Eagles

Hey Eagles fans, the sky isn't falling

Hey Eagles fans, the sky isn't falling

The sky isn’t falling. 

I know, I know, that’s exactly what you want to hear less than 48 hours after a frustrating 17-10 loss to the New England Patriots. It’s the truth, though. 

Don’t get me wrong. The Eagles were up 10-0 at home on Sunday and they should have won that game. It was right there for them and they came up short. And because of common opponents between the Eagles and Cowboys, the Patriots game was actually more important than the one upcoming against the Seahawks.  

There were certainly things in that 17-10 loss that were concerning, mostly on the offensive side of the ball. 

But they were things we already knew coming into Sunday; the receivers stink, there are no big plays, injuries hurt. We also learned the Eagles’ defense might be legit. 

So, believe it or not, the Eagles still have a good shot at making it into the playoffs. 

Now, we have to remember that the outlook on the entire season has changed quite a bit. Coming into the year, we were talking about the Eagles’ being one of the top teams in the league. That ship sailed a long time ago. The new bar is just trying to make it into the playoffs and Sunday hurt, but it didn’t really hurt that much. 

According to FiveThirtyEight, after beating the Lions on Sunday, the Cowboys have a 58 percent chance to win the division and the Eagles have a 42 percent chance. 

This coming week, the Eagles are home against the Seahawks (8-2), while the Cowboys have to go on the road to face the Patriots (9-1). 

Using FiveThirtyEight’s playoff predictor, here’s how next Sunday’s outcomes will affect each team’s chances to win the division, which is still their clearest way to a playoff spot: 

Eagles and Cowboys lose
Cowboys: 64 percent 
Eagles: 36 percent

Eagles and Cowboys win 
Cowboys: 66 percent
Eagles: 34 percent

Eagles win, Cowboys lose
Eagles: 58 percent
Cowboys: 42 percent

Eagles lose, Cowboys win
Cowboys: 83 percent
Eagles: 17 percent 

But here’s the part where I remind you that after next weekend, the Eagles’ remaining schedule is easier than the Cowboys’ remaining schedule. From Week 13 on, Eagles’ opponents have a winning percentage of .351, while Cowboys’ opponents have a winning percentage of .460. The Cowboys aren’t playing world-beaters, but I like the Eagles’ chances of beating the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins more than the Cowboys’ chances of beating the Bills, Bears and Rams. 

Even if the Eagles lose to the Seahawks, they’d be 5-6 and still likely just one game behind the Cowboys, assuming they lose on the road to the Patriots and are 6-5. If that happens, the Eagles will have made life tough on themselves, but winning out is clearly a possibility. The big game will still be that Week 16 matchup at the Linc against the Cowboys. That might still decide the NFC East. 

A quick reminder of division tiebreakers if it gets to that point: 

1. Head to head 
2. Division record 
3. Common opponents
4. Conference record 

If the Eagles beat the Cowboys in Week 16, they’d be 1-1 against each other. From there, it seems like both teams could be 5-1 in the division. That means it would come down to common opponents, which is where the Eagles took a hit in Week 11. But they still have the Packers and Jets on the Cowboys, who now have the Lions on the Eagles. 

The Eagles’ offense has to find a way to be better and we know that. But we’re now in Week 12, so it’s unlikely they just flip a switch. They’re not going to be explosive, but if Carson Wentz can be more consistent, if they get a little more production from their weapons and if the Eagles’ defense keeps it up, they should be able to keep themselves in the mix. 

Remember, this isn’t what any of us thought we’d be talking about in Week 12. This is the time of year when many thought we’d be talking about the Eagles’ push to lock up the division and potentially earn a top seed in the NFC. 

On a macro level, this team and the way it was put together is a problem. The Eagles were supposed to build a dynasty and they built a slightly above average team that has to try to claw its way into the playoffs. But on a micro level, the Eagles still have a pretty decent chance to do just that … claw into the playoffs. 

So the ceiling might be low, but the sky isn’t falling. 



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Cooking up on-field comfort food with Carson Wentz

Cooking up on-field comfort food with Carson Wentz

Doug Pederson called Monday night’s 23-17 win over the Giants the best game of Carson Wentz’s career but it certainly didn’t start that way. 

After the Eagles’ second drive of the third quarter, Wentz was actually struggling. 

So what changed? 

Well, the Eagles’ offensive coaches cooked up some “comfort food,” as offensive coordinator Mike Groh called it, for Wentz. 

“I wouldn't want to give away any game-plan secrets there,” Groh said. “But I'm sure you can speculate a little bit as to what those things might be. But try to find easy completions where you can get the ball out of your hand in rhythm and once you get one or two of those, a lot of times you just kind of settle in the game. And then the game comes to you.”

Rhythm can be an important thing for quarterbacks and Wentz is no different. Groh said we could speculate and it isn’t hard to figure out how the Eagles were finally able to get Wentz into a rhythm in the second half on Monday. 

