Eagles — last in NFC East — would thrive in NFC West

  • Thu Oct 30th, 2008 10:43pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer

Andy Reid would never say it publicly, so we’ll say it for him.

Man, it sure would be good to be in the NFC West.

The Philadelphia Eagles coach has to be thinking it every time he looks at the standings.

In the mighty NFC East, the Eagles sit alone in last place with a 4-3 record. The three teams ahead of them — the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys — are legitimate Super Bowl contenders all.

Meanwhile, the 2-5 Seahawks are not only in second place in the NFC West but are in control of their own destiny. Seattle wins out, it wins the division. Heck, the Seahawks might even win the NFC West at 7-9.

The Eagles? They might go 9-7 and finish fourth.

Every game counts when you’re playing in the mighty NFC East.

“Since I came in (before the 1999 season), this is the most competitive it has been,” said Reid, whose fourth-place team has the same record as the West-leading Arizona Cardinals.

The NFC East includes the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, the preseason Super Bowl favorite Cowboys, the surprising Redskins and Reid’s Eagles. All four teams have winning records to give the division an NFL-best record of 21-9. The NFC West is 10-19.

In head-to-head meetings, the NFC East has a 6-3 advantage over the West, with five of those wins coming by 12 points or more. (Inexplicably, both of the St. Louis Rams’ wins came against East Division teams, helping to somewhat balance the interdivision battle.)

If there is a silver lining to playing in the NFL’s toughest division, it’s that the teams above you are unlikely to get too far out of reach. The NFC East teams are likely to beat each other up all season, while the NFC West is typically a one-horse race.

This year, that team appears to be the Cardinals. But last Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, combined with the Seahawks’ win at San Francisco, have made the road to Arizona’s first West Division crown a bit bumpy. Seattle still has two games against the Cardinals, so technically the Seahawks are in control of their own destiny.

Of course, staying alive in the West would mean the Seahawks putting together a string of victories even before the Cardinals games on Nov. 16 and Dec. 28. Before the first meeting, Seattle has Sunday’s game against Philadelphia and a road trip to Miami.

Considering how the Seahawks have fared in trips to the East Coast, the game against the Eagles is bordering on must-win territory.

For Philadelphia, which trails the first-place Giants by only two games but has two other teams in the way, a loss to Seattle could be just as disastrous. That would put the Eagles at .500 at the midway point of the season.

And in the NFC East, unlike the West, .500 won’t get it done.

Andy Reid might not say that, so we’ll say it for him.

Scott M. Johnson is The Herald’s pro football writer