Even though they didn’t as much win their division, the Philadelphia Eagles looked like they might hold the top record in the NFC in back-to-back seasons, starting their 2023 season with a 10-1 record.

Philadelphia’s severe regression to an 11-6 record by the end of the season was a pretty wild scene, and it obviously took them out of contention for the one-seed.

Acquiring it might not have changed their fate, which ended up being a one-and-done finish in the postseason, but having it is essential in the NFL. Once they didn’t, there was little chance for a run to be made.

Considering each of the Eagles’ three Super Bowl appearances in the 21st century were guided by a first-round bye week, they probably want to make that happen again. Can they?

Eagles’ Path to NFC Glory

Since the Eagles didn’t win the NFC East, they get the benefit of having a somewhat easier schedule than they did in 2023. They face the entire NFC South (which might be the weakest division in the conference), the entire AFC North, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers, and every single NFC East team twice.

There are obviously some pretty good teams here, but there are very few that the Eagles aren’t better than. They should be able to handle themselves, especially considering their upgrades in the offseason. There is no true ceiling or floor for Philadelphia, but getting 13 wins is not out of the question. It’ll be a challenge, but achieving this would set them up nicely.

Predicting the 49ers’ Record

Since they were the top seed in the NFC in 2023, the San Francisco 49ers don’t have the easiest schedule. While they could certainly do some damage, they face five teams that won at least a playoff game (Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Packers, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers). In addition, playing the Rams twice, the Dallas Cowboys once, the Miami Dolphins once, and the New York Jets once isn’t exactly the easiest set of games, either.

That said, the 49ers are quite possibly the best team in the NFL entering the 2024 season. Sure, they play some tough teams, but they should also win most of them. At 12-5 last season, they were the NFC’s best team. Having a potentially tougher schedule this time around, just matching that campaign would be a likely success for them.

Even though the 49ers are a very good team, the Eagles can expect them to be at 12-5 again. If that ends up being the case, that should be beatable for Philadelphia.

Predicting the Lions’ Record

The Lions are a fascinating team to analyze, considering the massive jumps they have made. When the Eagles had a 38-35 showdown against them in Week 1 of the 2022 season, even then, it was obvious that they could be a special club. After going 9-8 that season, they had their first 12-win season since 1991 and their first playoff win since that time in 2023. How much further can they go?

Just like the 49ers, they are being punished somewhat heavily for their success. Considering this is something the Lions didn’t really have to deal with in 2023, their breakout was made just that much easier. They have the Bills, the 49ers, the Packers twice, the Bears twice, the Houston Texans, the Jaguars, the Buccaneers, the Cowboys, and the Rams, which could all give them issues. It’s hard to see a world where they improve upon their 2023 campaign, especially considering they didn’t make any major upgrades in the offseason.

The Lions are certainly a team to look out for, but an 11-win season seems to be about right. Depending on how well some of the younger teams on that list develop, 2024 could be a seriously challenging campaign for Detroit.

Predicting the Cowboys’ Record

The Cowboys are probably the biggest team for the Eagles to look out for, and they will remain that for a long time. For as much as Eagles fans don’t want to admit it, Dak Prescott played sensational football in 2023 and was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Dallas didn’t do much of anything in the offseason, but their core is formidable.

As for their schedule, it is pretty similar to Philadelphia’s, with some slight changes. They take on all of the same teams, minus the Packers, Jaguars, and Rams. Instead, the Cowboys have to face the Lions, Texans, and 49ers. Considering the Eagles are in the same tier as the Cowboys, if not better than them, in terms of where they rank in the NFL, making Dallas suffer just a little bit more is a good sign. It’s a big reason why the NFC East is notorious for never having repeat champions.

Overall, a 12-5 record seems right for the Cowboys. Other than the Eagles, they consistently have their way with the division’s bottom feeders, the New York Giants and Washington Commanders. No team beats the rails off of bad NFL teams quite like Dallas does, so it would only make sense for them to do it again.

Other NFC Contenders?

There will surely be another team in the NFC that emerges as a legitimate threat. In 2023, the Rams, Buccaneers, and Packers were all surprisingly competitive.

In 2024, a team like the Atlanta Falcons could see some improvement now that they have a solid quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and perhaps the Bears could see their young core see a progression like the Texans did in 2023. Still, the true top-end regular season contenders are minimal in the NFC.

The Packers are another team that could build off of what they did, but they still only had nine wins. Seeing a boost of three or four would be possible but unrealistic.

By no means are the Eagles in the clear, but they have a really good chance of being the best team in the NFC. It took an utter disaster in 2023 to get them out of the race, and even then, they were two wins shy of doing so.
Now that they are stronger, the Eagles should put up an even better fight.

PHOTO: Getty Images

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