They say making a push for the Super Bowl is all about getting hot at the right time. The New York Giants are certainly proof of that, winning their last 5 straight after a somewhat tumultuous regular season that saw them eek by the Eagles and Cowboys for the NFC East crown.
The Patriots, well, they’ve been hot for the majority of the season, going 13-3 in the regular season and winning the AFC East. Philadelphia was decimated by the Patriots in week 12 at home 38-20, in a game that wasn’t even as close as that score indicates. The Eagles did split the season series with New York en route to a 5-1 NFC East record.
The thing that really separates the Patriots from Philadelphia is consistency. They rarely make the huge mistake that can turn the momentum over to their opposition, and when their opponent slips up, New England generally capitalizes. In addition, the New England defense that has been much maligned all season for being “one of the worst in the league” was, in all reality, not that bad. Coming into the playoffs the Patriots were 14th in scoring defense. Their pass defense, however, was 31st in the league, which is understandable when one takes into account the fact that the Patriots were ahead in a lot of games which forced their opponents to throw.
What I think will help Philadelphia close the gap between themselves and New England (as well as the other “elite” teams in the NFL) is a few pieces on defense, particularly LB and a veteran Safety, as well as time together in the offseason to develop continuity and a rapport. The Eagles offense, when playing well, can keep up with any team in the league in terms of scoring points, as their number 8 ranking league-wide indicates.
It’s going to take hard work in the offseason to get the defense to continue the growth that began to come to fruition at the end of the season. If that happens, however, and the Eagles add some playmakers on defense, the Eagles are going to be talked about as a favorite again heading into next season…which means there’s a good chance they will go 8-8 again.