Wake-Up Call: Sam Bradford Gave The Eagles A Thanksgiving Gift
Thanksgiving has come and gone but one thing the Eagles can still be thankful for is Sam Bradford. The former Philadelphia quarterback helped out his old team on Thursday afternoon.
Tied with the Lions with 38 seconds remaining in regulation, Bradford threw an interception to Darius Slay that allowed Detroit to kick a chip-shop, game-winning field goal.
As explained on Thursday, the Lions’ Turkey Day win is good news for the Eagles for multiple reasons.
First, the Lions are now in the driver’s seat in the NFC North. They’re 7-4 and they hold a direct tie-breaker over the Vikings after sweeping their season series with Minnesota. It’s going to be difficult for Minnesota to win the division so their best shot could be at a wild card spot. The Eagles hold a tie-breaker over the Vikings in the wild card race so the Birds have that going for them.
The other reason why Bradford’s interception was such a nice gift for the Eagles is due to the trade that sent him to Minnesota. Philadelphia is due the Vikings’ first-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. If the Vikings miss the playoffs, the pick is guaranteed to be in the top 20.
There’s a reasonable chance the Eagles’ first-round pick owed to the Browns ends up being less favorable than the pick Philadelphia received from the Bradford trade. It’s still hard to believe the Eagles were able to get the first-round pick, along with a conditional fourth-round selection in 2018, for Bradford.
Sammy Sleeves wasn’t the only one who helped out the Eagles on Thanksgiving. Philadelphia can also be grateful for Washington’s loss to Dallas. Yes, Eagles fans never want to see the Cowboys win, but the Washington loss is better for the Eagles in the wild card race.
Washington is now 6-4-1. The Eagles can advance to 6-5 with a win over the Packers on Monday night. If the Birds can beat Green Bay, they’ll be only 0.5 games back of a playoff spot with five games remaining. In other words, they’re very much alive in the NFC playoff picture. Here’s a look at the updated standings.
1 – Dallas Cowboys (10-1)
2 – Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1)
3 – Detroit Lions (7-4)
4 – Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
5 – New York Giants (7-3)
6 – Washington Redskins (6-4-1)
7 – Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
8 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
9 – Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
If the Eagles can beat the Packers and the Buccaneers lose at home to the Seahawks, Philadelphia will jump up to the seventh spot.
Here’s a look at some more Eagles news and notes …
EAGLES SCHEDULE HAS BEEN TOUGH
For most of the season, I’ve been beating the drum that the Eagles are a better team than their 5-5 record indicates. Some will say that argument is silly because ‘you are what your record says you are’ and I get that. But I still think there’s more context to it than that.
The reality is the Eagles have played a really tough schedule. In the last seven weeks, they’ve played the only seven teams in the NFC with winning records. Further, their five road losses this year have come against teams who are all at least three games over .500 (hat tip to Ben Livingston). And it’s not like these losses have been blowouts. The Eagles’ average margin of defeat this season is 6.2 points.
Philadelphia still owns the third best point differential in the league. They also rank second overall in DVOA as determined by Football Outsiders. Metrics indicate the Birds are a quality football team.
The Eagles might be able to catch some breaks in their final six games. They’re set to face the Packers and Washington in games where the opponent is playing their third straight road game. Historically, the home team does well in those games. Another thing to consider is that the Cowboys could very well be resting their starters in Week 17 since Dallas is running away with the NFC lead.
If the Eagles can get hot and earn a playoff berth, they could be a tougher out than some would expect. Then again, they would have to play on the road and their away game struggles have been well-documented this year.
EAGLES INJURY UPDATE
Four Eagles players did not participate in Thursday’s practice as the Birds prepare to play the Packers. The names include defensive end Connor Barwin (knee), running back Ryan Mathews (knee), defensive end Steven Means (illness), and right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
Mathews’ status for Monday’s game is in question. If the Eagles’ leading rusher can’t suit up, it could mean more playing time for the likes of Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner.
‘Big V’ likely won’t play this week since Doug Pederson has been describing him as “week-to-week.” Allen Barbre is set to start at right tackle with Stefen Wisniewski filling in at left guard.
The good news for the Eagles is that a few notable players were full participants in practice on Thursday. Those players include veteran running back Darren Sproles, who suffered a rib injury against the Seahawks. It remains to be seen just how often Philadelphia will use Sproles given his status. Starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin also practiced in full after suffering a concussion on Sunday. He’s seemingly passed through the league’s mandatory concussion protocol.
PAUL TURNER’S ROLE
It remains to be seen how big of a role Turner will have on Monday night after getting signed to the active roster earlier this week. Pederson hasn’t (publicly) made a decision on Nelson Agholor’s playing time.
It’s possible Turner might not even be active. Or if he is, he might not play very much. Pederson said the team sees him as an inside receiver. The Eagles primarily use Jordan Matthews in that position, though Pederson said Matthews can also play on the outside.
PRACTICE SQUAD UPDATE
The Eagles signed Aaron Grymes to their practice squad this week. The Eagles had cut Grymes to make room for Turner on the 53-man roster. Here’s an updated look at the 10-man practice squad.
LB Don Cherry
TE Anthony Denham
OG Darrell Greene
CB Aaron Grymes
TE Marcel Jensen
RB Byron Marshall
QB Aaron Murray
C Aaron Neary
DT Aziz Shittu
WR David Watford
VIRTUAL REALITY EAGLES
Click here to watch this 360-degree video featuring the Eagles’ defensive line. Pretty cool.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Here were the two NFC games that affected the Eagles yesterday.
Take a look at our picks for this week’s slate of games.
BLG previews the Eagles-Packers game and talks some other topics with the BGN Radio crew.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
If he plays Monday night, Paul Turner is focused on making a strong debut, pens Les Bowen of the Daily News.
Turner, who will wear No. 19, professed to be more or less unaware of the fact that Eagles fans who watched him in the preseason have made Turner their standard-bearer against the drops and disappointments of the current wide receiving corps.
“Honestly, I try to stay away from it as much as I possibly can,” he said. “I really don’t try to get into the social media and all those other things. I just try to keep my head down and keep working.”
He said practicing in the slot against Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod all season has taught him “to be more aggressive getting in and out of my routes . . . They really work you, and they make you perfect your craft.”
[Doug] Pederson said his meeting with [Nelson] Agholor went well, after Agholor said he was pressing and was too deep inside his own head following his catchless Seattle game.
Although his struggles have been highlighted this season, many of Nelson Agholor’s teammates, including Jordan Matthews, have talked about his positive attitude, writes Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
And as he always does, Jordan Matthews spoke eloquently about the struggling Agholor, who may be benched or see his playing time curtailed for an undetermined period of time, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.
“He’s doing OK,” Matthews said. “His girlfriend’s been in town, he’s been with some of the guys.
“We were at Carson Wentz’s house Monday night, spent some time there, and then Tuesday night we always have Bible study at Chase Daniel’s house, so the last two days, we’ve just been at the quarterbacks’ house fellowshipping and spending time together.
“He’s been great. Nelson’s a positive guy, so I know that maybe this might be a tough time. But at the same time, he is going to understand that he’s going to get better from it and he’s going to learn how to grow from it.”
Frank Reich and Jim Schwartz will meet with the media at 10:40.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.