The Philadelphia Eagles are in the midst of one of the best seasons in the 90-year history of the franchise. Philadelphia finished with a franchise-record 14 regular season victories, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the best record in football. The Eagles rolled off to a 13-1 start and have demonstrated why they were considered by many to be the best team in football all season long.
Not only are the Eagles the No. 1 seed in the NFC, they're one of the highest-scoring offenses in football (28.1 points per game) while ranking third in points per possession (2.50). Their defense was second in yards per game allowed while ranking first in pass yards per game allowed, showcasing the balance on both sides of the football.
Philadelphia also had a MVP candidate in Jalen Hurts, who emerged this season as one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. The Eagles have arguably the most complete team -- and are just two wins away from their second Super Bowl title in the last six seasons.
The Eagles are going to have a tough path to a championship, with the San Francisco 49ers and potentially either the Cincinnati Bengals or Kansas City Chiefs standing in their way, but they are good enough to advance to Glendale for Super Bowl LVII and win it all. Here's why the Eagles can the Super Bowl and cap off arguably the best season in franchise history:
1. Jalen Hurts
The Eagles win when Hurts plays, as evidenced by their 15-1 record this season when he starts a game. Philadelphia is 18-2 in its last 20 games when he starts, demonstrating what he means to their offense. In five of the last six games Hurts has started, the Eagles have either thrown for 300+ yards or rushed for 200+ yards -- showcasing the versatility he provides with his arm and his legs.
Hurts has been spectacular in his 16 starts this season (including playoffs), completing 66.5% of his passes for 3,855 yards with 24 touchdowns to just six interceptions for a 102.1 passer rating. Add in the 794 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns and Hurts has 4,649 total yards and 38 total touchdowns to just six turnovers -- and it's no wonder why Philadelphia is 15-1 when he plays.
In that 18-2 stretch (including postseason), Hurts has completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,822 yards with 28 touchdowns to nine interceptions (99.0 passer rating). Add in the 922 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns and Hurts has 5,744 yards and 44 touchdowns in his last 20 starts (287.2 total yards per game).
2. The dominant offensive line with Lane Johnson intact
The Eagles offensive line was arguably the best in the NFL even without Johnson on the field. When he does play, there's no question the Eagles have the best offensive line in the league.
The impact Johnson made on the offensive line in the divisional round was obvious. He allowed no sacks, pressures or quarterback hits, and a 0.0% pressure rate in 26 pass blocking snaps in the win over the Giants -- with a torn adductor in his groin. Johnson was an All-Pro for a reason.
Since Week 11, Johnson has played 447 snaps and allowed just one pressure. No sacks, no quarterback hits. The entire offensive line have combined for the fewest sacks (14) and lowest pressure rate (3.5%) allowed in the NFL this season, showcasing how dominant they've been week in and week out.
Johnson and Jason Kelce have combined to play 3,487 consecutive snaps since either allowed a sack -- including the playoffs. Kelce was the last one of the two to allow a sack -- in Week 6 of the 2021 season.
Doesn't matter if Johnson is 100% or not. If he's on the field, the Eagles offensive line is dominant.
3. History-making pass rush
The Eagles pass rush is one of the best the NFL has seen in years, starting with the 70 sacks that were collected in the regular season -- tied for the third-most in a season in NFL history. The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to have four different players with 10-plus sacks in a season (Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and Brandon Graham).
Reddick was outstanding in his first year with the Eagles, finishing with 16 sacks and five forced fumbles (which led the league). Hargrave, Sweat, and Graham each had 11 sacks -- and Graham is 34 years old coming off a ruptured Achilles. Fletcher Cox also was part of the sack barrage with seven sacks and Milton Williams added four.
Philadelphia was the only team with a sack rate over 10% (11.7%) and was second in pressure rate (38.4%). The pass rush is also on a hot streak with 39 sacks in their last seven games (more than 12 teams had all season). The Eagles had five sacks in the divisional round victory over the New York Giants, their most in a playoff game since 1970.
The pass rush has been the catalyst for the Eagles defense all year. They seem to get better by the week, which is a scary trend for opposing quarterbacks.
4. A standout secondary to back up the pass rush
The Eagles pass rush is one of the best the NFL has seen, and it is backed by arguably the best cornerback duo in football. James Bradberry was a second-team All-Pro this season and had the second-lowest passer rating allowed (44.5) among all players that were targeted in coverage a minimum of 75 attempts. Darius Slay also allowed a 60.0 passer rating this season, which was sixth in the NFL amongst players targeted at least 75 times.
The Slay-Bradberry duo is one of the best cornerback tandems in the league, which is also backed up by C.J. Gardner-Johnson at safety. Despite missing five games, Gardner-Johnson still was tied for the league lead with six interceptions. The Eagles secondary feasted on the pass rush getting to the quarterback, allowing just an 81.6 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks this season (third best in NFL). Their 17 interceptions were also tied for fourth in the league. Philadelphia had the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the league in yards allowed (179.8 yards per game), which is the fewest yards per game allowed by an Eagles defense since 2001.
The secondary is vital to the pass rush being dominant, just like how the pass rush sets up the secondary to make plays. This is why the Eagles defense shouldn't be forgotten about this late in the season.