Eagles

Looking ahead to Eagles' final 8 games

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Looking ahead to Eagles' final 8 games

If you like boxes checked, you've come to the right place. Welcome to the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles through eight games.     

• Best record in the NFL at 7-1

• Perfect in the NFC at 6-0

• 3 for 3 vs. the NFC East

• Unbeaten at home (4-0)

• Just one loss on the road (3-1)

Throw in six straight wins for good measure and the Birds enter the second half of their season with some major mojo after a first half that has gone beyond even the wildest imaginations of their fans. So while Doug Pederson and the team need to stay focused on their next opponent, we can and will allow ourselves to look ahead to what's on the horizon the rest of the way. As everyone knows, to play in January you need to win in November and December. 

Nov. 5 vs. Broncos (3-4)
Denver lost Monday night to the Chiefs, who handed the Eagles their only loss. The Broncos' defense ranks in the top five against the run and the pass. Von Miller is still a ferocious pass rusher, but this is not a team that scares you offensively. Trevor Siemian should be a backup, and Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was non-committal about who would be the starter. They have Brock Osweiler in his second stint and Paxton Lynch, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, backing up Siemian. Keep in mind the Broncos have to travel to the East Coast on a short week. Denver should not be able to do much offensively against the Eagles' defense.  

Bye
The Eagles enjoyed a mini-bye when they had 11 days off between their Thursday night win over the Panthers and their home win over the Redskins. Now a few weeks later comes a full-blown off week, which should bode well considering their next opponent.

Nov. 19 at Cowboys (4-3)
A Sunday night matchup in Dallas, where the Birds lost a heartbreaker last season. The Cowboys, after a 2-3 start, have begun to resemble last year’s 13-3 team, winning their last two games by an average of more than three touchdowns. That said, the Ezekiel Elliott saga continues. On Monday, he lost his bid to block his six-game suspension, but he still has the option to appeal. Your guess is as good as mine whether he’ll play against the Eagles in Week 11. The Cowboys are once again leaning heavily on him — he’s racked up 297 yards and four touchdowns the last two games — and Dak Prescott is following up his phenomenal rookie season with a strong sophomore campaign. Dallas will get the Chiefs at home this week before traveling to Atlanta. This game could either give the Eagles serious distance in the division on what appears to be the only other team standing in their way or allow the Cowboys to back in it. But the Elliott factor will be huge.   

Nov. 26 vs. Bears (3-5)
The Bears are bad. They are rightfully allowing rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to learn on the job and he has shown flashes but doesn't have much help. Their lone bright spot is second-year running back Jordan Howard. He ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing. They're stronger defensively but this should be a win at home.  

Dec. 3 at Seahawks (5-2)
Seattle's defense is still strong and opportunistic. The Seahawks rank seventh in points allowed. And CenturyLink is one of the toughest places to play in sports. The Seahawks' offensive line just got a whole lot better with the acquisition of Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown from the Texans. This had been a major weak spot for Pete Carroll’s team. Russell Wilson’s uncanny ability to keep plays alive had made up for a lot of the shortcomings in front of him. Jimmy Graham has started to come on in the last couple of weeks, so he will be a problem. This is a tough spot for the Eagles and could result in a loss.

Dec. 10 at Rams (5-2)
The Rams are the pleasant surprise of the NFL. After going 4-12 last season and firing Jeff Fisher, L.A. brought in 30-year-old Sean McVay and he has not only transformed second-year quarterback Jared Goff but also the entire franchise. They are second in the league in scoring at 30.3 points per game. Goff, written off by some as a bust after just one season, looks worthy of that first overall pick in the 2016 draft. Todd Gurley looks reborn in McVay's system. And defensive tackle Aaron Donald might be the most disruptive player in the game. This looked like an automatic win before the season but not so fast, my friends. 

Dec. 17 at Giants (1-6)
We saw this mess up-close, and personal in Week 3. The Giants are 1-6 on merit. Not only are they bad but they're injured as well. You always have to take into account the NFC East factor, where goofy things happen. But if you're a team that is looking to close out the season strong and win a division or possibly post the best record in the conference, this is a game you should win, division or no division. 

Dec. 25 vs. Raiders (3-5)
Ho, ho, ho. In what sets up for a great day of sports in Philadelphia on Christmas, the Sixers kick off the festivities in New York at noon and the Eagles provide the nightcap. A lot could happen between now and Dec. 25 but the early returns for the Raiders have not been favorable. MVP candidate Derek Carr has been inconsistent and banged-up. Despite bringing in Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders have not developed a run game, and wide receiver Amari Cooper has been very quiet. Again, they still have Khalil Mack and were a 12-4, playoff team last year. Factoring in another West Coast team traveling East and this looks like an Eagles win. But again, there's a great deal of land between now and this game. 

