PHILADELPHIA — A season and a Super Bowl stage later, the Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in the same place.
Nine games. Eight wins.
It’s a good place to be in NFL history.
With a 28-23 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Eagles became the fourth team in the past 30 years to start consecutive seasons with at least eight wins in nine tries.
Each of the other three teams won the Super Bowl in their second year of early season dominance, according to a Yahoo Sports analysis of Pro Football Reference data.
“What did Bill Parcells say? ‘You are what your record says you are,’” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Sunday night. “So we’re in a good spot right now.”
No team has won at least eight games in nine weeks to start the season since the 2005 and 2006 seasons, when the Indianapolis Colts started 9-0 each year. The Colts lost in the divisional round of the 2005 season playoffs before trumping the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in the 2006 season’s Super Bowl.
Before that, the Denver Broncos opened 8-1 in 1995 and 1996 each, followed by a 9-0 start to the 1997 season. They claimed titles following each of the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
And the Dallas Cowboys began 8-1 in 1994 and 1995. The Cowboys won the 1995 season Super Bowl for their third title in four years.
So forget concern over teams peaking too early. Forget any claims that true runs come in December and extend into January for the teams who power that momentum and hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Parcells isn’t the only one who should believe the Eagles’ 8-1 repeat means something.
Already, the Eagles showed last year that their dominance wasn’t merely a regular-season mirage. Philadelphia won eight straight games to start last season, lost their ninth to the Washington Commanders, and then rebounded to claim the NFC championship and come three points short of the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
They have one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Jalen Hurts, who’s dipped from his MVP candidate play last season as he battles injuries but nonetheless is routinely making big plays in big moments. Teaming up with Hurts is star receiver A.J. Brown, whose 1,005 receiving yards trail only the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill (1,076).
And in the trenches, the Eagles are again dominant on both sides of the ball. Their offensive line ranks first in run-block win rate (76%) and fourth in pass-block win rate (67%), per ESPN, while their defensive line ranks second in run-stuff win rate (34%) and sixth in pass-rush win rate (53%).
The recipe, paired with the culture of a team that’s already seen what it takes, should scare the league.
Losing to a feisty New York Jets team isn’t reason for legitimate concern in Philadelphia. There are questions to ask but answers for each.
The Eagles’ first nine games have been shakier in some respects than last season’s, their wins coming by an average margin of 6.3 points compared to last year’s 8.7 and their turnover differential hovering at minus-2 compared to last year’s plus-13. Improving their turnover differential is arguably the most important area of growth in the second half of the season. Their win over the Cowboys hinted at progress, the Eagles’ offense sloppily fumbling three times only to scrappily recover all three.
Each vulnerability offers a reminder of how much better the Eagles can still become.
“We have yet to play a complete game,” Hurts said Sunday night. “We’re still hungry and eager to continue to grow and build upon the things that we’ve been able to to do. Just way to show up in the end. Obviously we have some things that we want back defensively, offensively and on special teams. But it’s always about finding a way.
“All that matters is winning.”
The Eagles are very good at what matters most to them.
And if history is any indication, it may not be long before they’re winning something much bigger.