After a sluggish 2-3 start for the Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles finally played a full 60-minute game this past Thursday night at MetLife stadium with a decisive victory over their division foes—The New York Giants. Carson Wentz lead the way throwing for 278 yards and 3 touchdown passes, two of them to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Head coach Doug Pederson said after the game that Wentz’s first TD pass to Jeffrey was “incredibly hard,” and said the chemistry between the two is “real.” The Eagles’ much criticized defense so far this year delivered their best performance yet by holding the Giants’ offense to only 13 points. In the process, they came away with the only turnover of the night with an interception off Eli Manning on the second play of the game by Kamu Grugier-Hill. It was his first interception of the season. Even though it was a blowout game, the Penn State product, Saquon Barkley, still got his by going off for 229 total yards of offense. The Giants’ offense was lost the whole night but the second overall pick in last April’s draft showed up and made a statement. The Eagles moved to a 3-3 record which is now tied for second in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys while the Giants dropped to 1-5 likely putting an end to their playoff hopes.
The Eagles welcome Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers this Sunday looking to get back over the 500 mark. The Panthers are coming off a wire to wire loss in Washington that set them to 3-2 on the season. Here are three keys that could lead to an Eagles win for this upcoming daytime game at Lincoln Financial Field: First, the Panthers run offense vs. the Eagles run defense. The staple of the Eagles stout defense for the past couple of years is the defensive line and being able to stop the opponent’s running offense. The Eagles are second in the NFL this season in rushing yards allowed with 79.8 yards per game. As for Carolina, the run is the main focus for their offense, with the second year running back Christian McCaffery and the dual threat quarterback Cam Newton both carrying a heavy load on the ground for them. Right now, they sit at fourth in the league in rushing yards at 139.4 yards per game. It’s safe to say whoever wins this battle within the trenches sets themselves up nicely for the win.
Next, the Eagles secondary must protect against big chunk plays downfield. Last week, the Birds’ defense did a great job limiting throws down field when all year long they have been getting torched with 20-plus yard passing plays. Cornerback Jalen Mills, who has been criticized all year for his play, came up big last week. As for this game, the Panthers’ passing threat is below average with rookie wide receiver DJ Moore, Devin Funchess and former Eagle Torrey Smith. As for the Eagles secondary, this is another game to prove how elite of a defense they say they are with the home crowd behind them. Finally, the chess match between quarterback Carson Wentz and linebacker Luke Kuechly. For Wentz, a lot of audibles and verbal changes happen pre-snap at the line, and Kuechly, a perennial pro bowler, is up for the challenge.
It certainly looks like last week’s dominate victory over New York was a statement that your Super Bowl champion Eagles are officially back, but the hometown birds still have a tough task on hand going against former MVP Cam Newton. That being said, I still think the Eagles come away with the win behind a strong performance from Carson Wentz and the defense.
Final Score: 21-13 Eagles
Connor Gabe is a second-year student majoring in economics and finance. CG864458@wcupa.edu