Eagles

NFL Week 6 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

NFL Week 6 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

Here are Derrick Gunn's five matchups to watch for Week 6 of the NFL season.

Panthers at Buccaneers (9:30 a.m., NFL Network)

These two division rivals head to London for an early-morning tilt. The Panthers have played much better in Cam Newton's absence. His understudy, young Kyle Allen, has led them to three straight wins. It helps that he has the league's leading rusher in Christian McCaffrey backing him up. The Bucs have been on a roller coaster all season, losing games in Weeks 1, 3 and 5. If you go by that, Tampa Bay should win this one, but the Panthers are hot and the Bucs are not. Carolina makes it four straight.

Seahawks at Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)

Russell Wilson has been playing out of his mind. The Seattle signal caller has 12 TDs and no interceptions, has completed 73  percent of his passes and has a 126.3 passer rating. Thanks to a late missed field goal by the Rams, Seattle is riding the high tide of a 4-1 start. Meanwhile, the Browns got humiliated in front of a national audience by the Niners. Some Dawg Pound fans are already souring on QB Baker Mayfield. The Dawgs will have a lot of barking support in their stadium, but not enough bite to stop Wilson and the 'Hawks.

Texans at Chiefs (Sunday 1 p.m., CBS)

The Colts shocked the league with their dominating performance at Arrowhead Stadium. They neutralized the Chiefs' speed, outmuscled KC on both sides of the ball and sacked Patrick Mahomes four times and got numerous hits on him. The Chiefs are still awaiting the return of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins is dealing with a hamstring injury. His availability this week is uncertain. Texans QB DeShaun Watson is coming off a five-TD performance against the Falcons. Houston's wide receiver duo of Will Fuller V and DeAndre Hopkins is as good as it gets in the league. This one is a close call, but I can't see Andy Reid's guys losing two straight at home.

49ers at Rams (Sunday 4:05 p.m., FOX)

There’s some new muscle in the NFC West — the 49ers. The Niners' organization has done an outstanding job of building a team that’s a perfect blend of power and fitness. They are rugged on defense and unpredictable on offense. And oh, by the way, they’re one of only two unbeaten squads left. As for the Rams, they have some soul searching to do. After starting 3-0, they’ve lost their last two, giving up 85 points in the process. This matchup will say a lot about just how far the Niners have come. Call it a hunch, but I believe San Fran will send a message to the rest of the NFC after this one.

Lions at Packers (Monday 8:15 p.m., ESPN)

The Packers' defense is an either or unit. They either stop the pass or the run. But not both at the same time. The Eagles ran all through them, but they stoned walled the Cowboys ground game. Aaron Rodgers and his offensive mates are getting more comfortable each week in head coach Matt LaFleur's offense. RB Aaron Jones is making a name for himself — he is the NFC Offensive Player of the week after his four-TD outing in Dallas. The Lions are well rested and coming off a bye. So far, Detroit is 1-0-1 on the road. It should be a great duel between Rodgers and Matt Stafford at Lambeau in a showdown for first place in the NFC North. The Packers will Lambeau leap to their fifth win.

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Eagles need to find out exactly what they have in JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Eagles need to find out exactly what they have in JJ Arcega-Whiteside

For most teams, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal. Guy makes a catch. Big whoop.

For this team? It was monumental.

For any wide receiver on the post-DeSean Jackson 2019 Eagles to record a 29-yard reception, that’s a rarity.

For a rookie who we’re all waiting to see something positive from, it was virtually historic.

Rookie second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who had just two catches for 14 yards to show for his first nine NFL games, had a big 29-yarder in the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Patriots game Sunday at the Linc.

To put that into context, it was the fourth-longest reception by an Eagles wide receiver in the post-Jackson Era (since Week 2).

“The game, everything kind of slowed down, definitely, knowing the plays and getting a little more experience here and there,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “But every day you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. I definitely did some good things, but I’m sure there’s some mistakes in there, too.”

Arcega-Whiteside has been one of the biggest mysteries on the team this year.

Why was a rookie who had such a promising preseason unable to get on the field while the rest of the Eagles’ wide receivers sputtered and struggled?

He played 128 snaps against the Falcons and Lions, when Alshon Jeffery was hurt, then got just 43 snaps — with no catches — over the next six weeks.

With Jeffery sidelined again, Arcega-Whiteside got 19 snaps Sunday, his most since Week 3.

He had a nine-yard catch in the first quarter that was wiped out by a penalty, then early in the fourth quarter made a nice grab for 29 yards on a 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ 6-yard-line, getting the Eagles out of the soup.

Believe it or not, that was the 4th-longest catch this year against the Patriots, the longest by a rookie.

That was Arcega-Whiteside's only catch in the Eagles' 17-10 loss, but it was definitely an encouraging step.

The Eagles are desperate for anything from their wide receivers. Any positive sign is huge.

Just with that one 29-yard catch, Arcega-Whiteside had more yards than Nelson Agholor in five of Agholor's last seven games and more catches than Mack Hollins has in his last six games.

Small steps.

“There were some times where I got open, there were some times I didn’t get open and I’ve got to look at it and learn from it and see how I can get better,” he said. “No matter how big or small the play is you’ve just got to build off each play and learn from the ones that don’t go your way, because the second you get complacent, bad things happen.”

Arcega-Whiteside’s catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie wide receiver since Hollins had a 64-yarder against the Redskins in 2017.

“Making plays feels good,” he said. “They feel better when you win, but every day just stack it, build off of this and keep it going. Just build off every success, learn from every failure and get better.”

You would think Arcega-Whitside has earned some more playing time. How do you not play this kid?

He’s got the size, he’s got the hands, he's got the ball control, and he’s getting more and more comfortable in the offense.

The Eagles need to find out exactly what they have in Arcega-Whiteside. Because there's a decent chance it's more than we're seeing from anybody else.



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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. 



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