Eagles-Cowboys Recap

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This afternoon the Eagles capped off their 2016-2017 season with a 27-13 home victory over division-rival Dallas. Realistically, today Dallas had nothing to play for. They already had not only clinched the NFC East division title but the number-one seed in the conference (13-3). Had they won today they would’ve set a team record for single-season wins.

Dallas Pro-Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott, who has a 23-4 touchdown-interception ratio this season, played just 11 snaps and only the first quarter. On the day, Prescott went 4/8, averaged 4.6 yards-per-attempt and neither threw a touchdown pass or an interception.

He was replaced by former All-Pro Tony Romo, who hadn’t played since November of 2015 vs. Carolina. Today he went 3/4, including a 15-yard strike to Terrance Williams, who scored his fourth touchdown of the season.

Eagles

Despite their playoff hopes being crushed a few-weeks ago, the Eagles came out to at least give the home crowd a good game and a respectable performance.

Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz played solid, throwing two touchdown passes to zero interceptions. With his zero interceptions in 43 pass attempts, he didn’t get picked off for the first time in the previous seven games.

Despite the win and the protection of the ball, Wentz — as a huge tendency of his this season — made more than a few erratic throws, not planting his feet and throwing the ball high over wide-open receivers. A strong example of that was an overthrown ball while on Dallas’ three-yard line to tight end Zach Ertz, which would’ve culminated in a touchdown catch.

Speaking of Ertz, he had one of the best performances for an Eagles’ tight end in recent memory. He caught 13 passes, gained 109 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes. Ironically Ertz holds the Eagles’ single-game record for receptions, with 15 catches at Washington in 2014. With his 13 receptions today, in 61 career games, Ertz had his second career multi-touchdown game.

During the game, Wentz went on to set the NFL rookie completions record (379). Former Eagle and current Minnesota Viking Sam Bradford set the record in 2010 with St. Louis (370). This season, up until today’s game, since Wentz and the Eagles’ hot start (3-0), they went just 3-9.

On the left side Wentz was solid, completing 61 percent (8/13) of his passes and not turning it over. Despite his erratic throws on the day and his failure to thread the needle to wide-open receivers, it was a solid season finale for him. He has a lot to work to do and film to analyze within the off-season, including overthrown pass attempts and accuracy, but his future is certainly promising.

With right tackle Lane Johnson back, perhaps Wentz will have even more space and opportunities to maneuver around the field.

Player of The Game

Brandon Graham

Eagles’ defensive end Brandon Graham arguably should’ve made the NFC Pro Bowl this season, but regardless of that he played solid this game and season. During the game he was all over the field, continuously pressuring backup Mark Sanchez.

Graham pressured Dallas quarterbacks on five occasions, four of which were pressures. This season Graham had five or more pressures in a game on nine occasions.

News and Notes

-Eagles’ season-ticket holder and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim MVP Mike Trout, who grew up 45 minutes from Philadelphia, was seen in the first row behind the end-zone.

-The last five seasons the Eagles are 4-6 against Dallas, including only 1-4 at home. The last time the Eagles have swept the Cowboys in a season occurred in 2011. The last time that they’ve swept Dallas in a winning season was 2006.

During that 2006 season Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett was the Dolphins’ quarterbacks’ coach under Nick Saban. Meanwhile, Doug Pederson was a Louisiana high-school head coach.

-Pederson is 6-4 in successful challenges this season. Jason Garrett is a career 18-13 in the same scenario.

Team Stats

Matchup
1st Downs 15 24
Passing 1st downs 9 14
Rushing 1st downs 4 8
1st downs from penalties 2 2
3rd down efficiency 5-12 6-14
4th down efficiency 0-0 0-1
Total Plays 53 75
Total Yards 195 346
Total Drives 12 11
Yards per Play 3.7 4.6
Passing 126 232
Comp-Att 16-29 27-43
Yards per pass 3.9 5.2
Interceptions thrown 2 0
Sacks-Yards Lost 3-25 2-13
Rushing 69 114
Rushing Attempts 21 30
Yards per rush 3.3 3.8
Red Zone (Made-Att) 1-2 2-4
Penalties 5-35 4-61
Turnovers 2 0
Fumbles lost 0 0
Interceptions thrown 2 0
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 0
Possession 24:18 35:42

The Great Debate: Cunningham vs. Moon

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Here I’ll discuss two of the greatest African American quarterbacks ever.

