But that’s precisely what to anticipate for this next contest from the team with a once-vibrant offense going up against a middling Oakland Raiders squad whose three wins have come against teams with a combined 6-16 record.
Even so, the Eagles—who are a half-game worse than the Raiders—somehow still find themselves just a game out of first in a division the motto of which should be: “Who wants it least in the NFC East?”
Therefore, beyond just blind loyalty, there are additional reasons to tune in. And even a few intriguing matchups to hone in on.
Terrelle Pryor vs. Eagles Linebackers:
The Eagles may not have Michael Vick suited up, but they’ll see a quarterback with very similar skills on the opposite side of the field when they line up against Oakland.
The elusive Pryor, who struggled mightily in the air (10-of-19, 88 yards, 2 INT), let his legs do the talking once again in the Raiders’ 21-18 Week 8 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He compiled 106 rushing yards on nine attempts—his second 100-yard performance of the season—but most that came on an NFL-record 93-yard TD run on the Raiders' first play from scrimmage.
Considering that he’s thrown five picks in his last two games and completed just 53 percent of his passes, it would behoove the Birds to designate a spy (DeMeco Ryans, ideally) on him at all times and keep him inside the pocket.
LeSean McCoy vs. Raiders’ Defensive Line:
After starting the first quarter of the season like a bat out of hell, the dynamic McCoy’s results on the ground lately have been a bit…well, shady.
A part of that can certainly be attributed to poor playcalling—an overreliance on an increasingly predictable option package that doesn’t seem to offer an option—and part to an emphasis by opposing defenses to put eight men in the box and ensure that someone on the Eagles offense other than McCoy beats them—which, as we’ve seen the past couple games, simply hasn’t happened.
However, elite players figure out a way to get it done, and McCoy has proven to be an elite running back. And with the quarterback situation in Philly still cloudy this week—with Nick Foles fresh off a couple injuries and, before that, an abysmal performance against Dallas—the Eagles will need a heavy dose of McCoy to take the pressure off the second-year quarterback...preferably the Shady we saw in the first four weeks.
Which Eagle is most critical to his team's success against the Raiders?
Nick Foles vs. Himself:
As the Eagles' quarterback carousel takes another spin around, even Foles himself probably didn’t figure to have a second opportunity to redeem himself so soon. However, if he lays yet another egg against the Raiders, he may not have a chance to make the third time a charm at any point in the near future.
Even without an injured Vick, Matt Barkley has seen enough action (albeit quite sketchy) on the field now to at least warrant first-team reps during the week if Foles once again gets in his own way.