Eagles

The gift of Eagles-Raiders predictions

The gift of Eagles-Raiders predictions

A Christmas win on Monday Night Football would be the perfect present for Eagles fans. 

Nick Foles was stellar in his first start of the season for the Birds (12-2) against the Giants, tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions. He'll hope to emulate his incredible, seven-touchdown performance in 2013, the first time he faced Oakland (see story).

The Raiders (6-8) have had a disappointing season. They lost a heartbreaker last Sunday night to the Cowboys, which all but eliminated them from playoff contention. 

The Eagles, however, can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win. It should be a raucous atmosphere at the Linc Monday night (8:30 p.m./ESPN). 

Our experts provide their predictions:

Reuben Frank (13-1)
The Eagles are 12-2 at home under Doug Pederson, Nick Foles has won his last eight regular-season starts at the Linc, the Raiders are 6-8 and playing out the string in a disappointing season and the Christmas evening crowd is going to be ready to keep the celebration going well into the night. The Eagles aren't losing this game.

They could start Nate Sudfeld and win this thing. The defense, after three weeks on the road, gets its act together and plays well, Foles puts together another efficient performance, the Eagles get the running attack back on track and clinch No. 1 seed for the first time since 2004 with a win over the Raiders. One thing I would love to see after the Eagles build up a big lead is Brent Celek getting the 28 yards he needs for 5,000 in his career. That would be a Christmas present every Eagles fan would enjoy! 

Eagles 27, Raiders 10

Dave Zangaro (11-3)
There was a time when this Christmas Day matchup between the Eagles and Raiders was supposed to be a must-watch. 

Eh. It's not anymore. 

The Eagles have been much better than expected and the Raiders have been much worse. It's set up a matchup between the 12-2 Eagles and the 6-8 Raiders at the Linc. 

At the Linc this season, the Eagles are a perfect 6-0, while the Raiders are just 2-4 on the road. 

As long as the Birds' defense bounces back a little and Nick Foles continues to look good, there's no reason the Eagles shouldn't win this one easily. 

Eagles 30, Raiders 20 

Derrick Gunn (11-3)
Nick Foles passed his first test, and everyone is breathing easier and feeling satisfied that Foles can keep the offensive efficiency going.

As for the Birds' defense, for a third straight game, they were on shaky ground. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told the media he's getting tired of repeating himself about how his defense needs to "get back to playing clean football and stop giving offenses help." 

Enter the Oakland Raiders, whose season turned out to be drastically different from the previous season. Quarterback Derek Carr and his offense can't find consistency and the defense can't make the necessary stops. Big play wide receiver Amari Cooper has been hampered by an ankle injury for several weeks and may have to sit this one out. The Raiders do have a pair of dangerous pass rushers in Pro bowler Khalil Mack (10.5 sacks) and Bruce Irvin (7.5 sacks). Right tackle Lane Johnson, selected to his first Pro Bowl, has been outstanding against premier edge rushers this season, but the other side of the line has been up and down. Left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai has struggled the past two games and may need some help protecting Foles' blind side.

This game might be the final time we see many of the Birds starters until the playoffs, so they'll want to put on a good show. 

Eagles 31, Raiders 20

Ray Didinger (12-2)
The Raiders are still alive (barely) in the AFC playoff race, but they are coming off two dispiriting losses to Kansas City and Dallas. It is hard to imagine them being too excited about traveling all the way across the country to play the Eagles on Christmas night. They probably just want to get this disappointing season over with.

Still, the Eagles can't afford to take this one for granted. They were lucky to squeeze past a two-win Giants team Sunday and while Nick Foles did a good job filling in for Carson Wentz, the defense was downright pitiful. I'm sure it has been an uncomfortable week in the defensive meeting room watching the tape of that performance with Jim Schwartz providing commentary.

That combined with the emotional lift of playing their first home game in almost a month and the incentive of wrapping up the top seed in the NFC should be enough to carry the day — or, in this case, the night.

Eagles 31, Raiders 21 

Andrew Kulp (12-2)
There’s a very real chance Oakland will be eliminated from playoff contention before kickoff, so you have to wonder what kind of energy the Raiders will bring to the Linc. It’s a cross-country trip, on Christmas, and Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn — one of 14 Raiders listed on the injury report this week — just landed on injured reserve.

The Eagles’ defense and, in particular, the secondary looks vulnerable, though the Raiders may not possess the mindset let alone healthy personnel to take advantage right now. I expected a blowout last week, too, against the Giants, and we all saw how that went, but that was an NFC East rivalry, on the road, and a team that had nowhere to go except up. The Eagles may just catch the Raiders at their lowest point.

Eagles 34, Raiders 10

Corey Seidman (9-4) 
Oakland’s pass rush will affect the Eagles early in this game, I think, but once the Eagles get their protections down, Nick Foles should be able to pick apart a shaky secondary. Offensively, the Raiders are reliant to a fault on jump-balls to Michael Crabtree. So as long as the Eagles can shut him down near the goal-line, this should be a multi-score win.

Eagles 27, Raiders 14

Nick Foles delivers powerful speech after winning Best Championship Performance award at ESPYS

ap-eagles-nick-foles.jpg
AP Images

Nick Foles delivers powerful speech after winning Best Championship Performance award at ESPYS

A year ago at this time, Nick Foles was preparing for a season on the bench as he just tried to stick around the NFL after falling back in love with the game.

He has a little higher profile now.

While Foles is preparing to possibly head back to the bench in favor of Carson Wentz, he is now the reigning Super Bowl MVP and added another trophy to his case on Wednesday night, when he was given the Best Championship Performance award at the ESPYS.

