The Philadelphia Eagles, with Carson Wentz now out for the season, have many questions to answer at the end of the 2017 regular season. With the playoffs on the horizon, new starting quarterback Nick Foles and the Birds need to show the rest of the league they are still the team to beat in the NFC without their MVP caliber quarterback.
Philly barely escaped the New York Giants last Sunday in the Big Apple, hanging on for a 34-29 victory. Foles was one of the biggest reasons they won, throwing for 237 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Now on Christmas Day, the Birds will welcome the Oakland Raiders to town for a Monday Night Football matchup in their penultimate game of the regular season. Here are the Eagles keys to victory for Oakland.
Week 16 Philadelphia Eagles Keys To Victory
Keep the Run Defense Up
Against the Giants, Philadelphia continued to be the top run defense in the NFL. They allowed the G Men to run for just 75 yards on 23 carries, their leading rusher going for just 39 yards. The Eagles come into this week allowing just 71.5 yards per game, leading the league.
Next week is a tougher task, facing the stout Raiders offensive line and the bruising back Marshawn Lynch. Keeping him in check and forcing quarterback Derek Carr to pass will be crucial to getting the win.
Have Foles Do Less
Foles had a fantastic day through the air last Sunday, but if the team gets a subpar running performance again, it would be unwise to rely on Foles to carry the team again. Foles is a solid quarterback and a very good backup, but he’s not Wentz. The team cannot rely on Wentz production from Foles each game to lead you to victory, especially in the playoffs.
The run game needs to step up and take the load off his shoulders. Against the Giants, the Eagles only ran for 108 yards on 27 carries. This was a letdown, especially since they rank second in the NFL in rushing with 140.5 yards per game on the ground. With an effective run game like the Eagles have, Foles shouldn’t be throwing that much each game.
Get the “Fire” Back on Defense
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz came out this week and said the defensive struggles against New York were attested to a lack of urgency and their lost “fire” on defense. Plain and simple: get that fire and urgency back. The two teams left on the schedule still have slim but possible playoff shots if they win out the rest of the season. Both the Raiders and Dallas Cowboys will have something to play for at the end and will give the Eagles all they can handle.
Thus, the Eagles defense will need to play with the fire Schwartz instilled earlier in the year. Although they are in the playoffs, the leadership on defense cannot let their mentality slip over the final games of the season. Such a slip could lead to inevitable questions heading into the playoffs, and let a team sneak up on the Eagles.