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McCaffery: Even at 8-1, reasons for Eagles to brace for a rough ride

The Eagles played the Vikings at home and won by six, largely because Justin Jefferson fumbled an apparent touchdown into the end zone after seeming to break the plane.

The Eagles played the Commanders at home and won by three in overtime, largely because Washington coach Ron Rivera couldn’t summon the willingness to attempt a two-point conversion at the regulation horn.

The Eagles played the Cowboys at home, won by five, holding on at the end to blunt a dangerous Dallas drive.

It’s nice to be good.

It’s better to be lucky.

That is not a shot at the Eagles, who all did enough other things in those games that led to ultimate success. Football is about fumbles and bad decisions and blunted drives. But it is also open to the laws-of-average discussion as Nick Sirianni’s team takes a midseason pause.

In a season when good teams — and in one case, a historically great one — are losing at some reasonable pace, the Eagles have sneaked into their idle week at 8-1 and in fringe magic-number-calculation distance from the second-place Cowboys. But the 49ers, widely believed to be the second-best NFC team, have three losses. Kansas City, the world champion, has dropped a couple. Dallas has three Ls.

Typically, it’s how the NFL works. Parity. All that. But at the virtual midway point, the Eagles have the best record in the league. They also have some concerns, or at least that’s how it sounds.

“There is always room for improvement,” Sirianni said. “Always room for improvement. We’ll continue to work on things, the details, the ball security, the ability to take the football away. That’s something we’re going to continue to work on.”

Sounds solid. But there has not been much about the Eagles through nine games to suggest the need for drastic improvement. They have been fine. Entertaining. Resourceful. They are playing like a defending conference champion.

But the preseason over-under for Eagles wins was set at 11.5, which says two things: They already are close to cashing on the over, and that they should understand that it’s unlikely they will rocket too far past that 12-win mark. So if it is destined to be close, then their fans should not expect another eight games of .888 football.

“What did Bill Parcells say?” said Sirianni, winding up for the tired suggestion that the Hall of Fame coach never said anything else. “He said, ‘You are what your record says you are.’ So we’re in a good spot right now. And we are going to enjoy this bye week at 8-1 and get ready for the Kansas City Chiefs, who obviously are a great football team. And we will just continue to try to bust our butts to get better every single day.”

With the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers and Cowboys among the remaining games, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Because at some point the NFL is going to NFL and even out the breaks.

• Every athlete should deal with injuries the way Jalen Hurts has with with his nagging knee issue. Too many others, in many sports, would have spent weeks milking sympathy or, worse, unnecessary time off. All he did was continue to boost his MVP candidacy.

• • •

It’s always sad news when the last Halloween horror movie is televised for another year. Those never fail to entertain.

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Rhys Hoskins neared free agency and the Phillies held the door ajar, declining to give him a qualifying offer to remain, fearful he would reach for his contract-signing pen.

Nothing against a homegrown power hitter with a valuable clubhouse and community presence, but if there is one thing the Phillies did not need, it was another low-average hitter haunted by dramatic batter’s box streaks and slumps. No, the team that has not finished in first place since 2011 already has cornered the market on those.

• The Texas Rangers, whose accounting department OK’d $250,000,000 for human resources, won the World Series. Long term, that’s the only analytic that matters. Spend to win. As long as they have an owner hip to the concept, the Phillies will contend up to the point where there has to be a decision made on when to use Zack Wheeler in an elimination game.

• You know what was a good idea? Using Orion Kerkering in the NLCS and not Michael Lorenzen or Taijuan Walker. That way the Phillies could ruin his confidence the same way they did for Johan Rojas.

• • •

Me, I gladly kick over the extra fee for shopping bags. Just my way of being socially conscious.

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For an interesting read, try “It’s Been a Rich Life,” an autobiography by former Daily Times sports writer and Springfield resident Rich Westcott. It’s a good look into how a fulfilling career in sports writing unfolds caked in some honest reflection on his upbringing.

• Starting to think Deion Sanders didn’t have every college sports coaching answer.

• RIP Bobby Knight. The former Indiana coach would not suffer the hideous officiating that has soiled college basketball for decades. If nothing else, remember him for that.

• • •

You get those gigantic, tableside pepper grinders?

Contact Jack McCaffery at

Source: Berkshire mont

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