By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles are getting a much-deserved week off. After a thrashing of the Denver Broncos, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is giving his players the week off to enjoy themselves a bit. The focus is set to come back and finish the regular season on a strong note, with a handful of road games down the stretch. At 8-1, the Eagles own the best record in the NFL and sit atop the NFC playoff picture. It’s a good spot to be in, but there will be plenty to watch in Week 10 while the Eagles are getting the week off.
The new Super Bowl favorite
The New England Patriots have been the easy favorite to win the Super Bowl this season, and understandably so. However, after reaching the bye week at 8-1 and sitting in a good spot in the playoff picture, the Eagles are the new favorite to win it all, according to Bovada and Las Vegas’ Westgate SuperBook. The Eagles are receiving 4/1 odds from each sportsbook this week, moving past the Patriots. Both sportsbooks have the Patriots at 9/2 odds. That doesn’t guarantee the Eagles are going to win, let alone play in the Super Bowl, but the success of the season is not being taken lightly by the experts in the desert. And that sentiment appears to be spreading.
ESPN analyst Ryan Clark said on SportsCenter this week there will be an All-Pennsylvania Super Bowl between the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. That would be fun.
Tamba Hali says the Cowboys are better than the Eagles
Not everybody is pumping up the Eagles, of course. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali has played against the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys this season. After his Chiefs lost to the Cowboys, Hali suggested the Cowboys are the best team in the league. Keep in mind, Hali has also played against the Patriots and Steelers this season, so he has seen some of the best the NFL has to offer at this point in the year. Asked to clarify if he thinks the 5-3 Cowboys are better than the 8-1 Eagles, Hali confirmed that is what he believes. This opinion may be influenced in part from having just lost to Dallas and may reflect more on a Week 2 performance than what the Eagles have done since losing on the road against Kansas City in the beginning of the season.
Offensive line receiving praise
The success of the Eagles offense has many key ingredients, including an MVP-caliber quarterback in Carson Wentz and a running game that is proving to be effective with an assortment of running backs. Of course, the success of any offense starts up front with the offensive line, and the Eagles’ offensive line is receiving plenty of praise for the job they are doing in creating opportunities this season. The offensive line was eye-popping against what was a highly-regarded Broncos defense on Sunday, paving the way for a rushing average of 5.3 yards per carry. And as noted by NFL.com, the Eagles became the first team all season to not allow single sack or QB hit against the Broncos.
What To Watch This Weekend
Eagles fans will get a chance to scout the competition a bit more this weekend, beginning Thursday night. The Seattle Seahawks are coming up on the schedule for the Eagles on Dec. 3 in what could be a pivotal game down the stretch for playoff positioning. The Seahawks just lost to Washington and play at Arizona on Thursday night in a key NFC West game, with both teams trailing the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are also on Philadelphia’s schedule the week after playing Seattle. The 6-2 Rams should get a win this weekend to keep the pressure on as they host the Deshaun Watson-less Houston Texans.
The big game to watch, of course, will be the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Atlanta Falcons. With the Cowboys on deck after the bye week, the Eagles will get a look at their next opponent and will know what kind of a lead they will have on the Cowboys when they clash two Sunday nights from now. Elsewhere, Washington hosts the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings lead the NFC North Division and Washington could hand them a loss to keep them a little farther from catching the Eagles in the NFC standings. Another division leader to keep an eye on, the New Orleans Saints, are on the road against the surprising Buffalo Bills.