Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles first team to clinch playoff berth, but they're looking for much more
Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles first team to clinch playoff berth, but they're looking for much more

Updated Dec. 12, 2022 5:12 p.m. ET

They have a two-game cushion in the NFC East and in the entire conference with only four games left to play. So the Eagles are on verge of ensuring that the road to Super Bowl LVII will run through Philadelphia in the NFC.

Oh, by the way, after their 48-22 drubbing of the Giants on Sunday, the Eagles also became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff berth.

"Yeah, actually they said that to me in [the locker room]," said coach Nick Sirianni. "I'm like, ‘Oh that's nice.' We've got way bigger goals than this."

That might be the most disinterested reaction to an NFL playoff berth ever, but it's totally on brand for Sirianni and the Eagles (12-1), because their sights have been set higher since the season started. And their goals have never seemed more in reach. They're starting to pull away from the pack. They remain one of the healthiest teams in football. And even better, things are starting to really click after a meandering, mediocre month of football following their bye week.


In back-to-back weeks, they've beaten the Tennessee Titans and the Giants by a combined score of 83-32, out-gaining them 892 yards to 513. They've averaged 41 points and 463.3 yards of offense over the past three weeks. Their once-porous run defense is yielding only 103.8 yards per game on the ground over the last four.

Even their pass rush kicked into high gear on Sunday with seven sacks against the Giants, giving them an NFL-leading 49 on the season. That's close to double what they had last year when they had the second-worst pass rush in the league.

Talk about perfect timing. It's all coming together for Philly just as the playoffs approach.

Jalen Hurts on Eagles' improvement each week

Jalen Hurts talks with FOX Sports' Pam Oliver about the improvements that the Eagles have been making throughout the season. "We just want to continue to chase progress," he said.

"Hopefully you're starting to play your best football around this time," Sirianni said. "I think that we've got really good players on this team, we've got really good coaches on this team, and we've shown these last three weeks that we keep getting better. That's just got to be the goal here."

"You want to get hot towards the end so you can carry over to the playoffs," added defensive end Brandon Graham. "Things are coming together. I just think that our best ball is starting to happen now before we make this run."

That's what it's really all about now for the Eagles — the "run." Though they still have the seeming formality of clinching the division and the No. 1 seed, the final month is really all about staying hot (and healthy) for the playoffs. With four games to go, it would take a massive slip-up by the Eagles to lose the division or conference. Their schedule isn't exactly difficult, outside of a Christmas Eve showdown with the Cowboys (10-3) in Dallas. They play at Chicago (3-10) on Sunday and finish with two games at home against the New Orleans Saints (4-9) and the Giants (7-5-1).

As soft as that looks, the Eagles clearly don't want to go through the motions. It also didn't sound like they're even thinking about taking advantage of a chance to rest their starters during the final week, or possibly two.

"We're trying to make sure our car is all gassed up before we get to the playoffs," receiver A.J. Brown said. "We're going to try and keep using this momentum moving forward for the next game. When the playoffs get here, we want to be rocking on all cylinders."

At the moment, it sure doesn't look like any of their cylinders are misfiring. But that's the new challenge for the 41-year-old Sirianni — to make sure his team doesn't let up at a time when they clearly could take a collective deep breath. He talked at length on Sunday about keeping his team's focus on improving each day, on not letting the red-hot Cowboys back in the race, and on remembering that no matter what they've accomplished so far, "Our goals are higher."

That last point definitely resonated in a locker room filled with players who know they have the best team in the NFL. And they sure do sound eager to be ready to prove it.

"This is the first step of the goals that we set for ourselves," Graham said. "We made the playoffs. We have a spot. But we have so much more that we have to accomplish. At the end of the day, the ultimate thing is to get a ring. I'll just say it's a great season so far. Let's just stay focused on the task at hand, and that's getting that ring."

So forgive them for not popping champagne on Sunday, or even being mildly impressed with what they accomplished. To the Eagles, a playoff berth was always inevitable. And it was never anything more than a stepping stone along their way.

"That's one box we can check off," Graham said. "We're not done yet."

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Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.


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