Dec. 31 vs. Cowboys (4-3)
The Birds could close out 2017 in style with a win over the Cowboys on Dec. 31. Tough to know what this game will mean by then. With the Eagles off to a 7-1 start, the best-case scenario is this game is meaningless and they are resting their starters like the Cowboys did in the game last year. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. now, but this could be flexed out to later depending on the stakes. It would be a pretty sweet scenario, crushing the Cowboys then heading off to close out the year with visions of the playoffs dancing in Eagles fans' heads.

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

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Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Mack Hollins
Roob: Hollins wasn't really a factor later in the season, once Torrey Smith got going, but he did show early in the year what kind of player he can be, notably with that 64-yard TD catch in the second Redskins game. Depending on what the Eagles do about Smith, Hollins should be either the Eagles' third or fourth receiver this fall. Either way, he'll be here, and I expect him to make a big jump in Year 2.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Hollins caught just 16 passes as a rookie and it seemed like he just never started producing the way he seems capable of. Even when Smith struggled, Hollins got more playing time and didn't produce. The good news is he's still young and plays a role on special teams. The Eagles will probably bolster their receiving corps in some way, but if they don't, Hollins will have a shot at starting if Smith is gone next season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alshon Jeffery
Roob: Jeffery really played better than his stats this year. He made every big catch, caught every big third-down pass, made huge plays in the end zone. Jeffery was a star receiver without a star receiver's stats. His unselfish attitude carried over to the rest of the receivers and throughout the roster. And he did it all with a rotator cuff injury that required post-season surgery. Can't wait to see what Alshon can do healthy.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jeffery didn't put up eye-popping numbers during the regular season, but if you needed any proof he's a No. 1 receiver, go back and watch Super Bowl LII, when he made that ridiculous catch in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The good thing about Jeffery is he really doesn't care at all about his numbers. There are a lot of diva receivers in the NFL, but Jeffery clearly isn't one of them. All he cared about last year was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and he certainly helped get the Eagles there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Roob: Jenkins has so many roles on and off the field -- community activist, NFLPA organizer, locker room leader -- it's easy to forget just how good a player he is. Jenkins has been here four years and has had four very solid, very consistent, very productive seasons. He made his second Pro Bowl this year and joined Bill Bradley (3) and Dawk (7) as only the third Eagles safety since 1960 to make multiple Pro Bowls. Jenkins is signed to a cap-friendly deal through 2020 and should be an Eagle for many years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As important as Jenkins is to the Eagles as a safety and defensive back, you could make a legitimate argument that he's even more important to the team as a leader and man. There's a reason he became the guy to follow up Doug Pederson's postgame speeches. He isn't just the leader of the defense; he's the leader of the entire team. And on the field, he's still playing at a really high, Pro Bowl caliber, level. He's 30 now but is still signed through 2020 and maybe outside of Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most important defensive player. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

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Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Darrell Greene
Roob: The Hall of Fame cornerback is now 58 years old and 21 years removed from his last Pro Bowl season with the Redskins. Oh wait … wrong Darrell Green. This is Darrell GREENE, and he's a 6-foot-3, 320-pound guard out of San Diego State who's been on the Eagles' practice squad most of the last two years. The Eagles liked Greene enough to keep him around the last couple years, and unless they see something in Chance Warmack that I missed, Greene has a chance to stick around as a young O-line prospect.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Greene has been around now for the last two seasons. He was without a team for most of 2017; the Eagles didn't bring him back to the practice squad until December. The offensive guard had some real potential coming out of San Diego State, and the Eagles paid him a lot of guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent before 2016. But he's never really impressed them enough to stick around for good. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Roob: With Hicks, it's always about durability, not ability. Hicks has played more than half a season only once in his three NFL seasons, and since he's under contract for 2018 with a modest $2.068 million cap figure, he's obviously not going anywhere. The question is what the Eagles do with him after 2018 when he's due to become a free agent. Hicks can play. We all know that. He needs to prove this year that he can stay healthy in order to get a big-money deal a year from now.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Losing Hicks was a problem in 2017 and his absence started showing up late in the season. He's a big-time playmaker. It's a shame he got hurt last year because if he didn't, he'd be in line for a payday. For now, he'll be back in the final year of his four-year rookie contract until he can prove he's the same player he was pre-injury. 

Verdict: STAYS

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Roob: Grugier-Hill must be Howie Roseman's dream. He's signed at the minimum through 2019 but is an awfully valuable member of the roster — a reserve linebacker and emergency kicker and maybe the team's best special teamer. Kamu's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He really doesn't play at all as a linebacker, but Grugier-Hill has become one of the best special teams players in the NFL and had a real chance to be named a Pro Bowler in 2017. He led the team in special teams tackles with 19 last season. He's still young, cheap and is a big part of Dave Fipp's group. 

Verdict: STAYS