The Philadelphia Eagles are feeling it right now. At 8-1, they’re at least two games better than every other team in the NFL. They’ve won seven games in a row. They just pounded the Broncos, lighting up a once-proud defense for 51 points. They look unstoppable.
The Eagles are pretty much guaranteed a spot in the playoffs at this point. Since 1990, every team that has started 8-1 has made it to the postseason.
But they’re setting their sights higher than just than breaking a three-year playoff drought:
For Eagles fans, this is where the BUT comes in. Yes, both of their trips to the Super Bowl came in seasons when they started 8-1. BUT the Eagles also lost both Super Bowls and haven’t won a championship since 1960. That’s longer than the Browns!
Eagles fans, go watch for this a minute. This next paragraph isn’t for your eyes.
Eagles haters, hey how’s it going? So, I’ve got some bad news. If you thought drunk Eagles fans were hard to take, think about how “drunk with the power of a Super Bowl” Eagles fans would be. Like, you know your mom’s friend Cathy, who never stops bragging about her perrrrrfect daughter? Now imagine Cathy as a guard in the Stanford prison experiment. That’s Eagles fans if they are even on the verge of a Super Bowl appearance. If you even know a friend of a friend whose cousin is an Eagles fan, you may as well fake your death to avoid them for those two weeks between the NFC Championship and Super Bowl LII, because they will be that unbearable.
OK, Eagles fans, you can come back now.
So, is this a trend, or will third time be the charm for the Eagles’ dreams of finally winning a Super Bowl?
Panic index: No team is punching its ticket to the NFL’s biggest game in November. Around the same time last year, we were wondering the same thing about a one-loss Cowboys team. They didn’t get a chance to lose the Super Bowl because they didn’t win a single playoff game. Just let the season play out first.
The 49ers’ playoff hopes could be over historically early
I mean, this one is obvious, right? But they could actually be eliminated in Week 10! It would make them the first team eliminated with seven weeks to go in 50 years.
TIEBREAKERS: SF will be eliminated from playoff contention w/ loss this wk (NYG); would be earliest elim (7 wks to play) since DEN in 1967!— Joe Ferreira (@JoeNFL) November 7, 2017
The 49ers made a splash in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, but Kyle Shanahan doesn’t seem to be in a rush to get him in there. When you see that the team is essentially eliminated from playoff contention already, it’s hard to blame him.
They’ll take their No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, prepare Garoppolo for next season, and keep things moving. Anything else would be a waste.
Panic index: Whether or not this happens this week, the 49ers can put the nails in the coffin on the 2017 season. It’s not the worst thing in the world, if you’re a fan.
Julio, are you OK man?
Julio Jones had the drop of all drops this past Sunday against the Panthers.
With the Falcons down 10, Jones dropped a dime from Matt Ryan, with nobody around. It seemed like a sure thing as the ball was in the air, and he made his way to the 15-, 10-, and 5-yard lines. But it wasn’t.
Luke Kuechly thinks that a hex on Jones caused the drop.
“I think the fans had a little impact on that. They put some juju on him or something,” Kuechly said jokingly, via NFL.com. “He's a great player, and that doesn't happen a lot. So maybe the fans put a hex on him, cast a spell.”
It was a rarity for Jones:
Julio Jones dropped what would have been a 39-yard touchdown on 4th-and-7, the first time he's dropped a pass in the end zone since 2012.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 5, 2017
Panic index: The drop was bad, and the Falcons offense continues to struggle. Individually, Jones will be fine. The Falcons collectively? Well ...
Bill Belichick must not be watching the 2017 Broncos
The Patriots will visit the Broncos this week, and Bill Belichick is preparing his defense for this high-powered, dynamic Denver offense. Wait, what?
Bill Belichick on the Broncos offense: "Offensively they’re very explosive."— Nora Princiotti (@NoraPrinciotti) November 6, 2017
“Explosive” is not a word we would use to describe this offense.
