Which Philadelphia Eagles Players Are Most Important for a Playoff Run?
For the Philadelphia Eagles, the entire season comes down to one game. The NFC East Championship occurs this Sunday night when the Eagles travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys. The Eagles caught a break when news broke, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today, that Tony Romo had a back injury that could prevent him from playing in the season finale.
But the Eagles still have to bring their best football to win against backup quarterback Kyle Orton and the Cowboys.
If the Eagles do make the postseason, they have all the necessary ingredients to make a deep postseason run. The following five slides rank the players in order of importance, in reverse order.
5. Mychal Kendricks, Inside Linebacker
Mychal Kendricks has been one of the team's hottest defensive players lately. Since Week 9, he's collected four sacks after recording zero in the first half of the season. He has two interceptions and a league-leading four fumble recoveries, giving him six defensive takeaways this year.
He's also finally starting to grade well on Pro Football Focus (subscription required), where he's been a consistent force over the past few weeks, especially against the run.
Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin are all solid linebackers, but the second-year Kendricks is the most important of the linebackers heading into a potential postseason berth.
4. Cary Williams, Cornerback
You cannot play in the postseason without facing dominant quarterbacks and dominant wide receivers. That's where Cary Williams comes in. He may not be the team's best corner (although it's close), but as the No. 1 cornerback on the team, he'll be asked to cover the opposing team's best wide receiver.
Williams has been inconsistent this year, but he's mostly played well. He's allowing an 81.7 passer rating, above the league average, and he's shut down top receivers such as Pierre Garcon and Larry Fitzgerald.
Williams is a brash, physical veteran with Super Bowl experience. He'll be asked to be a leader on a young Eagles team that hasn't ever played in the postseason under Chip Kelly.
3. Jason Kelce, Center
The Eagles' third-year center is quickly becoming one of the most important players on the team. He's probably not as good as left tackle Jason Peters or left guard Evan Mathis, but a legitimate case could be made for the 26-year old center as the team's most important offensive lineman.
Jason Kelce has been playing at a Pro Bowl level this season. He's rated as the fifth-best center in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Take away one absolutely brutal game against the New York Giants and he'd easily be the league's best center.
The Eagles are averaging 5.3 yards per rush to the middle left (between Mathis and Kelce) and 5.8 yards per rush to the middle right (between Kelce and Todd Herremans). If they keep that pace up in the postseason, they'll be pretty hard to beat.
2. LeSean McCoy, Running Back
He's a virtual lock to win the rushing title, something no Eagles player has done since Steve Van Buren in 1949. He's leading the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, yards per game, total touches and total yards from scrimmage.
He's one of the best fourth-quarter runners in NFL history, as evidenced by his seven career touchdown runs of more than 40 yards in the fourth quarter.
Teams will have their hands full trying to stop both Foles and McCoy in the postseason.
1. Nick Foles, Quarterback
Foles is one of the best players in the National Football League right now. He's simply been playing out of his mind this year. Just look at his numbers.
Foles has tossed 25 touchdowns against just two interceptions. His passer rating would be the third-best single-season total in NFL history. So is his interception percentage. And he ranks second all time in net adjusted yards per pass attempt. He's simply been unstoppable.
If Foles is on throughout the playoffs, the Eagles will be a pretty tough team to beat. In fact, if Foles plays like he's been playing over the past two months, the Eagles may not lose another game. He's been that good.