NFL 2018 Season - PS4
 

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Act Three
by Dennis Ranahan

Last Christmas, 2017 that is, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles engineered a come-from-behind home win over the Oakland Raiders. That victory locked up the home field advantage for the Eagles in the playoffs, a role the backup quarterback parlayed into the Eagles only Super Bowl win in franchise history.

Today, Foles is looking to lead the Eagles to another December win, once again in relief of an injured Carson Wentz, and this time with the goal of landing a Wild Card playoff berth. In order for that to happen, the Eagles would need to beat the Washington Redskins at FedExField and the Minnesota Vikings would need to be upset at home by the Chicago Bears.

One would think the tougher of those two outcomes to occur would be the Vikings missing their chance for a postseason date by losing at home against a team that has already clinched their division title. But in truth, the result in Minnesota isn’t going to matter to the Eagles today, because the Redskins are in a perfect position to assure the Vikings a playoff spot win or lose.

The Redskins are going to upset the Eagles today.

Okay, let me amend that bold statement to this, I think Washington is going to upset Philadelphia today, but I am almost certain that if the Eagles do get a road win here, it won’t be by more than a touchdown, which the home standing Redskins get on the point spread.

Here is why I think the Redskins win this one. First, it’s just too easy now for the Eagles to expect a win when they are playing a Redskins team that went from the top spot in the NFC East to an also-ran while decimated by injuries. They’ve lost both the quarterbacks that started the season on their depth chart, Alex Smith and Colt McCoy.

They tried a game and a half with Mark Sanchez, an experiment that only proved how right all the teams were that cut him in the past. Now, they are counting on Josh Johnson, who had some starts early in his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is now relishing the opportunity to revive his career ten years after he was drafted out of San Diego. What Johnson provides the Redskins is play just good enough to take advantage of a great motivational spot for his team.

The Eagles have not looked good in defense of their Super Bowl title. The offense has only operated efficiently in spurts, first under the direction of Foles to start the season while Wentz completed his rehabilitation from last year’s injury, and then as Wentz struggled to regain the form that made him so special last season.

Then, just as Wentz game was rounding into shape, he was injured again and on comes Nick Foles for the third act of his recent Eagles career.

His first act was magnificent. He picked up for Wentz and completed the regular season with enough wins to assure Philadelphia home field advantage in the playoffs. Foles and the Eagles got wins at home over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings enroute to their Super Bowl triumph over the New England Patriots. His second act, opening at quarterback this year for the Eagles, was not as special and resulted in one win and one loss. Now we are on to his third act, and so far his two starts in this role have resulted in Philadelphia wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans. Which brings us to today and the opportunity for the Eagles to advance with a victory in Washington and help.

But, if you think this is another year for the Eagles to excel late, know this, 2018 for Doug Pederson’s team was destined to be an off year. It always happens that way for a team that wins a Super Bowl the year after suffering a losing season. The Eagles were the fourth team to accomplish such a goal, and none of the first three that did it won either their division or a playoff game the following season.

Knowing this was never to be the Eagles year, the fact that they have made a late season drive to put them in striking distance of a Wild Card berth is a major tease for this team. They simply are on a path to fall short.

Meanwhile, a Redskins squad that appeared to be one of the breakthrough teams of the year until Smith went down with an injury in November, now has a chance at one last redemption by upsetting their division rivals and ending their playoff hopes.

Qoxhi Picks: Washington Redskins (+7) over Philadelphia Eagles