If Eagles are to get respectable, they must get wins now
Enough of this.
If the Eagles are going to make a respectable showing after their first Super Bowl title, it’s time to do so. They have lost three of four. They turn over the ball too often and can’t make big defensive stops.
They are heavily injured physically and, perhaps psychologically, by a 4-6 record as they host the New York Giants (3-7) on Sunday.
“It’s uncharted territory a little bit,” coach Doug Pederson says. “I think the guys have really handled it well. They’re disappointed, they’re frustrated, quite frankly, as we all are. We haven’t played up to the caliber that we’re capable of playing.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, and we’re not going to do the same. We just have to come to work ready and practice, and prepare, and as they say, try to go 1-0 each week.”
Six weeks of 1-0 might be good enough to win the NFC East, in which they trail Washington by two games and Dallas by one. The Eagles have two games left with the Redskins and one with the Cowboys, to whom they have lost in Philly.
New York has won two in a row to temporarily quiet the social media and tabloid complaints about Eli Manning. The veteran quarterback has shown that given time to throw — the O-line has vastly improved the past two weeks — he still can produce. And he has talented teammates in Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard.
“I think we’re running the ball better than we did, so I feel like we’re playing better football, but we got to continue doing that,” Manning says. “They’re a good team, they’re a good defense, they got a good front four and they’re a little banged-up in the secondary, but they’ll have a good plan and we just got to go execute.”
The weekend began with the Thanksgiving Day tripleheader.
At New Orleans, Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes to inexperienced receivers and the Saints (10-1) won their 10th straight game with a 31-17 victory over Atlanta (4-7) that eliminated the Falcons from contention in the NFC South.
At Dallas, Amari Cooper had a 90-yard touchdown catch while finishing with 180 yards receiving and two scores and Dallas pulled even with Washington atop the NFC East at 6-5 with a 31-23 Thanksgiving victory over the Redskins.
Off this week are the Chiefs and Rams, the final byes of the season. They are probably exhausted after that 54-51 Monday night affair in which Los Angeles improved to 10-1 and Kansas City fell to 9-2.
Seattle (5-5) at Carolina (6-4)
The winner could place itself in strong position for a wild card. Neither the Seahawks nor Panthers figures to catch their division leaders, the Rams and Saints, respectively. A Seahawks loss clinches the NFC West for LA.
Carolina has lost two straight in entirely different manners, a blowout at the hands of Pittsburgh and then a one-point defeat at Detroit when a 2-point conversion failed .
Both teams will want to run; Seattle leads the league in yards on the ground despite not having a standout running back.
Tennessee (5-5) at Houston (7-3), Monday night
Not only are the Texans, winners of seven in a row, in charge of the AFC South, they’ve become a factor for a potential playoff bye. They’ll need to keep up the excellent work on both sides of the ball.
J.J. Watt has made an impressive comeback from basically two wasted seasons with 10 sacks and a seemingly non-stop presence around the ball. He could be particularly destructive if the Titans need to play Blaine Gabbert for the injured starting QB, Marcus Mariota.
The Titans have been maddeningly inconsistent. They dominate New England, then get blown out at Indianapolis. This is a rare difficult matchup for the rest of their schedule.
Pittsburgh (7-2-1) at Denver (4-6)
A sign of a contender is playing poorly — very poorly at times — and still winning. The Steelers did that last week at Jacksonville, a game that could catapult them to bigger things in a division they already control.
Antonio Brown is tied for the league lead with 11 touchdown receptions and has at least one touchdown catch in eight consecutive games. With a TD reception on Sunday, Brown would tie Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (in 1963) and A.J. Green (in 2012) for the third-longest streak of games with a touchdown catch in a single season. Jerry Rice has the mark with 12 in 1987.
Denver comes off a stirring comeback victory at the Chargers and linebacker Von Miller comes off another one of his dominant performances with a key interception and his 100th sack.
Miami (5-5) at Indianapolis (5-5)
A pair of .500 teams headed in opposite directions.
The Dolphins are reeling, coming off a bye after losses in three of four, but expect to have starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back from a shoulder injury. The Miami offense has gone nine quarters without a touchdown.
Indy is one of the NFL’s hottest teams with four consecutive victories. Andrew Luck has thrown a TD pass in a league-high 33 straight games, and at least three TD passes in seven straight, tying Dan Marino for the third-longest streak in NFL history. Luck can tie Peyton Manning (eight) for No. 2 against Miami.
He also has not been sacked since Oct. 4, a career-best 214 attempts. That five-game string without a sack is tied for third longest since 1982.
Green Bay (4-5-1) at Minnesota (5-4-1)
If Minnesota doesn’t find a ground game, it’s likely doomed to being home in January; it ranks 31st. Green Bay allowed 173 rushing yards to the Seahawks last week.
Green Bay doesn’t have that problem. Aaron Jones, who missed the early season tie between these clubs while suspended, has 342 rushing yards and four TDs in the past four games, plus 12 receptions for 100 yards and one TD. Jones leads the league with 6.4 yards per rush.
But the Packers have lost seven straight regular-season road games since winning in overtime at Cleveland last Dec. 10.
New England (7-3) at New York Jets (3-7)
New England played poorly at Tennessee before its bye, but wasn’t within light years of how badly the Jets performed in their loss to Buffalo. While the Patriots are on pace for their millionth straight AFC East title (actually their 10th), the heat on Jets coach Todd Bowles has intensified. New York has lost four in a row and has beaten New England once in the past eight tries.
Brady needs 147 passing yards and four touchdown passes to surpass Peyton Manning (79,279 passing yards and 579 touchdown passes) for the most in each category in NFL history, including the postseason.
Jacksonville (3-7) at Buffalo (3-7)
The Jaguars had a chance to turn around their disappointing season when they led Pittsburgh 16-0 last week. They folded, and now the questions intensify about the security of the coaching staff and quarterback Blake Bortles.
Still, though Jacksonville has dropped six in a row, it’s remaining schedule is anything but difficult. To not make some sort of turnaround would be inexcusable.
One thing worth noting about the Bills: They keep coming at you, despite perhaps the least-talented offensive roster in the league. Their defense makes them competitive.
Arizona (2-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)
The Chargers blew a chance to be tied for the AFC West lead with some suspect play calls and play-not-to-lose mentality late against Denver. Still, they are in excellent shape for a playoff berth, particularly if Philip Rivers makes better decisions with a game on the line.
Rivers has 23 touchdown passes and has thrown for at least 25 in 10 consecutive seasons. He needs two TD throws to tie former teammate Drew Brees for the second-longest streak. Peyton Manning had 13.
Like LA, the Cardinals come off a late-game fold, against Oakland.
Oakland (2-8) at Baltimore (5-5)
With Joe Flacco sidelined against Cincinnati, first-round pick Lamar Jackson brought a running game to the QB position, something Flacco won’t be doing when he returns.
“Oh, he had 27 carries,” coach John Harbaugh said. “You know what he did? He won the game. He played his tail off. Celebrate that, and move on.”
The Raiders hadn’t celebrated a victory since Sept. 30. They ranked 31st in run defense, so another win here seems unlikely.
Cleveland (3-6-1) at Cincinnati (5-5)
The Bengals have been ravaged by injuries and seem headed for yet another disappointing season. But a win Sunday would keep them in the wild-card chase.
Neither team plays much defense, so while this won’t be Chiefs-Rams, it could keep the scoreboard lit.
San Francisco (2-8) at Tampa Bay (3-7)
Not much to recommend here.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans has 957 yards receiving and can join Hall of Famer Randy Moss (six consecutive seasons) and A.J. Green (five) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first five seasons. He figures to get it against the 49ers whether Jameis Winston returns to starting duty at quarterback or Ryan Fitzpatrick goes.
- AFC East
- AFC South
- Baltimore Ravens
- Green Bay Packers
- Miami Dolphins
- New England Patriots
- New Orleans Saints
- New York Giants
- New York Jets
- NFC East
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tennessee Titans
- Washington Redskins