Eagles

Eagles-Giants predictions

Eagles-Giants predictions

The Eagles will have to press on without MVP candidate Carson Wentz and turn to Nick Foles.

Foles will get the chance to keep things going against a lowly Giants team in Week 15.

We’ll get our first glance of the offense without Wentz as the Eagles (11-2) visit the New York Giants (2-11) Sunday afternoon (1 p.m./FOX).

Can Foles get a win on the road and inch the Eagles closer to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs?

Our experts provide their predictions:

Reuben Frank (12-1)
Let’s be honest, the Eagles could run Matt McGloin, Matt Barkley or Aaron Murray out there Sunday afternoon and get out of East Rutherford with a win. This is the perfect first opponent for Nick Foles to make his first start of the year. Foles, 15-9 as the Eagles’ starter, has thrown just 69 passes over the last two years and is sure to have some rust as he begins the task of replacing Carson Wentz. Who better to knock the rust off than the lowly Giants? They’re 29th in the NFL in offense, 32nd in defense and playing out the string under a lame-duck interim coach. The Giants are 2-11, they’ve scored 10 offensive TDs in their last eight games and they’ve lost games this year by 10, 10, 14, 16, 17, 20 and 34 points. The Eagles won’t need a 61-yard Jake Elliott field goal this time. If Barkley were starting, I’d pick Eagles 20-7. If Murray were starting, I’d pick Eagles 17-7. If McGloin were starting I’d go 9-7 Birds. But with Foles? This one won’t be close. 

Eagles 30, Giants 7

Dave Zangaro (10-3)
The Giants are a complete mess. So no matter what you think of Foles or the Eagles' chances of winning it all after losing Wentz, they won't drop this game. 

Foles should be more than good enough to beat the NFL's second-worst defense. And there's a real chance for the Eagles to rally around their backup quarterback. I listened to a radio interview with Jeff Hostetler earlier this week and the one thing he said stood out about his magical Super Bowl run in 1990 was the support of his teammates. He said his fellow Giants really rallied around him. That's what Foles needs to happen. 

The Eagles have overcome injuries all season, but losing Wentz is by far the biggest obstacle to overcome. In many ways, he was the reason they were able to overcome all those other blows. Can they make a run without him? Well, a lot of it depends on Foles, but the rest of the team will really need to play mistake-free football because Wentz won't be there to hide those blemishes anymore. 

Oh yeah, back to this game. The Eagles are gonna win. 

Eagles 30, Giants 13

Derrick Gunn (10-3)
What a mess the Giants are right now. GM Jerry Reese fired! Head coach Ben McAdoo fired! Future Hall of Fame QB Eli Manning sits for a game and then resumes his starting role. Their offense can't score (15.3 points per game — which is 31st in the league), and their defense, which was the heart of this team in 2016, is nothing more than a distant memory. The Giants' D is 32nd overall in yards allowed, 31st in passing yards allowed, 31st in run defense and 27th in points allowed. 

The Eagles are quickly getting over the loss of Wentz, who was having an MVP season. This should be a walk in the park for the Birds even without Wentz, but you won't hear the players say that. They have a lot of respect for their wounded division foe, and as that old saying goes, "On any given Sunday." If Dallas was able to put up 30 points on the G-men, then surely the Birds can do that. You should be able to go holiday shopping by halftime.

Eagles 34, Giants 13

Ray Didinger (11-2)
The Eagles face a steeper challenge now with Wentz gone. Yes, Foles can move the offense, but he can't do all the things Wentz can do. It will be up to the coaches to draw up a game plan that is a fit for Foles. It will start with a heavy dose of the run, which is fine since the Giants are allowing 130 yards per game on the ground (31st in the league).

Jay Ajayi is becoming a bigger part of the offense — he had 15 carries for 78 yards against the Rams — so look for him to get a lot of work Sunday. For Foles to be effective, the offensive line has to play better than it did the last two weeks. The best way to protect Foles is to control the ball on the ground and let him work the passing game off play action. It's a simple formula, really.

