Well, look at that. The Eagles started Jalen Hurts and they upset the NFC’s best team.
According to 538, the Eagles still have an 11% chance at winning the division. We had been saying for weeks, “the Eagles have a better shot at winning the division with Jalen Hurts starting.” We also said they need to brush Alshon aside, but let’s just be happy with the win and hope the Eagles come to their senses about Alshon soon enough.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 6 point dogs against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, according to the DraftKings Online Sportsbook. Can they cover or even pull out a win?
Week 15 recap
Last week, the Eagles beat the NFC’s best team, the Saints. I doubted it was possible, but more from a defensive standpoint. We assumed Hurts would move the ball down the field better than Wentz right now, but we completely underestimated how much the move to Hurts would motivate the defense to step up and get it done.
The big surprise was indeed the defense. The Eagles held the Saints scoreless for two and a half quarters. The key was forcing Taysom Hill to throw the ball. Hill’s imperfections as a passer killed many early drives, and it allowed the Eagles to build a safe enough lead by which to funnel the Saints into a one-dimensional attack late.
Hurts did very well to keep the Eagles ahead and controlling the game, but the biggest surprise was the rushing game from the Eagles. Not only did the Eagles rush for 246 yards, but they were the first team in the last 55 games to have a 100-yard rusher against the Saints (both Hurts and Sanders went over 100 on the ground).
Another promising effect of Jalen Hurts was the lack of sacks surrendered by the Eagles. Coming into Sunday, the Eagles led the league in sacks surrendered, but Hurts managed to go the entire game without being sacked.
As stated earlier, the Eagles have just an 11% chance to make the playoffs. However, Washington and New York are both very limited offensively, and the Eagles can greatly improve their odds by simply handling their own business the rest of the way.
Week 15 preview
The Eagles have three more hurdles before the end of the season. The first of them is the Cardinals. The Cardinals rebounded last week, following a three-game losing skid, the Cardinals rebounded nicely a week ago, courtesy of the New York Giants and their limited offense.
The Cardinals are one of the better teams in the league offensively. They’ve scored at least 21 points in all but one game this season (17 against New England), and their quarterback is as difficult to game plan for as any in the league (except for Mahomes and from a scheming standpoint, Lamar Jackson).
The Cardinals are a very mediocre defense. They’re 11th in passing yards allowed per game, 18th in rushing yards per game, and 13th in points allowed per game. The game plan for the Eagles is pretty simple. They need to lean on the run, whether it be from Miles Sanders or Jalen Hurts improvising.
The formula worked last week against the best team in the NFC, so it’s wise to go that route again, especially against a balanced defense. The Eagles have the weapons offensively and need to simply take what the defense gives them on a play to play basis.
If the Eagles get into a deficit, we could see some problems. Sure, the Eagles rallied two weeks ago, but it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in Hurts in an obvious negative game script, especially since he doesn’t have incredible arm talent.
Week 15 prediction
I expect the Eagles will take a fairly balanced approach in this game. I think the Eagles will struggle to contain DeAndre Hopkins, and the prospect of containing Murray should put a lot of pressure on the Eagles to remained disciplined in the secondary. Kenyan Drake is a threat on the ground, but not someone who’s going to wreck them by himself.
I believe this game will be close throughout, with the Eagles having some solid defensive moments early in the game. I expect the Eagles to show a lot of effort and I think this game comes down to one possession. I am calling a Jalen Hurts game-winning drive in the end.