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December 28, 2017

What they're saying: Wentz still has MVP case, but home field advantage is just as important for Eagles

Eagles NFL

Between now and the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, it's going to be a lot of sitting and waiting for Eagles fans.

Sure, they have a game against the Cowboys on Sunday, but with nothing left to play for (on either side), we're still not sure how long the starters will go – and how many of them won't go at all. 

Then, fans will have another week to wait before they know who the Birds will play in their first postseason game since January 2014. After that, it's another week of waiting before the actual game.

In the meantime, here's a look at what they're saying about the Eagles...

Wentz's MVP case

Tim McManus |

Carson Wentz wouldn't be the first player in NFL history to win the MVP after missing at least three games that season. It's been done twice before, both by quarterbacks. However, the last time it happened was in 1989, when Joe Montana won the award. Two years earlier, John Elway won MVP while also missing three games.

Wentz had been a favorite for MVP before getting injured. The fact that he was unable to finish the season lengthens his odds: The latest ESPN poll has Brady first, Rams running back Todd Gurley second and Wentz third in MVP voting.

There is precedent for giving the MVP to someone in a similar situation as Wentz. Joe Montana won the award in 1989 despite missing three games. Like Wentz, he went 11-2 as a starter. Montana led the league in completion rate (70 percent), threw 26 touchdowns to eight interceptions, and established a new record for quarterback rating (112.4).

Wentz (60 percent completion rate, 33 TDs, 7 INT, 101.9 rating) still leads the league in passing touchdowns and third-down TDs (14) even without playing the last two games. He is second in red zone completion percentage (65 percent) and red zone touchdowns (23 TDs vs. zero INTs) as well.  []

Along with Tim's story, there was also this chart listing other past NFL players who missed at least one game and went on to win the MVP. The most recent was Aaron Rodgers in 2011. And if you want to find the most recent player to miss multiple games and still win the league's top honor, you have to go back to 2003 (Steve McNair). 

NFL MVPs who have missed games

2011 Aaron Rodgers 1
2003 Steve McNair 2
2000 Marshall Faulk 2
1993 Emmitt Smith 2
1991 Thurman Thomas 1
1990 Joe Montana 1
1989 Joe Montana 3
1987 John Elway 3
1972 Larry Brown 2
1963 Y.A. Tittle 1
[Source: ESPN Stats & Information]

Home cookin'

Neil Greenberg | Washington Post

As Neil Greenberg rightly points out, having both Carson Wentz and home-field advantage would be the ideal situation for the Eagles. But that's not the case, so Birds fans will have to take solace in the fact that having Foles at home is essentially the same as having Wentz on the road – at least that's what the numbers suggest...  

In terms of points, the Eagles are projected to score 18 points per game with Foles, three points fewer than with Wentz. However, using the same data that helped construct our power rankings — which highlights a team’s actual and expected win percentage for the year, Philadelphia gets at least a 10 percentage point boost to its win probability over each of the NFC teams currently in the playoff picture because of home-field advantage. Translate that to points, as Las Vegas does to calculate its point spreads, and you get a boost of about three points. That effectively bridges the gap between Wentz and Foles on the field.  []

Luck of the draw?

Cody Benjamin | Bleeding Green Nation

Earlier on Thursday, our own Jimmy Kempski offered up his ranking of the Eagles' potential playoff opponents. And while they basically have the six teams broken up into the same two tiers, they differ greatly when you start getting specific. For example, Jimmy thinks the Saints will be the toughest test for the Eagles, while Cody believes it will be the Rams (No. 3 on Jimmy's list).

Like Keenum, Jared Goff isn’t a proven playoff quarterback, and there are even indications he played “shook and shaky” against the Tennessee Titans’ pressure in Week 16, so maybe coming to cold Philadelphia really benefits the Eagles’ defense. Still, if the Rams aren’t a threat after what they did to Philly in Week 14, then who is? Wentz was still around for most of their last get-together, remember, and Todd Gurley alone makes L.A. a favorite to drop at least 25 points, if not more. There probably aren’t many people ready to say Philly is primed for a shootout at this stage of the season.  []

Window shopping

Nick Fierro | Allentown Morning Call

It's never too early to look ahead to the offseason. Well, it is, but since the Eagles have some time before playing another meaningful game, it can't hurt. 

Earlier, we took a look at a bunch of different mock drafts to see who the Eagles might take. But what about in free agency?

Saints FB Zach Line. The Eagles have done a great job of loading up at the running back position but not of getting them the extra blocking they need to totally enhance their abilities.

Obviously the fullback is a part-time position in the league these days, but almost all of the top offenses in the league still carry one. And in Line’s case, he’s a core special-teamer as well.

He’s a big reason behind the Saints’ newfound run-pass balance this season, already knows the West Coast offense and will only be 28 next season.  []

Dr. Nick and Mr. Foles

Fran Duffy |

In this week's film breakdown, Fran Duffy takes a look at the good and bad from Nick Foles in the Eagles' Week 16 win over the Raiders.

If you’re an Eagles fan, it’s not time to jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge. Foles played great in New York in Week 15, and he didn’t last week. He doesn’t need to play as well as he did against the Giants on a weekly basis in the postseason (though that’d be nice), but getting somewhere in between would be an ideal scenario for this Eagles offense. Let’s look at what went right, and what went wrong, for Foles against the Raiders.

Two of the worst misses for Foles against the Raiders were down in the red zone to tight end Zach Ertz. It’s a route we’ve seen Ertz run all season long - and as you can see Foles hit him for a touchdown on it just last week - with a ton of success for the Eagles. Red zone efficiency was not as sharp for the Eagles this week against Oakland as compared to the week before.  []

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