Emotions have run high (and very, very low) over the regular season as fans and sports gurus alike discuss whether the Philadelphia Eagles will make the NFL Playoffs. From sheer disappointment and gloom and doom predictions to a recent glimmer of hope after the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday to stay alive, where do we stand now? Philadelphia is putting the pressure on the Cowboys for the division championship, and speculation is running rampant – can they do it? Can the Eagles make the playoffs? Let’s discuss.
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First, will the Eagles beat the Cowboys?
It’s a 7-7 standoff in the NFC East between the Eagles and the Cowboys. Each of these teams won their respective games on Sunday, so we’re no further closer to having a division champ, but fans were expecting this. The most important game yet for the Eagles and the Cowboys yet will be played on Sunday, December 22nd in Philly as these two go head to head for the NFC East and that spot in the playoffs.
A win for the Cowboys here would hand them the division (since they beat the Eagles in their last encounter). But here’s the thing: A win for the Eagles doesn’t necessarily clinch the division and send them to the playoffs. The only surefire way the Eagles can do that is to win both of their final two games. If they lose their last regular-season game against the New York Giants, they’ll have to rely on the Cowboys losing at home to the Redskins, which doesn’t seem very likely at all…
And if the Eagles lose to the Cowboys this Sunday, well, it’s over for them. There’ll be no chance of heading to the playoffs chanting “Fly Eagles Fly!” Their season will be finished. Nothing like a make-or-break game to get you excited though, right?
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Pros and cons…
Of course, there’s plenty of reason to doubt the Eagles this weekend. For one, they’ve already lost to Dallas once this season… by 27 points. But hey, the Eagles are all about dramatic comebacks late in the season – it’s basically how they made it to the 2018 Super Bowl (and won) without their starting quarterback. This is going to be a big-time national game where there’s a lot on the line, so, in keeping with 2018’s performance and last week’s overtime shenanigans, it’s the perfect time for them to shine…
What about Carson Wentz?
Quarterback Carson Wentz needs to make a statement, and this could be it. He’s come alive recently, but many fans still doubt him. He fumbles the ball a lot, three times against the Redskins, in fact (and more specifically, he’s got 46 fumbles in 54 career games). But he’s stepped up in the face of team injuries this season, redeemed himself over the past two weeks of football, and now he’s got a game against their division rivals in front of a home crowd for all the marbles. And fun fact: Only Lamar Jackson has more touchdown throws this December.
Yes, the Eagles beat bad teams in their last two games, but those games have given Wentz the confidence he needs if they want to make the postseason. Luckily, he’s got some support in the form of a new wide receiver, Greg Ward, Jr. who was called up from the practice squad in late November. In the second half against the Redskins, this former college quarterback had seven catches, including the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds. (Not bad for the first TD of Ward’s NFL career.) Rookie running back Miles Sanders is blossoming at the right time as well. He had 122 yards rushing and caught six passes for 50 yards, including a TD off a crazy throw from Wentz on Sunday.
Young guys like these have become crucial for the Eagles since key players like Jordan Howard, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor are out, some indefinitely.
According to Wentz, “It’s been an interesting offensive season for us – ups and downs – and we struggled finding a rhythm and being consistent for a while, but I think our confidence is in a really good place.” For his sake, let’s hope so.