Eagles bandwagon crowded, but NFC remains wide open

The Philadelphia Eagles’ bandwagon is starting to get crowded. 

Almost every major media outlet has the 8-1 Eagles ranked as the NFL’s top team. Entering the week, the Westgate had the Eagles as the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl.

But Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali isn’t buying the hype. The five-time Pro Bowler called the Cowboys the best team in the league after Dallas crushed the Chiefs last week. Kansas City handed Philadelphia its only loss in Week 2.

Hali was impressed with the Cowboys’ offensive line, running game and the play of quarterback Dak Prescott.

Of course, Hali received plenty of backlash for his bold comments. But let’s analyze it. Or even better, let’s look at the entire NFC playoff landscape. The current top four seeds in the NFC didn’t make the playoffs a year ago.

Often getting the No. 1 seed isn’t enough to get to the Super Bowl. Just ask the 2016 Cowboys.

It’s all about defense, the ground game and playoff experience. The Eagles have two of three minus the postseason experience.

If the Eagles get in, it would be their first playoff game since the 2013 season. That same year was the last time the Saints, the NFC South leader, made the postseason. But that’s not an issue when Drew Brees is your quarterback and Sean Payton your coach. The Saints won it all in 2009.

The playoff drought is much longer for the Rams with their last appearance in 2004. Rams quarterback Jared Goff was 10 years old.

The Vikings, who are first in the NFC North, made the playoffs in 2015 and have arguably the best defense in the league. But their murky quarterback situation might eventually catch up.

So if you’re the Eagles, Saints, Rams and Vikings, you’ll want to avoid the Cowboys and the pesky Seattle Seahawks.

It doesn’t matter what seed the Seahawks draw. They’re always a tough out and have plenty of playoff experience. Would second-year quarterback Carson Wentz be able to handle the Legion of Boom?

And before we crown the Eagles, can they play the Cowboys first? They’ll meet for their first of two showdowns next week.

The Eagles are great. But let’s press on the breaks. This NFC race is wide open and will be fun to watch heading toward January with so many new faces.

Giants coach on hot seat

Ben McAdoo’s job is in jeopardy after the Giants gave up an embarrassing 51 points at home to the Rams last week.

If McAdoo loses his job, it wouldn’t be fair to keep general manager Jerry Reese. The longtime front office leader of the Giants has failed to fix the offensive line for years. Eli Manning has taken so many sacks over the years, he’s decided to flop instead of taking a hit.

Reese, who took over as general manager in 2007, also failed his aging quarterback by not giving him a reliable running game. Just think about all the productive rookie and sophomore running backs in the league. The Giants didn’t get one.

The Giants lost their two best wide receivers to injury. That’s not McAdoo’s fault. It’s time for a clean slate in New York.

Gilbert Manzano covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.

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