December 16, 2017
When the Eagles take the field at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, they'll be doing so with Nick Foles, not Carson Wentz, at quarterback. It's not what anybody expected to be saying a week ago this time, but after Wentz tore his ACL against the Rams in Week 14, but that doesn't matter.
It's now the reality. And as they say, the show must go on.
"It's tough when you lose your starter, but the guys have really responded well," head coach Doug Pederson said Friday. "Offensively, around Nick ... and he's just jumped in and commanded the huddle.
"Again, he's a veteran player. He's played with a lot of these guys on this team before. He understands. He knows. He's smart. He studies. He prepares, and he'll be fine, but the guys have really done a nice job around him."
Not only does Foles know some of his teammates – after all, he started 24 games here over three seasons (15-9) – but Foles also knows his opponent on Sunday, the New York Giants. And in his two games against them (both with the Eagles) he's fared pretty well, posting a 94.2 passer rating.
However, the reason the Birds are still favored by more than a touchdown on the road, despite losing their MVP-candidate quarterback for the season, has more to do with the state of affairs in New York. At 2-11, the Giants have been plagued by injuries and are set to play their second game under interim coach Steve Spagnuolo after firing Ben McAdoo (and GM Jerry Reese) earlier this month.
Last week, in their first game after cleaning house, the Giants were routed by the Cowboys, 30-10, at home.
The Eagles had established themselves as the class of the NFC when Wentz was healthy, and now they'll look to prove they can be with Foles as their starter. The question is ... will they?
TV: FOX | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Eagles (-7.5) | TOTAL: 40.5 (via Bovada)
On Friday, we took a look at how other local and national writers see this week's game playing out. You can check that out, here.
It was an outrage (an outrage I say!) when the Giants benched Eli Manning a week ago, and now the New York papers are calling for him to be re-benched. Anyway, the Giants have nothing offensively, defensively, or on special teams. They can't wait for this season to just be over.
I expect Eagles fans will get somewhat of a reality check this week as far as the offense is concerned. Yes, Foles is capable of managing the game and getting them over the line, but there will be no escape acts in the pocket, back-breaking runs for first downs, or even a whole lot of throwing on the move. Foles will be much more reliant on the boys in front of him to keep the pocket clean, and the run game needs to be in tip-top shape.
The Giants are still trash, though. I think the Eagles get at least one defensive or special teams touchdown this week, which will help them overcome some offensive sputtering in Foles’ first start of the year.
For at least a few weeks, most Eagles fans had this one penciled in as a win – and if you had it written in permanent ink, you wouldn't have been crazy. But that's not the case anymore.
With no Carson Wentz – and potentially a left side of the offensive line made up of Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Chance Warmack – the Eagles offense could struggle to get shots down the field. And if that's the case, it could be a relatively low-scoring affair, especially if the Eagles decide to take some pressure off Nick Foles by deploying a ground-heavy attack.
Fortunately, the Eagles have one of the best defenses in the NFL, despite its recent struggles. And Jim Schwartz's unit is good enough to shut down a Giants team that has little to play for but pride (and possible future contracts). So if you're one of the overly optimistic Eagles fans who marked this win down with permanent ink, fear not. No need to reach for the White-Out. It may not be pretty, but the Birds will take care of business on Sunday.
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