The Eagles walloped the AFC South-leading Titans on Sunday for their eleventh win in 12 games, the lateset tour de force in a season that has seen the Birds establish themselves as a legit Super Bowl contender time and time again.
And while plenty of people on Monday are talking about the likelihood of the Eagles being the best team in the NFL, it seems ESPN doesn't think the Birds are even the best team in their own conference.
For some bizarre reason the Eagles are currently ranked fourth in ESPN's Football Power Index rankings, an analytics-based model ranking that the worldwide leader has concocted. The Dallas Cowboys are first after they ran away from the lowly Colts in the fourth quarter on Sunday Night Football.
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And when it comes to odds of winning the Super Bowl, ESPN strangely has the Eagles fourth and the Cowboys first.
1. Dallas (31.1%)
2. Kansas City (22.5%)
3. Buffalo (18.5%)
4. Philadelphia (12.8%)
I have a bone to pick here.
ESPN says its FPI Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using results to date and the remaining schedule.
And right now, FPI thinks the Cowboys are the better team. ESPN's models currently give the Cowboys a whopping 71% chance to beat the Eagles on Christmas Eve, a staggering and frankly inexplicable advantage. Do I think Dallas is good? Absolutely. I also think they're eminently beatable, as was evidenced by the first three quarters last night when Indianapolis stayed in lock-step with Dak Prescott & Co. on the road.
All that said, fine: ESPN thinks the Cowboys will beat the Eagles in a head-to-head matchup in a few weeks. Whatever.
But ESPN's models believe the Eagles will win the rest of their games and finish 15-2, which would be good for the No. 1 seed even if the Vikings win out because the Eagles have the head-to-head tiebreaker. Considering there is only one first-round bye per conference these days, I'm struggling to figure out how ESPN's models decided the Cowboys have a higher chance of winning the Super Bowl than the Eagles if Dallas would have to play an extra game in the postseason, inherently adding more variance into their equation. The Eagles get to advance to the divisional round with 100% certainty while the Cowboys have to beat another football team to advance. So how in the world could Dallas have a better chance at winning it all?
A far more explicable model over at FiveThirtyEight gives the Eagles a 20% chance of winning the Super Bowl, tops in the NFL. Behind them are the Bills, Chiefs, and Cowboys in that order. That feels about right. FiveThirtyEight's model runs 50,000 simulations and measures teams based on head-to-head results and quality of opponent. Perhaps it's those 40,000 extra simulations vs. ESPN's model that make the difference.
Or maybe the Eagles, who own the NFL's best record and looked Sunday like a team no one wants to face, still don't have the respect of the football world. I'm not sure at this point what else they could do to earn it.
And really, it doesn't matter. Once the postseason rolls around we'll finally get the answers we've been waiting for.