Do Not be Surprised with an Eagles Playoff RunTweet
After last nights 17-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles have now won three (3) games in a row and control their own destiny to the playoffs, with a win next week against the Giants sealing the division title. Some are considering this the biggest win for Carson Wentz so far in his career, as a loss would have eliminated them from the playoffs. However, does it even matter? Are the Birds good enough to actually make a run at this thing? A lot of people (some Philadelphia sports media members included) are looking at the other NFC teams in the playoffs, like the Saints, Seahawks, Vikings, 49ers, and Packers, and think no way. Except, what most people don’t realize is that the Eagles actually have almost everything in their favor.
For starters, both the Seahawks and the Vikings are now without their starting and backup running backs due to injuries. The latest loss being Seahawks lead rusher Chris Carson, who appears to have suffered a “season ending” hip injury during this week’s loss to the Cardinals, according to ESPN. This could not have come at a worse time for them, as they had also just recently lost backup running back Rashaad Penny to a season ending ACL injury. For the Vikings, they are currently without both lead rusher Dalvin Cook due to a shoulder injury and backup Alexander Mattison with an ankle injury, neither of which has returned to practice yet and could be serious. These injuries come as major losses for them, as both teams relied heavily on the run game to beat the Eagles in their previous matchups and other opponents throughout the season.
During the Eagle’s Week 7 loss against the Vikings, the Vikings ran the ball a whooping 30 times for a total of 104 yards and a touchdown. Similarly, during the Eagle’s Week 12 loss against the Seahawks, the Seahawks ran the ball 22 times for a total of 155 yards and a touchdown. It is noted that the Eagles are 0-3 this season when they have allowed over 100 rushing yards. Additionally, the Seahawks have rushed for over 100 yards in all but two (2) games, resulting in a loss to the 5-9-1 Cardinals and a one (1) point win over the 1-14 Bengals. Meanwhile, the Vikings have rushed for over 100 yards in all but four (4) games, resulting in a 1-3 record with the only win being a four (4) point victory over the 6-9 Broncos. Based on this information, it appears that without a solid run game, these teams struggle severely. It is also noted that starting wide receivers Adam Thielen and Tyler Lockett have also been struggling with injuries lately.
As for the San Francisco 49ers, the surprise team that nobody saw coming. They, just like the Eagles, will have an unproven playoff quarterback, as neither Jimmy Garoppolo or Carson Wentz have ever played in a playoff game. However, unlike Doug Peterson who has won a Superbowl, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has never even head coached a playoff game before. Experience is important, as playoff games have a whole new level of pressure around them, which can prove to be too much for some. In addition, the 49ers might have to face the Eagles as a No. 5 seed road team in Lincoln Financial Field, which is regarded as one of the hardest places to play. With the Eagles confidence soaring, an experienced head coach, and potentially a playoff home crowd at their back, I like the Eagles chances a lot.
Just like the 49ers, the Packers will also be led by a head coach with no playoff experience. However, luckily for them, the starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers has plenty of playoff experience, but only has a 9-7 record during them. Also, the Eagles beat the Packers already this season on the road without their newly emerged star wide receiver Greg Ward Jr. Since activating Greg Ward Jr. from the practice squad in Week 12, he has led the team in receptions and yards for wide receivers. Additionally, the Eagles are use to playing in cold weather, unlike the Vikings, Seahawks, and Saints who all have a retractable roof, and the 49ers who get that beautiful California weather all year round with an average daily high of 61 degrees in February.
Finally, as for a Saints match-up, Alvin Kamara has not been playing up to his expectations with only three (3) touchdowns all season on 163 rushing attempts. Drew Brees is also only 8-7 in the playoffs and is having a near career low in passing yards after suffering a thumb injury earlier this year. Also, they will most likely now be without veteran starting cornerback Eli Apple, who was carted off the field with an injury during this week’s game against the Titans, which could prove to be huge, as he is one of the major leaders on the team and a key player for the defense. Additionally, I keep thinking about last year and how the Eagles, who were considered major underdogs, would have probably upset them on the road if it wasn’t for a blown reception and interception deflection by Alshon Jefferey.
So, assuming the Eagles take care of business in MetLife Stadium next week (like they should) and hold the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs, don’t be surprised when they start to make a real run at this thing. With so much in their favor, I expect the Philadelphia Eagles to do well!
Do Not be Surprised with an Eagles Playoff RunTweet
Sports writer and civil engineer