Losing Carson Wentz is undeniably devastating. The MVP candidate had an MRI Monday morning and confirmed Eagles fans worst fears, a torn ACL. Wentz’s 33 touchdown passes leads the NFL and that number could’ve been higher if he didn’t sit out multiple 4th quarter blowout wins. His season still stands as a historic one for the Eagles and the team will have to continue on without their MVP. Philadelphia has already had to deal with injuries this season and will have to do it again. The Philadelphia Eagles can still make a deep run into the playoffs. Here are five reasons for why they can do it:
Run the Dang Ball
The Eagles boast the NFL’s second-best rushing offense this year, torching opponents for 143 yards a game. The team does not need Foles to throw for 253.5 yards and toss 2.5 touchdowns a game like Wentz was able to do this season. Instead, they’ll need him to manage the game and give the ball to the Eagles talented trio of running backs. Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement all have the capability to burn defenses and will need to if the Eagles are to make a run in the playoffs.
The Eagles threw the ball a combined 51 times against the Rams compared to only 28 planned runs. The luxury the Birds have is that they can roll out three capable backs who can split carries and stay healthy throughout the game. The trio has combined for 1,293 rushings yards for Philadelphia this year and can carry this offense. If Philly can switch to a run first team they can wear out defenses by using three good backs who’ll stay fresh, which in turn will also open up the play-action game for Nick Foles.
2013 Nick Foles
The Eagles will return to the Playoffs for the first time since 2013 when Nick Foles was the starting quarterback. Foles had a sparkling ratio of 27 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions that year. He’s already proven that he can be a good quarterback in this league. Foles had incredible playmakers on offense around him and an equally good O-line to protect him. With weapons around him and good protection, he’s proven to be a winning quarterback.
Guess who led the league in rushing and yards from scrimmage in 2013? LeSean McCoy. With an elite running game like the Eagles had in 2013, Foles will be able to manage the game and take the necessary shots when he needs to. The Eagles also boast Jeffrey, Agholor, and Ertz as top receiving options for Foles. He won’t have to make force plays and will have to simply focus on getting the ball in his playmaker’s hands. He proved that he can lead a team full of playmakers like he did in 2013. However, there’s one thing he didn’t have in 2013.
Philadelphia is 4th in total defense this year giving up just 294.2 yards a game. Which includes them boasting the leagues best run defense at 71.2 yards a game, which is 17 yards better than the next best team. Teams are forced to pass the ball when they cannot successfully run the ball against the Eagles. Philadelphia’s secondary has been getting progressively better with each passing week. The Eagles are top ten in sacks and can consistently get to the quarterback each game. This has made things easier on the secondary who’ve been just as good for Philadelphia.
The quartet of Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Patrick Robinson, and Rasual Douglas have been great this year. The secondary is about to get even better now that rookie Sidney Jones is about to start practicing this week for the team. The Eagles knew that Jones might’ve not been able to play this year which is why he dropped out of the first round and right to Philadelphia. He’ll join a secondary that has the second most pass deflections and third most interceptions this year. The entire defense has held opposing teams to just 19.2 points a game, good for 6th in the NFL. The Eagles can rely on their defense to continue their dominance for the rest of the season.
Even with the Eagles clinching the NFC East they are the #1 seed in the NFC and will want to finish strong to secure a first-round bye. Luckily for the Eagles, they play the NFL’s second-worst team next week. The Giants are 2-11 and have the NFL’s worst defense this year. New York has given up 395.7 yards a game while giving up the 7th most points in the process. The Eagles will be motivated to win this game after losing Wentz and should take care of the Giants.
The Raiders are fighting for their playoff lives after losing to the Chiefs last week. They have to leapfrog two teams and will likely be in desperation mode against Philadelphia. Teams like Oakland can be dangerous for a team like the Eagles who’ve already punched their ticket to playoffs. However, the Raiders have to come into Philadelphia where the Eagles are a perfect 6-0 at home.
Philadelphia will close the season against Dallas who might still be fighting for their playoff lives. They’ll have a fully healthy squad this time they face the Eagles and will have superstar Ezekiel Elliott back in their lineup. This will be the biggest test for the Philadelphia. They need to prove that can beat a playoff team with Foles under center. Even if they lose this game they can still finish the season as #1 seed.
The Eagles play their last two games in Philadelphia. The Eagles have not lost one game at home this year and if they close out the season strong, they’ll have their first game in Philadelphia. This team has averaged 35 points per game at home while allowing just 15.1 points a game. The Eagles are clearly a better team at home winning by almost three touchdowns a game. The team can ride that extra confidence and have a clear an advantage by staying in Philadelphia at the Linc. This team has obstacles to face with Carson Wentz out for the season. The team need two wins or one win and a Vikings loss to clinch the #1 seed in the NFC. However, the talent they’ve accumulated on both sides of the ball is the reason for continued optimism on the season. The team can continue to win and take a run deep into January this year, they just have to play a little different.
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports