Eagles

Eagles-Giants predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Giants predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles do not have much to play for and the Giants do.

On a five-game losing streak, the Eagles (5-9) look to play spoilers Thursday night at the Linc against the Giants (10-4), who can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for the Week 16 matchup.

Reuben Frank (7-6)
It's really hard to lose every game, and I think this is the week the Eagles end their losing streak.

You saw in that Panthers-Redskins game how a team that's already been eliminated and has nothing to play for can be loose and carefree against a playoff-hopeful team that desperately needs a win and can be tight and play not to lose. Even the Eagles-Ravens game, we saw a lot of that, although the Eagles fell just short.

But I just don't think the Giants are that good. They're 10-4 and I don't think they're an 11-4 kind of team.

I think the Eagles go in loose and play their best game since they beat the Falcons back on Nov. 13. They know the Giants, they know how to beat them — they're 13-4 against the Giants in the last 17 meetings, and 4-1 in the last five, and a lot of the current roster has been a part of those two trends. The Eagles are still 4-2 at home. So I say the franchise can delude itself into believing this means something.

Eagles 24, Giants 20

Dave Zangaro (6-8)
It goes against a ton of logic to pick the Eagles this week, but that's exactly what I'm doing. 

Believe it or not, I was ready to predict a win over the Giants even before seeing the game against the Ravens. The 27-26 loss Sunday only cemented the pick. 

I know the Eagles are 0-6 in one-score games this year. I know that's the worst record in such games this year. On the flip side, I know the Giants are 8-2 in those games, with one of the wins coming against the Eagles in November. 

But the Birds and Carson Wentz showed me something on that final fourth-quarter drive against the Ravens and I think they're ready to snap their five-game losing streak. 

And I think they pick up their first one-score win of the year. 

Eagles 26, Giants 21

Derrick Gunn (7-7)
It's a short turnaround for the Eagles and Giants, and the Giants are on a mission. If they win, the Giants will clinch a postseason spot. The Eagles have nothing to play for except pride and hoping to spoil the Giants' playoff celebration.

After losing to Seattle, Green Bay and Cincinnati by double digits, the Birds were more competitive against Washington — losing by five — and Baltimore — a one-point loss.

Lane Johnson is finally back to stabilize the right side of an offensive line that found a potent run game against the Ravens' previously-top-ranked run defense.

The Giants' defense has played better every week. Since Week 7, Big Blue has allowed an average of 14.9 points per game. Jason Pierre-Paul is out, and Janoris Jenkins may miss this one as well.

The Eagles are poised to snap their current losing streak. I'm tempted to pick them in an upset, but don't feel confident enough they can pull it off.

Giants 23, Eagles 20

Ray Didinger (7-7)
I've been talking down the Giants all season but here they are at 10-4 with two wins over Dallas and a chance (OK, an outside chance) to win the NFC East. I'm still not impressed with their offense. The line is nothing special, they can't run the ball and Eli Manning has been up and down. But the Giants are killing it on defense. They shut down the Cowboys and Lions the last two weeks, so if they were able to put the clamps on those two offenses, they shouldn't have much trouble with the Eagles.
 
I'd like to make a case for the Eagles rallying here, playing for pride, finishing strong, yada, yada, but I don't think it matters. The Giants are hot and have everything to play for. I don't expect them to score much but they will score enough.
 
Giants 20, Eagles 10

Andrew Kulp (7-7)
For whatever reason, the Giants do not play well at Lincoln Financial Field, and in particular have struggled when the Eagles wear all black. The Eagles' offense should be the strongest it's been since September too now that Lane Johnson is back in the lineup.

I wasn't going to pick the Eagles anymore this season except maybe against the Cowboys' backups next week, but they've played hard the past couple games and are due for a win. Starting to think they still might have a shot at finishing 7-9 after all.

Eagles 27, Giants 17

Corey Seidman (7-7)
Call me crazy but I actually think the Eagles can win this game, especially if Jenkins doesn't play. And that's coming from a guy who's picked the Eagles to lose six weeks in a row.

They're at home, which didn't matter against Washington or Green Bay but has made a difference most of the season.

Wentz at home: 66 percent completions, 7.1 yards per attempt, 253 yards per game, six TDs, four INTs.

Wentz on the road: 60 percent completions, 5.7 yards per attempt, 234 yards per game, seven TDs, nine INTs.