On the third drive of the third quarter, the Eagles began to use an up-tempo offense and utilized short throws and screen passes. 

It worked. 

Just take a look at Wentz’s splits before that drive and after it began: 

Before: 12/23, 98 yards, 63.3 passer rating 

After: 21/27, 227 yards, 2 TDs, 126.4 passer rating 

First, the tempo really seemed to work. The Eagles have used the no-huddle plenty during Wentz’s four years in Philly and it’s just up to Pederson’s discretion. They have even opened games with it before. 

“That’s one thing I’ve always loved about coach since I’ve been here is he has a feel for when we need something to change,” Wentz said. “When we’re struggling. Sometimes we do tempo early because that’s what we see when we’re scouting other teams, that’s what we see is going to work. Sometimes we get to it later in games. Some games we don’t even use it. I think coach has a really good feel for it. I think that was the case the other night. I think that definitely helped us get out of the rut we were in.”

Aside from going with tempo, the Eagles made life easier on Wentz with shorter passes. There were plenty of easy reads, screens and throws to the flat. Those aren’t necessarily all easy throws to make, but they’re also not 20 yards downfield. 

On the tempo drive and the one that followed it, the Eagles seemed to get Wentz in a rhythm. None of the first eight passes on those two drives traveled more than 10 air yards.  

Against the Giants, this is what worked. But the specifics sometimes change. 

“The so-called 'comfort food,' it’s all based on what coverages we’re getting, how teams play us,” Wentz said. “But that concept, just finding completions, finding a way to get into a rhythm. Like I said, each week is always different, but there’s always those completions within a game that do kind of get you going and get you going in the right direction.”



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Redskins in NFL Week 15

5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Redskins in NFL Week 15

The Eagles (6-7) head to Washington to face the Redskins (3-10) on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. 

Here are five matchups to watch: 

Dwayne Haskins vs. Jim Schwartz 

Case Keenum was still starting in the opener, so this will be the Eagles’ first shot at the rookie first-round pick. Haskins has played in seven games this year with five starts and is 2-3. He has completed just 55 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

Since Jim Schwartz became defensive coordinator, the Eagles are 4-1 against rookie starting quarterbacks: Dak Prescott x2, C.J. Bethard, Mitchell Trubisky and Luke Falk (the only loss came to Prescott in 2016). In those five games, those quarterback have three touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

And those four quarterbacks in five games have combined for a passer rating of 53.8. 

Schwartz on Wednesday was asked how playing young quarterbacks benefits his defense. 

“I don't know, I've never really thought about it that way,” he said. “We have a job to do every Sunday and we try our best to accomplish that. Every game plan is different, every experienced quarterback is different and every rookie quarterback is different. So, I don't know if there would be a whole lot of carry-over from week-to-week. I don't have a folder somewhere that says, ‘Rookie Quarterback’ and you pull that out and that's the game plan. It depends on a million different other considerations going into it.”

Terry McLaurin vs. Eagles corners 

In his first NFL game, McLaurin had five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in the opener. That included a 69-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. 

The Eagles have been susceptible to big plays before. And McLaurin has the ability to make big plays. He has averaged 15.3 yards per catch this season. 

Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills will have to be ready for the speedy rookie. 

Adrian Peterson vs. Eagles linebackers 

The future Hall of Famer isn’t playing like he’s still in his prime, but he’s still one of Washington’s biggest weapons. And he still ranks tied for fifth in the NFL in average yards after contact per attempt at 2.7. If you miss tackles against him, he’ll make you pay. 

“He's strong, still has great vision and is a very productive runner,” Schwartz said. “We're going to have our work cut out for us. We saw it last year. He's one of those guys that if you fit a run wrong, he can make you pay by taking it to the house. He did it against us in that first game last year.”

Miles Sanders vs. Washington run defense 

Washington is bad in several key areas. One of them is rushing defense, where they’re giving up 134.8 yards per game. But it’s important to note that they’re giving up just 4.4 yards per attempt. So they’re not really as bad as they appear. 

In that opener, the Skins really bottled up Sanders, who had 11 carries for 25 yards and one catch for two yards. But since then, Sanders has really come around and is having one of the better seasons we’ve ever seen from a rookie in Eagles history. 

Coming into Sunday’s game, Sanders has 948 yards from scrimmage this season. With three games to go, he is just 60 behind DeSean Jackson for the Eagles’ rookie record. 

Brandon Brooks vs. Matt Ionnidis 

The former fifth-round pick out of Temple leads Washington in sacks with 8 1/2 and has four in his last three games. Even without Ryan Kerrigan, who will miss this game, that’s still a relatively solid defensive line and Ionnidis has arguably been their best player. He primarily lines up on the left side of the defensive line, so we get to watch him go against Brandon Brooks, who has been playing like one of the best guards in the league this season. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles