Raiders vs. Eagles
The Raiders face the Eagles in Philadelphia on Christmas night for a “Monday Night Football” matchup. Here’s a position-by-position breakdown:
Nick Foles had a fantastic performance during his first start of the season with four touchdown passes to four different receivers. But Foles played against the lowly Giants, and could be bothered by defensive coordinator John Pagano’s blitz calls. Derek Carr will look to recover after his fumble last week sealed the victory for the Cowboys.
The committee of LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement has the Eagles ranked second in the league in rushing yards per game with 140.5. Ajayi could be the featured back for the rest of the season after taking the bulk of the carries the past two games. Marshawn Lynch recorded 76 rushing yards on 16 carries during Week 15.
Eagles’ Nelson Agholor helped out Foles last week with a sensational touchdown catch that had a Giants defender on his back. Philadelphia’s top wideout Alshon Jeffery has found the end zone nine times and Zach Ertz has been the best tight end in the NFC this season. Michael Crabtree and Jared Cook will need to step up for the Raiders with Amari Cooper (ankle) not at 100 percent.
The Raiders had three offensive linemen named to the Pro Bowl, but two of them might not play versus the Eagles. Left tackle Donald Penn is out for the season with a foot injury, and Rodney Hudson is listed as questionable with kidney stones. The Eagles are led by Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks.
The Raiders’ defensive line has played much better under Pagano. It’s not just Khalil Mack doing all the work anymore. The Eagles have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Tim Jernigan.
NaVorro Bowman and Bruce Irvin have given the Raiders’ defense a spark in the past month. Eagles’ Mychal Kendricks filled in for the injured Jordan Hicks. Nigel Bradham has been the Eagles’ best linebacker this season.
Sean Smith was the punching bag for the secondary’s poor performances during the first half of the season. The Raiders cornerback stepped up last week with two interceptions against the Cowboys. Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby got picked on by Eli Manning and the Giants receivers during Week 15. Malcolm Jenkins leads the Eagles’ secondary.
Kicker Jake Elliott has been a pleasant surprise for the Eagles. He’s made 24 out of his 28 field goal attempts this season. The Eagles blocked three kicks last week. Cordarrelle Patterson has struggled to give the Raiders good field position on kick returns during the second half of the season.
Foles had a career night against the Raiders in 2013 when he threw an NFL-tying record seven touchdowns. Could be another memorable night for Foles versus a struggling Raiders’ secondary.