The Philadelphia Eagles know and understand the opportunity that they have set in front of themselves with their strong start to the season. A 8-1, they have the best record in the NFL, matching their best start through the first half of the year since 2004, when they posted the same record in their first eight games.

In fact, the Eagles have started 8-1 for just the fifth time in franchise history (tied for the Eagles’ best start all-time through 9 games), having previously done so in 2004, 1980, 1960 and 1949 with each of those teams making it to the Championship game.

With that record comes expectations, with just seven games left in the season following this bye week, the expectations continue to rise with every win and every Carson Wentz touchdown pass, something Eagles head coach Doug Pederson knows he has to deal with.

"My job is to make sure that we stay focused and stay grounded," Pederson explained. "We've just got to continue to stay with the one-game mentality. That's been a good formula for us this season. We can't get looking down the road and upcoming opponents and scenarios. That's for the media to speculate on and talk about."

"But we've just got to make sure that we maintain our focus, understand what got us to where we are right now today at 8-1, and continue that process moving forward."

While the 8-1 record looks great on paper, there is plenty of challengers in the NFC this season. Dallas, Seattle, Minnesota, New Orleans and the Rams all look like legit contenders at this stage of the season.  All of them have three losses or less, and thus the battle for home-field begins now with the Eagles holding the keys to hosting playoff games at Lincoln Financial Field.

And this team is not taking lightly the fact that they have gotten themselves where they are.  As Pederson reflected on what has impressed him the most about the first nine games and how the team has started this season.

"Well, when the schedule came out, the early road games. That was going to be a big test for our football team because we didn't do so well last year on the road," Pederson acknowledged.

"So wanted to make sure that we kind of got off to a fast start and we were able to do that outside of the Kansas City game. Then really, the way they've overcome the injuries to start the season. You lose [CB Ronald] Darby in the first game and you go down the list, you're getting [DT] Beau Allen back at that time. At the same time, Fletch [DT Fletcher Cox] goes down, [S] Rodney McLeod is out, you've got [S] Chris Maragos back there. You have moving parts all over the place. Then JP [T Jason Peters], and the guys are just, the way they have fought through these first nine games with the injuries has been pretty amazing. Then how now we're getting guys healthy and getting back to full strength, this break has been a good time for us."

Last year after a 3-1 start, the cracks in the Eagles armour began to show, and after nine games the birds were a 5-4 team. To give you a better indication of how fast things can change, at one point, the Eagles lost five in a row and 7-of-9 before winning their last two games of the season. 

With two games left against Dallas, one in Seattle and one in Los Angeles against the Rams, this season is far from over, but should be a wild ride to the finish line.

More From 97.3 ESPN