It would seem the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles have already hit rock bottom, but I'm not sure that's the case. Tonight, at home, the Eagles play a team that is supposed to be inferior to them in prime time.
Could rock bottom be found around 11:30 p.m. ET tonight?
Here's a final preview of the last game on the Week 13 NFL schedule, along with a prediction.
What Philly must do to win, offensive edition: Give it to running back Bryce Brown and establish balance while executing another safe game plan for quarterback Nick Foles through the air. Commit two or fewer turnovers.
What Philly must do to win, defensive edition: Get decent performances from linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks against quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina running game and hold wide receiver Steve Smith in check. Register at least one takeaway.
How Philly can lose: By once again losing the turnover battle in lopsided fashion and by failing to limit the damage caused by Newton.
Five most important non-quarterbacks: Bryce Brown, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham
Each of those four front-seven cogs will be responsible for containing Newton by either applying pressure or spying on the quarterback, limiting what he's able to do with his arm and his legs.
Obviously, a lot will also fall on cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. However, I'm keeping an eye on Brown, who's making his first career start in place of LeSean McCoy. Huge opportunity for a very solid young back.
Injury analysis, Eagles edition
McCoy and quarterback Michael Vick remain out with concussions, which puts pressure on both Brown and Foles. No. 3 wide receiver Jason Avant also remains out and the offensive line will be a mess for the remainder of the year. With that being said, the defense is still very healthy—a scary thought considering how poorly that unit is playing.
Injury analysis, Panthers edition
Defensive end Greg Hardy was the only starter to miss practice to end the week, but it's only an "illness" so he should be fine for tonight. Carolina lost a pair of key defenders in Jon Beason and Chris Gamble earlier in the year. Apart from that, this team is fairly healthy.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction
I can't pick the Eagles to beat anyone in the NFL right now. This matchup favors them on paper, especially at home, even with those injuries in mind. However, I don't think they're playing for Andy Reid anymore. The towel has been thrown in. The white flag has been waved. Thanks for coming out.
Final Score: Panthers 20, Eagles 16