The Philadelphia Eagles have already declared the Dream Team “dead”, but they only meant the nickname, not the team itself. They still remain confident that they’re talented enough and have enough time to turn their sinking ship around.
But do that? Five weeks into the season they’ve been a disaster. They’ve won only one game and given up 132 points – tied for most in the NFC. Their explosive quarterback, Michael Vick, has become turnover prone. Their coach, Andy Reid, is already sitting on a seat that’s on fire.
Hard as it is to believe, their last win was more than a month ago on Opening Day.
There’s also not much reason to think things will get better. Still looming on their schedule are the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots, the New York Jets and five division games. They’re 1-4 and need to finish 7-4 just to get to .500 – and that might not be enough for a playoff berth in the NFC.
Is it impossible? No. Difficult? Yes. And keep in mind that the more the former Dream Team falters the more intense the pressure will become and the more difficult a playoff run will get. It’s hard to look at the schedule in a vacuum, but if you could, here’s a look at what the Eagles are facing and a prediction of the outcome.
It’s not a pretty sight:
Sunday at Washington – The Redskins are not only 3-1, they’re playing mistake-free football and look the most like an old NFC East team that can run the ball and dominate both lines of scrimmage. The mistake-free part is the opposite of what’s happening in Philly.
Prediction: Loss, 1-5
Bye – If ever a team needed a week off to regroup, it’s this one.
Oct. 30 vs. Cowboys – It could be a very ugly return home for the Eagles, but the Cowboys aren’t exactly the NFL’s most disciplined team. Plus, despite what’s happening this year, Reid is a brilliant coach and he’s a good bet to have his team ready with an extra week to prepare.
Prediction: Win, 2-5
Nov. 7 vs. Bears – The Bears defense is tough (despite their bad game against Detroit), but maybe more concerning for the Eagles is that the Bears Matt Forte may be one of the better running backs in the league. The Eagles are very susceptible to the run, which means this could be a big day for Forte.
Prediction: Loss, 2-6
Nov. 13 vs. Cardinals – Game three of a three-game home stand against a team that doesn’t travel very well. Cards quarterback Kevin Kolb knows his old team, but more importantly they know him. Figure Reid knows how to confuse and beat him, too.
Prediction: Win, 3-6
Nov. 20 at Giants – The Giants beat them last time, but the Eagles out-played them for much of the game and killed themselves with mistakes. That can happen again, obviously, but the Eagles have the receivers to torch the Giants’ secondary. This seems like a season series destined to split.
Prediction: Win, 4-6
Nov. 27 vs. Patriots – The way the Eagles’ defense has played so far this year, they likely will be no match for the most explosive offense in the NFL. The Patriots have way too many weapons and are too smart to lose to a team that has become turnover prone.
Prediction: Loss, 4-7
Dec. 1 at Seattle – The Seahawks are sometimes a different team at home, and trips across the country are never easy. They are a beatable team, though, with a questionable run game and a shaky passing offense. They also likely won’t have a good defensive answer for Michael Vick and his arsenal.
Prediction: Win, 5-7
Dec. 11 at Miami – Maybe the easiest game and certainly the easiest road trip left on their schedule. The Dolphins’ season is already over at 0-4 and at this point in the season their main goal could be to win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. If the Eagles have any hopes of being anything this season, this is one they have to win.
Prediction: Win, 6-7
Dec. 18 vs. Jets – This game may completely depend on what Jets team shows up. Is it the brash, tough-talking, contending Rex Ryan Jets? Or is it a team in turmoil, like it seems to be now, sleepwalking through the end of the season? These aren’t the Jets of the last two years, though, so chalk this up as a winnable game.
Prediction, Win 7-7
Dec. 24 at Dallas – NFC East games late in the year are always close, and these two teams could be locked in a very tight battle for a playoff berth. As long as Tony Romo is still healthy, figure the Cowboys will be able to put up some points. And give them a big home-field advantage, too.
Prediction: Loss, 7-8
Jan. 1 vs. Redskins – Will .500 be enough to get into the playoffs in the NFC this year? That’s hard to imagine. If this game matters, though, it’s a good bet the Eagles will find a way to win it at home. But by this point, their season may already be over. In that case, they could be in for a very ugly end.
Prediction: Loss, 7-9.
Since this isn't the NFC West, a sub-.500 record will not get the Eagles into the playoffs. Where will this debacle go down in football history? Only time will tell.
By Ralph Vacciano