The Black Hole. Photo: JJ Hall, used via CC BY-NC 2.0
The Eagles return to the forefront of Philadelphia’s collective brain on Sunday – pretty amazing the kind of situation that has to occur in order to knock them off the back page in October, huh? – when the Birds visit the Raiders for the first time in Las Vegas.
How will the matchup go? You should know by now that neither of these two actually knows, and yet they will continue to try and predict it anyway. Week 6 was another draw – John foresaw a strong performance by Leonard Fournette, while Joe nearly nailed the final score – so John will retain the honor of going first.
John (1-2-3): This is a tough game to project. On one hand, the Raiders shouldn’t be an automatic favorite at home. On the other hand, Nick Sirianni’s Eagles shouldn’t be favored to beat anyone.
The Eagles don’t have the Coach of the Future. They may not have the quarterback. They also won’t have another road win in Las Vegas unless they finally RUN THE BALL.
It’s not about just running the ball…shotgun formation, yadda yadda. At some point you need a vertical offense that doesn’t chuck to the sidelines or call RPO plays on every third down. Until the Eagles show me that they are capable of doing more than beating a D-III school, I can’t pick them to beat an NFL team that doesn’t play in New Jersey. Raiders 28, Eagles 24.
Offensive Standout: Darren Waller
Defensive Standout: Maxx Crosby
Joe (2-1-3): One of these two franchises is in crisis. There is a leadership void at the top, questions about the future of the organization, and weekly examples of disappointing play on the field.
The other is the Raiders, and we all know what’s happened there the last couple weeks.
Nobody in Philadelphia has benefited more from the Ben Simmons ordeal than Nick Sirianni. The human clipboard that currently runs the local professional football team has avoided a week’s worth of scorn simply because we all have someone else to be even more upset about.
But you didn’t come here to read my opinions on Slick Nick – and that’s your fault, because how could you not know by now? – you want to know how this game is going to turn out. Well, you know what? I have absolutely no idea.
The Eagles are, on their best day, a mediocre football team with a decent defense that will keep them in games against other mediocre-at-best football teams. They should probably lose a game against a team that has already shown it was unaffected – and maybe lifted – by the scandal surrounding Jon Gruden’s emails.
It’s their first game without Zach Ertz, and even if he plays, Lane Johnson has been gone long enough that some rust will surely need to be shaken off. There is no way to know which version of Jalen Hurts you’re going to get until you see it. And, of course, there’s the coach.
So why do I feel like the Eagles are going to win this game? Allegiant Stadium is going to look a lot like Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte looked in Week 5: a sizeable chunk of the seats will be filled with Eagles fans, many of whom began planning their trip the day the Raiders announced their move to Las Vegas. Which, for the record, is still weird to write.
Four losses thus far to San Francisco, Dallas, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay are what we expected out of this team. So are their two wins, over Atlanta and Carolina. The Raiders are a lot more like those two teams than the other four. Eagles 22, Raiders 17.
Offensive Standout: Miles Sanders, if only for the string of texts and 32-minute soliloquy from John on next week’s pod
Defensive Standout: Steven Nelson
Bonus, Unrelated Prediction: Derrick Henry drops two bills on the Chiefs