During his acceptance speech, Foles thanked a bunch of folks, used the word “y’all” more than enough times to remind everyone he’s from Texas and spoke candidly about the incredibly unique path his career has taken.

Here is Foles accepting the award from comedian (and Jim Schwartz’s former college teammate … seriously) Jim Gaffigan.

No, an ESPY is no Super Bowl MVP, but it’s a pretty nice honor and Foles is certainly deserving after leading the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl. Just a reminder, Foles completed 65 percent of his passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII.

Here’s his full speech from Wednesday night at the ESPYS:

I’m honored to be in front of all y’all. I never planned a speech. I quite frankly never expected to win this award or to even be in this moment. I just want to thank the good Lord for giving me the ability to play the game I love. You know, thank my wife Tori, she’s gone through her own battles the last five years. You’ve always been an inspiration. A lot of my family is here, so thank y’all for always supporting me.

It’s been a crazy career. If any of y’all know my career path, it doesn’t make sense. But you know, I’m here right now. My teammates, coaches, you know what, we faced so much adversity this year, we have an amazing team. It’s so much fun to go to work in that locker room every single day. I couldn’t have done it without y’all. We see what happened. We won the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia history, so we’ve got a special group of guys.

And then to the Philadelphia fans. Y’all get a (bad) rap everywhere, but the passion, y’all bring it every single day. So thank y’all. And finally, there’s a lot of kids watching this and it’s kind of been the theme. There are going to be people who doubt you. Don’t listen to them. What matters is what’s in here (taps on chest) and the people who love you and support you. Go out there every day and be bold. Thank you.

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Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Carson Wentz's remarkable consistency, expectations of Nate Gerry, questions at wideout, a Zach Ertz stat you absolutely won't believe and the rarity of Eagles Hall of Fame teammates.

Roob's 10 random Eagles observations don't get much more random than this!

1. Can we take a moment to talk about how insanely consistent Wentz was before he got hurt? Wentz’s lowest passer rating last year was an 83.0 in the loss to the Chiefs. He threw for 333 yards with two TDs and one INT and that was his worst game of the year. Wentz is one of just four quarterbacks in NFL history to open a season with a rating of 83 or higher in every game through the first 13 games of a season. Which of course is when his season ended. Including the last week of 2016, Wentz goes into 2018 on a streak of 14 straight games with a rating of 83 or higher. That’s seventh longest in NFL history, and the longest active streak. Wentz’s 21 career games with a passer rating of 83 or higher are tied for third most in NFL history by any QB after two seasons, behind only Dan Marino (23) and Russell Wilson (23). And he missed the last three games of the season. What a talent.

2. I’m curious to see Gerry this summer. With Mychal Kendricks off to the Browns and Paul Worrilow out for the season, there are roster spots to be won and playing time to be earned behind Nigel Bradham (out for the opener) and injury-plagued Jordan Hicks. After starting his rookie season on the practice squad, Gerry got an October promotion onto the 53 and got into 10 games and all three playoff games, almost all of it on special teams. He looked bigger and stronger in spring practices as he continues to transition from safety to linebacker. With a good summer, he can definitely find himself in the mix.

3. Ertz had nine third-down catches for first down in the 2017 playoffs. Jason Witten had eight playoff third-down catches for first down in his 15-year career.

4. And Ertz’s nine third-down catches in last year's postseason are the most by any tight end in a single postseason — and second most by any player — in the last 30 years.

5. The Eagles converted 61 percent of their third downs during the 2017 postseason, which is insane. That’s the fourth highest in NFL history by any team in a single postseason (among teams playing at least two playoff games). The Broncos converted 75 percent in 1997, the Rams 63 percent in 2004 and the Colts 62 percent in 1995.  

6. You thought Vaughn Hebron was fast? His daughter, Sanaa, won the AAU national title for the 400-meter dash this weekend in 55.31. That would have placed her fourth in the Big East championships this year. She’s 13 years old. Vaughn’s sons, competing in the 17-18 age group, are no slouches, either. Savion ran 10.78 and 21.68 for the 100 and 200, and Savaughn ran a 2:00 split on the Trenton Track club’s 3,200-meter relay team. So Vaughn right now is at best the fourth-fastest person in his own family. But he does have a couple Super Bowl rings.

7. So many questions at wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Will Mike Wallace slow down at 32? Can Mack Hollins make a big jump in Year 2? Will Shelton Gibson show enough in camp to work his way into the roster mix? Can Markus Wheaton regain the form that made him so dangerous with the Steelers in 2014 and 2015? Can speedy Bryce Treggs make any sort of impact in his third year? Potentially, an exceptional group.

8. Nick Foles is the third-youngest active quarterback in the NFL with at least three career playoff wins. Foles turns exactly 29 years, six months on Thursday. Cam Newton (29, 68 days) and Andrew Luck (who turns 29 in September) also have three postseason wins.

9. Interesting that during 2004 and part of 2005 the Eagles had two future Hall of Famers, Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens. What was the last Eagles team before 2004 with two Hall of Famers? It was actually 1997, when Dawkins and Richard Dent were briefly teammates. Before that, it was 1987 through 1989, with Reggie White and Cris Carter. Before that, you have to go back to 1968, with Bob Brown and Mike Ditka. So the 14 games that Dawkins and Dent played together during an otherwise forgotten 1997 season are the only Eagles games in the last 50 years where two future Hall of Famers played alongside each other on the same side of the ball.

10. Dawkins didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fourth season and didn’t make All-Pro until his sixth. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding that “so-and-so can't play” two weeks into his rookie training camp.

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