Eagles overcome Raiders, clinch home-field advantage
The Philadelphia Eagles' offense was stifled, but the defense forced four turnovers in a 19-10 win over the Oakland Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday.
Eagles fans were singing the praises of Nick Foles all week after he threw four touchdown passes in a 34-29 win over the New York Giants.
That was against a Giants team that have won just two games this season. Things did not go as well against the Raiders.
Jake Elliott's 48-yard field goal with 27 seconds remaining sealed it. When the Raiders tried multiple laterals to move the ball downfield on the ensuing possession, Derek Barnett picked up an errant toss and returned it for a touchdown on the final play just for good measure.
Foles, making his second start since the Eagles lost MVP candidate Carson Wentz with a torn ACL late in a win over the Rams on December 10, could not generate anything against a Raiders team motivated to keep their playoff hopes alive.
While the Raiders (6-9) turned in a valiant effort, they were eliminated from postseason contention while the Eagles (13-2) clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Philadelphia have their first 13-win season since 2003 and can get the franchise's first-ever 14-win season by beating the Cowboys (8-7) next week.
FOLES HAS TO BE EFFICIENT
While Foles does not need to play at an MVP level, he must get the ball to Philadelphia's playmakers. Foles floundered on Monday and the Eagles' offense was stagnant. It was clear Foles does not have the chemistry or timing with the Eagles receivers like Wentz had.
Foles missed open receivers and was off all night as the Raiders defense used a variety of blitzes to pressure Foles, who finished 19 of 38 for 163 with a touchdown and interception.
Things started out great for the Eagles with Jay Ajayi taking a screen pass from Foles 17 yards into the end zone.
But Philadelphia could not muster much after that, going one of 14 on third downs as Foles either held onto the ball too long or was off-target to his receivers. The Raiders held Alshon Jeffery, who entered as the Eagles' leading receiver with 56 catches for 781 yards and nine touchdowns, was held without a catch on just two targets Monday. The Eagles had a season-low 216 yards of offense on Monday and needed Foles to make just one play against the NFL's 22nd-ranked defense and he could not do it.
PHILADELPHIA'S SECONDARY HAS TO PLAY BETTER
The Eagles have aggressive cornerbacks, which is often a good thing but it does backfire. The Eagles have been burnt five times this season for completions of 60 yards or more. The fifth came Monday when Jalen Mills bit on a double move by Raiders receiver Amari Cooper. The result was a 63-yard touchdown pass as Cooper strolled into the end zone.
The Eagles' defense, which ranked number one in rush defense, also allowed a season-high 137 rushing yards to the Raiders. The Eagles did pick off Raiders quarterback Derek Carr twice, thanks to relentless pursuit from the front four, led by defensive end Chris Long. The second interception led to Elliott's field goal.
Without Wentz running the offense, the Eagles have to rely on their defense to lead them to the Super Bowl. If the defense continues to give up big plays through the air, the Eagles will be one-and-done in January.
RAIDERS COACHING STAFF WILL HAVE A COMPLETE OVERHAUL
There are rumours that Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and if he is fired, there will obviously be an entirely new coaching staff in Oakland. Even if Del Rio is retained as the team's coach, the Raiders will certainly have some new assistants.
Oakland have already fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton in November and replaced him with John Pagano, whose unit played well in Philadelphia. First-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing has struggled to create any sort of consistency with a Raiders offense that was potent last season. Downing was promoted from quarterbacks coach after former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was fired in January. Many are calling for Downing to be fired, and it is a move Del Rio is expected to make. Potentially needing two new coordinators in 2018, the Raiders would probably make other changes to the staff to fit the new schemes.