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January 10, 2019

Comparing this year's Eagles playoff team with the Super Bowl team: Offense edition

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011118JayAjayi Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

Last year's trio of running backs were way better than this year's trio.

With the Philadelphia Eagles heading into the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, let's take a look at how this team compares with the 2017-18 team that won it all, position by position:

Quarterback: Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld vs. Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld, and mayyyyybe Carson Wentz

This time last year, the Eagles were heading into the divisional round of the playoffs as the 1 seed, about to face the 6 seed Atlanta Falcons, at home, as underdogs. That was unprecedented, and the reason why was simple -- Nick Foles had stunk up the joint in recent weeks.

Foles had just started three games heading into the playoffs, and didn't inspire much in the way of confidence. Statistically speaking, he had a nice game against the Giants, but on the eye test, he wasn't great in that game. Then he was downright bad against the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys, the latter game of which he only played a quarter.

Of course, as you all saw, Foles was OK-ish against the Falcons, and then absolutley incredible against the Vikings and Patriots to win it all.

This year, Foles is inspiring plenty of confidence, seeing as (A) he already did it last year, and (B) he is playing far better heading into the divisional round this time around.

Advantage: This year. Throw in that Carson Wentz might be available as a backup soon (we'll see), I like the quarterback situation heading into the divisional round this year way more than I did last year.

Running back: Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement vs. Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams

In you cant's have that one stud RB who can do it all, then Ajayi, Blount, and Clement were a running back by committee that any coach would love to have.

Conversely, while Sproles has made some plays, I would trade this current crop of backs for almost every other group in the NFL.

Advantage: Last year. By a mile.

Wide receiver: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Mack Hollins vs. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Golden Tate, and Jordan Matthews

  1. Jeffery vs. Jeffery is a wash. 
  2. Smith vs. "Agholor as a No. 2" is interesting. Smith was a better deep threat, but Agholor does a lot more. I'll give the edge to Agholor.
  3. "Agholor as a No. 3" vs. Tate clearly goes to Agholor, in my view.
  4. Hollins vs. Matthews is another interesting one. Matthews has been surprisingly solid this season, though Hollins was more explosive and did a lot of smaller, often unnoticed things.

Advantage: Last year. The formula of Jeffery as the No. 1, the field stretching (even if unproductive) No. 2 in Smith, and Agholor as a really good No. 3, just worked. I prefer that group over this year's receivers.

Tight end: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, and Trey Burton vs. Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Richard Rodgers

Goedert is clearly a significant upgrade over Celek, while Burton is obviously a more dynamic player than Rodgers. 

Advantage: This year. I'll take Goedert over the combination of Celek and Burton, all day.

Offensive line: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson vs. Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson

This year's personnel is better than last year's, for sure. Peters is obviously a better player than Vaitai, and in my view, Seumalo is playing better than Wisniewski.

However, even with Peters out, the Eagles' offensive line last year was the best in the NFL, and was a well-oiled machine heading into the playoffs. They're still great this season, and in my view, the team's MVP over the last half of the season, but the line last year was just on whole other level in terms of everyone being on the same page and working together.

Advantage: Last year.

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