Five Eagles to watch in West-Coast showdown with Rams

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The Eagles are just two days from a clash that many have been waiting for. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will lock horns for the first time in their careers, but there will be plenty of other players worth watching as the two playoff contenders collide.

 

Halapoulivaati Vaitai:
The Eagles LT didn’t exactly have an impressive game against the Seahawks. Vaitai accounted for 10 QB incidents. 2 sacks, 1 QB hit and 7 pressures all came at the hands of the TCU product according to PFF. This week, Vaitai will line up against a rotation of tenacious pass rushers. Robert Quinn, Ethan Westbrooks and Morgan Fox may all be licking their lips at a chance to punish Carson Wentz and the offense, but one would be naive to overlook the Elephant in the room in Aaron Donald. The Eagles offense will likely be very dependent on the success or failure of the second-year left tackle and how much support the Eagles can give him.

 

Carson Wentz: 
Aside from a goal-line fumble and some misses on key throws, Wentz actually had a very solid game against the Seahawks. However, his 348 yard game was dispelled by many. While it was better than we remember (as shown below), Wentz will need to be on top form against a Rams defense that has 38 sacks on the season and a game where they punished Blaine Gabbert with 6 sacks.

 

Jay Ajayi:
The former Dolphins running back has had a wobbly start to his career as an Eagle. From a touchdown in his first two games, to a goal-line fumble and a huge drop in snaps that someone used to being ‘the guy’ would find hard to stomach. Ajayi ran angrily against the Seahawks for 39 yards. Every carry ended in an expression of passion and anger, but his nine carries were still left a little underwhelming. Against a Rams defense that has struggled to contain the run all year long, giving up an average of 122 yards per game, this may be Ajayi’s revenge game.

 

Mychal Kendricks:
The Rams have one of the most lethal rushing attacks in the NFL. Todd Gurley has proven to be just as dangerous out of the backfield as a receiver as he is breaking tackles and storming through the trenches. It will be down to the Eagles linebacking corps to contain Gurley and maintain the reputation of the league’s most efficient run defense.

Mychal Kendricks leads the team in tackles, tying with none other than Nigel Bradham. The second-level has been a brick wall for most of the season, but it hasn’t been without its wobbles. Kendricks and his rekindled coverage prowess will be relied upon from the moment the Rams offense takes to the field.

 

Ronald Darby:
Darby’s return to action has seen plenty of ups and downs over the last few games, but it wasn’t until Russell Wilson threw everything possible his way in the early stages of last Sunday’s loss that Darby began to struggle. He rebounded well, but giving up two first-downs and a PI that led to a touchdown on the first drive did not set a strong tone.

The Rams have four receivers with over 500 receiving yards this year, but it’s Robert Woods who commands the team’s receiving yards, while Cooper Kupp spreads the offense out of the slot. Darby will need to find consistency early, forcing Goff to wait longer in the pocket and giving his pass-rush a chance against an offense that thrives on play-action and vertical looks where the burning happens most.

 

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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