The Philadelphia Eagles have repeatedly made the case that they're in the running not only for a division title and a playoff berth but a championship run in 2017.
The preseason promise might not have done it for you. The early-season unity of the team's locker room might not have done it for you. Quarterback Carson Wentz's midseason MVP numbers might not have done it for you. Heck, the Birds dropping 50 points on the NFL's "top" defense Sunday -- a feat that lifted Philly to a league-leading 8-1 entering the bye week -- might not have done it for you, either.
Maybe, just maybe, history will make the case for you.
Because history says that, like it or not, the Eagles are onto something. Something Super.
After starting the 2017 season with eight wins in their first nine games, Doug Pederson's Eagles have raced out to the franchise's best start since 2004, when the team didn't get its second loss until Week 16 and ultimately finished 13-3. Interestingly enough, however, 2004 happens to be just one of four different Eagles seasons that began with an 8-1 stretch and ended with a championship appearance.
The last four times Philadelphia opened its regular season 8-1, here's what happened, as many have pointed out:
2004: Advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX
1980: Advanced to Super Bowl XV
1960: Won the NFL championship
1949: Won the NFL championship
That's right. Since the '40s, when the Eagles captured back-to-back pre-Super Bowl titles in 1948 and '49, the team has either appeared in or won the championship when it has opened on an 8-1 run.
League-wide history says the odds are in the Eagles' favor when it comes to simply making the postseason, too, and that's to be expected considering Philadelphia has already guaranteed itself a non-losing season after nine games. As NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano noted, every single one of the 35 teams to start 8-1 since 1990 has earned a playoff berth. The Eagles, who have already won one more game than they did in all of Pederson's 2016 debut, would buck their own streak of postseason absences by continuing that trend -- they last appeared in the playoffs in 2014 and last won a playoff game in 2008.
A lot of the team's success has been attributed to the second-year leap by Wentz, and the young Eagles quarterback also plays a part in the historical numbers game. There's the oddball stuff, like the fact that he wears the same jersey number as Norm Van Brocklin, the last quarterback to win Philadelphia a championship. Then there's the real stuff. Like, in throwing four touchdowns for the third time this season on Sunday, Wentz became the youngest signal-caller with 23 touchdown passes through nine games since the Miami Dolphins' Dan Marino threw 27 in 1984, the same year the Dolphins -- wait for it -- went to the Super Bowl.
There's still plenty of football to be played in 2017, of course, and with the Dallas Cowboys stacking wins together in advance of an NFC East clash with the Eagles in Week 11, it's far too early to crown Wentz and Philly anything other than the divisional front-runners they are. If the Eagles' on-field cohesion hasn't been enough to warrant your attention, however, perhaps the historical significance will.