Eagles

The gift of Eagles-Raiders predictions

The gift of Eagles-Raiders predictions

A Christmas win on Monday Night Football would be the perfect present for Eagles fans. 

Nick Foles was stellar in his first start of the season for the Birds (12-2) against the Giants, tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions. He'll hope to emulate his incredible, seven-touchdown performance in 2013, the first time he faced Oakland (see story).

The Raiders (6-8) have had a disappointing season. They lost a heartbreaker last Sunday night to the Cowboys, which all but eliminated them from playoff contention. 

The Eagles, however, can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win. It should be a raucous atmosphere at the Linc Monday night (8:30 p.m./ESPN). 

Our experts provide their predictions:

Reuben Frank (13-1)
The Eagles are 12-2 at home under Doug Pederson, Nick Foles has won his last eight regular-season starts at the Linc, the Raiders are 6-8 and playing out the string in a disappointing season and the Christmas evening crowd is going to be ready to keep the celebration going well into the night. The Eagles aren't losing this game.

They could start Nate Sudfeld and win this thing. The defense, after three weeks on the road, gets its act together and plays well, Foles puts together another efficient performance, the Eagles get the running attack back on track and clinch No. 1 seed for the first time since 2004 with a win over the Raiders. One thing I would love to see after the Eagles build up a big lead is Brent Celek getting the 28 yards he needs for 5,000 in his career. That would be a Christmas present every Eagles fan would enjoy! 

Eagles 27, Raiders 10

Dave Zangaro (11-3)
There was a time when this Christmas Day matchup between the Eagles and Raiders was supposed to be a must-watch. 

Eh. It's not anymore. 

The Eagles have been much better than expected and the Raiders have been much worse. It's set up a matchup between the 12-2 Eagles and the 6-8 Raiders at the Linc. 

At the Linc this season, the Eagles are a perfect 6-0, while the Raiders are just 2-4 on the road. 

As long as the Birds' defense bounces back a little and Nick Foles continues to look good, there's no reason the Eagles shouldn't win this one easily. 

Eagles 30, Raiders 20 

Derrick Gunn (11-3)
Nick Foles passed his first test, and everyone is breathing easier and feeling satisfied that Foles can keep the offensive efficiency going.

As for the Birds' defense, for a third straight game, they were on shaky ground. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told the media he's getting tired of repeating himself about how his defense needs to "get back to playing clean football and stop giving offenses help." 

Enter the Oakland Raiders, whose season turned out to be drastically different from the previous season. Quarterback Derek Carr and his offense can't find consistency and the defense can't make the necessary stops. Big play wide receiver Amari Cooper has been hampered by an ankle injury for several weeks and may have to sit this one out. The Raiders do have a pair of dangerous pass rushers in Pro bowler Khalil Mack (10.5 sacks) and Bruce Irvin (7.5 sacks). Right tackle Lane Johnson, selected to his first Pro Bowl, has been outstanding against premier edge rushers this season, but the other side of the line has been up and down. Left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai has struggled the past two games and may need some help protecting Foles' blind side.

This game might be the final time we see many of the Birds starters until the playoffs, so they'll want to put on a good show. 

Eagles 31, Raiders 20

Ray Didinger (12-2)
The Raiders are still alive (barely) in the AFC playoff race, but they are coming off two dispiriting losses to Kansas City and Dallas. It is hard to imagine them being too excited about traveling all the way across the country to play the Eagles on Christmas night. They probably just want to get this disappointing season over with.

Still, the Eagles can't afford to take this one for granted. They were lucky to squeeze past a two-win Giants team Sunday and while Nick Foles did a good job filling in for Carson Wentz, the defense was downright pitiful. I'm sure it has been an uncomfortable week in the defensive meeting room watching the tape of that performance with Jim Schwartz providing commentary.

That combined with the emotional lift of playing their first home game in almost a month and the incentive of wrapping up the top seed in the NFC should be enough to carry the day — or, in this case, the night.

Eagles 31, Raiders 21 

Andrew Kulp (12-2)
There’s a very real chance Oakland will be eliminated from playoff contention before kickoff, so you have to wonder what kind of energy the Raiders will bring to the Linc. It’s a cross-country trip, on Christmas, and Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn — one of 14 Raiders listed on the injury report this week — just landed on injured reserve.