Along the way I’ll compare each of the two’s accomplishments, awards, comparisons and their statistical breakdowns. Keep in mind, I’m not listing each of the two as the two greatest African American quarterbacks ever, I’m simply pointing out what each of the two accomplished, had to offer, and who was the all-around better player.

Other African American quarterbacks have had respectable careers, some of which won Pro Bowls and Super Bowls. Doug Williams, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, and Steve “Air” McNair come to mind.

Ironically, during different periods of time, Moon and Cunningham shared a locker room with the same coach; the late Buddy Ryan. Ryan was Cunningham’s head coach from 1986-1990 and Moon’s Oilers’ defensive coordinator in 1993.

Randall Cunningham

As I began my Eagles’ fandom around 2001-02, I obviously and unfortunately didn’t get the chance to watch Cunningham as an Eagle, the flashy player he was, or arguably in his prime as a Minnesota Viking a few-years prior to 2001.

Although he played for 16 seasons for four different teams (Philadelphia, Minnesota, Dallas and Baltimore), his Eagles’ career ended in 1995. In 1995, Eagles’ head coach Ray Rhodes benched Cunningham for the remaining 12 games of the season, due to completing only half of his pass attempts that year. His replacement was Rodney Peete, who was also African American. After the ’95 season, a free agent, Cunningham didn’t receive any offers and so he retired.

Cunningham had the rare ability as a quarterback of using both his legs and arm as a weapon; hence his nickname “the ultimate weapon (courtesy of Sports Illustrated).” After the 1990 season, the Pro Football Writers Association awarded him the NFL MVP trophy, after making the NFC Pro Bowl team that season and throwing for 30 touchdown passes.

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Although he had a respectable career in Philadelphia, perhaps Cunningham’s signature season occurred a few seasons later, after reuniting with wide-out Cris Carter in Minnesota. Minnesota’s offense was stacked with talent- Pro Bowler Cris Carter, a young stud by the name of Randy Moss, and 1,000 yard rusher Robert Smith. All four of them made the 1999 NFC Pro Bowl roster, in addition to three of their offensive lineman.

For the second time in his career, after the 1998 season Cunningham won NFL MVP honors, after he went 13-1 with Minnesota, threw 34 touchdown passes, and led the league in passer rating (106).

With the two deep threats of Moss and Carter, who combined for 29 touchdown passes, Cunningham also made NFC first-team All-Pro honors and he ranked second in the NFC in touchdown passes. Motivated by the struggles in 1995 and his brief retirement in 1996, Cunningham took advantage of the talent around him and flourished.

Warren Moon

In the early to mid ’90s Moon shined under the Oilers’ utilization of the run-and-shoot offense. The run and shoot scheme puts emphasis on wide receivers adjusting their routes and responding to different opposing defensive schemes. While the scheme was very flawed, as receivers could easily get jammed up at the line of scrimmage, it worked well enough for Moon. In Houston, Moon’s offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride brought the scheme with him after specializing in it in the Canadian Football League (as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach there).

On three occasions Moon led the league in completions (1990-91 and 1995), he twice led the league in passing yards (1990-91) and threw for over 30 touchdown passes on two occasions (1990 and 1995). Although Moon had a rocket for an arm, stayed healthy for an extensive period of his career, and made the postseason seven times, he was often erratic.

Moon had longevity, unlike Daunte Culpepper, a better arm, and a longer period of consistent play. Moon’s football story is fascinating, he was a total dark-horse player. He played for the Huskies from 1975-77 and succeeded there, winning the Rose Bowl in his final season, he went undrafted in the 1978 NFL Draft.

After that May’s draft, he decided to take a crack at the Canadian Football League, playing for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos from 1978-1983. His last two seasons there, he combined for 67 touchdown passes, including 36 of them in 1982, and won the CFL’s Grey Cup Most Valuable Player.

Cunningham was more explosive than Moon, although Moon had a bigger arm and was slightly more accurate. Cunningham’s health was a huge liability, mostly due to being outside the pocket and on the run.

Compared to the talent that Cunningham had around him with Minnesota (see above), Moon had a decent cast, too. Wide-out Ernest Givins was the standout of them all, catching 10 touchdown passes in 1995 and making the AFC Pro Bowl roster twice (1990 and 1992). Like Cunningham, Moon briefly excelled in Minnesota, too, during the 1995 season. Although the Vikings went 8-8 that year, Moon had a 91.5 quarterback rating and 33 touchdown passes. Carter caught 17 of them.

In both quarterbacks’ successful seasons in Minnesota (1995 and 1998), future Ravens’ Super-Bowl winning coach Brian Billick was their offensive coordinator.

Pros and Cons

Cunningham:

Cunningham was a freakish athlete, a respectable player for arguably five-six seasons, had a cannon for an arm (he once threw a 95-yard touchdown pass to Fred Barnett in December of 1990 against Buffalo), and was versatile. He could pass, he could run and stretch the field, and he even once punted the ball for 91 yards in a December 1989 win at Giants Stadium. Side note: on a comedic yet serious note, he was also a great Tecmo Bowl player. Like Michael Vick (both of which played in Philadelphia), opposing defenses struggled to contain him outside of the pocket. He was very elusive.

Cunningham was known as a dual-threat quarterback; one who could both successfully run and pass the ball.

On the flip side, many football writers and/or analysts view Cunningham as a running back, who, because of his out-of-pocket play, had the propensity to get injured.

In week one of the 1991 season at Green Bay, after a hit by Packers’ linebacker Bryce Paup, Cunningham suffered a knee injury and missed the remainder of the season. Perhaps the hit limited his mobility, as the next season his carries decreased by over 26 percent and he averaged two fewer yards per carry.

In a 2001 ESPN The Magazine article by journalist David Fleming, NFL coaches and quarterbacks discussed the comparison of a running quarterback vs. a pocket-passing one. In the article, Cunningham’s former offensive coordinator Brian Billick went with the pocket passer over the scrambling one. While a scrambling quarterback like Cunningham can certainly flourish, those types of quarterbacks can incur major flaws; perhaps they don’t know what they’re doing, and they can sometimes break down their offense than help it.

Moon:

Moon had a more consistent career, partially due to staying healthy (which, at times, Cunningham was unable to do). In six seasons in the CFL, Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups, he threw for almost 50,000 NFL passing yards (4,9325), and is the only player in football history to make both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Despite his accomplishments and Hall of Fame inductions, Moon was definitely a gunslinger. That can be viewed as both a good and a bad thing. In this argument, it has major flaws. Twice he led the league in interceptions (in 1986 and 1991), on three occasions he threw 20 or more of them, and he ranks second worse in career fumbles (161, only behind Brett Favre’s 166). Moon’s run-and-shoot offense was also less effective in the red zone, as he had less room to maneuver around and a less chance to spread the ball around.

For example, during the 1997 season, in scenarios inside the 10-yard line, Moon completed only 28.6 percent of his passes (6/21) and only 41.1 percent of his passes within the 20 (23/56). Although he led the league that year in passing yards per game (245.2), he was ineffective within short-yardage attempts.

To prove that point, that season Moon was impressive on downs that were 7-10 yards or more to go, completing 71.8 percent of those attempts, while on pass attempts that required 0-6 yards to complete a first down, he completed only 10.6 percent of those 15 short-yardage attempts.

Point being, while Moon had six seasons with a pass completion of 80 or more yards, including an 87-yarder to Pro Bowler Haywood Jeffires in 1990, he struggled in short yardage. Although in 1995 with Minnesota, which Moon finished with 33 touchdown passes, he was way more effective in the red zone, as he completed 56.3 percent of his pass attempts and ranked second best in the league.

Accomplishments and Awards

Cunningham- two-time MVP (1990, 1998), two-time first-team All-Pro, two-time second team All-Pro, three-time Bert Bell Award winner, four-time Pro Bowler, NFL Comeback Player of The Year Award (1992), Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame

Moon- enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2006), Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2001), NFL MVP Award winner (1990), first-team All-Pro (1990), two-time NFL passing yards leader (1990-91), Tennessee Titans # 1 jersey retired (2006), nine-time Pro Bowler

Statistical Comparison

Cunningham- 

207 touchdown passes
134 interceptions
29,979 passing yards
81.5 passer rating
82 career wins (61.2 winning percentage)
56.6 completion percentage
7 yards per pass attempt
21 fourth-quarter comebacks
26 game-winning drives
134 approximate value
4,928 rushing yards
3-6 playoff record
161 career games

Moon- 

291 touchdown passes
233 interceptions
49,325 passing yards
80.9 passer rating
102 career wins (50.2 winning percentage)
58.4 completion percentage
7.2 yards per pass attempt
26 fourth-quarter comebacks
37 game-winning drives
166 approximate value
1,736 rushing yards
3-7 playoff record
208 career games

Hall of Fame

In 2001, Moon was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and was inducted into Canton, the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 2006. Despite winning the 1990 NFL MVP award, making four career Pro-Bowl trips and throwing for over 200 career touchdown passes, Cunningham has yet to be enshrined there. He’s been on the Hall of Fame ballot for a decade now.

