The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint.
You have to be careful of making too much of what goes on in September and early October. We have seen multiple teams get off to 5-0 starts in recent years only to miss the playoffs. The Vikings were 2-2 and the Jaguars were 3-3 last season. Both made it to the conference championship game.
Every game is precious, but teams are judged on what they do over the course of a season, not whether they get off to a hot or cold start.
Mid-October is about the time of year when you start to look around the league to figure out who is good and who isn't. That is proving to be quite the challenge this season. You might have an easier time finding the Philadelphia chapter of the Jerry Jones Fan Club.
The Eagles sit at 3-3 and are a prime example of how confusing this season is. The Eagles are a few plays from being 5-1 or maybe even 6-0. They are also a few plays away from being 1-5. You could go with the Bill Parcells axiom that you are what your record is. That would mean the Eagles are an average team. With so many teams right around the .500 mark, I think you need to mix in some subjective analysis.
The Eagles have been up and down this year, but injuries played a big part in that. The team played sloppy football. One week they would blow a lead and lose a close game. The next week they would fall behind and have to play catch-up most of the game. The team wasn't in sync and there wasn't any consistency.
On Thursday night, the Eagles played their best game of the year, dominating the Giants 34-13. Carson Wentz had his best performance of the season. Alshon Jeffery was terrific and showed what a difference he makes. Corey Clement and Derek Barnett were back in action.
When you have the right players, it makes a difference.
Young guys stepped up. Isaac Seumalo played his best game of the year. Avonte Maddox played both free safety and in the slot. Treyvon Hester got reps at defensive tackle and looked good. DeAndre Carter helped the return game.
The Eagles finally played a complete game and that is very encouraging. Only time will tell, but this feels like a team on the rise.
Compare that to the Jaguars. They are also 3-3, but they have gotten there in a very different fashion. The Jaguars have lost three of four games. Two of those losses were blowouts and the other loss was an ugly 9-6 affair. Their only win in that stretch came against a rookie quarterback. Yikes.
Look around the NFC East. Dallas is now 3-3 and a total mystery. The Cowboys averaged 16.6 points per game for the first five weeks and then exploded for 40 in the win over Jacksonville. Dallas has played good defense this year, but no one knows what to make of that team.
Washington sits atop the division at 3-2. The Redskins were blown out by the Saints in Week 5, but then won a tough game against the Panthers on Sunday. While there is uncertainty with the Eagles, Redskins, and Cowboys, the Giants are a different story. They are already thinking about the draft in New York. This is going to be a long season for them.
The NFC East is wide open. Heck, the whole NFL is pretty open.
The Rams are the only team that feels close to being a juggernaut. They have a dynamic offense and a very talented defense. They already have two wins by 20 or more points. They have another by 12 points. They are undefeated and playing great football right now.
New Orleans is off to a 4-1 start, but I still don't trust that defense. The Saints have given up 37 or more points in two games this year. Every team has scored at least 18 points against them. Drew Brees leads a great offense, but that still feels like a team with question marks.
The Vikings and Falcons were expected to be title contenders. Minnesota has won two games in a row, but there are still questions about that team. Injuries have taken their toll. Atlanta is 2-4 and has lost some key players for the season. Those injuries hurt their defense and they are having a hard time slowing down anyone.
The Eagles can still win the NFC East and they could be the best team in the entire NFC by the time January rolls around. That will only happen if the Eagles build on Thursday night's win over the Giants. They need to focus on one day at a time and one game at a time.
If you focus on the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.
I didn't get into the AFC, but it feels every bit as wide open as the NFC. The Chiefs have been incredible to watch this year but lost their first game of the season on Sunday night. Kansas City has serious defensive issues that could hurt its chances of making a Super Bowl run.
The Patriots? Well, they're the Patriots.
As long as the Eagles have Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Malcolm Jenkins, this team can beat anyone. That's only true, though, if the team plays well. They did that the last time out and the results were terrific.
There have also been games where the Eagles made far too many mistakes and showed they could lose to anyone.
The Eagles control their own destiny. If they get hot and win some games, this team can get back to the playoffs and try to win another title. If the Eagles continue to be up and down, the season will be an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.
I'm optimistic after the win over the Giants and look forward to seeing what Wentz and company have in store for the rest of the year.