The Eagles have nothing to play for but pride.
Luckily for them, they’ll be playing a heated division rival in prime time Thursday night — a contest they’ll surely find a way to get themselves up for — as the 10-2 Giants come to town.
Even with a 5-9 record and disappointing one-point loss in Baltimore last week, the Eagles have a lot to build on and fans will be looking to see progress from rookie Carson Wentz and from an incredibly inconsistent defense.
Here are three things to watch for when things kick off on NBC10at 8:25 p.m:
Life in the fast Lane
What was the turning point in the Eagles’ season? Losing right tackle Lane Johnson.
After going 3-1 to start the season the offensive lineman was suspended, threw the unit into disarray and hastened lackluster play from Wentz under center. Johnson has practiced this week and will suit up and start against the Giants Sunday.
“He looks good,” head coach Doug Pederson said.”He’s got a lot of energy, obviously. We always kid the guys that missed time with fresh legs. He’s energetic and he’s eager and he’s ready to go. He had a good week of practice. [He is] mentally into it and he’s excited.”
The Eagles are 0-4 in the NFC East this year with two contests remaining, Thursday against New York and Jan. 1 against Dallas. If they lose both, the Birds would go winless in the division for only the fourth time in the history of the franchise.
“I think the division speaks for itself,” Pederson said.”I think it’s one of the toughest divisions in the National Football League. It’s been one of those divisions where any team at the beginning of the year obviously has high hopes and expectations to win that division. We were one of those teams. Nobody wants to not win a game in their division. So we’re trying on Thursday night our best to try to eliminate that. … I think it speaks volumes for our division that you can have two, sometimes three teams that are looking to the postseason. It just shows you the strength of our division and how well these teams are playing. We hope to, in the near future, obviously be one of those, be the team in the NFC East that is consecutively and consistently playing for the postseason.”
After a dreary start to last week, Wentz shook off a bad interception and led the Eagles on a touchdown march in the final seconds to potentially tie (or win, had the Eagles converted a two-point conversion attempt) and looked like a seasoned pro.
Eagles fans and coaches will look for the QB to build on that against the Giants Thursday.
“I think as a quarterback and young quarterback, those are valuable experiences that you will cherish and remember and lean on the rest of your career,” Pederson said. “For the guys to see him do that just shows the leadership capability that he has to lead the football team and put us in those situations.”