Welcome to the Week 16 Pre-Game Predictions! I am back after a few week hiatus and I can’t wait to tell you my thoughts on this Christmas night game! I will address many items in these articles each and every week. I will give you my score prediction, offensive and defensive key players of the game and much more. Let me know what you think of my picks and let me know your picks for the game in the comments. Go Birds!
38 Eagles 24 Raiders
The Eagles are 12-2 right now! The thing that separates good teams and bad teams is that when a good team has an off day they lose to a lesser opponent, the great teams still win. We have seen it all season and especially last week against the Giants. The way the Eagles played they should have lost that game, but they didn’t. They found a way to win a tough divisional road game even when things weren’t going their way. This is a good sign going forward.
I think the Eagles will have no problem putting up points in this one. The Linc is going to be electric and the Raiders aren’t what they were the last two years. Typically this season I would say this defense would hold the Raiders below their season average of 20.1 points per game, but until I see an inspired performance I can’t do that. Hopefully that happens against the Raiders.
There are a few story lines in this game of interest to me. The first being Nick Foles. He had a good game last week against the G-men. Not amazing, but for a guy that didn’t play a snap in the preseason and only a few snaps all season, he looked like a serviceable replacement for Carson Wentz. I am starting to think that any above average quarterback can put up a ton of points in this offense with these weapons on offense. We will see if that rings true tonight.
The second thing I will be watching, predictably, is how this defense performs. There are several reasons that could contribute to the last three weeks. One is that staying on the West Coast really affected their mentality. I know it seems odd, but these guys are the ultimate creatures of habit. Another reason would be that other than the Giants, they played two good teams away. I don’t know if you saw what Todd Gurley and the Rams have done the last two weeks, bu they are a very formidable opponent that the Eagles beat. And Russell Wilson…well that’s enough said.
The last thing I am going to be watching is Jim Schwartz’s play calling. Derek Carr might get the ball out of his hands faster than any quarterback in the league. When teams do that, the Eagles corners typically struggle because the pass rush is negated. Last week against the Giants Schwartz didn’t make the necessary adjustments which is backed up by the fact that the Giants did the same thing all game. This might be what I am looking at the most in this game.
PHI -10 : Based on my prediction above I believe the Eagles will cover the spread.
Eagles Key Offensive Player of the Game:
My key offensive player of the game is Alshon Jeffery. I said it when Wentz went down and I’ll say it again. Nick Foles is the best thing that ever happened to Alshon Jeffery. Carson Wentz is so cerebral and could make decisions so fast that he made sure to spread the ball around almost to a fault. Once or twice we saw Wentz throw a 50/50 ball to Alshon, but it didn’t happen a ton. Foles has been around the block with all sorts of receivers. Foles isn’t as quick or cerebral as Carson. What Foles does know is that he has never played with a receiver like Alshon. And trust me, he is going to through it to #17 early and often. We saw just the start last week. Expect Alshon to have a big game.
Eagles Key Defensive Player of the Game:
My key defensive players this week are Tim Jernigan and Fletcher Cox. These guys need to step up. We know they can collapse a pocket like no other tandem in the league can, but I need to see them really affect the run game tonight. It starts up front with them. They need to eat up blockers to help out the banged up linebackers.The run defense has looked terrible the last three weeks so they need to get it turned around. I feel like I haven’t heard Jernigan’s name called at all lately, so I want to see that guy wreak some havok. I hope this isn’t the stuff that Baltimore fans were talking about with him disappearing as the season goes on. Get it together DTs!
I am predicting that either:
A) The Eagles have two defensive touchdowns
B) Nick Foles throws five touchdown passes
Well, there it is folks. Let me know what you think of my picks and feel free to share your picks in the comments. For more Eagles goodness, follow Birds Off Broad on Twitter @BirdsOffBroad and Facebook or hit the “Follow” button on the Home page to get e-mails when a new article comes out. Go Birds!