Let’s loosely define an explosive play as a gain of at least 12 yards on a run and 16 yards on a pass. We wouldn’t look at the Broncos’ per-play average of 4.9 yards and think, man, that’s one explosive offense. But then again, we’re not Bill Belichick.
The Broncos do have offensive talent capable of burning defenses with big plays, particularly Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. But they’ve got Brock Osweiler throwing them the ball right now. He’s averaging 5.4 yards per attempt this season, and averages just 6 yards per throw over his career.
Panic index: Maybe Belichick is just being polite, though that’s not typically a huge priority for him. Or more likely, he doesn’t want his defense — which struggled mightily against the pass early in the season — to overlook even the Broncos offense. Any given Sunday, and all that.
Though, to be fair, “explosive” is also an adjective often paired with diarrhea, so ...
It’ll be almost impossible for the Buccaneers to get on track
It’s Week 10, and the Buccaneers are 2-6. Mike Evans sees the writing on the wall.
#Bucs WR Mike Evans: “We are very bad. We are too talented to be 2-6. We are in a bad spot and have to come together. Time is running out.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 5, 2017
Tampa Bay was crowned an offseason winner after adding DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. And fans fell in love with Gerald McCoy and Chris Godwin on Hard Knocks. This team was expected to contend for the NFC South and maybe even have a shot at a Super Bowl. That does not appear to be in the cards.
So what happened? Despite all that talent, the offense is averaging just 19.8 points per game. It’s partly because the defense can’t get off the field. They’re ranked 29th in the league after allowing opponents to convert 55 third downs this season. They can’t get any pressure on quarterbacks, and they’re ranked dead last in the league with just eight sacks on the season.
And there’s not much reason to hope the Bucs can turn it around, at least not this week. The team is sidelining Jameis Winston for at least two weeks until the sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder fully heals. And Evans will be out this week serving a suspension for blindsiding Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore after he had a sideline altercation with Winston during the Bucs’ loss to the Saints on Sunday.
This isn’t the first time Evans has lamented the state of the Buccaneers. He said essentially the same thing after the team fell to 2-5 with a 17-3 loss to the Panthers.
“I wish I knew why we weren’t starting fast and finishing fast,” Evans said via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t know what it is. Like I said before the season, on paper we are an amazing team, but we’re just not as good as we thought we were, so we’ve just got to pick it up. The good thing about it [is] we have nine games left.”
Panic index: Now the Bucs just have eight games left, and Evans will miss one of them. Winston will miss even more. And this is looking like a lost season for Tampa Bay.
Ben McAdoo might not have much time to save his job
McAdoo denied claims his team had quit in Week 9’s 51-17 home loss to the Rams, but ... c’mon. New York played disinterested defense as Los Angeles rolled all over them, playing with all the intensity of a smoking break in the second half.
After the game, he told the press no one’s position was safe from the shakeup that would mark the Giants’ second half, even Eli Manning. The only problem is there’s not enough talent on the NY roster to gain anything from benchings. The offense has been ravaged by injuries, and Orleans Darkwa has risen to the top of the team’s finest new tradition: A rotation of utterly frustrating and underwhelming tailbacks.
Things are even more grim on the defensive side, where a once-fearsome pass rush is now just Jason Pierre-Paul and a bunch of cardboard cutouts. New York’s inability to rush the passer has weakened what should be an upper-tier secondary. The Giants are allowing opposing QBs to post a 101.0 passer rating this fall; that figure was just 78.7 — second in the league — in 2016.
The wheels have fallen off, and even if McAdoo wants to take a drastic step in a Hail Mary attempt to fix things, his options look grim. Behind an ineffective Manning lies Geno Smith — a quarterback who couldn’t win a starting role with the dumpster-fire Jets — and rookie Davis Webb, who has yet to be activated for an NFL game in his pro career.
Panic index: Better start packing that hair gel and your array of mustache combs, Ben.