By Sam Bush
It’s going to be a strange weekend with two NFL games tonight, a full batch tomorrow and no Eagles game till Christmas night:
Oakland Raiders (6-8) at EAGLES (12-2); 8:30 p.m. ET
Nick Foles looked fine for the Eagles in replacing Carson Wentz. Philly’s backup can’t match Wentz in terms of the pre-snap magic, the aggressive and accurate darts downfield and the eye-popping athleticism and field vision.
Foles, though, helped the Eagles to 34 points against the Giants — topping their season average of 31.1 — while throwing four touchdown passes along the way. He displayed chemistry with wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, but Foles authored most of his handiwork on short and intermediate throws.
He was 0 for 3 on passes of 20-plus air yards, an area where Wentz was often magical.
This isn’t the same Raiders team that Foles dropped an outrageous seven touchdown passes on in 2013, but Oakland’s secondary is an inviting proposition.
Look for the Eagles to keep rolling on offense, but what happened to the defense last week? Facing a moribund Giants attack, Philly allowed an aging Eli Manning to unfurl lobs for nearly 500 yards in an unexpected shootout. I see that result as a freaky aberration for Jim Schwartz’s rugged defense, a group chock-full of star players, but one that has also allowed 24, 35 and 29 points over its last three outings. Their play on Christmas night is worth monitoring as the Eagles prepare to enter an NFC postseason fray dotted with offensive powerhouses in Los Angeles and New Orleans.
The Raiders stand out as the most disappointing team in the AFC. Billed as a Super Bowl juggernaut during the endless offseason, Oakland has emerged as a white-hot disaster on both sides of the ball.
Outside of a Week 7 thrashing of the Chiefs, last year’s mighty Derek Carr-led attack has refused to rear its head in 2017. The offense has dipped from seventh to 22nd overall in points per game and drifts through Sundays alongside a dragging, dull, talent-poor defensive unit that has failed to generate turnovers. At 6-8, they’re somehow still alive for a playoff berth, but that’s nothing more than a mythical mathematical possibility. Plenty of changes loom in the distance for a team that has failed to live up to the hype.