The 3-5 Philadelphia Eagles travel to Oakland to take on the 3-4 Raiders on Sunday, and Chip Kelly wants you to know the season is far from over. He's not looking ahead to next year - nor should he be - it's all about beating the Raiders. The big storyline entering this game is the return of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Foles was cleared to return to football this week after suffering a concussion injury two weeks ago.
Reasonable logic tells us that Foles is neither extremely capable as he was against the Buccaneers nor as utterly horrible in his performance versus the Cowboys. It's probably somewhere, in between, but where? Who is the real Nick Foles?
Perhaps Sunday will provide more insight on the answer to that question. Foles gets the chance to start with Michael Vick ruled out due to injury. It's a big opportunity for Foles. It's unclear as to if/when Vick will return from injury. Yet again, Foles has the chance to go out there and do everything he can to convince the Eagles he's a viable starting quarterback. On the flip side, a bad performance from Foles only means he's running out of chances to impress. It's up to the young QB to leave no doubt in his coach Kelly's mind.
The Eagles offense has nowhere to go but up after failing to score an offensive touchdown in their last two games. The Raiders defense won't be a pushover, however. Oakland ranks among the top in the league at stopping the run. LeSean McCoy is a talented player, but there's no denying his performance has slipped in recent weeks. The Eagles could struggle to get their run game going yet again.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense has been playing well recently. Can they keep it up? It's an interesting match up because Philadelphia hasn't had to deal with a mobile quarterback, especially to the extent of a player like Terrelle Pryor, since the season opener in Washington. Even then, Robert Griffin III looked rusty. Pryor will absolutely be a challenge on the ground. He isn't so strong as a passer, so the Eagles should be looking to capitalize on errant throws or bad decisions.
Lastly, there's the adversity factor. All three Eagles wins have come on the road this year. Playing in Oakland isn't easy because it's a tough environment. Raiders fans will have all their crazy costumes on and The Black Hole will be a hostile environment. They are going to be hyped up about the prospect of a winnable game, especially with the excitement brought by their young, exciting QB in Pryor. Can the Eagles rise to the occasion? Rebounding to 4-5 puts the team right back in the race for the (lackluster) NFC East division crown.
It's a tough one to call. There isn't a good feel for this game. Perhaps the Eagles are easily as horrible as they have been in the past two weeks, but on the other hand maybe this is the week they rebound. Either way, it's largely up to the Eagles' quarterback. Time to see the real Nick Foles step up.
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