Who was better?

Due to a longer and healthier career than Cunningham, Moon had the advantage of accumulating more quarterback statistics- such as yards and touchdown passes. Moon was more accurate, and due to way more pass attempts, he always racked up a ton of passing yards. Based on stats, Cunningham clearly was the faster, and the dual-threat of the two.

Unlike Moon, Cunningham had a huge disadvantage in that he never truly had a great offensive coordinator in Philadelphia- which he spent the bulk of his career in. Cunningham’s coordinators in Philly, mainly Ted Plumb and Rich Kotite, were extremely ineffective. Although not known as a great football mind, Kevin Gilbride, Moon’s offensive coordinator from 1989-1993, was way more practical of a play-caller.

Verdict:

Better Career

Warren Moon

Better player

Randall Cunningham

Let the debate begin.

 

Does Doug Pederson need to be fired?

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After a hot start to the season the Eagles have looked like a punching bag ever since. I know it’s only 11 games into his coaching career but head coach Doug Pederson, an understudy under former Eagles’ coach Andy Reid, perhaps needs to be let go. And here’s why.

01. Decision making during games

I get that Pederson is inexperienced and doesn’t know the whole spectrum of being an NFL head coach, but there’s certain decisions as a coach that are pretty obvious and cut and dry.

First off, during the Eagles’ 28-23 loss vs. the Giants at the Meadowlands on November 6th, Pederson’s in-game decisions were extremely poor, head scratching and questionable. Many fans didn’t understand, fundamentally speaking, why Pederson was making certain decisions.

The biggest factor, and mistake by Pederson, in that loss was Pederson’s decisions to go for it on fourth down. This occurred not once but twice. What’s significant about it, when Pederson made the decision to go for it on both downs the Eagles were in field goal range. Attempting and making both field goal attempts could’ve swung the game in their favor, but they, once again, left points on the table. Any point is better than none.

The risks were strongly criticized by the media as well as Eagles’ fans, myself included. On the first fourth-down attempt, which occurred with 3:55 left in the first half, the Eagles were on New York’s six-yard line. Six yard line. A 23 yard field-goal attempt; it would’ve been a chip shot for Caleb Sturgis. Sturgis had been having a solid season up to that point, too, and a 23 yard make was beyond perfectly capable for him to make. Up until that point, in seven games this season Sturgis was 17/18 (94.4%) on field-goal attempts.

Out of those 17, he made one from 55 against Dallas and one from 53 against Chicago.

On the first fourth-down try, the Eagles went with a half-back sweep, handing the ball off to backup running back Darren Sproles, who needed only one yard to convert and ended up gaining zero. The Giants and their defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo (a former Eagles’ coach) of course realized what the Eagles were preparing to do and thus blitzed heavily towards the center and left side of Sproles. Giants’ defensive tackle Damon Harrison and middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard made the stop.

Instead of a field goal try, which would’ve cut the Eagles’ deficit down to eight points, they screwed up the fundamentals and left points on the board. After turning it over on downs, the Giants’ failed to take advantage of the Eagles’ mistake and instead went three and out. Making a point out of that, the Eagles, had they went with the field-goal try and the fact that New York went three and out on the next drive, that could’ve switched the momentum in their favor.

On the second and final fourth-down try, which could’ve resulted in a field goal to win the game (since they were on the Giants’ 17 yard line), Carson Wentz sailed a throw deep down the field to Jordan Matthews, which ended the game for the Eagles.

According to Pederson, who was asked afterwards why he decided to go for it twice on fourth, he responded by saying “he was trying to be aggressive.”

02. Clock Management

Dating back to last January when Pederson was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator under Andy Reid,  Pederson was questioned after the Chiefs’ 27-20 divisional-round loss to New England about his clock management.

Take a look at how much time the Chiefs wasted from after the previous play occurred up until their next snap. On average (see below), they wasted over 29 seconds between each play, which is unheard of for a team during a playoff game. In the game, surprisingly Kansas City had more total yards than the Patriots (381-340), controlled the ball over 41% more than New England, even though New England averaged more yards per play (8.01-6.25).

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Starting from when Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith scrambled for six yards onto the Patriots’ 26-yard-line, they compiled four plays and yet they wasted over two minutes of the clock. A former Eagles’ coach who wasted too much time in a crucial game. Sound familiar?

Pederson defended the Chiefs’ poor clock management by rationalizing that by doing so, they didn’t want to hand the ball back over to Tom Brady. As well as that, he also clarified that he knew for sure that the Chiefs would score on that drive and still had their timeouts just in case. Mind you, they were down by two touchdowns, not one. So the best course of action there could’ve been; keep as much time on the clock, run no huddles, and conserve the timeouts and the clock. Had they had more than 2:30 minutes left, they wouldn’t of needed to call for an onside kick. They still had timeouts and the two-minute warning left.

Time was burned, and so were the Chiefs’ hopes of advancing to the AFC Championship Game. I doubt any of these type of scenarios will end as Pederson continues his coaching stint here.

03. Lack of coaching experience

In January 30th of 2009, 12 days after the Eagles lost to Arizona in the Championship Game, the team released a press release deciding to bump offensive assistant James Urban to quarterbacks coach, after Pat Shurmur left for the Rams, and Pederson took Urban’s spot as the team’s quality control coach. It was his first ever NFL coaching job.

From 2009-10, he was the team’s quality control coach, then was promoted to be their quarterback’s coach for the next two seasons. After Andy Reid was fired and was succeeded by Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, Kelly dismissed Pederson and Virginia’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Bill Lazor took his place.

Reid took Pederson with him to Kansas City, making him their newest offensive coordinator, which lasted for three seasons. Before his first NFL coaching gig in 2009, Pederson only had coached high school football, at Calvary Baptist School in Lansdale, PA. Before beginning his foray into coaching, he was an NFL quarterback,  and not a very good one, for a decade. As most Eagles’ fans will remember, he was second-overall pick Donovan McNabb’s mentor (and eventually backup) in 1999.

It seems that Pederson’s clock management struggles still haven’t changed and thus, unfortunately, have spilled over into this year.

The lack of coaching experience made his hiring last offseason a questionable one. Most fans and reporters believed that CEO Jeffrey Lurie made the call to hire him based off being a likable guy as an Eagle (during his playing and coaching career) and an Andy Reid guy, instead of hiring an experienced and successful coach like Tom Coughlin. Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo was in the running for the vacancy as well, before landing in New York.

Perhaps the break from between the team’s 3-0 start and the start of their poor play since then can be attributed to the recent amount of losses. Most teams when they get hot and push together consecutive after consecutive win need not a bye to break their chemistry and success up until then. Had the Eagles had their bye week later on in the season, perhaps we’re looking at a totally-different team. But Pederson has been a huge factor in the team’s recent struggles.

03. Penalties 

Although the players are the ones called for the penalties, Pederson has been unsuccessful so far in controlling the team’s crucial mistakes, such as the string of penalties called against them this year. In early October against Detroit, they were flagged for 14 penalties, which is unacceptable. Three other games this year they accumulated 10 or more penalties, including 13 a week later at Washington. It was no coincidence that they ended up 0-2 in those games. This season, they rank tied for third worst in the league in penalties (90). Pederson needs to take control and emphasize to the team the importance of not shooting themselves in their own foot.

It’s more-than fair to allow Pederson more time to learn from his mistakes, correct them, and improve the team and it’s clock management, but so far, after the hire, he’s making the Eagles look bad for it.

So far, I’m more than unimpressed with his decision making, clock management, leadership skills, and the fact that the team almost every game kicks themselves in the foot. If he continues this streak, perhaps it’s time for the team to cut their losses and move on. Only time will tell.

