Match-Up Focus: Eagles vs Ravens

PREVIOUS GAME RESULTS

2012 WEEK 2 BAL 23 PHI 24

2008 WEEK 12 PHI 7 BAL 36

2004 WEEK 8 BAL 10 PHI 15

Player to Watch – Carson Wentz

During these last 3 games I don’t care about any of the other 52 players on the active roster.  The last few weeks is all about Carson Wentz.  Last week Doug Pederson said it was his “best game” and I couldn’t agree more.  I want to see Wentz progressing.  Progressing with his mechanics and is overall ability to make reads and throws.  Through 14 Weeks he’s 317/498 3215 YDS 13TDs 12 INTs and a 63.7 PCT.  Overall I think he’s done a nice job.  Are there throws or games he might want to have back?  Certainly but let’s remember he’s a rookie making the jump from the FBS level.  This week will be another stiff test.  The Ravens have a top ranked defense and are playing well at every level of their scheme.  Right in the middle of a playoff race the Ravens will be ready to anything this Eagles offense throws at them.  I don’t expect the Eagles to win but I do think they can make some plays.  All eyes are on NO. 11.

Coach to Watch – Doug Pederson

Pederson has been under fire this year, it seems like every week since week 4 but that’s what happens when your a rookie head coach.  I want to see how he coaches this team and how his players respond after a tough loss.  A loss in which they fought hard.  Will the effort be there this week?  I hope so but I’m worried about a team that basically has nothing to play for.  I know the Eagles are “alive” in the playoff hunt but it’s only because the mathematics don’t quite equal 0.0%.  They are done.  A big reason this teams effort comes into question late in the year is because they refuse to build through the draft.  Big FA guys who get their money know there’s nothing to play for.  It’s play to not get injured. This is a bigger topic we will address later in the off season but it’s worth greasing the wheel now.  The way this team handles the remaining 3 games could spring board them into the 2017 season.  The 2007 Eagles were at a similar point in the season.  5-8 with 3 games to go.  They won all 3 and battled to the end.  This set them up for a 2008 NFC Championship run.

Player to Watch – Jordan Hicks

Hicks is a cornerstone piece of this Eagles defense moving forward into the next several years. The second year linebacker from Texas has really taken ownership of his role as the captain of Jim Schwartz’s defense as his play is speaking for itself. Hicks has been the most consistent player on this defense since the early portion of the season even ahead of Malcolm Jenkins. According to Pro Football Focus Hicks currently grades out as the 5th best linebacker in the league behind the likes of Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. Hicks grades much lower in run defense which likely stems from the wide-9 scheme leaving Eagles linebackers vulnerable. However, PFF grades Hicks as the second best coverage linebacker which Eagles fans have been begging for years at that position. The Eagles season is pretty much meaningless at this stage beyond a handful of players to watch and obviously Doug Pederson as a coach. Hicks is certainly one of those players on defense worth paying close attention to for the remaining three games. Baltimore’s offense utilizes their running backs in the pass game frequently so this will be a nice test for Hicks on Sunday.

Player to Watch – Steve Smith Sr.

The 16 year veteran continues to get the job done as one of the more physical players regardless of wide receiver or not. Smith was uncertain to play for the Ravens this season as he previously stated he was going to retire before rupturing his Achilles midseason. We all knew Steve Smith wasn’t going to go out on crutches. Anyone who hasn’t seen the Football Life on NFL Network about Smith it’s a must watch indeed. Pro Football Focus has Smith graded as the 34th wide receiver this season which is pretty good considering the up and down nature of the Ravens offense. Smith actually blew up at practice on Thursday after Joe Flacco missed him on consecutive deep passes during drills. Obviously Smith realizes his days in the NFL are coming to an end so he wants to make the most of every single practice or game. Flacco has struggled this year coming off his ACL injury which has caused the Ravens offense to falter at times. You can bet Smith is going to bring the intensity on Sunday whether the Eagles defensive backs are ready or not. Baltimore is in playoff mode and Smith isn’t going to hold back anything at this point in his career. Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin be ready.

FLY EAGLES FLY

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