The Philadelphia Eagles are 10-1 for the fourth time in franchise history. The Eagles have never started a season 11-0, so this season makes the short list for best start in franchise history.
In 1948, behind head coach Greasy Neale, QB Tommy Thompson, and future HOFers RB Steve Van Buren and WR Pete Pihos, and RB Bosh Pritchard, the Eagles went 9-2-1 and won the NFL title. In 1949, the Eagles brought back Neale, Thompson, Van Buren, Pihos, and Pritchard, and had similar success. The team lost to the Bears in week 4 but finished the regular season with a sparkling 11-1 record. Philadelphia repeated as champions, defeating the Rams 14-0 in the NFL title game.
In 1980, the Eagles lost to the Cardinals in week 4, but started the season 11-1 before finishing 12-4 and winning the NFC. The head coach was Dick Vermeil, the QB was Ron Jaworski, and while RB Wilbert Montgomery and WR Harold Carmichael were the stars on offense, Philadelphia sported a dominant defense that ranked 1st in points allowed, and 2nd in rushing yards allowed, net yards per pass attempt allowed, and rushing yards allowed. Alas, despite being 3-point favorites, the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl to the Raiders.
The 2004 Eagles was the best Philadelphia team of the modern era. The team began the season 13-1, with the only loss coming to the 15-1 Steelers in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia clinched the NFC East after week twelve. The Packers were the 2nd best team in the NFC, and the Eagles bludgeoned them in December 47-3 before a pair of garbage time touchdowns. Philadelphia had a great defense, but the offense centered around Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Terrell Owens was unstoppable. In the 14th game, however, Owens broke his fibula and injured his ankle; expected to miss the rest of the year, Owens returned for the Super Bowl, but it was not enough: Philadelphia fell to the Patriots.
If you are an Eagles fan, that’s some pretty good company: all three teams made it to the championship game.
This year’s team seems worthy of being in that discussion. Philadelphia leads the NFL with a 31.9 points per game average, thanks in part to an otherwordly (and unsustainable) red zone success rate of 73.3%. The Eagles rank 8th in points per game allowed (17.4), and rank in the top 10 in just about every major defensive category. The Eagles rank 1st in the NFL in points differential, at 14.5 per game. That’s also the 3rd best in Eagles history through 11 games, behind the ’49 team (+19.6), ’48 team (17.8), and ahead of the 1980 team (+14.3). [click to continue…]