Week 16: Down To The Wire

Only two weeks left in the regular season and the NFC playoff picture is a complete mess. Four teams are fighting for the final two playoff spots. They are the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles and Cowboys currently hold the 6th and 7th seeds with records of 9-5 with the Lions and Giants on their heels with records of 8-6. The Eagles and Cowboys both control their own destiny but will need to win out to ensure they stay at their current spot. The Lions and Giants need to win out in order to have a shot at securing one of the last playoff spots. 

This week the Eagles faced off against another playoff hopeful team in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are fighting for their division. At 6-6, they can still make the playoffs if the Saints lose both of their final games. The Eagles came into this game with the mentality of win or go home. They are treating each game as a playoff game because essentially it is. If they lose one game, they will be out of the playoffs. 

The Eagles game plan for this game was to limit the very potent offensive attack that the Buccaneers possess. They came into the game being top ten in passing, running, and total yards. The Eagles knew that this could be a shootout and were well prepared to have one. It took all of two seconds to switch their game plan as the Buccaneers came out with Marcus Mariota as their quarterback instead of Tom Brady. This changed the game plan tremendously as stopping the run became the focus instead of stopping the pass. The Eagles pretty much dared Mariota to pass on them and he took advantage. Mariota came out slinging the football, ultimately throwing 2 early interceptions, one of which was turned into a touchdown. The Eagles, thanks to Wentz and Sanders, got out to an early lead, one which they would never surrender. The Buccaneers did come back in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to a Wentz bobbled interception. After driving down the field and scoring the go ahead touchdown to only be down by 2, Mariota threw into coverage on the 2 point try and watched the ball be batted into the ground. Sanders ran out the clock on the next set of plays, with the game ending in a 30-28 victory for the Eagles. 

Miles Sanders has been a huge part of the offense this season, however, the Buccaneers did all they could in order to stop the Eagle rushing attack. Sanders was held to only 71 yards on 26 attempts. Carson Wentz, was almost perfect in this game except for two ugly interceptions. If it wasn’t for Wentz getting the Eagles a head start early in the game, his turnovers could have cost them this game just like it has so many others. Jalen Reagor finally had the breakout game he has been looking for securing 4 catches for 114 yards. He was the best receiver for the Eagles in this game. 

The Eagle defense has been playing well recently, stepping up when they need to. Avonte Maddox, took over for the Eagles secondary securing 2 interceptions early in the game, one that went for a pick six. His interceptions gave the Eagles a 17 point lead in the first quarter. The Eagles let Mariota come back late in the game, however, in the last moments of the game during the Buccaneers 2 point try, they made the play of the game by knocking away a pass to negate the try. Just like all the previous games, the Eagles pass defense gave up yard but when it came down to it, they made the play that they needed to. 

This win brings the Eagles record to 10-5 which keeps them as the number 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. With all of the other playoff teams winning their games, it will come down to week 17 in order for the Eagles to be able to punch in their ticket. They will face off against the New York Giants, which would essentially be a win and you’re in scenario for both teams. Earlier this season, Wentz threw 8 interceptions to the Giants defense and if the Eagles want any part of the playoffs, they will need to bring everything they have in order to beat their division rival.

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