A funny thing happened when a banged up Philadelphia Eagles team had to travel to undefeated Green Bay on a short week. Doug Pederson had to simplify his game plan and not try to show he was the smartest person in the room. Instead of forcing the ball to an undermanned receiving corps, Pederson ran the ball more, got Carson Wentz into manageable situations, and didn’t have to trot his defense on the field after three plays all the time.
The result: Green Bay isn’t undefeated anymore.
Maybe though that showed the Pederson was one of the smarter ones in the room. His willingness to deviate from his normal and favored scheme to one that better suits his current available personnel is the mark of a good coach. The beneficiary of the running is Jordan Howard who logged 15 carries, a bump in his workload. The effect trickled to Miles Sanders, who rushed for 72 yards on 11 attempts. The 176 team yards rushing took pressure off Wentz who didn’t light up the stat sheet and at times still looked uncomfortable, but who turned in a strong performance with three TD passes and no turnovers.
The defense also played a key role, not making all the plays, but making the big ones at the right time, specifically with an interception in the end zone with less than a minute remaining to seal the game.
Eagles Odds After a Deceiving Week 4 Win
Philadelphia came away with a win in a tough road game and the city rejoiced. But before you start hoarding bottles of Moet and Chandon for a second Super Bowl victory in three years, lets tap the brakes a moment. The secondary was still torched by Devonte Adams and Aaron Rodgers, the latter of whom threw for 422 yards and finally looked like the preseason MVP favorite he was pegged to be.
On offense, Wentz, just looked, well, off. He didn’t look comfortable in the pocket. In many ways, he looks, in his bid to stay healthy a full season, like he’s fighting himself and the instinct to make a swashbuckling, Favre-esque type of play; a play that elevated him to the level he’s at, but has also cost him time in the last couple of seasons.
One good note is that Wentz should start to be able to practice again with Alshon Jeffrey who didn’t work out much before coming back from injury in week four, but was targeted nine times, only caught three balls against the Packers. With practice and reps, those two will connect again and even getting just one of the injured starting receivers back should be a major help to the offense.
Eagles Week 5 Odds and Week 5 Preview
Philly opens as a 14-point favorite against the Jets in week five. Even with a win at GB, even with a horrid opponent, it’s a huge number to cover. Any time a line goes north of 10, it makes me nervous. With all that said, with all the caveats I just laid forth…I can also see it being a smart play. While the Jets haven’t been terrible on defense, they haven’t been good, giving up 23.3 points a game. Meanwhile, the Eagles have scored 27.5 points per game and posted 24 or more in three of four games. The Jets have been putrid on offense, averaging 11 per game. While the Philadelphia defense still needs to improve, it’s not hard to see a 30-14 score in this one, which would have the Eagles covering.
With the Cowboys coming back a game thanks to a loss against New Orleans, Philly sits a game back in the NFC East. The division may shore up to be tighter than expected with the emergence of the Giants in recent weeks. The top two horses are still the Eagles and Dallas, who meet in a couple weeks. As of right now, I’d say the Birds chances are roughly 50/50 to win the division. Philadelphia has made up one of the games in its early hole. They have a chance to maintain or make up the other one this week against New York. It should be a relatively easy hold of serve in a home game against a lesser opponent…But isn’t that also what we thought when the Lions came to town?