NFL Philadelphia Eagles

Five Reasons Why Philadelphia Eagles Aren’t Serious Playoff Contenders

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5 Reasons Why The Eagles Aren't Serious Playoff Contenders

Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

It’s impossible to deny at this point. For the last five weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know most of the story at this point. Quarterback Nick Foles has performed incredibly well after replacing Michael Vick. So well, in fact, that Vick has (necessarily, perhaps) thrown his full support behind the second-year product of the University of Arizona. Chip Kelly’s wide-open offense from his days at the University of Oregon has thrived with Foles at the helm, even though his mobility isn’t what the classic Kelly offense seemed to call for.

As we start Week 15, the Eagles control their own destiny in the NFC’s playoff race. At 8-5, they hold a one-game lead in the NFC East over the Dallas Cowboys, and with victories in any two of their three final games, they can clinch a division title that once seemed out of reach. Of course, as we’ve all seen so often over the last several years, once the playoffs begin, anything can happen, and Philadelphia faithful are now dreaming of an early February date at MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

While all of that is true, now would be a good time to take a step back and realize just how tough of a road really lies ahead for the Eagles. They’re incredibly entertaining to watch, but in the end, they just won’t have what it takes to be serious playoff contenders as 2014 begins. Click through to see why the Eagles high-flying season may come back down to Earth in a hurry.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer and NFL contributor for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and join him on Google+.

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5) Inexperience

Chip Kelly
Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, this Eagles team has surpassed all of my expectations, especially with the rise of Nick Foles at the quarterback position. This also isn’t to say it can’t be done, but it will be interesting to see if Foles and head coach Chip Kelly, now staring the down the playoffs in his first year in Philly, can keep this streak going through January. I believe in Foles, but can he make that big playoff step this early? With tough teams like the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers likely on the horizon, it's a tall order.

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4) Poor Strength of Schedule

John Geliebter - USA TODAY Sports

Here's a list of the Eagles' wins this season. At Washington, at the New York Giants, at Tampa Bay, at Oakland, at Green Bay, and home against Washington, Arizona, and Detroit in that epic snow game this weekend.

Of their eight wins, only one has come against a likely playoff team. That's not exactly a stellar resume. The Eagles can light up the scoreboard with the best of them, but they haven’t proven anything against top competition yet. We saw the Carolina Panthers bow to the high-powered Saints. Could the same future be awaiting the Eagles?

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3) Tough Road To The NFC Championship

Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia may well hold on to their lead in the NFC East race, but if the season were to end today, they would be hosting the 49ers - who handed the Seattle Seahawks just their second loss this week and recently held the Saints to 23 points at the Superdome – before even getting to their road date with New Orleans. With the top of the NFC so strong, there could be a very quick halt to the Eagles’ hot run.

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2) Lack Of Quarterback Pressure

Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles' 29 sacks are tied for 24th in the NFL, they rank 23rd in the league in total quarterback hits, and the playoff picture is studded with quarterbacks who can pick apart a defense given any time, especially with the likes of Drew Brees and Russell Wilson at the top. You can’t take these guys out of the game without bringing some heat, which leads nicely into my final point…

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1) Bottom-Tier Defense

Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

Despite some recent improvements, the Eagles still are the not-so-proud owners of the league's 30th ranked defense, giving up 398.3 total yards per game. Granted, getting torched by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos didn't help matters much, but that's just another sign of the bigger issue.

On the offensive side, LeSean McCoy is leading the league in rushing, and that certainly helps, but if they fall behind early against another elite offense like New Orleans or Seattle, things get much, much more difficult. The old saying that "defense wins championships" may not be the hard and fast rule it once was in the NFL, but you still need to be able to stop somebody if you want to raise the Lombardi Trophy.