Eagles

NFL playoff picture 2019: Eagles in good spot for postseason push after helpful Sunday

NFL playoff picture 2019: Eagles in good spot for postseason push after helpful Sunday

That was a good bye week for the Eagles. And, all of a sudden, their path to the playoffs is much, much clearer. 

Despite a really disappointing start to 2019, the Eagles still have a good shot at making it into the postseason. 

After taking vacations and spending time with their families last week, the Eagles watched the Cowboys lose 28-24 to the Vikings on Sunday Night Football. And that happened after a few teams vying for an NFC wild-card spot also lost. 

So heading into Week 11, the Eagles and Cowboys, both with 5-4 records, are tied for the NFC East lead.

Sure, the Cowboys technically have the tiebreaker advantage right now, but that doesn’t really mean much. This whole season might very well come down to the Week 16 matchup between the Eagles and Cowboys at the Linc. 

With seven games left, the Eagles have four home games, get on a plane just once and have an easier strength of schedule than the Cowboys. 

Take a look: 

After the Eagles face the Patriots and Seahawks, they have four games against teams with losing records (7-31) and one against the Cowboys. 

The Cowboys’ remaining opponents have a winning percentage of .516, while the Eagles’ remaining opponents have a winning percentage of .415. 

That seems to be reflected in the playoff chances from FiveThirtyEight, which gives the Eagles a 63 percent chance to make the playoffs, compared to the Cowboys’ 50 percent chance. 

The Eagles have a 56 percent chance to win the NFC East; the Cowboys have a 44 percent chance. 

Four of the Eagles’ seven remaining games are against NFC East opponents. The Eagles need to take care of their three games against Washington/New York, beat the Cowboys and then add one more win to get to 10 wins. That will probably be enough to win the division. 

A reminder of division tie-breakers: 

1. Head-to-head

2. Division record 

3. Common opponents 

4. Conference record 

If there is a tie at the end of the season between the Eagles and Cowboys, it could come down to records against common opponents. That’s good news for the Eagles, who have already beaten the Packers and Jets, two teams which beat the Cowboys earlier this season. 

So the Eagles’ easiest and most-likely path to the playoffs is still winning the NFC East. If they take care of business down the stretch, they can do it. But the wild card is still a possibility too — there’s a 7 percent chance according to FiveThirtyEight. Those odds were helped on Sunday, when the Panthers (5-4) and Rams (5-4) both lost. 

In any case, the Eagles didn’t get off to a great start this season, but are now in a really good position to get into the playoffs. Buckle up. It should be a fun seven weeks.



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Greg Ward is the receiver Malcolm Jenkins wanted all along

Greg Ward is the receiver Malcolm Jenkins wanted all along

While the Eagles were busy trying to cobble together a wide receiver corps with Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Jenkins was campaigning for somebody else to get a shot.

Greg Ward.

“I’ve been calling for him to get called up to the active roster since training camp,” Jenkins said Thursday.

Nobody listened.

Instead, Ward spent nine of the first 10 weeks of the season on the practice squad. The one week he was on the active roster, against the Lions, he only got two snaps on offense. 

Then it was back to the practice squad.

Once Ward finally landed on the 53-man roster for good and actually got a chance to play and the Eagles saw what he could do, the Eagles released both Hollins and Matthews in the span of nine days.

Hollins played 473 snaps and had 10 catches in 11 games. That's a catch every 47.3 snaps.

Matthews played 137 snaps and had four catches in two games. That's a catch every 34.3 snaps.

Ward has played 145 snaps in three games and already has 11 receptions. That's a catch every 13.2 snaps.

Ward's eight-yard catch in overtime Monday night got the Eagles down to the two-yard-line, setting up Carson Wentz's game-winning TD pass to Zach Ertz.

How did the Eagles not realize for 2 1/2 months that Ward was a better option than Hollins or Matthews?

It’s not like he’s new here. Ward was on the practice squad all year in 2017 and in training camp in 2018 as well before leading the ill-fated AAF in receiving.

Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Ward, who were all on the practice squad for a good chunk of this season, had 15 catches for 140 yards (and 59 rushing yards and a TD) in the Eagles’ win over the Giants.

Hollins? Hasn't caught a pass since September. 

Matthews? He's back with the 49ers, who've already cut him twice this year (without a catch).

Scott, like Ward, was buried on the depth chart while the Eagles went out and got Jay Ajayi, who is averaging 3.0 yards on 10 carries. Not until Miles Sanders had to leave the game briefly Monday night did the Eagles finally let Scott play. And that was the last we saw of Ajayi.

On the one hand, it’s good that these practice squad guys are contributing because it shows that the Eagles at least liked them enough to sign them and keep them around.

But why they stuck with guys like Ajayi, Hollins and Matthews for so long before finally letting Scott, Perkins and Ward play remains a mystery.

How could they not tell they could play?

“Not necessarily surprised because we see it every day,” Jenkins said. “These are guys who make us better and challenge us. I’m just excited to see them, No. 1, have the opportunity but to take full advantage of it and really help us get a win. I don’t think we get the win without them. To see them get the opportunity, I’m definitely proud.

“It does create some energy when you see them make plays. When guys you expect to make plays make plays, it’s one thing. But all of a sudden you have Perkins and Boston and G. Ward making plays, it adds a little juice to the team.” 

You just have to wonder why it took so long for them to even get the opportunity to add a little juice to the team.

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Kamu Grugier-Hill admits to lying about concussion to stay in game

Kamu Grugier-Hill admits to lying about concussion to stay in game

Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill on Thursday admitted that when he suffered his concussion in Miami two weeks ago, he lied to medical personnel to stay in the game.

He told them he hurt his shoulder.

“I just basically lied to them,” Grugier-Hill said. “I thought it would just go away. Just didn’t really say anything about it. It got to the point where I really couldn’t lie to them anymore.”

The concussion happened on the first play from scrimmage in the game against the Dolphins, when the starting linebacker collided with receiver DeVante Parker. That means he played a total of 54 combined defensive and special teams snaps with a concussion that game.

Eventually, when the headaches didn’t subside, Grugier-Hill reported the concussion symptoms to trainers on Thursday, four days after the head shot. He was put in the NFL’s concussion protocol and missed the Giants game. He has since been cleared and will return to action in Washington this weekend.

Grugier-Hill, 25, said he had never had a concussion before and didn’t know exactly what it felt like. Last week, head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles encourage all their players to report concussion symptoms and self police.

Does Grugier-Hil regret his decision?

“No,” he said. “I mean, I wish we would have at least got a win.”

There’s no questioning Grugier-Hill’s loyalty but lying to medical staff about a brain injury is nothing to be praised; it’s dangerous. But at least Grugier-Hill was honest about his decision — plenty of players aren’t.

And this certainly wasn’t the first time — nor will it be the last — that a player decides to stay in a game even though they know they might be concussed.

Back in 2015, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins admitted he played through more than an entire half against the Cowboys with a concussion. After eventually getting through the protocol, Jenkins said he felt “foggy” for the entire second half.

That’s the hole in the NFL’s concussion policy. The league has concussion spotters in the press box at every game and has made strides to prevent and detect these head injuries earlier, but players are still willing to put their long-term health on the line to stay in games. And Eagles medical personnel can’t treat a concussion they don’t know exists. It’s a hard problem to fix.

As far as the league has come, concussions are still far too normalized in the sport.

“I think it’s just part of the game,” Grugier-Hill said. “You get rocked a little bit every once in a while.”

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