The Eagles (6-7) are clinging to their playoff hopes, but now they’ll have to head to LA to take on the Rams (11-2), who are coming off a loss to the Bears on Sunday Night Football.
This obviously won’t be an easy game for the Birds.
Here are five matchups to watch on Sunday:
Andrew Whitworth vs. Michael Bennett
While Bennett has taken plenty of snaps inside this year, he’s been starting at right defensive end since Derek Barnett’s season ended and Bennett has been great. Even though he’s been playing through a foot injury that has limited him during the week, his production hasn’t dipped. He leads the Eagles with eight sacks and had 1 1/2 last week against the Cowboys. The Eagles didn’t win that game, but he was great.
Whitworth is 37 now, but he’s in his second year in LA after having a third-straight Pro Bowl season in 2017. That Rams’ line looked a little shaky against the Bears’ tremendous pass rush, but this individual battle should be fun.
Aaron Donald vs. Stefen Wisniewski
While we’ve talked so much about Carson Wentz this week, another injury that has gotten lost is Isaac Seumalo’s pec. If he can’t play, Wiz will start at left guard. That might not sound like a bad thing, but Seumalo has quietly been playing much better than you might think he has. There was a pretty big drop-off in Dallas when he went out.
And this week, he’ll have to face the best defensive player (or maybe overall player?) in the NFL. Donald already has a career-high 16 1/2 sacks and has been an absolute game-wrecker. He has the ability from an interior lineman position to completely change a football game.
Todd Gurley vs. Eagles’ linebackers
A week after seeing Zeke Elliott, it doesn’t get any easier. Add Gurley to the list of elite running backs the Eagles will try to slow down this season. Through 13 games, Gurley already has 1,203 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns to go along with 49 catches for 504 yards and four more scores. He’s a dynamic and scary player to face. And he happens to be coming off his worst game of the season. He’s going to be hungry in this one.
And the Eagles are still going to be without Jordan Hicks (calf) in this game. That means Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill are going to be the guys in the game, especially because the Rams never leave 11 personnel. That means no playing time for Nate Gerry.
Brandin Cooks vs. Rasul Douglas
Give Douglas a ton of credit. He had a really good game in Dallas last Sunday, even though he gave up the game-winning touchdown on sort of a fluky play in overtime. Douglas has certainly had an up-and-down season as he tries to prove he can be a starter in this league. With Jalen Mills now on IR, Douglas will get to start the rest of the season.
Big test on Sunday against Cooks, who has gone over 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth straight season for his third different team. He’s just super productive. For his career, he’s averaged over 14 yards per reception, but is up to 15.9 this season. At times, Douglas has struggled in coverage, so he’ll need to stick with Cooks … unless Malcolm Jenkins just knocks him out of the game again.
Nick Foles vs. the Rams’ D
Since it looks like Wentz is out for at least this game, it’ll be the Super Bowl MVP’s turn to lead the Eagles. The fact that it’s happening again at the LA Coliseum isn’t lost on the Eagles either. When he entered the Rams game last year, he completed 6 of 10 passes for 42 yards before becoming the starter and leading the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl win. If the Eagles get hot and make it to the playoffs this year, it will mean that Foles got hot again.
Everyone should be bummed that Wentz isn’t playing, but I think it’s natural to be excited to see what Foles can do.
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