Eagles

Eagles-Seahawks predictions

Eagles-Seahawks predictions

A win in Week 13 would be pretty special for the Eagles.

It would mark their 10th straight while clinching the NFC East.

But standing in the way are the Seahawks (7-4) and CenturyLink Field, a combination the NFL-best Eagles (10-1) will try to tackle on Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m./NBC).

Can Carson Wentz and company punch their playoff ticket in Seattle?

Our experts provide their predictions:

Reuben Frank (11-0)
The Eagles have been blowing out teams so routinely lately it’s hard to remember what a close game feels like. It’s been a while. Sunday night, they face a team that certainly isn’t going to get blown out. The Seahawks have never lost a game by more than a touchdown under Russell Wilson, so most likely we will see an intense, taut game decided in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter.

But let’s be honest. The Seahawks are not who they used to be. With their injuries and changes, some of the intimidation factor is gone. No Marshawn Lynch. No Richard Sherman. No Kam Chancellor. Different team. And at home, where they were essentially unbeatable from 2012 through last year, they just lost to the Falcons and the Redskins.

So good game. Close game. Competitive game. But I see one team moving up into the NFC elite and one team that’s maybe moving out. Birds keep on rolling. Bring on the Rams! 

Eagles 27, Seahawks 26

Dave Zangaro (9-2)
I know Seattle is supposed to be a scary place to play and I know the Seahawks are supposed to be unbeatable there. But they're not. There's a reason Seattle has lost its last two home games: it's not that team anymore. 

Sure, it still has Wilson, who is really special. And it has Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner on defense, who are both fantastic. But this isn't the same team that won the Super Bowl. This isn't even the same team the Eagles faced last year in Seattle. 

And the Eagles aren't the same team from last year either. The Birds are the best team in football and they now have a chance to clinch the division on Sunday Night Football. They're going to do it. 

You have probably heard a lot about the Eagles' easy schedule this season, but they're a reason it looks so easy. They've beaten teams so bad that those teams have trouble recovering. And now those wins in L.A. and Carolina look much better. Add another quality victory to the list this weekend. The Eagles are going to prove their dominance. 

Eagles 31, Seahawks 21

Derrick Gunn (10-1)
Now we get to a game that means something. After four weeks of watching the Birds blow out lesser competition, they step up in a challenge against a foe that knows how to prepare for big encounters. The Seahawks have been to the playoffs five years in a row, including two Super Bowl appearances. The 'Hawks are hurting on defense — Sherman is out for the year, Chancellor has a neck injury and Cliff Avril is out, as well. But Seattle still has that guy Wilson, who has thrown for 23 touchdown passes this year — 15 of them have come in the last six games. Wilson is the master of the scramble drill and he has a versatile group of talented receivers. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles' secondary matches up with their personnel. 

Carson Wentz and his offense will be thoroughly tested by the Seahawks' defensive scheme. If the Birds can get their run game going, it will take a lot of pressure off Wentz in the passing game. A win for the Eagles in the loudest stadium in the NFL will go a long way in terms of preparing them for what's to come in the postseason. So many different ways this one could go, but I'm going with a hunch that Wentz learned some valuable lessons about how to play in that environment last year, and because this team is on a roll right now, I'll say Eagles.

Eagles 23, Seahawks 20

Ray Didinger (10-1)
There was a time when the Seahawks were unbeatable at CenturyLink Field. Remember the 12th Man Mystique? The crowd noise that made it almost impossible for a visiting team to run a play?

Well, CenturyLink is still loud but it is no longer an intimidating place. Why? Simple. The team isn't as good. Injuries have crippled the defense and with Lynch gone, it can't run the football. Wilson leads the team in rushing by almost 200 yards. He is the reason the Seahawks (7-4) are still alive in the playoff race.

The Seahawks have lost their last two home games and they haven't lost three in a row at CenturyLink since 2008. I'm sure the Seahawks will be ready to play on Sunday and the 12th Man will be at full roar, but right now the Eagles are the better team.

Eagles 28, Seahawks 21

Andrew Kulp (10-1)
Two weeks ago, the Falcons went into Seattle and tied a season high with 34 points against the once-vaunted Seahawks defense. It simply isn't the same unit without Sherman and Chancellor in the secondary, and I would expect Wentz to expose this weakness.

Wilson may be able keep the Seahawks afloat for awhile, but if the Eagles can score their weekly 30, they should be safe.

Eagles 34, Seahawks 21

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Carson Wentz is out, Nick Foles is in. 

And the Eagles claim their offense isn't going to change. 

On it's face, that seems somewhat absurd. After all, Wentz is more than an average quarterback. He's the face of the Eagles' franchise and was an MVP candidate through 13 weeks. Foles was once a Pro Bowler, but there's a reason he wasn't a starter entering this season. 

So how will the offense look different? 

"I don't expect it will look different at all," Foles said adamantly.  

Why is that? 

"Because it's our offense," Foles answered. "This is the Eagles' offense. This is the one that is the DNA of this team. And we're going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things. We just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving." 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally admitted that there will be "very minor tweaks" to the Eagles' weekly game plans with Foles in at quarterback. But he made the same point as Foles, that the system is built around the QB, but also around the other talent on offense. 

There is, however, one pretty significant difference between Wentz and Foles. 

"Now, Carson has some unique physical traits that he does exceptionally well, but it's nothing that Nick can't handle," Reich said. "We're full steam ahead."

