December 16, 2016
The Eagles don't have to travel very far for their Week 15 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. But the length of the trip hasn't seemed to matter this season for Doug Pederson's team. They're not playing at home, and that's the most important thing.
Save for their Week 2 win in Chicago, they've been flat out awful on the road this season. They're 1-6 away from the Linc this season, and have a -48 point differential in their last six* road games (-8 PPG) this season compared to a plus-53 in six home games (+8.83 PPG). And that's after two straight home losses.
The Eagles are 2-1 against the AFC North this season, including their best game of the season when they stunned the Steelers, 34-3, in Week 3. But if they want to finish the season with a winning record against one of the three divisions in which they played all four teams (2-2 against NFC North; 0-4 vs. NFC East with two games left), they'll have their work cut out for them.
What once looked like an enticing matchup between two talented QBs from FCS schools has lost some of its luster in recent weeks. And, as tends to happen with the Ravens, the talk heading into this one has become about the Ravens defense and whether or not Wentz will be able to score enough points to win without a few of his favorite receiving targets.
Here's a look at how the two teams matchup on paper and how our writers see the game playing out:
BY THE NUMBERS
|PTS SCORED||290 (19th)||279 (21st)|
|PTS ALLOWED||272 (12th)||237 (4th)|
|TURNOVER DIFF.||+1 (16th)||+7 (6th)|
|PASS YDS/G||232 (21st)||261 (7nd)|
|RUSH YDS/G||108 (15th)||86 (28th)|
|PASS YDS/G||243 (13th)||236 (11th)|
|RUSH YDS/G||101 (15th)||75 (1st)|
TV: FOX | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Ravens (-6.0) | TOTAL: 40.5 (via topbet.eu)
You can put me down for whoever the Eagles play the rest of the season, and that may even include a Mark Sanchez-led Dallas Cowboys team with nothing to play for Week 17.
These “nonconference” games against AFC teams tend to bring back memories for me simply because they don’t happen very often. The last time the Eagles took I-95 down to M&T Bank Stadium (also known as “The Big Crabcake,” per Wikipedia), Andy Reid benched Donovan McNabb in favor of Kevin Kolb. It didn’t work out so hot. Four years later, this time at The Linc, a 4-12 Eagles team knocked off the eventual Super Bowl champs (lol).
I think the Ravens are a decent, but not dominant team. They should win this game, but there is a scenario in which Jim Schwartz’s defense controls Joe Flacco and a Baltimore offense that doesn’t particularly throw or run the football all that well. The Ravens play great defense, though, and Justin Tucker is probably the best kicker I have ever seen.
On the Eagles’ side, you can’t underestimate the impact that a healthy long snapper has on the game. Crucial!
My question is if this game is the Eagles’ dumb win at the end of the year, along the lines of what happened in New England last season. Nah, I bet they’re saving that one for Thursday night against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The Eagles haven't given us any reason to believe they'll win on Sunday -- not over the past few weeks, anyway. They've lost three straight games and eight of their last 10, which includes six straight road losses. They've been outscored by an average of eight points in those eight road losses.
Sure, the Ravens are going to be without their best cornerback in Jimmy Smith, but that might not be much help to Carson Wentz, who could be without Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham -- not to mention Darren Sproles (who has already been ruled out). Those three players have accounted for over 45 percent of the Eagles receptions this season, and potentially missing three of their top four pass-catchers doesn't bode well against a Ravens defense that's first in the NFL at defending the run (75 yards/game).
There's also a greater than 90 percent chance of rain in Baltimore on Sunday, which would make it even harder to the rookie QB, who played his college ball in a dome, to deliver accurate throws to some questionable receiving targets. And they don't even have Sproles to help them out on screen passes (and blitz pickups, like the final play of the Eagles' loss to the Redskins).
I think the defense can hold their own in this one; I just don't think the offense will be able to put up enough points in support.