PHILADELPHIA -- Following a bad home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, which dropped the Philadelphia Eagles to 4-5 and put them two games behind the Washington Redskins in the division, quarterback Carson Wentz recognized that the bandwagon was likely emptying on the defending champs.
"We realize a lot of people are going to want to write us off at this point," he said. "Now it's just time to play ball and try and go shock some people."
To do so, they'll have to overcome not only a rash of injuries, but also the most difficult closing schedule in football.
Philly's remaining opponents have a combined record of 40-23. That .635 win percentage is tops in the NFL, per ESPN Stats & Information research, ahead of the remaining schedule of the Raiders (.592) and Jets (.570).
"Next week is as big as they come," said tight end Zach Ertz of the trip to New Orleans. "I thought [the Dallas game] was as big as they come. Next week is as big as they come."
If there's a silver lining, it's that four of the Eagles' remaining games are against NFC East opponents, including two against the Redskins. If they can make hay there, they can conceivably claw their way into the playoffs.
"Our division is right in front of us again. We have seven games remaining, and it's a prideful group," coach Doug Pederson said. "That's the thing. I trust those players in there. They'll get it figured out."
They'll have to do it short-handed. Cornerback Ronald Darby suffered a torn ACL on Sunday night. He'll be the ninth Eagle to hit injured reserve, joining Jay Ajayi, Rodney McLeod, Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins, Elie Bouka, Richard Rodgers, Mike Wallace and Paul Worrilow.
The Eagles have a heck of an uphill climb in their bid to repeat -- or even make the playoffs. Instead of looking at that mountain in front of them, the plan is to focus on the ground underneath their feet.
"You’re not allowed to look at the big picture at this point in time," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It’s just taking pride in the work that you do every single day. Whether it’s your preparation, the way you practice -- that’s all we can afford to look at at this point."