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Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 14 picks: NFC showdowns highlight the weekend as playoff race heats up

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Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 14 picks: NFC showdowns highlight the weekend as playoff race heats up

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 14 of the NFL season. 

Eagles at Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
What a matchup this should be. The top two players selected in the 2016 NFL draft showcasing their skills on the same field (see story). Carson Wentz is further along in his development than Jared Goff, but Goff has made significant strides.

Both teams have scored 361 points this season. That's tops in the league, and both offenses lead the league in scoring, averaging 30.1 points.

Can the Rams' offensive line hold off the Eagles' defensive pressure up front? Can the Birds' O-line control Rams DT Aaron Donald, who has 71 QB pressures? The Rams' defense is third in the league with 37 sacks, and the Eagles' D is tied for seventh with 33.

Will the Birds' deep and versatile RB stable be able to do damage? Will the league's No. 2 rusher Todd Gurley (939 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, eight TDs) find room to roam?

Zach Ertz (concussion protocol) could be a big loss to the Birds' passing game. The Rams' top pass catcher and deep threat Robert Woods (shoulder injury) is listed as questionable.

Wade Phillips and Jim Schwartz are two of the best defensive coordinators in the game. Rams head coach Sean McVay is the same one who used to give Eagles' defenses fits when he was the Washington Redskins' offensive coordinator from 2014-16 (see story). Yes, I know the Eagles' defensive personnel is much better than in the past, but I don't like this matchup for the Birds on the left coast.

Playoff seeding is at stake. I've gone back and forth many times on which way to go. My hunch tells me to go with the Rams.

Pick: Rams 27, Eagles 24

Colts at Bills, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Bills wilted in their chance to show the Patriots last Sunday that they are playoff worthy. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is questionable this week with a knee injury, wide receiver Jordan Matthews has been placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, and cornerback Tre’Davious White, who suffered a concussion against the Pats, is practicing on a limited basis. The Colts are out of playoff contention. They’ve lost three straight and six of their last seven. Head coach Chuck Pagano is also on the hot seat. That seat gets even hotter for Pagano after this loss to Buffalo.

Pick: Bills

Bears at Bengals, 1 p.m. on FOX
The Bears couldn’t even hold on at home to beat the Niners. The Bengals just lost a tough division war with the Steelers, but Marvin Lewis gets his guys to play hard every week. The Bears will lose their sixth in a row in what should be Lewis’ 15th and final season in Cincy. Bengals fans say enough is enough.

Pick: Bengals

Packers at Browns, 1 p.m. on FOX
The fact that the Pack are hanging on to a faint playoff hope by a wing and a prayer is amazing in itself. Aaron Rodgers is practicing, but still two weeks away from game ready. The Browns are still the Browns. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer is winless in 11 starts, but the organization likes his potential. All Browns fans want for Christmas is a win, but it won’t happen this week.

Pick: Packers

Raiders at Chiefs, 1 p.m. on CBS
Just think ... a month ago this AFC West matchup seemed meaningless, but thanks to the Chiefs' ineptitude lately, this is a showdown for first place. Andy Reid’s crew has lost four straight and six of its last seven, plus 'Big Red' has suspended his star corner Marcus Peters for stupidity. As for the Raiders, winners of two in a row, Derek Carr’s favorite receiver Amari Cooper is questionable with an ankle issue. Oakland handed KC its second loss of the season weeks ago, and my lack of faith in the Chiefs leads me to believe Oakland adds to their current misery.

Pick: Raiders

Cowboys at Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
What a week it’s been for the Giants. Eli Manning’s consecutive starts streak ends, head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese get fired, Manning gets his starting job back and then defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo takes over as interim head coach. The headlines are out of control in the Big Apple. Spags will try to get his guys to play inspired football, which shouldn’t be too hard to do considering it's against their division rivals. Dallas is still limping along without Zeke, but should be able to hold off the G-Men.

Pick: Cowboys

Lions at Buccaneers, 1 p.m. on FOX
The Lions are in big trouble if Matthew Stafford can’t go because of a hand injury. The Bucs wasted a great Jameis Winston performance at Green Bay. What is it about this Lions team that seems to fall apart in December? I like the Bucs at home.

Pick: Buccaneers

Vikings at Panthers, 1 p.m. on CBS
Another marquee matchup on the day. What the Vikings' defense did to the Falcons last week was down right impressive. Cam Newton will be elated to have his tight end Greg Olsen available for this battle, hoping to rebound from the Panthers' loss to the Saints last week, but the Vikings' defense is just too strong for Cam and company to overcome.

Pick: Vikings

49ers at Texans, 1 p.m. on FOX
The Niners are feeling good about themselves after a comeback win in Chicago. The Texans were averaging 34.7 points per game with Deshaun Watson at the helm, but now are putting up just 14.7 points per game with Tom Savage leading the way. This one could be closer than it should be, but the Texans will successfully defend their home turf.

Pick: Texans

Jets at Broncos, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Todd Bowles' Jets scored a big win over the Chiefs in Week 13 and now will try to creep one game closer to .500 at Denver. The Broncos have their first losing season since 2010. John Elway says he’s embarrassed and we agree that he should be with his team, losers of eight in a row. What a season it’s been for the Jets' 38-year-old quarterback Josh McCown, who was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after his performance against Kansas City. Denver will feel the wrath of the old man on Sunday.

Pick: Jets

Titans at Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
The Titans better be careful or this could be a trap game in the 'Zona desert. You never know which Cardinals team will show up. The Titans, who are trying to keep even with Jacksonville atop the AFC South, will need a strong run game to help them through this one. Bruce Arians' guys would love to knock the Titans off their perch, but I don’t think it will happen.

