December 08, 2017

Week 14 NFL predictions: Rounding up the experts' picks for Eagles-Rams

Eagles NFL

It's been a while since the Eagles have been asked to rebound from a loss and avoid a losing streak, so it will be interesting to see how they respond following their first loss since mid-September last week at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.

On Sunday, the Birds face a different, but just as challenging of a test when they visit the 9-3 Los Angeles Rams for a matchup between the top two scoring offenses in the NFL. The Eagles will look to maintain their position in the NFC playoff picture – and with a little help from the Panthers, they could find themselves back atop the conference standings come Monday morning.

Before worrying about the playoffs, however, the Eagles will need to take care of business against the Rams. Here's a look at how the experts see Sunday's game playing out... 

•  Jimmy Kempski, PhillyVoice: Eagles win.

The Eagles will try to make this a grind it out rushing attack game, as the Rams' biggest weakness is defending the run. The Eagles have a significant advantage on the ground, while I don't see a big difference in these two teams through the air.

•  ESPN staff: They're split right down the middle, with five of their experts picking the Eagles and five picking the Rams.

•  Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Eagles 30, Rams 27

Just how big is this game for playoff positioning? According to ESPN.com’s Football Power Index, the Eagles would have a 97 percent chance to claim a first-round bye with a win. The percentages would fall to 50 percent with a loss. The Eagles have stayed out West all week, practicing on a slick surface at Angels Stadium and sleeping in a hotel. Not ideal. But they're hungry to rebound after a loss to the Seahawks, and you'd better believe Carson Wentz wants to get the better of Jared Goff, his training partner leading up to the 2016 draft

•  Alden Gonzalez, ESPN.com: Eagles 24, Rams 21

This may sound oversimplified, but I just can't see the Eagles -- NFL leaders in point margin -- losing two consecutive games. These teams are very evenly matched in all three phases. But the Rams' defense has had a hard time against quarterbacks such as Wentz who can make plays outside the pocket (see: Keenum, Case). And the Eagles' defense is good against the run, which probably means Goff will throw the ball a lot on Sunday. He's had a lot of those lately. The Rams will be at home, but Eagles fans travel well. The Rams also haven't had an ideal practice schedule this week. They were forced into a walk-through on Wednesday and battled fierce winds while in pads on Thursday. It all counts in a close game like this.

•  Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Eagles 29, Rams 26

This is the top-shelf game at your local sports bar this weekend... A win by the Eagles could keep them atop the conference with the Vikings, who've already toppled Los Angeles. Not to mention, the Rams must stay ahead of the Seahawks, whom they lost to in October. Watching Wentz compete against Wade Phillips' ever-improving defense should be fun. More fun: the NFL's top-scoring team taking on Jim Schwartz's Philly defense. Most fun: This is the first time since the AFL-NFL merger that two teams tied for the league lead in scoring (30.1) will play each other.

•  CBSSports.com staff: Like ESPN, they're also split down the middle, with four of eight taking the Birds and four taking the Rams. 

•  FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver's computers have the Rams winning 52 percent of the time and believe the Rams should be favored by a half point over the Birds.

•  OddsShark: This computer also has the Rams winning (and covering) against the Eagles.

•  Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 27, Rams 21

One is an accident, twice is a trend. Or something. Either way, the Eagles won’t be letting their losing streak run to two.

•  Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Rams 21, Eagles 20

This is a great game in the NFC playoff race, and I see it as the second consecutive West Coast loss for an Eagles team that previously looked like it was ready to run away with home-field advantage.

•  Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: Eagles 23, Rams 21

The Eagles have a more balanced offense, one that can take advantage of L.A.'s lack of size on defense. While the Philadelphia front can contain Todd Gurley on the ground, the Rams will struggle to stop the Eagles run game.

Expect this to be a battle that comes down to the wire, but the Eagles are just a notch above and will pull it out in the end.

•  SBNation staff It's an even split over at SB Nation, with four of their writers taking the Birds and four taking the Rams.

•  Zach Berman, The Philadelphia Inquirer: Eagles 31, Rams 27

The concern with the Rams defense is their pass rush, and the offensive line must be up for the challenge – especially against Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. But I think the Eagles will move the ball on the Rams and find the end zone more than last week. Look for Wentz to bounce back in a big way.

•  Jeff McLane, The Philadelphia InquirerEagles 29, Rams 27

The schemes on both sides of the ball are different, but the most significant difference is at running back...

The teams are otherwise evenly-matched, but if I were to give the Eagles the edge it would be at quarterback. Jared Goff has taken a tremendous leap this season, but Carson Wentz can take over games with his athleticism. I think he bounces back from a subpar performance in Seattle.

•  Les Bowen, The Philadelphia Daily NewsEagles 26, Rams 24

I see Carson Wentz bouncing back from last week’s mistakes. I see the Eagles running the ball effectively, and then throwing it off that. But I also see another multifaceted offense, much like Seattle’s. There’s no chasing Russell Wilson as he buys time this week, but there is an excellent deep passing game and something the Seahawks lacked — a really excellent run game. Very hard to shut down both. But I think we’ll see desperation and resolve from the Eagles.

•  Paul Domowitch, The Philadelphia Daily NewsEagles 31, Rams 30

The Eagles are starting to get sloppy with turnovers and penalties, and that concerns me. Their coach complained about the poor focus in practice leading up to the Seattle game, and I’m not sure staying in a hotel for a week and practicing on a baseball field is the best way to regain that focus.

That said, I’m picking the Eagles for two reasons: the Rams’ run defense and the Eagles’ run defense.

•  Bleeding Green Nation staff: Despite last week's loss, all seven of their writers are picking the Eagles.

•  NJ.com staff: Four of their seven experts are picking the Eagles, which is actually up from last week when just three picked the Birds. [NOTE: These picks were against the spread]

•  PhillyInfluencer staff: Seven of their eight writers are picking the Eagles, including PhillyVoice contributor Nick Piccone, who sees a 30-21 win for the Birds.

We’ve been down this road before as Eagles fans. It’s important to note that this current group of players hasn’t. They haven’t all been down this road together. It’s something that I think will go far in having them prepare accordingly each week moving forward. I think the Rams are a terrific team, but the Eagles got better quicker, and they’ll have the edge on Sunday.

  The Eagles Wire staff: Four of their writers have the Eagles winning, including Turron Davenport, who sees a 35-28 final score:

The Eagles are looking to bounce back from a tough loss last week, but it won’t be an easy feat in L.A. Philadelphia’s front seven will need to get to Jared Goff early and often as well as contain running back Todd Gurley. With both teams averaging 30 points per game, the Eagles will pull out the win in a shootout and improve to 11-2. 

•  David Steele, Sporting News: Rams 33, Eagles 23

Part II of the Eagles’ reputation-testing West Coast trip, this time against a Rams team with an offense harder to stop than Seattle’s and a defense that’s healthier. That defense is what Carson Wentz and the Eagles have to worry about, especially after being held without a touchdown for more than a half in Seattle on Sunday night. The Rams, meanwhile, are the only team that has defeated the Saints over the last two months. Winner gains a vital edge of its home field should they play each other again.

•  Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 34, Rams 27

Jared Goff and Carson Wentz get to meet on the same field during their breakout second seasons. The Eagles after the Seahawks game stayed out in California to avoid a long trip back west, which should help them recover nicely from the shellshock of Seattle. Philadelphia’s fans and players will feel at home in Los Angeles, and Wentz can do a better job of getting away from Aaron Donald and the Rams' front than Goff will against Fletcher Cox and the Eagles’ front.


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