Maybe, then, it's a good thing that the Giants beat New England on Sunday. New York is two games ahead of the Cowboys and, at this point, two games in front of the Eagles in the loss column.
The understanding here is that the Eagles still have a long way back after the 1-4 start to the season, and that just because the team has two consecutive wins, well, there is significant work ahead.
New York is winning with a clutch passing game from quarterback Eli Manning and with a defense led by a relentless front four. The Giants' victory over New England was no fluke. They came from behind multiple times, including the decisive instance in the final minute and a half to shock a Patriots team that hadn't lost at home since 2008.
We all wrote off the Giants because of their brutal second-half schedule, but the Giants aren't going away any time soon. New York battles injuries and still wins games. They lose free agents and don't skip a beat. They deserve a lot of credit as a franchise that wins games year after year.
So the Giants are the team in the driver's seat. We have a long way to go in this season, of course, and many factors will dictate the winner of the NFC East down the stretch.
But with the Giants still on top, the Eagles must take an urgent tone into every game. This is a 3-4 team entering tonight's game against Chicago, with so much on the line. A loss here puts the Eagles in a huge ditch, and the Bears are a good team that is well coached and laden with veterans. The Bears are playing at Lincoln Financial Field to win.
This is a huge game. Every one ahead is a huge game. Every one is a must-win game. Please take nothing for granted simply because the Eagles have two consecutive victories and appear to be on the right track.
How do the Eagles beat Chicago? Well, it boils down to fundamental football. Chicago's defense thrives on takeaways and on limiting offenses to field goals instead of touchdowns. The offense is spearheaded by running back Matt Forte, the do-it-all player who is just as much of a threat in the passing game as in the running game. Quarterback Jay Cutler is a supremely talented player who is mocked at times around the country, but when he gets hot he is outstanding.
And Chicago's special teams win games, simply put. Devin Hester is a game-breaking return man. Robbie Gould is automatic on field goals. The coverage teams force turnovers.
Thus, the stage is set for a terrific game. The Eagles need a win in the worst way.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- How much will Brandon Graham play tonight? I say he gets between 15 and 20 snaps behind Jason Babin at left defensive end. Graham made some nice strides in practice in the last week, but now he has to get used to the tempo of a game. That is going to take some time.
- It's going to be interesting to see how the special teams handle Hester. I think they will kick to him, with some reservations. The Eagles have a lot of confidence in their coverage teams, but Hester is a different kind of return man. In fact, the Eagles have back-to-back tough assignments on special teams. Did you see Patrick Peterson's 99-yard punt return to help the Cardinals beat St. Louis on Sunday? That kid is dynamite.
- Tonight is the game in which the Eagles' red-zone offense will be sternly tested. The Eagles struggled last year in Chicago, scoring one touchdown in five trips to the red zone. It cost them that game. They need seven points, not three.
- Watching the Patriots, by the way, was eye opening. New England lacks dynamic players on offense and Tom Brady lives on underneath throws to his receivers and tight ends. I think the Eagles match up pretty well with that team ...
- Tune in for the Alumni tribute at halftime tonight when more than a dozen players and former head coach Buddy Ryan are announced to the crowd. We are broadcasting it live right here on PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Join us ...