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December 22, 2017

Week 16 NFL predictions: Rounding up the experts' picks for Eagles-Raiders

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122217_Eagles-Christmas_USA Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

A Philadelphia Eagles fan wearing a santa hat at Lincoln Financial Field.

The last time the Eagles played the Raiders, it was back in 2013 out in Oakland. Chip Kelly was in his first year as head coach, and Nick Foles was playing quarterback ... and breaking NFL records along the way.

Both the Birds and the Raiders have gone through a lot of changes since then, and when these two teams take the field at the Linc on Christmas, that will be quite obvious. The coaches will be different. Many of the players who caught some of Foles' seven touchdown passes that Sunday, including LeSean McCoy (1), DeSean Jackson (1) and Riley Cooper (3!), are now playing elsewhere (or not at all). 

However, aside from the fact that the Eagles are heading to the playoffs this season for the first time since that 2013 season, the one thing that remains the same is that Foles will again be under center. No one is expecting him to have the same kind of record-setting performance as he did in that 49-20 win back in 2013 – after all, he's no longer the Nicky Franchise. He's now filling in for starter Carson Wentz, the new face of the franchise.

With one victory separating the Birds from home-field advantage throughout the postseason, fans don't really care how many touchdowns he throws. All they really want for Christmas is a W. 

Here's a look at whether or not the local and national media think Santa will be kind to Eagles fans this year... 

•  Jimmy Kempski, PhillyVoice: Eagles 31, Raiders 20.

The Eagles struggled mightily against Eli Manning and the Giants' quick passing offense a week ago, and now they'll face a quarterback in Derek Carr who is second in the NFL in "snap-to-throw" time, at an average of 2.44 seconds. Still, the Eagles are the superior team and have an eight-game winning streak at home. The defense has to wake up at some point before the playoffs begin, right? We'll see.

There are a number of scenarios in which the Raiders will be eliminated prior to this game, the most likely of which is if the Chiefs beat the Dolphins, and the Ravens beat the Colts, both of which are highly likely. I'd buy the 8.5-point line before it jumps when the Raiders know they are officially out of it.

•  ESPN staff: Nine of their 10 experts are picking the Eagles. The other one, Louis Riddick, didn't make any picks this week.

•  Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Eagles 27, Raiders 20

The last time Nick Foles faced Oakland -- in November 2013 -- he threw seven touchdowns en route to a 49-20 Eagles win and a Pro Bowl berth. While he's unlikely to recreate that performance, Foles should find success against the NFL's 23rd-ranked pass defense. The Eagles' defense has been leaky of late and needs a strong showing to calm some nerves heading into the postseason. Back at home after a three-game road swing, coordinator Jim Schwartz's unit should get back on track.

•  Paul Gutierrez, ESPN.com: Eagles 37, Raiders 24

The Raiders could be officially eliminated from the playoff race before kickoff, and the Eagles could be playing for home-field advantage in the NFC. Yeah, this has the chance to get out of hand, especially if the Eagles jump the Raiders quickly. Still, pride is at stake, on national television, and the last time the Raiders faced Nick Foles, he lit them up for seven touchdown passes in 2013. Oakland needs to start fast on offense -- which has regressed from the No. 6 unit in the league last season to No. 19 -- lest the game get out of hand even quicker.

•  Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Eagles 34, Raiders 21

It's a rematch of a Super Bowl from 37 years ago. Don't worry, you didn't miss much. The Eagles came out flat and the Raiders capped off a week-long party in New Orleans with a three-score victory. The significant thing about that Super Sunday: Oakland won with its backup quarterback, Jim Plunkett. No one is suggesting Derek Carr gets benched. But this Philadelphia team can win with Nick Foles. Whether or not the defense -- which has allowed points in bunches over the last two weeks -- can play winning football alongside Nick Foles is another matter. Jim Schwartz's group was allowing about 18 points per game prior to these recent stutters. Perhaps running the football more -- and shortening the game -- is the answer. Then again, Foles tossed seven touchdown passes in his lone career start against the Raiders, back in 2013. Because that matters. Because these teams are exactly the same as then. OK, I'll stop.

•  CBSSports.com staff: All eight of their experts are picking the Eagles to beat the Raiders, and six of them think the Birds will cover the nine-point spread.

•  FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver's computers give the Eagles an 82 percent chance of winning (better than their odds last week against the Giants) and have them listed as an 11-point favorite.

•  OddsShark: They're predicting a 20-point victory for the Birds.

•  Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 27, Raiders 23

Four years after Nick Foles threw seven touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Raiders, he gets a chance to do it again. He won’t need to do quite that much to nail down the win and the No. 1 seed.

•  Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 30, Raiders 20

This one is hard to pick in advance because we don’t know if either team will have anything to play for: The Raiders might be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before this game, and the Eagles might have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs wrapped up before this game. With that caveat aside, I like the better team to win at home.

•  Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: Eagles 27, Raiders 17

Offensively, the Raiders do nothing. It's bland, it's simple, and it won't consistently move the ball against an Eagles defense that is very, very talented. Philadelphia has the best defensive line in the game, and it's going to make life miserable for Derek Carr and the Raiders running backs.

Philadelphia needs to keep winning to secure the NFC's No. 1 seed. They'll do just that on Monday night.

•  SBNation staff All eight of their writers are picking the Eagles.

•  Philly.com staff: All four of their football writers – Zach Berman, Les Bowen, Paul Domowitch, and Jeff McLane – are picking the Eagles to win. But only one, however, sees them winning by more than a TD. In fact, he sees them winning by FOUR touchdowns. Here's Domo explaining his 41-13 prediction:

Don’t be shocked if the Raiders come out of the tunnel at the Linc Monday night waving a white flag.

The Raiders are 31st in opponent passer rating, 27thin yards allowed per pass attempt, tied for 22nd in sacks and dead last in interceptions with four.

Hell, Nick Foles might even throw seven touchdown passes against them again.

•  Bleeding Green Nation staff: Once again, all seven of their writers are picking the Eagles.

•  NJ.com staff: Just two of their seven writers think the Eagles will cover. [NOTE: These picks were against the spread]

  The Eagles Wire staff: All six of their writers have the Eagles winning, including Turron Davenport, who sees a 29-20 final score:

The Eagles look to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win at home against the Raiders. Look for the defense to swarm-tackle Marshawn Lynch and stifle the running game. Offensively, Nick Foles needs to attack Oakland’s secondary for the win.

•  David Steele, Sporting News: Eagles 24, Raiders 17

When the Raiders fall into an early hole, they fall in deep; the latest one was last week, 10-0 to the Cowboys at halftime. If they think they can get away with that against the Eagles, Nick Foles or not, they can just plan their offseason vacations now. The Eagles will know by game time whether they’re playing to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

•  Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 34, Raiders 17

Derek Carr and Jack Del Rio aren't the aggressive, finishing QB-coach combination they were a year ago. The Eagles with Nick Foles and Doug Peterson are pretty much the same team they were with Carson Wentz and Pederson. The Raiders’ defense will have no answers, and the offense will struggle once Marshawn Lynch is contained.


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