that is being billed as "Super Bowl LVII I/II," given the fact that both teams will be coming off a bye week, as they would be if it was the real thing.

But can't Philadelphia's inability to dominate opponents be blamed on the schedule?

It turns out that the answer is no.

While it is true that the 17 games they are playing in 2023 are against opponents that had a combined winning percentage of .565 in 2022, the highest such figure in the league, the Eagles have played their first nine games against teams that are 39-46 (in 2023), which is a .459 winning percentage (subtracting their eight losses to the Eagles and their one win over them, the total becomes 38-38 — but still).

However, their next five games will be a helluva tester, as Bobby Womack sang half a century ago: After the Chiefs, the Eagles will host the Bills and the 49ers, then travel to Dallas (winners of 12 in a row at home) and Seattle — a team that has beaten them seven consecutive times. That quintet has a combined record of 30-16 — and after that stretch has run its course, the Eagles may very well be looking up at "America's Team" in a division that has not had a repeat champion since 2004.

Chip Kelly was the proverbial stopped clock that gives the correct time twice a day when he pointed out that big people beat up little people — and as such, it is difficult for an undersized team to dominate opponents: the four running backs on the Eagle roster average 5'8 3/4" and 207 3/4 pounds — tiny even by today's standards, their starting linebackers, 6'1" and 231 (where have you gone, Bill Bergey?).

Did someone say "finesse team?" And that's everything you don't want to be in a market that claims to be "blue collar" (and they have the unmitigated gall to refer to Dallas as the "Cowgirls") — something that no doubt gives Pittsburgh fans a big-time chuckle.

Buffalo, perhaps the NFL's most colossal underachiever this season at 5-5, has struggled on natural grass for the longest time (as in 50-85 dating all the way back to 1995), but any other victory for the Eagles in their next five games would have to be considered an upset — and the current state of their secondary brings to mind something that Phil Simms once said of Buddy Ryan's secondary during the first two or three years that Ryan was there: that any high school quarterback could throw for 300 yards against them.

Well, Dak Prescott threw for 374 yards against them last week, and on Monday night they will face the ultimate "gunslinger" in Patrick Mahomes.

It figures to be a long night indeed for the 28th-ranked Philadelphia pass defense.

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