It’s ‘win and in’ the Philadelphia Eagles in week 17. Their emphatic win over the Dallas Cowboys has left them with one much smaller hurdle to leap over in order to make the playoffs, and that’s beating the New York Giants. While it may seem easier on paper, they’re going to likely have to lean on some of their biggest young stars.
The early injury report (although an estimation) doesn’t bode well for key positions on the team. Wide receiver depth is already minimal, and TE Richard Rodgers was recently re-signed as an insurance policy for Zach Ertz, while the picture on Defense can be just as concerning.
If the Eagles are indeed pushing for a playoff run, keeping names like Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Jalen Mills, healthy, is going to be absolutely pivotal. So while there’s a chance that many of the names on this list are healthy on Sunday, they could see a decreased role against weaker opposition. Even if they don’t, it’s been the recent youth infusion that has sparked life into this team to begin with.
We all know how low depth is at wide receiver, and Greg Ward Jr’s recent breakout has been nothing short of excellent. A career-high in yards last week was preceded by his first-ever touchdown that just so happened to win the game for Philadelphia. The former Houston Quarterback is becoming a key asset on offense and that will only continue if Arcega-Whiteside is less than 100%.
When Zach Ertz was forced out of last week’s game with a rib injury, it was second-year tight end Dallas Goedert who broke out for 91 yards and a touchdown, stepping up to the plate and becoming a security blanket for a quarterback rapidly running out of receiving targets.
Jordan Howard’s return finally appears to be imminent, but in his absence, Miles Sanders has been nothing short of electric, igniting a late surge for ‘Offensive rookie of the year’.
With Ronald Darby sidelined, Doug Pederson noted that Rasul Douglas will start, but it’s Washington product Sidney Jones who has made two of the biggest plays of the year in back-to-back weeks. If Jalen Mills is unable to go, it’ll be on the former second-round pack to take those flashes and turn them into consistent play.
For the last few weeks, we’ve spoken about how the youth infusion has energized the team and helped unveil a new identity. The skin of Super Bowl 52 has been fully shed and after a lot of adversity, the Eagles are firing on all cylinders once more thanks to the raw energy brought to the table by the players who have spent so long craving an opportunity to prove their worth.
“It means everything. I think that’s something that our team understands, that each week now starting a couple weeks ago, every week was a playoff game, otherwise we’re going to go home here in a couple weeks.” Doug Pederson said after last week’s win. “Our season is not done. We have another week left. I think our team understands that. We have another division opponent on the road and a chance to continue our season.
It’s going to take another 60-minute game. We went to overtime with this team a couple weeks ago, and our guys will have to be ready again to get healthy with a holiday week coming up and everything that’s happening this week and prepare and get ready to play the Giants.”
With a growing injury report and a playoff run on the line, don’t be surprised to see an even heavier focus on the young players who have stood in the face of adversity and flipped the bird, playing their best football and energizing this football team. From Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders, to Sidney Jones and even someone like UDFA LB T.J Edwards, this team is filled with young talent who will all be asked for one last rally on Sunday.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports