Eagles Playoff Primer – Keys to Wildcard Weekend
After a season resembling nothing less than a roller-coaster ride, the Eagles amazingly find themselves hosting a playoff game during wildcard weekend. Key injuries to both sides of the ball left the Birds stumbling through the entirety of the regular season. However, the rest of the NFC East refused to approach competency for more than a few weeks at a time. Ultimately, the Eagles scored a crucial week 16 victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys and proceeded to lock things up in week 17 against the New York Giants.
The Seattle Seahawks come to town in a rematch of week 12 from this very season. That meeting was an ugly contest with the Seahawks emerging victorious in the battle of the birds 17-9. Philadelphia is desperately hoping this result is different. Explore some of the major factors to consider for this matchup below.
The “Nobody Believes in Us” Factor
There’s just something special about a group of individuals who collectively feel slighted by the public. During magical moments, this feeling can fuel the group and elevate their play to incredible heights. The Birds have met adversity at nearly every juncture of the season and once again should feel that the football world is against them in this one.
Despite owning home field advantage as a result of winning the NFC East, they remain underdogs. If that weren’t motivation enough, their opponent is a team that already handed them a loss this season. Quarterback Carson Wentz is a leader capable of rallying his troops and bringing out the best in everyone. He will need to do just this on Sunday against a team that the betting public expects to win.
Health of Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, Etc.
Fortunately, it was announced that rookie running back Miles Sanders has been cleared to play. This is terrific news as the Penn State product really came into his own down the stretch of the season. The Seahawks do give up big plays so his electric spark will be badly needed. Zach Ertz, the most reliable pass catcher for the Eagles and their biggest asset to create a mismatch, is still awaiting tests that will determine his status for Sunday’s contest. Additionally, right tackle Lane Johnson is questionable. There is no official word on his status as of now but a league source said it “would be quite a feat if he played”.
Aggressive Playcalling of Pederson
In a do or die situation, which this game certainly qualifies as, the decisions made by head coach Doug Pederson will be of vital importance. During his time in the league he has been known as one of the more risky playcallers around. That aggression needs to continue for the Eagles to have a chance at moving on to round 2. Maybe don’t expect another “Philly Special”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pederson does have some tricky plays and gutsy calls up his sleeve for this one.