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An Eagles win over the Giants combined with a Cowboys loss to the Broncos would put the Birds in first place. (AP)
Chip Kelly was asked about the NFC East landscape and how, despite the Eagles’ 1-3 start, the division lead is within reach.
An Eagles win over the Giants Sunday combined with a Broncos win over the Cowboys would place the Eagles in a tie for first place in the NFC East.
“I talked to our team about that on Tuesday,” Kelly said. “I had some people tell me that if Dallas loses this weekend and we win, we’re in first place.
“I was fired up. I called the league office. I wanted to find out when we get the trophy and when the trophy presentation would be.”
Kelly got a laugh from the media when he told this story at his daily press briefing before practice Thursday.
“And I got the same response [from the team],” he said. “They started laughing. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re in first place the first week of October, what matters is are you in first place after Dec. 29.
“But this week contributes being in first place on Dec. 29, so let’s not waste energy and time on, ‘If this happens and this happens and this happens.’ You have two choices. You can wish for things to happen or you can plan for things to happen, and our job as a team is to prepare to play the New York Giants.”
Kelly’s point is a good one. It doesn’t make sense for the team to focus on the NFC standings on Oct. 3.
But we can do it.
And the reality is that nobody is running away with the NFC East.
Nobody has a winning record in the NFC East.
None of the Eagles’ losses so far have been against division or conference teams.
And if the Eagles can somehow find their way to 8-8 or maybe even 7-9, they’ll have a chance of winning the division and reaching the playoffs.
“It does help knowing that nobody’s really doing that great in our division, so any win would really put you back in the middle of everything and put you back close to where you want to be,” Brandon Boykin said. “If Denver was in our division, it would make it hard. Even if you keep winning, you still might not get back where to where you want to be.
“So there is a little more incentive that despite the losses, despite how bad things have been so far, we still have a chance to be at the top. That’s good.”
The Eagles, 1-3, face the 0-4 Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
All three of the Eagles’ losses have been to AFC teams, so they’re undefeated against NFC and NFC East teams, thanks to their opening-day win in Washington.
“That is the reality, and we all know that, but I think you guys can talk about what it is and what it means, but we think about each day, each play, each game,” linebacker Connor Barwin said.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We understand the reality of the situation, but we don’t go through the season thinking about what-ifs and scenarios. You go week by week and see where you are at the end of the year.”
Another reality is that the toughest part of the Eagles’ schedule is behind them.
The three teams they lost to are a combined 10-2, and their 12 remaining opponents are 16-31.
“You really don’t get caught up with anybody’s record or what the standings are,” center Jason Kelce said.
“On any given Sunday -- there’s a reason that’s an old cliché, it’s really true. All we can focus on is ourselves, and as long as we take care of what we need to take care of, we think we’re a very effective offensive and a very effective football team.”
Sunday’s game starts a stretch where the Eagles play four division opponents in seven weeks, including the Giants twice.
Their only remaining opponent that currently has a winning record is the Lions at the Linc on Dec. 8.
“Nobody’s looking on the overall big picture, because no matter what happens around us, if we don’t handle our business on the field, we don’t get better at things we have to get better at, it doesn’t matter what other teams do in the division,” DeMeco Ryans said.
“We can’t afford to look at any of that. We don’t have time.”
Back to Kelly, who said Thursday it’s never productive to look big picture this early in the season.
“I think you can start doing the whole transitive properties of, ‘They beat them and we beat them,’ and all that," Kelly said. "Let’s just focus on what we can control, and what we can control is our preparation and getting ready for them.
“If they did give us a trophy after this game, we’d be really fired up for it, but I’ve been told that’s not going to happen.”