“We knew defensively we were going to play well all game and they weren’t going to get anything,” said linebacker Connor Barwin, stuffing DeMarco Murray here for a loss.

By Jack Ryan

As Mark Sanchez succinctly told Eric Adelson of YahooSports.com:

“We left a ton of meat on the bone.”

By way of explaining, Sanchez believes that the Eagles’ rout of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving could have been a lot greater than 33-10 if the offense hadn’t settled for field goals three times in the first half and put it in cruise control late in the second half.

The next game will present another test for the high-flying Birds and their resurrected QB — home next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

There are similarities between the two teams, namely the creative Pac-12 coach and the up-and-coming squad with the underdog mentality. The Seahawks rode their us-against-everyone storyline to the Super Bowl last season, and the Eagles are starting to talk the same way. They have nine wins and a shot at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

“You look at our entire defense,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins, “everybody has a chip on their shoulder, everybody has something to prove. We don’t have a lot of big-name guys, but we have a group that loves playing together and is not afraid to compete against anybody.”

What’s different about this Philly team this season versus last year is the improved play in the trenches. New Orleans ousted the Eagles in the playoffs by running them over – something the Saints weren’t even known for at the time. Now, it’s clear some of the defensive linemen have made great strides: Fletcher Cox is one of the better disruptors in the league, and Cedric Thornton was equally fearsome on Thursday against a very good Cowboys offensive line.

“We knew defensively we were going to play well all game and they weren’t going to get anything,” said linebacker Connor Barwin, again making a big statement considering the Eagles were facing the best rusher in football in DeMarco Murray.

The Eagles’ offensive line was just as dominant, leaving Dallas tentative. Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said that as soon as his line figured out how to hold the edge against the running attack, Philly started attacking them straight ahead.

“It’s hard to see what’s coming before it comes,” Mincey said. “That fast, that pace, it puts you out of position. Makes you play more safe than sorry.”

Sanchez’s comeback from New York Jets ignominy is being credited to coach Chip Kelly, but his ability to run the ball makes the Eagles’ attack even more aggravating to defenses. The field simply looks wider when Philly is rolling.

So are the Eagles Super Bowl contenders? It’s a little too soon to say. They lost to their three most difficult opponents – the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, and they gave up 53 points at Lambeau Field. They are a middle-of-the-road defense statistically, and that usually doesn’t point to postseason dominance.

Yet momentum counts for a lot in December and January, and back-to-back wins over Dallas and Seattle would signal heavy momentum. And we know momentum on the field is always imminent in Kelly’s offense. Philadelphia was much improved last season and it has improved again this season. There is nothing cheap about that.

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