September 19, 2019
For the third year in a row, the Eagles started the season with a win only to fall back to earth with a tough loss in Week 2. And now the Birds face a pair games in a five-day span, starting with this Sunday's home meeting with the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field.
Unfortunately for the Birds, they'll be playing shorthanded in Week 3 as 13 players popped up on the injury report on this week, many of whom aren't expected to take the field on Sunday. And those names include a trio of playmakers on offense — Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert — that could leave Carson Wentz in a tough spot.
On Friday, head coach Doug Pederson officially ruled Jackson out for Sunday, but said there's still a chance Goedert, who was spotted out on the practice field Friday, and Jeffery play against Detroit. However, most media reports suggest they'll be out for at least this week.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense will have to deal with Matthew Stafford and a collection of wideouts that could give the secondary fits, especially after seeing what the Falcons were able to do to Ronald Darby, who, to be fair, is still recovering from a torn ACL last season.
Could another big day from opposing wideouts be enough to convince Howie Roseman that he needs to go out and trade for Jalen Ramsey (if a trade even takes that long)? Either way, a loss to the Lions on Saturday would be bad news for the Birds, who would then have to travel to Green Bay and face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on a short week.
At that point, a 1-3 start wouldn't be out of the question. And that would be a nightmare scenario for the Birds, whose schedule won't be getting much easier after that — three of their four games in October will be on the road.
First, however, the Eagles have a game to play on Sunday, and here's a look at what you need to know for that game, plus how our writers see things playing out in Week 3...
TV: FOX | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Eagles (-6) | TOTAL: 45.0 (via Bovada)
Before the season began, I think we all looked at this matchup, quickly penciled in a W without any thought, and moved onto the next game. Now, ehhhhh, it's not such a no-brainer pick.
The Lions have quietly assembled a quality group of skill position players, an offensive line that has some continuity under its belt, and a decent enough defense with good players at each level, including an elite corner in Darius Slay.
If there's a major positive to take away from the Eagles' loss last Sunday to the Falcons, it's that Carson Wentz, after some early struggles, put the team on his back, and nearly carried them to a W on his own. He just didn't get enough help from his teammates.
Ultimately, I like the Eagles to overcome a mess of injuries on Wentz's back, at home, where they currently have a four-game winning streak. That said, I'll take the Lions +6.5 all day.
It was hard to see the last game coming — the Eagles lost three of their top five pass-catchers, their kick returner and their (second) starting defensive tackle to injury, and that's more or less what it took for the Falcons to inch out a victory after a slow Philly start.
It'll take a similar confluence of injuries for the Birds to drop this weekend's game against the Lions, even without the aforementioned DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert and Tim Jernigan. The Eagles are still a better team on paper and will be back in the friendly confines of the Linc.
There are plenty of concerns heading into this one, but they can silence them with a win. A loss would send this city into a tailspin of Eagles woe. I don't think it'll happen.
The Eagles need to stop getting off to such slow starts. It's as simple as that. Playing from behind is no way to win in the NFL, especially when you're without your top two receivers and your second tight end. So far this season, however, the Eagles have made it a habit of playing from behind, a troubling trend that dates back to last year when the Eagles suddenly forgot how to take an early lead, which was a staple of their success in 2017 when they went on to win the Super Bowl.
In each of their first two games this season, the Eagles found themselves down by double digits in the second half before storming back to take the lead. Against Washington, that was enough to secure the win. Against a better Atlanta team on the road, however, it wasn't. And it was a big reason why Doug Pederson went with such a pass-heavy offense despite being without DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery, who combined for all four Eagles touchdowns in the opener.
If the Eagles can get off to a better start than they've been able to in a while — and I think they will — they'll beat the Lions, even with so many injured players. If not, and they're forced to play from behind again, that's going to play right into Detroit's hands, and the short week on the horizon will suddenly feel a lot longer. Let's hope that's not the case.
