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5 biggest roadblocks between Eagles and Super Bowl LII

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5 biggest roadblocks between Eagles and Super Bowl LII

There's no arguing the Eagles aren't the best team in the NFL right now. They have the best record at 8-1. They have the longest winning streak at seven games. And they're second in the league in point differential.

Of course, none of that guarantees the Eagles a trip to the Super Bowl, let alone a world championship. And in a season where there are a lot of bad, rudderless teams, and a lot of breaks appear to be going their way, there are actually quite a few teams that are hot on the Eagles' heels as well.

Just in the Eagles' conference alone, there are several surprise contenders are springing up alongside some of the usual suspects. Legitimate threats, many only a game or two back of the Eagles.

Sure, the Packers are out of the mix without Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons aren't the powerhouse they were last season. The Giants' inevitable fall was harder and faster than expected. Yet, the Eagles appear to have plenty of competition on the road to the Super Bowl.

In fact, the NFC feels kind of stacked right now, which — as good as the Eagles are — should probably scare people.

5. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
Yes, the Eagles already beat the Panthers. They did in Charlotte, too, which more than likely won't be the case if there's a rematch, and that was even in the face of some of the most lopsided officiating we've seen. But the case could be made Carolina hasn't peaked yet. Quarterback Cam Newton is getting stronger and stronger after offseason shoulder surgery, and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly exited that game early with an injury. It's hard to beat any team twice in this league to begin with. The Panthers might be better the next time around, and are only a year-and-a-half removed from a Super Bowl appearance themselves, so they know what it takes to get there.

4. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
A case could easily be made the Seahawks are overrated. Their defense is great, but the offense comes and goes. Seattle doesn't run the ball effectively and can't protect quarterback Russell Wilson. And while this core group went to back-to-back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014, they haven't made it past the divisional round the last two years. Yet, this is a team that usually gets stronger around this point of the season and always looks like a force to be reckoned with by the time January rolls around. Until they prove otherwise, I tend to believe the Seahawks have that in them. Then again, we'll get a preview when the Eagles visit Seattle in Week 13.

3. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
The Cowboys clearly pose the biggest threat to the Eagles even before the postseason rolls around. With two games against Dallas over the last seven weeks of the season, they could have a dramatic impact on playoff season. A pair of losses would make it difficult for the Eagles to secure home-field advantage throughout or a bye, even put the NFC East up for grabs. And if the Eagles do manage to secure home field and a bye, the potential exists to see the Cowboys again on the doorstep to the Super Bowl -- the conference championship. Which team is better isn't even the question here. Dallas has more opportunities to screw with the Eagles' shot between now and February, and as a division rival, perhaps more motivation than anybody else, too.

2. Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
The only team in the NFL with a better point differential than the Eagles — by a whopping four points — the Rams might be the most intriguing team on this list. Last year's No. 1 overall draft choice, quarterback Jared Goff, has sort of taken a back seat to Carson Wentz, but has been extremely impressive as well. And in case you didn't notice, that's a Wade Phillips defense in LA, one that only seems to be improving as the season progresses. The Rams schedule down the stretch will be a good test as to whether this squad is for real, including a visit from the Eagles in Week 14. If what we've seen the first nine weeks is legit, though, they are a scary bunch.

1. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
The hottest team in the league right now after the Eagles probably isn't who anybody would've expected, either, but the Saints are legit. They finally aren't asking the world of quarterback Drew Brees, who can sling the football as well as anybody and has actually won a championship. The sudden emergence of a decent defense in New Orleans changes everything. After an 0-2 start, the Saints have won six in a row, with opponents averaging 15.0 points per game during that span. Good luck beating Brees that way. Obviously, the Eagles might have more success, but we wouldn't be able to find out if and until they meet in the playoffs. By then, it could be the NFC Championship, and the Saints would be both the only remaining threat and the greatest unknown standing in the path to the Super Bowl.

Honorable mention: Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
From the looks of things, a very good team is going to miss the playoffs this season -- and I don't necessarily mean the Vikings. Yet, assuming Minnesota does earn a berth into the tournament, their quarterback situation is a mess. Case Keenum is the guy for now, and while the team is winning games, he's extremely limited. Sam Bradford was on fire, but may not play again due to another knee injury. Teddy Bridgewater just came off the physically unable to perform list and his ascension to starter might be inevitable, but he hasn't played in a year-and-a-half. This is an outstanding team otherwise, but if they don't have a QB come January, the Eagles would eat them alive.

Watch Eagles roast Jay Ajayi after 71-yard run for getting caught

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Watch Eagles roast Jay Ajayi after 71-yard run for getting caught

It's not everyday you see an Eagles player take the ball and run for 71 yards. So Philadelphia fans understandably went bonkers when Jay Ajayi did just that in the Birds' win over the Cowboys on Sunday.

It's also not that frequent that you see a dude get chased down from behind on such a play.

Sadly, the latter happened to Ajayi and his teammates let him hear it on the sidelines after. The fantastic Inside the NFL gave us an up-close look at the roasting.

You almost feel bad for Ajayi, like Kenjon Barner is laying it on a little too thick.

"You slow as $#@!," one player tells him.

"They're gonna lower my speed on Madden," Ajayi says.

Chip Kelly is going back where he belongs

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USA Today Images

Chip Kelly is going back where he belongs

After spending the year out of football, former Eagles coach Chip Kelly is returning to the sideline — and might be aligning with ex-Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman in the process.

According to reports, Kelly is expected to accept a head coaching job at one of two college football programs. The decision is down to Florida and UCLA, and he is rumored to have already turned away other high-profile programs such as Nebraska and Tennessee.

UCLA may be Kelly's most likely landing spot at this point, with alumnus Aikman putting on a "full-court press," says ESPN's Mark Schlabach, and Florida supposedly wanting an answer ASAP.

Wherever Kelly winds up going, that should end his unsuccessful foray into the NFL once and for all. Consider this an obituary of sorts.

The move will cement Kelly as a "college coach," if his pro tenure hadn't accomplished that already. After guiding the Eagles to the playoffs and being named Coach of the Year in his first season, he missed the postseason the next two years and was fired. Kelly got the hook again after one miserable season with the 49ers, bottoming out with a 2-14 record.

There are no shortage of excuses for why Kelly flamed out in the NFL. Lack of talent — specifically under center — was certainly a factor, though his failed stint as the chief talent evaluator in his final season with the Eagles certainly contributed to that.

The simple truth is not everything that works in college translates at the next level, and Kelly never adjusted.

Kelly only turns 54 this week, so a return to the professional ranks years down the road isn't completely out of the question. After his last two trainwreck seasons in the league, it's difficult to imagine what an organization would still see.

Employing schemes that aren't suited to the team's personnel, calling the same 10 to 15 plays every game, eliminating the quarterback's ability to call an audible or even something as small as never using a snap count may work at university. Those concepts are fundamentally opposed to what has been successful in the NFL.

Honestly, it's kind of too bad. The Eagles could use that easy W on the schedule periodically.

Perhaps the Eagles should just be grateful to have survived Kelly's radical changes without overhauling the entire roster again, and somehow coming out better off for everything. After releasing DeSean Jackson, trading away LeSean McCoy, trading for Sam Bradford, and spending huge sums of money on the likes of DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell -- to name a few, and all in the span of a year -- the franchise easily could've wound up in the tank.

There's no denying Kelly looked like a genius while at Oregon, racking up 46-7 record and three top-five finishes in four seasons as head coach. Yet like so many college coaches before him, and many bound to come after, he was never destined for sustained success in the NFL.