The Eagles run plenty of run-pass option plays, but head coach Doug Pederson pointed out on Monday that the Eagles very rarely use their quarterback to run the ball in those situations. And as far as RPOs go, Foles has used them plenty before. 

Another part of the offense that has been tailored to Wentz is the autonomy the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage. Wentz has been able to make calls and checks pre-snap based on what the defense shows. It seems like Foles will have that same ability, which is something he's excited about. 

"Understand this, he's a veteran player who has played and won a lot of games, not only here, but other places that he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player."

Pederson said he and Foles will talk weekly to make sure his quarterback is comfortable with the plays that go into the game plan. So, theoretically, things could be different. But based on what the offensive leaders of the team have said, don't expect wholesale changes. 

Now, what might change about the offense isn't necessarily by design. Because of Wentz's unique physical gifts and escapability, he's able to make incredible plays. The escape in Washington, the throw to Corey Clement in the end zone, the deep flick down the sideline in Seattle, those are plays only a handful of guys in the world can make. It would be unfair to expect Foles to make them. 

But as far as game-planning goes, the Eagles are going to do what they've done. 

"I feel comfortable in this offense," Foles said. "I love this offense. We're going to run this offense. Nothing's going to change."

Foles dealt with elbow soreness during the summer, but says his elbow now feels "amazing" and is not an issue. That's good news for the Eagles, because at least Foles has plenty of starting experience. His backup, Nate Sudfeld, has never even been active for an NFL game. 

The Eagles' hopes in 2017 rest on the shoulders of Foles. 

"I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip," Foles said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team. There's no other place I'd rather be. That's why I came back here. ... I'm ready to step up and help this team win."

Doug Pederson needs to give his new QB some help

usa-doug-pederson-eagles-cowboys.jpg
USA Today Images

Doug Pederson needs to give his new QB some help

I know you're feeling conflicted right now. The Eagles are 11-2, tied for the best record in the NFL. They've already clinched the NFC East. Home-field advantage and a playoff bye are a very real possibility. But the Carson Wentz injury is an equalizer and then some.

On the bright side, the Flyers steadied their sinking ship in Western Canada by winning three straight. But the Sixers have dropped four in a row. Maybe the Phils will land Jake Arrieta or Manny Machado? Dare to dream. You're up, you're down. Welcome to Philadelphia sports. So what better time to provide some nice, healthy Rob's Rants? Letting things out can be therapeutic and after the Wentz news, I need to vent a little.    

Run-pass-option
It's hard to find fault with Doug Pederson this season. He's done an excellent job game planning and having his team prepared week in and week out, and his most impressive work has been his ability to overcome injuries. The Eagles have lost Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos, just to name a few. All of the above represent major core pieces and Pederson's team is 11-2. Losing Wentz trumps them all and presents the head coach's biggest challenge. So look at this not so much as a rant but a plea to Doug P. moving forward.     

Nick Foles entered the Rams game late in the third quarter with the Eagles trailing 35-31. Certainly a difficult spot for any backup. He hadn't taken a meaningful snap all season. Logic would dictate emphasizing the run to let him get his feet wet. This was not the late fourth quarter, no timeouts, need to move down the field quickly type of circumstances. Further, the Eagles have three very capable running backs.

Pederson elected to throw the ball five straight times and called pass plays on eight of nine in the possession. The Birds did wind up getting a field goal on the drive and Foles completed three passes, but you wonder if it's the wisest move to drop Foles back that much, that quickly. I know Doug has been aggressive all season and that in part has helped the Eagles get where they are, and I'm also well aware of the heat he took by many (including me) for being too passive in the Seattle loss. But with Foles' lack of mobility in the pocket and the left side of the Eagles' offensive line struggling mightily against the pass rush, a bigger dose of the run could have made his transition back to starter a little smoother. But beyond the Rams game, balance and a commitment to the run will be Foles' best friend, along with a strong defense.    

Sixers struggles
It's one thing to lose in Cleveland and New Orleans, especially without Joel Embiid for both games and Robert Covington vs. the Pelicans. It's another to drop home games to the likes of the Suns and the Lakers prior to those defeats. For that, there is no excuse. The Sixers have lost four in a row and stand at 13-13. They continue to turn the ball over at an alarming rate and of late have not come to play to start games, particularly at home. Some of this can be chalked up to youth. Some not so much.

They are losing far too many 50-50 balls. Too many offensive rebounds and second chances allowed. That's just hustle and want. They also need veterans like Jerryd Bayless to be better, especially in the absence of T.J. McConnell. I've pointed this out before in this space but the Sixers are beyond losing to the NBA's dregs. It would also be nice to get the No. 1 overall pick from this past draft on the floor at some point.    

Army-Navy
Let's close out this Rob's Rants on two positives. First, the 118th edition of Army-Navy football was played Saturday right here in Philadelphia. It is everything that is right about sports and our country. The men doing battle on that field at the Linc put sports into the context it deserves. Battle hard on the field, win or lose, respect to your opponent, represent our service men and women and country. Then it's on to further protecting and serving. They are truly unique individuals. And to have it played in the snow in such a cool setting was awesome.

DJ and the Kernal
Lastly, Dick Jerardi and Mike Kern both recently announced their retirements from the Philadelphia Daily News. They were as good of writers as this city has ever seen. They were even better people. I grew up reading them and had the opportunity as an adult to work with them professionally as a producer, then as a host and the pleasure was all mine. They knew of what they wrote, you learned something every time you read them, and they provided a sense of humor while doing it. Nothing beat our yearly Daily News Live Christmas Eve shows with Hall of Famer John Chaney. Their bylines will be missed.