The Eagles are preparing to face a hungry Baltimore Ravens team this weekend and while it may not have direct playoff implications for the Eagles, there is still plenty to play for. Aiming to break a four game losing streak and prove naysayers wrong, there is still plenty of motivation flying around the locker room. So what can we expect on Sunday?
We’re just short of 50% on our bold predictions this season, hitting on 19/50 so far. But just like the Eagles, cutting a losing streak short is a priority.
The Wentz wagon fires up:
Wentz is coming off of arguably his most impressive performance of the season and now faces one of the NFL’s top Defenses. This is a game where the play of the rookie quarterback is going to be symbolic of just how far he’s developed. Without a rushing attack and playing behind a wounded Offensive Line, his back is against the wall..but if he can fight back, the Eagles have every short at causing an upset.
The Ravens are giving up just 4.9 yards per play, but against the Redskins, Carson Wentz was able to average 6.83 yards per pass and record his highest quarterback rating since the week three win over Pittsburgh.
Our first bold prediction is for Wentz to build on the base he’s built and pick up his best QBR of the season against the Ravens, throwing for over 300 yards, at least one touchdown and avoiding an interception.
Hicks takes command:
Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks has been on a tear in recent weeks and has evolved into a firm leader of the Eagles Defense. With the Ravens rushing attack achieving less than 100 yards in six of their last eight games, it’s a perfect opportunity for Hicks to take command and force Joe Flacco to become one-dimensional.
My second prediction for this week is for Jordan Hicks to amass five tackles and force his first fumble of the season.
Another hot debut:
With Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood sidelined, the Eagles have been forced to call up Byron Marshall this weekend. Marshall is set to take on returning responsibilities as well as rotate into the Eagles inconsistent committee effort..but if there’s one thing we know about the former Oregon Duck, it’s never write him off.
Marshall caught 8 passes for 60 yards and rushed 34 times for 86 yards during preseason, but stunningly had 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving during his collegiate career. The Eagles have found great success in their special teams unit this year and all it takes is a small hole for Marshall to burst through and make his mark on the NFL.
We’re predicting Marshall to rush for 30 yards, but also to make a significant impact as a kick returner, setting the Eagles up in great field position to hang around against such a stern team.
Matthews finds his stride:
Jordan Matthews is once again on the cusp of a 1,000 yard season, but once again it’s going to come down to the wire as to whether he will finally hit that milestone. An Ankle injury set the Eagles leading receiver back this season, but he’s adamant to make up for lost time.
The Ravens pass Defense has been impressive so far, but without Jimmy Smith, it could well take a step back. This gives Matthews a real shot at dominating inside and getting close to our bold prediction of recording 100 receiving yards for only the second time this year and scoring two touchdowns.
A rare sighting:
With the season all but over, one could argue there isn’t much to play for. But for players such as Marcus Smith, whose future is still very much in the balance..it’s crunch time.
Smith has been extremely quiet once again this season, lost in the DE rotation. But as the Eagles lean toward development of the young guys toward the backend of the season, Smith may have a few opportunities left to prove that he can thrive in a 4-3 scheme.
We’re predicting for Marcus Smith to attain his first sack since the Overtime loss to Dallas as well as making three tackles.