The Eagles’ defense and, in particular, the secondary looks vulnerable, though the Raiders may not possess the mindset let alone healthy personnel to take advantage right now. I expected a blowout last week, too, against the Giants, and we all saw how that went, but that was an NFC East rivalry, on the road, and a team that had nowhere to go except up. The Eagles may just catch the Raiders at their lowest point.

Eagles 34, Raiders 10

Corey Seidman (9-4) 
Oakland’s pass rush will affect the Eagles early in this game, I think, but once the Eagles get their protections down, Nick Foles should be able to pick apart a shaky secondary. Offensively, the Raiders are reliant to a fault on jump-balls to Michael Crabtree. So as long as the Eagles can shut him down near the goal-line, this should be a multi-score win.

Eagles 27, Raiders 14

Meet the 99-year-old Eagles fan with a remarkable story

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Josh Potter

Meet the 99-year-old Eagles fan with a remarkable story

In Philadelphia, rabidly following the Eagles is a right of passage. Watch one game and you’re hooked. Like many lifelong fans, that’s what happened with Phil Basser.

In 1933. 

So to lump Basser in with the rest of the lifelong fans wouldn’t be right; he was actually born 15 years before the Eagles first took the field for their inaugural season in 1933. 

By now you’ve probably heard of Basser. How could you not have? He’s appeared in Sports Illustrated, made appearances on the local news and has become a Twitter sensation — all in the last week. He’s had a busier week than the team he roots for.

That busy week will culminate with suite tickets provided by the Eagles for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. Eighty-two years after Basser attended his first game in 1936, he’ll attend his first playoff game and his first game in “many years.”

If you caught last Sunday’s Vikings-Saints game, you surely caught Millie Wall’s story; a 99-year-old fan attending her first playoff game. A constant camera fixture — she even got to meet Commissioner Roger Goodell — she became a social media star within minutes.

A tweet by SNF on NBC of Wall was quickly passed around Twitter, where Josh Potter, the grandson of Basser, first saw it. Potter replied to the tweet, making his grandpa an instant internet sensation. See, social media isn’t all terrible.

This week, Wall's Vikings and Basser's Eagles will battle for a trip to the Super Bowl. But don't expect Basser to talk any trash.

"To Millie, I would say, 'I will be sure to toast to your 100th on July 4th,'” Basser said in an email correspondence with NBC Sports Philadelphia.

For “a simple guy who likes to live under the radar” like Basser, his meteoric rise to fame “is all a bit overwhelming.”

“The upside is getting calls and emails from the children of my old friends who have long since passed,” Basser said. “When you get to be 99, you don’t have a lot of childhood friends around. It’s been nice to reminisce about my youth.”

Basser — born March 6, 1918, in Philadelphia — has overcome a lot in his 99 years. His mother passed away when he was just four years old. His father, unable to provide for him and his sister, was forced to place his children in a Germantown foster home. Still, his father would come and visit on weekends. Years later, his sister Rose passed away at just 8 years old. 

So Philadelphia, the city and the Eagles — Basser estimates he’s attended “about 25 games” in his lifetime, many of them in those early days in the 1930s — have a deeper meaning than most to Basser.

Then World War ll broke out. Basser originally trained to be a pilot but was rerouted to ground warfare after the Allied invasion at Normandy, where he eventually served as a second lieutenant in the Philippines. 

“After World War II, I never thought there would be another war,” Basser said. “I thought, ‘Hey, I could use the extra income,’ so I enrolled in the army reserves. I was shocked when the Korean War broke out.”

“I was all set to get shipped to Korea and was actually being examined in the Schuylkill Arsenal in Philadelphia when my lifelong best friend, Louis Wexler, ran in and said he had bad news. I was pulled out of line and he told that my dad had had a sudden heart attack and passed away. I was given a 90-day compassionate leave. After the 90 days passed, my orders were changed to ship off to Germany because of heightened tensions with the Soviets.”

Much like the 2017 Eagles, Basser has overcome a great deal in his lifetime. And still, he remains positive. The Eagles’ and Basser’s stories of perseverance collided on Dec. 10 when Basser experienced his worst moment as an Eagles fan, “watching my hero Carson Wentz get carried off the field” with a torn ACL.

