Eagles Stop the Bleeding

Way back in 1934, the Dorsey Brothers, one year before they broke up over the song I'll Never Say "Never Again" Again, released the single What a Difference a Day Makes, which was later popularized by Dinah Washington in 1959.

Well, Week 16 in the NFL sang "What a Difference a Week Makes."

In the first game of the Christmas Day tripleheader (made possible by the vagaries of the calendar), the Raiders, 10-point underdogs, went into Kansas City and shocked the Chiefs 20-14, preventing Kansas City from wrapping up an eighth straight AFC West title, and essentially guaranteeing that Patrick Mahomes will play his first postseason game ever on the road.

In the holiday's second game, the Eagles snapped their three-game losing streak, sealing the victory by intercepting a pass in the end zone on the game's final play, which not only clinched at least the 5 seed in the NFC playoffs for them, but placed them firmly in the driver's seat to become the first repeat champions of the NFC East since 2004, with a 33-25 victory over the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field, handing the Giants their 11th consecutive loss at that venue.

It had been a series of clinchings for the Eagles, who clinched a playoff berth when Atlanta and Green Bay lost on December 17. Then they clinched at least the 6 seed when Minnesota lost to Detroit on Christmas Eve.

With Philadelphia's win, PlayoffStatus.com now gives the Eagles an 88% chance to win the division.

Furthermore, the Eagle defense turned in its second straight superb effort by holding an opponent under 300 total yards: the Giants could manage only 292 yards against Philly, a week after Seattle gained 297 yards in a 20-17 upset victory over the Eagles.

Are the Eagles, or at least their defense, peaking at the right time?

Maybe Eagles fans, notorious for sounding the proverbial alarm, will now give that a rest — especially since the Eagles will be hosting the lowly Arizona Cardinals, who will get at least the second overall pick in the 2024 draft if they lose their last two games, on New Year's Eve (this is why the NFL needs to implement a draft lottery).

Jalen Hurts even had a 300-yard game yesterday, completing 24-of-38 for 301 yards and 1 touchdown (he also had a rushing TD, on a "tush push," which his fantasy owners certainly appreciated).

The Eagles even rushed for 170 yards (34 by Hurts), silencing critics who wondered why they weren't running the ball more often.

In the nightcap, Lamar Jackson improved his record to a mind-boggling 20-1 against NFC teams with a 33-19 upset at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Brock Purdy threw four interceptions in the game before paying a visit to the dreaded "medical tent" (49ers left tackle Trent Williams also had to leave the game, so the plot thickens).

Could the Eagles actually get the NFC's top playoff seed for the second year in a row — something that didn't seem possible as recently as Saturday?

Stranger things have happened.

Then again, strange things strongly tend to happen in the NFL.

Which is why the NFL is so captivating.

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