After their victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, the Eagles playoff chances skyrocketed. They jumped from a 34% chance to make the postseason, all the way up 61%. Minnesota’s loss to Los Angeles played a role as well. But the point stands, the Eagles are in the driver’s seat for the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC.
Now that the Eagles are on the door step of reaching postseason play, the question we should all be asking ourselves is how far can this team realistically go?
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The Eagles formula for success has proven to be sustainable this season. Running the football, controlling time of possession, and winning the turnover battle has gotten them to this point. And if they’re going to advance past the wildcard round of the playoffs, they’re going to need to continue to play that brand of football.
But at the end of the day, the Eagles won’t make serious noise in the postseason if they don’t get outstanding play from their quarterback Jalen Hurts.
If there’s one thing that’s held the Eagles back from being a clear cut Super Bowl team this season, it’s been the play of their quarterback. They have a top-10 defensive unit in every major category and they’re the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL.
Through the air, the Eagles have struggled all season and it hasn’t changed much during their second-half resurgence. Heading into Week 17, Philly’s offense ranks 26th in passing yards, 25th in passing touchdowns, 13th in net yards gained per attempt, 26th in completion percentage, and 17th in passer rating.
Sooner or later, the Eagles offense will need to rely on Hurts to win them a ball game. Up until this point, he hasn’t proven that he’s capable of doing that.
While, yes, having the ability to run the ball at will against your opponent is an invaluable trait to have in the postseason, but the team with the best quarterback prevails more often than not. We see this play out year in and year out in the NFL playoffs.
Even if we go back to the Eagles own Super Bowl, it was the arm of Nick Foles that won them that championship, despite having a stacked team from top to bottom and being one of the best rushing teams in football.
The reality of the 2021 Eagles is that Hurts has held them back from being a legitimate contender. That probably won’t change come playoff time, unfortunately.
That doesn’t make this season a failure, though. They may still be able to win at least one playoff game riding their defense and rushing attack. And even reaching the postseason in a ‘re-tooling’ season is a success in my book.