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Why have the Eagles been so successful on Thursday Night Football? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles are 1-4-1 after losing to the Ravens on Sunday and lost even more valuable players to injury.
The good news: They get to play on Thursday Night Football.
Since Doug Pederson became the Eagles’ head coach back in 2016, the Eagles have a 5-0 record on Thursday nights. That’s the best record in the NFL during that span (the Seahawks are 4-0).
So what has made the Eagles so good on Thursdays?
“Honestly, I make light of it, but my wife tells me all the time that you can put a game plan together in a day and go win a game on Thursday night,” Pederson said, relaying the message from his wife Jeannie. “Why can't you do that for a Sunday game, right? So she kind of kids me a little bit that way.”
Well, it’s a valid question.
Maybe it’s purely coincidence that the Eagles are 5-0 on Thursday nights or maybe there’s something else to it. Under Chip Kelly, the Eagles were 1-2 on Thursdays.
“But I do think that there's some validity, so to speak, to keeping it simple,” Pederson said. “To going back to some of your training camp-type plays. Utilizing all your personnel. And a lot of it, too, falls on the players. It's more of a narrow focus, a laser focus for a couple of days. Focusing in on the game plan. It's all about mental preparation over the physical.
“And really, we just keep -- I talk about the preparation and hard work all the time. Well, weeks like this, it's going to take preparation and hard work to get it done again with where we are as a football team.
“But I give a lot of credit to the players, too. They respond well to the messaging that I present, and they handle the week really good.”
The Eagles are 5-0 on Thursday nights under Pederson and have a point differential of +44. Here’s a look at all five Thursday Night Football games during the Pederson Era:
Dec. 22, 2016: vs. Giants — Win 24-19
Oct. 12, 2017: at Panthers — Win 28-23
Sept. 6, 2018: vs. Falcons — Win 18-12
Oct. 11, 2018: at Giants — Win 34-13
Sept. 26, 2019: at Packers — Win 34-27
Of those five wins on Thursdays, four of them have come on four-days rest while that win over the Falcons game came in the season opener. So the Eagles had more time to prepare for that one. But even if you just counted the other four, they’d still be tied for the best record in TNF over the last four seasons.
And two of the Eagles’ five wins on TNF have come against the Giants, who happen to be 0-4 in Thursday night games during the same span that the Eagles are 5-0.
So Thursday’s matchup will literally be the best Thursday Night Football team of the past five years against the worst.
During his press conference with New York media on Monday, Giants Joe Judge said his staff’s work on the Eagles began in the spring and summer when they look back at the historical tendencies of their opponents. And he said he always works ahead on the next week’s opponent early.
So maybe that will help the Giants this week.
But Pederson should keep doing what he’s done the last four years. Because we know that works.