Game Day- Packers vs. Eagles

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PHI GB
W-L record 5-5 4-6
Game Time/Channel 8:30 PM EST ESPN
Starting Quarterbacks Carson Wentz (N Dakota) Aaron Rodgers (Cal)
Point Spread/O/U Line Eagles by 4 1/2 48 1/2 (Over/Under)
Head Coaches Doug Pederson Mike McCarthy
Last Five Games (W-L) 2-3 1-4
Stadium Lincoln Financial Field
Last five match-ups 1-4 4-1
Home/Road Records 4-0 1-4

Weather Report- 45, chance of showers, 6 MPH winds

Injury report:

  • Eagles: RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) are out.
  • Packers: LB Blake Martinez (knee), OG T.J. Lang (foot), CB Demetri Goodson (knee), LB Kyler Fackrell (hamstring) and C JC Tretter (knee) are out. OL Don Barclay (shoulder), CB Damarious Randall (groin) and LB CB Damarious Randall (groin) are questionable

At home tonight vs. the Packers, the Eagles will try to bounce back from a tough 26-15 loss last Sunday in Seattle. Over the past few games, the Eagles have allowed over 300 yards in each game and their opponents have averaged 348 total yards per game. They lost two out of those three games.

For Green Bay, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been red hot as of late, throwing for over 350 passing yards in the past two games and averaging 361 passing yards. Despite that, the Packers have lost their last-four games and are 1-4 this year on the road. He has a 96.7 quarterback rating in those five road games, with almost seven yards per pass.

 

On the flip side, Eagles’ rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is looking to rebound tonight after losing three out of his last four. In those games, he has four interceptions and in those three losses the Eagles were a combined 15 for 46 on third-down attempts (32.6%). They have to not only make offensive adjustments but take control of their mental mistakes. They are among one of the worst teams in terms of penalties.

Despite that, the Eagles are facing a poor Packers’ defensive unit, which ranks first this year in most yards allowed per pass attempt (8.6) and they’ve allowed their opponents to score on 46.2% of their drives. While the Eagles’ offense has had their fair share of turnovers recently, Green Bay’s defense is a huge hole that the Eagles’ offense could penetrate through easily.

Per NFL reporter Ian Rapoport, tonight the Eagles plan to limit struggling wide-receiver Nelson Agholor’s snaps, or possibly deactivate him for the game. Paul Turner, in the slot position, will replace Agholor in the lineup, while Jordan Matthews will be utilized much more during outside routes. In limiting Agholor’s snaps or deactivating him, Doug Pederson has a huge burden lifted off of his shoulders. Agholor has been far and beyond the Eagles’ worst offensive player this season and has been a huge bust after being drafted number 20 last season.

With Agholor gone or not, rookie Carson Wentz needs to improve his timing, as many of his passes recently have been either behind receivers or way overthrown. Although he got off to an excellent start, his recent mistakes have shown his lack of experience.

In early October, as week five was approaching, Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 NFL teams’ offensive lines. Green Bay’s unit ranked as the second best, with right guard T.J. Lang standing out. Unfortunately for Green Bay, their offensive lineman have been decimated by injuries. Lang is out indefinitely with a left ankle and foot injury, while his backup Don Barclay is questionable with a shoulder injury.

Since the Eagles switched from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, defensive end Brandon Graham has had an excellent, Pro-Bowl-caliber season so far. He’s gotten bigger, which has increased his stamina and improved his health, and has been a very good pass rusher. Under the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme over the past few years, he was a strong, yet still inefficient, linebacker, and now he’s showing his talents after the switch to a defensive end. After the switch occurred, Graham praised it and commented that he felt right at home.

He should be a huge part of the Eagles’ defense tonight, getting pressure on Rodgers and forcing throws.

Tonight both teams’ playoff chances are on the line. Most likely, from here on out Green Bay would have to win out to potentially slide in as a wild-card team. After tonight, unfortunately the Eagles’ five remaining opponents, three of which are against divisional opponents, have a win-loss record this year of 33-20-2 (a 62.2 winning percentage). If they can have success tonight vs. Green Bay and win at least four out of their remaining five games they have a shot at cracking the playoffs.

Be aware, Jordy Nelson has a touchdown reception in four-straight games.

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Player of The Game Prediction

Fletcher Cox

With Green Bay’s offensive line decimated, the opportunities will be huge for the Eagles. They rank in the top 10 in sacks (26), although Green Bay’s rushing attack has been strong, ranking fifth best in yards per attempt (4.6). The Packers’ balanced offensive attack will be a tough task for the Eagles’ defensive tackles and defensive backs.

With that being said, I believe Cox will stand out and plow through the Packers’ o-line with relative ease. Despite Cox’s prowess, the Eagles need to focus and improve their rushing defense, as they rank sixth best in most rushing yards per attempt (4.5).

Game Prediction

Eagles 37-31