They have their full offensive line back in tact, they're familiar with Manning and have beaten the Giants four of the last five times.  

The Giants are 10-4 but they're not an overwhelming, dominant 10-4. Six of their wins are by five points or less and only two were by more than a touchdown.

I'm foreseeing the Eagles scoring on defense or special teams in what's expected to be an ugly game, like all Thursday nighters. Also, I think Wentz builds off that final drive in Baltimore, which probably removed a boulder from his shoulder even though the Eagles lost.

Eagles 20, Giants 17

Andy Schwartz (7-7)
The Giants are on a roll, having won eight of nine after a three-game losing streak. 

The highly-paid defense is on a roll too. The Giants have allowed a combined 13 points in their last two games and have allowed less than 17 — Jim Johnson’s benchmark — in four of five.

So no chance for the Birds, right?

Wrong. Upsets happen.

Lane Johnson is back. He’ll be rusty, but he’ll certainly help the offense.

Plus, the Giants don’t pile up the points (19.4 per game), so the Eagles’ defense, like it did in Baltimore, should give them a chance.

This time, they’ll take advantage of it and end this five-game losing streak.

Eagles 27, Giants 24

Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

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AP Images

Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

We all know about the myriad injuries the Eagles suffered on their way to the Super Bowl.

Nobody knew about this one.

Alshon Jeffery had surgery Wednesday morning to repair a torn rotator cuff that he played through all season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Per Rapoport, Jeffery suffered the injury in training camp this past summer. We did know Jeffery suffered some sort of shoulder injury during the summer. Even after he returned, Doug Pederson remained very cautious with Jeffery. At the time, that seemed strange. Pederson just kept saying he held him out at his own discretion, even though it seemed like Jeffery and Carson Wentz needed time to build chemistry. All that seems to make more sense now.

Rotator cuff injuries can be especially difficult for wide receivers (over-the-head catches) and any skill player who gets tackled to the ground. In recent years, rotator cuff tears have either ended the season or caused multiweek absences for Eric Decker, Martellus Bennett and Plaxico Burress, among others. 

Jeffery's ability to play the whole season with a shoulder injury makes what he was able to do all the more impressive. He made a quick impact, catching two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in Weeks 1-4, then scored seven TDs from Weeks 8-14 before turning in a strong postseason.

Along the way, Jeffery earned a new contract that pays him $26.75 million guaranteed with a full value of $52 million. 

Safe to say that playing through pain worked out. How crazy is it to consider now that on Wentz's crucial Week 14 touchdown pass to Jeffery in L.A., the QB had a torn ACL and the receiver had a torn rotator cuff.

Jeffery confirmed the surgery via Instagram story on Wednesday afternoon.

Eagles Stay or Go — How about all the tight ends?

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — How about all the tight ends?

In the third part of our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks. Today is Billy Brown to Vinny Curry.

Billy Brown
Roob: Don't be surprised if Brown makes the team next year. He's got good size at 6-4/255, and from what we've seen he has pretty good hands. We saw his catching ability at training camp last year, and he caught eight passes for 51 yards in the preseason. Brown spent the entire 2017 season on the practice squad, but with the future of both Trey Burton and Brent Celek up in the air, Brown may be able to secure a roster spot with a good training camp. I expect Burton to get an offer in the $7 million per year range if he hits the open market, which the Eagles most likely won't be able to match, and Celek could either retire or get released to save cap space. Brown could be the next guy up.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: After spending his entire rookie season on the Eagles' practice squad, Brown is going to have a pretty good shot to make the roster in 2017. Brown, who came from Shepherd University, was a training camp standout last summer. He's a converted wide receiver, so he has a good past as a receiving tight end. He has to prove himself, but the path to making the 53-man roster is there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Trey Burton
Roob:
Burton has gone from an undrafted free agent long shot to make the roster in 2015 to one of the most attractive tight ends set to hit free agency this spring. With his soft hands, versatility and tremendous athleticism, Burton should be in line for a multi-year deal in the ballpark of $7 to $7.5 million per year. Even the Super Bowl touchdown pass speaks volumes about Burton and his ability to stay cool and composed and make a play under extreme pressure and in a situation he'd never been in as a pro. You'd love to be able to keep Burton, but Zach Ertz is the Eagles' tight end and they just don't have the cap space for the luxury of a high-priced backup.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Burton is no longer a secret. The Eagles actually tried to extend Burton during the 2016 season, but the two sides were never really close. Burton wanted to bet on himself and now that seems wise. He played the 2017 season on a relatively cheap deal after being a restricted free agent last offseason. But now he's unrestricted this time around and other teams are going to be interested. Burton had his best season in 2016, when he caught 37 passes for 327 yards, but he did have a career-high five touchdown catches in 2017. He's going to get paid more for his potential, though, and it's going to price out the Eagles. 

