PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Eagles are trying to let Green Bay playoff hopes fade to black.
Philadelphia flies high as the best team in the NFL with a 9-1 record, a pretty good mark in any season, but one in franchise history that has led the Eagles to greatness.
Led by MVP candidate Jalen Hurts, the Eagles joined the teams of 1949, 1960, 1980, 2004 and 2017 as the only ones in team history to start the season 9–1. That’s quite a stubborn company. Each of those teams reached a championship game.
The 1949 and 1960 teams won NFL championships, and the 2017 team won the franchise’s first Super Bowl. The Eagles lost the Super Bowl in the 1980 and 2004 seasons.
Then a blackout.
The Eagles will make their all-black helmet debut Sunday night when they host the Green Bay Packers (4-7).
The three-time defending NFC North champion Packers have lost six of their seven games and may need to win each of their last six regular season games to make the playoffs.
Philadelphia’s black helmets are paired with black jerseys and black pants for a unique look for a franchise synonymous with green.
For the rest of the NFL this season, green with envy.
And the Eagles know it. Coach Nick Sirianni went so far after last week’s win over Indianapolis to dedicate the win to Frank Reich, the recently fired Colts coach who gave Sirianni his big break as offensive coordinator in Indy.
“They added some pieces this year and it really helped them,” said Packers coach Matt LaFleur. “And I think a lot of their great players are playing at a really high level. I mean, look no further, they’re led by Jalen Hurts, and I mean he’s playing at an MVP-like level.”
There is little lack of motivation for the Eagles and Sirianni doesn’t yet feel his team needs much more than his usual Saturday night pep talk at the team meeting. The Eagles are the toast of the town and DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders and Darius Slay were among the members who received a thunderous ovation this week when they attended a 76ers game.
It helps to enjoy the week when a player like Hurts sometimes makes wins look easy.
Hurts continued his season at the MVP level as he capped off Philadelphia’s fourth-quarter comeback from a 10-point hole with a 7-yard TD run on a tie with 1:20 left. Hurts rushed for a team-best 86 yards next to the touchdown to increase his season totals on the ground to 440 yards and eight touchdowns. Combined with his passing of 2,407 yards, Hurts ranks fourth in the NFL in total yards (2,847) and he is also fourth in total TDs (23).
Compare those numbers to Rodgers, who is still fourth in the NFL with 19 TD passes, and sixth in both passing yards (2,542) and completions (243). Rodgers, who turns 39 on December 2, has 13 TDs and four interceptions in the last seven games, six of them losses.
The drop-off is steep in Green Bay after the Packers won 13 games in each of the first three seasons under fourth-year coach Matt LaFleur.
Rodgers has four MVP awards. Hurts is looking to win his first and his offensive coordinator has punched on behalf of his QB.
“Yeah, the way he’s playing now, absolutely,” said Shane Steichen. “When we had to come up with big moves, he did it for us, and that’s what big players do. He keeps growing and getting better every day, but we have to keep grinding. It’s week to week and we have to keep growing.”
Keeping the Eagles as the team to beat in the NFL can only help Hurts’ cause.
That includes winning the home games a team like the Eagles should win — like against the Packers on Sunday.
After dealing with injuries for much of his rookie season, Packers receiver Christian Watson has been going strong lately.
North Dakota State’s second-round pick had his first three career touchdown catches in a 31–28 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys and followed that with two touchdown receptions in a 27–17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He is the first Packers rookie to catch multiple touchdown passes in back-to-back games since Max McGee in 1954.
PARTIES ON TURNOVER
Philadelphia has the NFL’s best record, in part because of a plus-12 turnover margin that leads the NFL. The Eagles got into action this week after making 13 passes to tie Buffalo for the NFL lead.
The Eagles essentially succeed with the same formula that has helped Green Bay in recent years.
Green Bay’s plus-32 turnover margin from 2019-21 led all teams during that stretch, but the Packers are at minus-4 this season. Only five NFL teams came in this week with worse revenue margins.
Rodgers hurt his right thumb in the final play of a 27-17 loss to the New York Giants on October 9 and has been battling the injury ever since. Rodgers admitted Wednesday that the thumb is broken.
The injury hasn’t stopped him from missing a single game, but it has limited his practice time and his game hasn’t matched his MVP performance over the past two seasons. That Giants game started the Packers’ current 1-6 downward spiral.
Packers guard The father of Jon Runyan Jr. played offensive tackle for Philadelphia from 2000-2008 and made the Pro Bowl in 2002. Jon Runyan Sr. policy and rule administration.
Wisconsin AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee contributed to this report.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL