What a long week it’s felt like in the wake of Carson Wentz’ season-ending knee injury. Reports came out that the MVP front-runner had successful surgery to repair his torn ACL and his recovery time will be somewhere in the nine month range. But there is still an 11-2 football team to watch and a talented group of players now led by back up quarterback Nick Foles.
Week 15’s game in New York against the Giants brings the Eagles back to the east coast after a perilous road trip in Seattle and L.A. New York has had a whirlwind of a season at 2-11, and will present the easiest challenge left on the schedule for Philly. Here are 3 things to watch for when the game kicks off at 1 p.m. on FOX:
It’s all about Foles
Foles is being thrown into the fire and will have difficulty replacing Wentz’ manuverability in the pocket. He’s started 36 NFL games and knows what he’s doing in this offense — an offense Howie Roseman and company were wise to invest money in a back up quarterback with experience for. But will there be a big drop off on the offense’s productivity Sunday?
“Everybody acts like Nick Foles hasn’t been a great quarterback in this league before,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “He’s got a set of cleats in the Hall of Fame for throwing the most touchdowns in a single game (seven, back in 2013). He’s been pretty darned good in Philly before.”
Key to winning with Nick Foles will be a solid offensive line. With Jason Peters and not Stefan Wisniewski out on the important blind side, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack and Isaac Seumalo will be relied on to keep Foles in the pocket. Their success in giving Foles time to find is receivers could make or break the Eagles season.
“As we start going down the stretch now, we start playing teams that have quality fronts and this is another one in the Giants, that are big physical guys,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said, “so our work is cut out again for us on the road, noise, the whole thing again this week.”
Clinch a first round bye
The Eagles can clinch a week off in January by beating the Giants and getting their 12th win. If by chance they are victorious Sunday and the Vikings also lose, Philly will clinch homefield throughout the playoffs. With the Vikings hosting the Bengals next week it is likely two wins will be needed to get the NFC’s No. 1 overall seed. The Eagles have the Raiders and Cowboys at home back to back after Week 15’s battle in the Meadowlands.
“If we would have started this year and somebody had said to you, ‘You’ve got one game against the Giants to clinch a first-round bye,’ you don’t care who you’ve got on the field,” Malcolm Jenkins said to media members, referring to the quarterback situation. “If that’s the deal you’ll take those odds. And then the next week, you’ve got an opportunity to do even more. So, at this point we’ve set ourselves up so great throughout this season that everything we want is in front of us. We won’t let a little bit of adversity, somebody going down or anything like that stop us from feeling good about ourselves because we’re right there. And whatever we’ve got to do to figure it out, we’ll do it.”