Last week was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Eagles. Young wideouts were forced into early action following injuries to Wentz’s top targets, offensive line play was horrific at times (looking at you, Issac Seumalo), and Carson Wentz took far too long to respond to these hiccups. And oh, by the way, they never got the run game going against a team who had been carved up the week before.
The primary concern coming in has to be Philadelphia’s front seven. They’ve suffered some big blows up front, and while blitzing worked in spurts against Atlanta, it’s not a style Jim Schwartz wants to lean into too heavily. Matthew Stafford has plenty of weapons to spread the ball around to and Detroit can hit you for big plays early and often if you’re not careful.
So why am I still confident they’ll get the win against Detroit? They’re better at home, presumably they won’t get hit with a wave of injuries to open the game, and the reserve players will have had a whole week to get more reps with Wentz. The Eagles have kept teams in check on the ground, and even though the Lions can be dangerous through the air, forcing Detroit into a one-dimensional style should eventually work out in the Eagles’ favor.
I’m the king of the world!!
Well, king of the PhillyVoice Eagles’ picks for one week. I once went three years of correctly picking the winner of fights. I don’t see that happening here though. But I do see the Eagles beating the Lions.
We’re not out of September and it looks like the Eagles’ wheels are coming off already. The Eagles, like the Falcons last week, find themselves in desperation mode, regardless of how talented the roster looks on paper. If they lose here, they could easily be 1-3. The Eagles have 13 players on the injured list, though it doesn’t surprise me. If you look at the list of names below, which is the Eagles’ depth chart going into their season opener, you’ll notice only three regulars — one on offense, Jason Kelce, and two on defense, Malcolm Jenkins and Malik Jackson — entered the year having played all 16 games in at least one the last three seasons. Jackson’s streak ran out in the season-opener against Washington, when he suffered a Lisfranc injury.
According to PhillyVoice’s brilliant Jimmy Kempski, the Eagles were the second-oldest team in the NFL entering 2019, with an average age of 26.6 years, behind the New England Patriots’ 27.0. The year the Eagles won the Super Bowl, they had the 23rd oldest team, averaging 26.4 years after the initial cut down to 53 players.
When you combine the average age and the history that 19 of the 22 projected starters on the opening depth chart failed to play in 16 games during at least one regular season since 2016, maybe there should be some cause for concern with two games in such proximity to close September. Maybe the Eagles will consider themselves fortunate to be riding training wheels.
WR Alshon Jeffery (appeared in 12 games in 2016; 13 in 2018)
LT Jason Peters (7 in 2017)
LG Isaac Seumalo (9 in 2016; 14 in 2017; 13 in 2018)
C Jason Kelce (appeared in all 16 games 2016-18)
RG Brandon Brooks (14 in 2016)
RT Lane Johnson (6 in 2016; 15 in 2017/2018)
TE Zach Ertz (14 in 2016/2017)
WR Nelson Agholor (15 in 2016)
WR DeSean Jackson (15 in 2016; 14 in 2017; 12 in 2018)
RB Jordan Howard (15 in 2016)
QB Carson Wentz (13 in 2017; 11 in 2018)
DE Derek Barnett (appeared in 6 games in 2018)
DT Malik Jackson (appeared in all 16 games 2016-18)
DT Fletcher Cox (14 in 2017)
DE Brandon Graham (15 in 2017)
OLB Kamu Grugier-Hill (12 in 2016)
MLB Nigel Bradham (15 2017 & 2018)
OLB Zach Brown (13 in 2017)
CB Avonte Maddox (13 in 2018)
CB Ronald Darby (8 in 2017; 9 in 2018)
S Rodney McLeod (14 in 2017; 3 in 2018)
S Malcolm Jenkins (appeared in all 16 games 2016-18)
Still, I'm taking the Birds in this one.
I had this game as a lock and despite the Eagles injures with Desean being out, I think Jim Schwartz will have a solid plan in place to shut down Stafford. If the Eagles offense takes a half to get going, I’m confident the defense will be able to stop the Lions if they decide to go on the run.
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