Verdict: GOES

Brent Celek
Roob: We continue Tight End Day with the 11-year veteran, one of the most popular Eagles of the past generation. Celek will one day be enshrined in the Eagles Hall of Fame, but now he's just another veteran with a $5 million cap figure that is just too high. Maybe Celek will help the Eagles avoid a major decision by retiring. Celek has plenty of interests outside football and he's 33 years old now and has a ring, and retirement may be attractive to him. Go out on top. Or maybe he'll take a massive pay cut down to the veteran's minimum and stick around another year and get the two yards he needs for 5,000. But I think it's most likely Celek won't be here next year. Whatever happens, he'll always be remembered as a champion.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is a tough one just because it's Celek. He embodies the city of Philadelphia better than anyone else on the team. He's also the longest-tenured athlete in the city. It's important to him to be a career Eagle, to never play for another team. But he just can't be back in 2018 on his current salary. It doesn't make good football or business sense. His cap number in 2018 is $5 million, which is just way too high for a reserve blocking tight end. It would be tough for the Eagles to flat out cut him, but if he doesn't want to retire and doesn't want to restructure down to nearly the minimum, that's what's going to have to happen. 

Verdict: GOES

Corey Clement
Roob: 
To go from an undrafted rookie free agent running back with virtually no history as a pass catcher to a 100-yard receiver in the Super Bowl in 10 months is just insane. Clement showed me enough that I believe he can be a lead back on this team. I think the plan will be to take a good long look at Jay Ajayi this coming season, with Ajayi and Clement splitting time, then decide after 2018 whether or not to keep Ajayi, who is due to become a free agent in another year. But under any scenario, Clement will be a major part of this team's running back corps for at least the next few years.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I was wrong about Clement last summer. I thought he was a good running back but there was nothing special about him. I thought Wendell Smallwood deserved to be ahead of him on the depth chart. Oops. Clement had an incredible rookie season. The most incredible thing was that he became a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield, something he had never been in college or even in high school. He did everything the Eagles asked him to do in his rookie season and excelled at everything. He hasn't just earned a spot on the roster; he's earned the right to be a part of the running back rotation going forward. 

Verdict: STAYS

Fletcher Cox
Roob:
I think Fletch might be around a while. Cox goes into his seventh season with the Eagles having made three straight Pro Bowls and is one of the most dominating interior linemen in the NFL. And he's under contract for the next five years. He stays. And will stay for the foreseeable future.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Sometimes we all sort of forget how good Cox really is. As an interior defensive lineman, Cox doesn't always make flashy plays. But just ask around the league about the Eagles' defense and everyone comes back with one guy on their mind: big No. 91. There's a reason he's become a perennial Pro Bowler and there's a reason he got a $100 million contract last offseason. He's the engine to the Eagles' defense and we saw him elevate his game even more in the run to the Super Bowl by barely leaving the field. This is stupid easy. 

Verdict: STAYS

Vinny Curry
Roob: Curry didn't really have the stat numbers to back it up, but he did play fairly well this year. He's got some massive cap numbers coming up — $11 million in 2018, $11.25 million in 2019 and $12.25 million in 2020. Those are astronomical figures for a guy who has nine sacks in his last 50 games. The Eagles could clear $5 million in cap space by releasing Curry, and that number goes up to $7.25 million next year and $10.25 million before the 2020 season. I think he stays this year, but those cap savings could be tempting for the cap-starved Eagles.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: After a down season in 2016, Curry became a starter and had the best year of his career in 2017. Some folks will argue against that because his sack numbers weren't shocking, but Curry was just tremendously solid as a rusher and against the run in 2017. He's a big reason why the Eagles' defensive line was their top unit and why their run defense was the best in the NFL. But his cap hit of $11 million is a killer this year and first-rounder Barnett is ready to start. I think if Curry is back, it'll be after reworking that deal. But for now ... 

Verdict: GOES