But it hasn't been all bad. Unlike younger Eagles fans, Basser has seen the team reach the pinnacle of the sport.  

“Seeing them slog in the snow and blustery wind during the 1960 championship game at Franklin Field,” replied when asked about his favorite Eagles’ memory. “They had to be true soldiers to do that and I was so impressed and inspired by them, and best of all, they won!”

He saw their last championship, and this year, Basser is confident he'll see another.

“There is an old saying, ‘Always a bridesmaid but never a bride,’” Basser said. “Well this year, I can’t wait to walk you down that 100-yard aisle to Super Bowl victory!”

So you like the Eagles to beat the Vikings this weekend?

“A hard fought battle but the Eagles will soar to VICTORY!”

The positive man that he is, Basser offered some condolences for the Vikings. 

“To the Vikings, I would say, ‘Keep plugging. You’ll get to the big time one year. Just not this year!’”

10 Eagles stats your probably didn't know

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AP Images

10 Eagles stats your probably didn't know

Catches by a running back, a run from scrimmage by a wide receiver, run defense and long field goals highlight this week's edition of 10 Random Eagles Stats You Probably Didn't Know (that I didn't know either)! 

• Devonta Freeman averaged 4.4 yards per carry during the regular season, but against the Eagles he ran 10 times for just seven yards. His 0.7 yards-per-carry is the lowest ever against the Eagles in a playoff game by a running back with 10 or more carries. The previous low was Mike Alstott’s 1.47 for the Buccaneers in 2002 (17-for-25). It’s seventh-lowest in NFL playoff history and worst by a running back since Tyrone Wheatley of the Raiders averaged 0.6 yards per carry (12-for-7) in a loss to the Ravens in 2000.

• The Eagles threw the football to their backs less this year than any season since 1956 and less than any team in the NFL during the regular season. Yet Saturday’s game was their first ever in postseason history in which they had two backs with at least three catches — Corey Clement with five and Jay Ajayi with three. 

• The Eagles rushed for 96 yards Saturday, their seventh consecutive postseason game under 100 yards. That’s the longest postseason streak in NFL history without 100 rushing yards. The Eagles haven’t had 100 rushing yards in a playoff game since the 2006 conference semifinal loss to the Saints, when they had 123.

• Jake Elliott’s 53-yard field goal was the longest in NFL history by a rookie, breaking the record of 50 yards set by Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots against the Chargers in 2006. It also broke the Eagles record of 51 yards set in the 2008 wild-card game against the Vikings by David Akers. It’s tied for 13th-longest field goal in NFL postseason history. 

• The Eagles held the Falcons to 86 rushing yards Saturday, ending a streak of nine straight playoff games in which they had allowed at least 100 rushing yards. That was the second-longest streak in NFL history. The 86 rushing yards are the fewest the Eagles have allowed in their last 14 playoff games. They held Tampa to 49 in 2002.

• Nelson Agholor’s 21-yard run was the longest in Eagles postseason history by a wide receiver. The previous long was a 13-yarder by Reggie Brown against the Giants in 2006. It was also the Eagles’ longest run from scrimmage in their last six games, since a 27-yarder by Correll Buckhalter against the Vikings in 2008.

• Saturday’s game was the ninth in Eagles postseason history in which they held a team to fewer than 200 passing yards and fewer than 100 rushing yards. They’re 9-0 in those games, allowing 8.0 points per game.

• The only team to score more than 10 points against the Eagles at the Linc in their last six home games is the Broncos, and they didn’t surpass 10 until they trailed 44-9. The Eagles’ defense has allowed 55 points in its last six home games, or 9.2 per game. 

• The Atlanta game was the first in Eagles postseason history in which they won despite no takeaways. They were 0-4 in franchise history in the playoffs when failing to force a turnover — the 1980 Super Bowl vs. the Raiders, the 1996 wild-card game in San Francisco, the 2001 NFC Championship Game in St. Louis and the 2003 NFC Championship Game against the Panthers at the Linc.  

• Matt Ryan’s 86.8 passer rating Saturday is the highest ever against the Eagles by a starting quarterback in a postseason loss. The Eagles had been 0-12 in franchise history in postseason games when the opposing starting QB had a passer rating higher than 84.5.