At 2-11, the Giants are playing out the string under interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo. I expect the Eagles defense to come out inspired and swarm all over Eli Manning and the undermanned New York offense. The Eagles may not score their customary 30-plus points but they will score enough to get the win and secure that playoff bye.

Eagles 24, Giants 13

Andrew Kulp (11-2)
Not sure how Foles will fare in his first start, but he's probably better than soon-to-be 37-year-old Eli Manning at this point. That and the Giants are trash.

Eagles 27, Giants 20

Corey Seidman (8-4)
This week’s prediction isn’t as easy it should’ve been, for obvious reasons. 

Gotta remember, however, that the Giants are a depleted team down their top two receivers and best cornerback. I think Nick Foles does enough to win and the Eagles play ball control. The defense should force many a three-and-out against Eli Manning, who gets the ball out rapidly but often for gains of three yards. 

Eagles 20, Giants 9

Eagles Week 10 report card: Not everybody failed against Dallas

usat_zeke_elliott.jpg
USA Today

Eagles Week 10 report card: Not everybody failed against Dallas

You might be thinking all F’s for the Eagles after a 27-20 loss to a bad Cowboys squad on Sunday night – but then you would need to hold the opinion this team was better than that.

The Eagles were a “C” team going in, and played like it from top to bottom.

Quarterback

Carson Wentz: 32/44, 360 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

The Eagles scored all of three points in the first half while Wentz completed 10 of 17 of passes for 104 yards with the interception. He was great over the final 30 minutes, but it was too little, too late.

Grade: C

Running backs

Josh Adams: 7 ATT, 47 YDS

Adams showed some burst on a 29-yard gain, although his agility turning the corner on the next play, a five-yard carry, was even more impressive at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds. Corey Clement, on the other hand, just can’t get going, netting eight yards on six touches with a drop.

Grade: C

Wide receivers & tight ends

Zach Ertz: 14 REC, 145 YDS, 2 TD

Once again, Ertz padded the stats with four receptions for 45 yards in garbage time, but it was a big night regardless, with two pivotal touchdowns. Nelson Agholor set up one Ertz score with a 51-yard bomb, and Jordan Matthews added 40 yards on three catches, all first downs. It was Alshon Jeffery and Golden Tate who disappointed – Jeffery couldn’t come up with the tough grabs the offense sorely needed, while Tate finished with two catches for 19 yards in his Eagles debut.

Grade: C+

Offensive line

Surprisingly not the problem, considering Halapoulivaati Vaitai started in place of an injured Lane Johnson at right tackle. Some of Wentz’s struggles could be traced to pressure, yet the quarterback was only hit six times on 47 dropbacks. Then again, the lack of consistent running lanes is an issue, and the penetration on a 4th-and-1 carry resulting in a turnover on downs was pitiful.

Grade: C

Defensive line

Michael Bennett: 2 TKL, 2.0 SK

So disruptive at the start. Fletcher Cox was in the backfield every snap. Bennett and Brandon Graham combined for 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s first five carries went for 14 yards. Unfortunately, the unit tired as the night went on, the quarterback got a little more comfortable and Elliott took over.

Grade: C

Linebackers

Nigel Bradham: 10 TKL

Bradham and Jordan Hicks combined for 17 tackles, and somehow zero noteworthy plays – unless you count the times Elliott was in the second level unattended. Kamu Grugier-Hill dropping a sure pick-six was kind of big, too.

Grade: C-

Defensive backs

Granted, the secondary was without four of five starters after Ronald Darby went down, but 26 completions, a 72.2 completion percentage and 270 yards passing were all season highs for Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Rasul Douglas especially left Eagles fans longing for Jalen Mills, with too many negative plays to list – though his matador impression on 3rd-and-15 stands out.

Grade: C-

Special teams

Cameron Johnston: 2 PUNTS, 44.0 AVG, 2 IN20

The Eagles had six cracks at returns in this game – four from Clement, two from Tate – with no remarkable plays to show. As average as it gets.

