Eagles

Next 3 Eagles opponents should ease Nick Foles' transition

Next 3 Eagles opponents should ease Nick Foles' transition

Nick Foles has stepped into a pretty good situation. The team he is now the starting quarterback for owns the best record in its conference and is tied for the best record in the NFL. The Eagles have already clinched their division and could have a bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs wrapped up by Sunday night. His offense is scoring the most points per game in the league. The Eagles rank second in rushing and 11th in passing. His defense is allowing the fifth fewest points per contest.

Beyond that, the first opponent he’ll face is the cover-your-eyes-bad, 2-11 New York Giants. Following that are the disappointing, 6-7 Raiders and the 7-6 Cowboys, who could very well be eliminated from the playoff race by the season finale on Dec. 31. Dig a little deeper into the teams that Foles will face and you’ll find three clubs that could aid greatly in Foles' getting some serious confidence under his belt before a postseason run.    

Giants (2-11)
New York is a four-alarm dumpster fire. The Giants have already canned their head coach and general manager. They’re 0-4 in the NFC East and 0-9 in the NFC. You may have heard, Eli Manning was benched, then he wasn’t. Defensively, they are dead last in the league in yards per game, second to last in rushing and passing yards, and 27th in points allowed. This team doesn’t just have tee-times made, they’re on the 17th hole. Yes, the Eagles needed a Jake Elliott 61-yard field goal to beat them at home in Week 3 but that was forever ago for both teams. This is an ideal launching spot for Nicky Six 2.0.

Raiders (6-7)
Oakland went 12-4 and made the postseason last year. This year’s version has been a major disappointment. The Raiders rank 20th or below defensively in points allowed, total defense and passing yards per game. The only reason they still presently cling to any playoff hope is that the Chiefs have won just two of their last eight games and the Chargers started the season 0-4 only to dig out and sit at 7-6. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio called out his club for its lack of urgency in a loss to K.C. on Sunday. Oakland trailed 26-0 in a game with everything on the line. The silver and black are on the mat and don’t appear really interested in getting up. Yet another great spot for Foles and the Eagles to tune up for the playoff run.

Cowboys (7-6)
There are four teams ahead of the Cowboys for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. They need some divine intervention type of miracles to get back to the playoffs this year. Ezekiel Elliott has one more game to serve from his suspension so he would be back for the Eagles … if it matters. The heavy odds are it won’t. The more realistic question is, how will Doug Pederson and the Eagles approach this one if the Birds have everything sewed up and a bye the next week? Will he sit Foles and the bulk of the starters? Will he take a preseason game No. 3 approach and give him a half? A cameo for a series perhaps? Andy Reid would sit his guys in these spots in years past but Pederson may want to get Foles some additional work since he became the starter so late in the season.

Any way you slice the three games, they give Foles an opportunity to get reacclimated to being an NFL starter and getting some game-time chemistry down with the ones against some not-so-great teams. 

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

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USA Today Images

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
 
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
 
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
 
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
 
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
 
Seriously, Doug?
 
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
 
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
 
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
 
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
 
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
 
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
 
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
 
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
 
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
 
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.