Pick: Titans

Redskins at Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Hey, remember when the Chargers were 0-4? Yeah, well now they’re in a three-way tie for first in the AFC West and riding a three-game win streak. It should be a good shootout between Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins. The 'Skins have injuries all over the place, but Jay Gruden says his guys will be ready. I say the Chargers go over .500 for the first time this season.

Pick: Chargers

Seahawks at Jaguars, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
You want rock 'em sock 'em football? Then this game is it. The Seahawks have had a long tradition of being a physical team, and the Jags are the new physical kids on the block. Both teams need this game to stay in the chase for their divisions and playoff positioning. I like the way Jacksonville plays on both sides of the ball, but I like the Seahawks' experience more.

Pick: Seahawks

Ravens at Steelers, 8:30 p.m. on NBC
This AFC North rivalry  is old school football. Brass knuckles, extra punches, whatever it takes to win.  The Steelers are riding a seven-game win streak and have a three-game lead on the Ravens. Right now, the Ravens are more concerned about clinging to the sixth seed. In the last two games, the Steelers had to rally to beat Green Bay and Cincinnati … they’ll find a way to get it done against the Ravens.

Pick: Ravens

Patriots at Dolphins, 8:30 p.m., Monday night on ESPN
Can anyone stop the Pats? Right now the answer is no! Only New England can stop itself and that doesn’t appear likely to happen. Tom Brady continues to show age is only a number. The Pats have averaged 33 points per game over their last four games, and have won by an average of 22 points per game over that time frame. The Dolphins are in for a long night.

Pick: Patriots

Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

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Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

The Eagles are scheduled to have a pretty boring Day 2 of the draft this year. Because after they pick at No. 32, they don’t have another selection until the 31st pick of the fourth round. 

That means 98 players will be taken between the Eagles’ first and second picks. And they’ll have to watch other teams pick that entire Friday (Rounds 2-3) without them … unless they make a move. 

“We’re not looking at it like we’re sitting out on Friday,” Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman said. “We’re going through our draft process looking at every scenario. When we get to Friday, we get to Friday.” 

Even if the Eagles don’t make a move, they’ll be plenty busy on Saturday, the final day of the draft. They have two fourth-round picks and one pick in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. 

Eagles personnel head Joe Douglas showed up to his media availability with a stat ready to go to illustrate the importance of Day 3. 

“We’re excited that we have five picks on Saturday,” Douglas said. “When you look at the Super Bowl, there’s 22 starters that were third-round picks or lower. Of those 22, 18 of them were fourth-round picks or lower. So 18 starters in the Super Bowl this year were fourth-round picks or lower, including six of them that were undrafted free agents. We choose to keep the glass half full.” 

Douglas is right on all those stats — 22 of 44 starters in the Super Bowl were drafted in the third or lower and 18 of them would be considered Day 3 picks. Not bad. 

Here’s how the Super Bowl starters broke down by round: 1-10, 2-12, 3-4, 4-4, 5-3, 6-3, 7-2, UDFA-6. 

The Eagles accounted for seven of the 18 players who were drafted in the fourth round or later, so the Patriots were the ones who found even more value late in drafts. And of those seven, just three were original Eagles — Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jason Kelce and Jalen Mills. 

Of the six undrafted players who started in the Super Bowl, two were from the Eagles — LeGarrette Blount and Rodney McLeod. Neither was an original Eagle, but the Birds also relied heavily on running back Corey Clement, who was an undrafted rookie last season. 

With a dearth of high draft picks, it would make sense if the Eagles attack the undrafted market following the draft, but Douglas thinks it won’t be as easy as many might think. 

“You would think because we’re coming off a Super Bowl, we don’t have a second or third round pick that it would be a lot easier after the draft,” Douglas said. “But my experience coming off a Super Bowl, it’s sometimes harder to get guys to commit to your roster because agents and players have a perceived notion that it’s going to be that much tougher to make the team. I think that’s going to be a challenge. I think that’s going to be a challenge for us and we know it and we’re going to attack it.”

The Eagles in recent years have shown a willingness to pony up significant money to entice undrafted players to sign with them and if Douglas is right, they might need to do it again to land some this year. 

Either way, the Eagles know how important Day 3 and beyond can be. So when they’re bored on Day 2, they don’t plan on losing focus. 

Eagles reward Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with reworked contract

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Eagles reward Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with reworked contract

The Eagles gave Nick Foles a little raise on Friday, reworking the Super Bowl MVP’s contract, a league source confirmed. 

Basically, the Eagles are rewarding Foles after he helped the franchise win its first-ever Super Bowl a few months ago. 

Foles, 29, is still entering the final year of his contract with the Eagles, but the new deal also includes a mutual option for the 2019 season, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The mutual option will still allow Foles the possibility to test the free agent market next season, but could leave the door open to a possible return beyond this upcoming season. 

Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport from NFL Network first reported the revised contract, which includes a $2 million signing bonus and “several millions in incentives if he’s the starter and hits various benchmarks,” according to Rapoport. 

That part makes a ton of sense. If for some reason Carson Wentz isn’t ready to play in 2018 or if he goes down again, Foles will have a chance to earn what might be closer to starter money. 

Foles was set to earn a base salary of $4 million in 2018, with a salary cap hit of $7.6 million on the contract before Friday’s renegotiation. 

Wentz and Foles grew very close last season — third-string QB Nate Sudfeld too — and have both been very selfless in a situation that would be awkward for many others in the league. But both have been incredibly selfless throughout the entire process. Just this week, Wentz admitted he had to fight jealousy but was truly happy for his teammate and friend, who became the Super Bowl hero (see story)

Earlier on Friday, Foles tweeted out this photo with his wife and daughter from the NovaCare Complex. That’s a $2 million smile.