Grade: C+

Coaching

Eagles’ record: 4-5

Not one of Doug Pederson’s or Jim Schwartz’s best performances. However, at some point you look at personnel. It’s not like this was a horrendously called game from start to finish. Players aren’t making plays, from Wentz on down to the many injury replacements on the field.

Grade: C

Doug Pederson to blame for Eagles' biggest issue this season

Doug Pederson to blame for Eagles' biggest issue this season

The pattern keeps repeating itself, and the Eagles can’t do anything to stop it.
 
They look sluggish early, commit a turnover or two, fall behind, fight like crazy to get back into it, then fall short.
 
The Eagles are the worst first-quarter team in the NFL.
 
They’ve scored an NFL-low 21 first-quarter points, and they’ve been blanked in the first quarter in seven of their nine games.
 
They’ve scored one touchdown in the first quarter of their five home games.
 
Sunday, in a game against their fiercest rival on national TV in their home stadium, the defending Super Bowl champs opened the game with a three-and-out, a turnover and a punt.
 
They watched as the Cowboys built a 13-3 lead and even though they tied the game twice, the Eagles never recovered from their latest sluggish start.
 
“It’s something we talk about each week, trying to start fast,” Doug Pederson said. “Obviously, it's not getting done.” 
 
How bad is it?
 
• The Eagles were third-best last year in both the first quarter (7.4 ppg) and first half (14.0 ppg). Those numbers have dropped to 2.3 ppg in the first quarter and 8.9 in the first half.
 
• In the last 25 years, the Eagles have scored fewer first-quarter points through nine games only twice — in 1998 (20) and 2012 (14). Their head coach was fired after both seasons.
 
• The Eagles are averaging just 3.4 yards per rushing attempt in the first quarter, ahead of only the Colts and Titans. That figure goes up to 4.2 the rest of the game. 
 
• They have just 31 1Q first downs. Only the Giants (29) and Cards (25) have fewer.
 
There are two clear problems here: Play-calling and execution. 
 
Pederson scripts the first 15 plays, and that’s exactly when the offense has been at its worst.
 
And Carson Wentz has just been unable to start fast. Of 29 quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 40 first-quarter passes, his 81.4 passer rating is sixth-worst.
 
Let’s look at Wentz by quarter:
 
1Q: 64 percent, 41 yards per game, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 81.4 rating

2Q: 69 percent, 81 yards per game, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 115.8 rating

3Q: 77 perecnt, 64 yards per game, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 122.0 rating

4Q: 74 percent, 49 yards per game, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 109.8 rating
 
Overall, Wentz’s numbers are incredible. But he’s part of the reason the Eagles have gotten into big early holes.
 
“I personally do not feel different (early in games),” he said Sunday night. “Some people say that you want to settle in, but I don’t feel that way. I don’t want to talk about last year, but it is something we did really well last year. It’s really hard to put your finger on why it is the way it is this year. A lot of it is just a little execution things that are a great deal. We have to get back and look and see what teams are doing to us early in the game, why are we having these slow starts, and really need to look hard in the mirror because I think tonight, that is what cost us.”
 
The Eagles have run 21 first-quarter drives this year with these results:
 
12 punts
4 turnovers
3 touchdowns
2 missed field goals
0 field goals


 
“We have too many weapons not to score touchdowns in the first quarter,” Zach Ertz said. “We just have to start fast. It’s not like we’re going into games and being surprised by what the defense is doing. They’re doing what they do. They’re not really doing anything out of the ordinary when we play teams. 
 
“Going into the game we’re very confident with what we have called. In the second half, typically we get rolling. We just have to find solutions because we have a really big game this week. There’s no other way to put it.”
 
Clearly, Pederson and Wentz miss Frank Reich and John DeFillippo.
 
By falling behind early every week, the Eagles continue giving their opponents confidence and life and momentum.
 
The slow starts are one of the biggest reasons the Eagles find themselves in the mess they're in today.

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