NFC East? Check. First round bye? Check. The Philadelphia Eagles host the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 with hopes of nailing down Doug Pederson’s next goal: Clinching home field advantage through the NFC playoffs. At 12-2, the Birds hold a one-game lead over Minnesota for the conference’s top seed. Here’s how Philadelphia stacks up against the Silver and Black week for their Monday Night Football clash…
Philadelphia Eagles (12-2; 1st in NFC East)
Yards per Play: 5.7 (8th in NFL)
Yards per Play Allowed: 5.1 (8th)
Yards per Rush Attempt: 4.5 (5th)
Yards per Pass Attempt: 7.0 (11th)
Points per Game: 31.3 (1st)
Points per Game Allowed: 19.9 (8th)
Oakland Raiders (6-8; 3rd in AFC West)
Yards per Play: 5.5 (13th in NFL)
Yards per Play Allowed: 5.7 (26th)
Yards per Rush Attempt: 4.2 (14th)
Yards per Pass Attempt: 6.5 (16th)
Points per Game: 20.1 (22nd)
Points per Game Allowed: 23.1 (19th)
** Stats courtesy of: TeamRankings.com
After a 12-4 season a year ago, the Raiders simply haven’t found their groove this year. In 2016, Oakland ranked No. 6 in yards per game and No. 7 in points per game, but released offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave after the season and promoted quarterbacks coach Todd Downing. The offensive line hasn’t gelled. Derek Carr hasn’t clicked with his wide receivers. Marshawn Lynch has struggled to find running room. It appears that changes are on the horizon (again) in Oakland.
A Chance for Rest?
If Green Bay finds a way to pull the upset over Minnesota on Saturday, the Eagles will clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC regardless of what happens in Philadelphia the next two weeks. Doug Pederson acknowledged that he’s begun thinking about the rest scenario for some of his players, but hasn’t developed a formal gameplan for it…yet.
A Better Start
In six home games this season, the Eagles have allowed a grand total of six first quarter points. Philadelphia’s defense ranks No. 5 in first half points allowed (8.7 points/game). So what happened last week against the Giants? New York scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, and the Eagles were pretty fortunate to only trail by two at halftime. Jim Schwartz’s defense is likely going to face a similar challenge with the Raiders this week. Oakland is a team with nothing to lose at this point in the season, and would love to play Christmas night spoiler. The Raiders have been shutout in the first half of four games this season, including each of the last two weeks. Look for Derek Carr to take some deep chances early and often against the Eagles’ secondary.
Play a Clean Game
It’s not easy to find things that a 12-2 team needs to improve on, but the Eagles have a handful of things that they could clean up as they head into the playoffs. Philadelphia ranks No. 25 in penalties per game (7.2) and No. 22 in penalties per play. For the last 15 years (and probably longer), Oakland has been notorious for playing penalty-filled games. Last week against Dallas, the two teams combined for 21 penalties for 205 yards. The Eagles need to stay disciplined and not get sucked into any of Oakland’s antics. Philadelphia also ranks No. 21 in fumbles per game. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin will be looking to cause havoc and create some turnovers. Nick Foles needs to know where those guys are and protect the ball.