Thursday Night Football saw the Philadelphia Eagles win their eighth game in a row, a 29-17 victory over the woeful Houston Texans. While many people have claimed the Eagles are frauds due to their lackluster schedule, it’s hard to deny just how electric their offense has looked and how stout their defense has been. Regardless of opponent, Nick Sirianni’s crew passes the eye test with flying colors, hence why so many experts have Philly near or at the top of their NFL power rankings.
Eight consecutive wins to start the season is no light task. While the regular season still isn’t even halfway over for this team, people have started looking forward, predicting a potential undefeated season. Hell, even I’ve done that. But what is an undefeated regular season worth if you don’t win the chip?
The 1972 Dolphins have a ring. The 2007 Patriots don’t. Regular season accomplishments are hollow if a victorious postseason does not follow. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the history behind other teams to start the season 8-0 isn’t very flattering.
Since 2010, 11 teams have started the season with a record of 8-0 or better. None have gone on to win the Super Bowl. The most recent team to start with at least eight consecutive wins and win the Lombardi Trophy was the 2009 Drew Brees-led Saints. Since then, we’ve seen quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady (twice), Cam Newton, Jared Goff, Ben Roethlisberger, and Jimmy Garoppolo all fall victim to the 8-0 curse. Only three of them — Garoppolo, Newton, and Goff — reached the Super Bowl. Of the other seven, five were eliminated in their first-round playoff game. Now, it’s Jalen Hurts’ turn to try to break the streak.
If we go back further than 2010, there is reason to be optimistic. There were 17 other teams in the Super Bowl Era to start 8-0 or better. Eight of them went on to win the Super Bowl, including two consecutive winners in the 1990 Giants and ‘91 Redskins. But it’s been slim pickings ever since.
There is some worry that the Eagles’ will suffer the same fate as most who have come before. Their weak schedule has lots of NFL fans thinking about the 2020 Steelers who never looked dominant during their 11-game win streak and had their hopes of a perfect season dashed by a reincarnated Alex Smith. That loss opened the floodgates and L’s started piling up left and right. Pittsburgh lost four of its final five games, with the lone win being a four-point victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The Steelers were so bad in the final stretch that they didn’t even get a first-round bye.
Luckily for Philly fans, the Eagles won’t have to play teams as high-caliber as the 2020 Bills or as favored by the football gods as the 2020 Washington Football Team. But that won’t help in the postseason when the masterful run defense of the 49ers comes into town. Aside from them though, I’m not sure there’s a team in the NFC that matches up well with the Eagles. The Cowboys, maybe? We know the Vikings don’t. Minnesota looked more like frail children than Norse warriors during their Week 2 matchup with the Birds.
Basically, the Eagles have looked good, but maybe not as great as we’d like an 8-0 team to be. That said, the NFC seems about as easy as the Eastern Conference was for most of LeBron James’ career, and that’s a good sign for Philly’s Super Bowl aspirations.