Post originally appeared on Pro Sports Notes
October 19, 2018
Image: Parker Anderson via Flickr
Carolina is the early season test for the Eagles once again
Posted on October 19, 2018
Another huge game against Carolina
The Eagles are tied for second in the NFC East with a 3-3 record. Sitting on top of the division are the Washington Redskins, fresh off of their victory over the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have a record of 3-2, also in second of their division behind the 4-1 New Orleans Saints. The Panthers are looking for a win, and so are the Eagles. Just like last season when both teams were looking to establish some credibility for their hot starts, they must face each other once again to get back on track for the 2018 season.
The 2017 win over Carolina
In 2017, the Eagles traveled down to the Panthers’ stadium for a primetime matchup on Thursday Night Football. It was week six, and both teams entered the game with 4-1 records. The Panthers were looking to stay hot, and the Eagles were looking for some credibility for their success. The Eagles were down 10-3 early, but then Rasul Douglas picked off Cam Newton, the Eagles drove down the field, scored, and never looked back. The Eagles defense only allowed 80 rushing yards and forced three turnovers. Of those 80 rushing yards, only nine of them were from someone other than Cam Newton.
What it meant in 2017
After the win over the Carolina Panthers (and Pete Morelli’s officiating *eye roll*), the Eagles were starting to be taken seriously. To this point, they had beaten the Redskins, the Giants, the Chargers, and lost to the Chiefs. Everyone around the NFL basically looked at the Eagles and went “eh maybe”. Then, they beat the Panthers and turned some heads. People began to realize the Eagles were a serious force to be reckoned with this season.
2018 is just as important, if not more
The Eagles are facing that tough trial once again. This time, instead of going into the Carolina game 4-1, they are going in 3-3, fresh off of a Thursday night win over the struggling New York Giants. Although the Giants are a terrible football team, they were the perfect team at the perfect time for the Eagles. The Birds played a completely dominant 60 minutes of football, and looked crisp, disciplined, and energized. That was something we hadn’t seen from our team yet. But beating the now 1-5 Giants doesn’t necessarily mean the Eagles are back. Was it the perfect stepping stone to go on a run? Sure. And I truly believe that’s exactly what it was. But we have to get through Carolina and get back over .500.
The Eagles can win this division at 10-6. Honestly, the division is so bad they could probably win at 9-7. However, they already have three of those losses with some tough opponents coming up. They still have to play the Saints in New Orleans. Next week they play the Jaguars in London. They also have only played one of six division games. This game is a must win for the Eagles. They need to show the fans, the rest of the NFL, and most importantly themselves that they really are back and are still a force to be reckoned with.
Newton really struggles against the Eagles
In his career, Newton is 2-2 against the Eagles, alternating wins and losses. He has his worst quarterback passer rating against the Eagles of all the NFL teams. He has been sacked 14 times in four games and was sacked nine times in their 2014 matchup. In Newton’s first matchup with the Eagles he didn’t throw any interceptions, but in the next three games, he threw three interceptions in each. He’s also thrown 12 interceptions since he laughed at a female reporter asking him about his wide receivers’ routes. But that’s neither here nor there.
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”
NFL’s Cam Newton faces backlash over this comment to a reporter, via @TODAYshow2957:53 AM – Oct 5, 2017517 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy
The home field advantage
The Eagles beat the Carolina Panthers on the road and against a tough referee. This time, they play at the Linc and have a ref who doesn’t hate us. Clete Blakeman is the ref for Sunday. The Eagles have a 9-1 record in games called by Blakeman.
On top of this, the Eagles also got a few extra days of rest since they played on Thursday, while the Panthers played on Sunday.
The keys to victory
First, Wentz needs to play at an MVP caliber level. However, the most important part of this game, unfortunately, will be defense. We have a really banged up defense right now with Corey Graham and Sidney Jones not practicing this week. Jalen Mills showed up on the injury report with a hamstring issue as well. The already depleted secondary is taking more hits. Our front four and our linebacker play will need to be on point. The Eagles are getting Haloti Ngata back this week which will be huge for the run game. Although the Eagles still have a pretty good run defense, the Panthers are the number four rushing team in the league right now.
There’s also always the threat of Newton. Newton is always considered a runner even when he looks to be throwing the ball. The linebacker play will be key because not only will they need to be in coverage, but someone will also have to spy on Newton. Jim Schwartz called a pretty good game against the dynamic QB last time, let’s hope he does it again.
The Eagles will leave the Linc 4-3
The Eagles cannot lose this game. No matter what happens, I think they will dig deep and find a way to win. In a time like this, it’s necessary. They need to keep pushing and play with the same level of discipline and urgency they did against the Giants.
This is a crucial game for the Eagles, as it was last year against Carolina. However, they are going in with the same number of losses they had all of last season. This is a must win for the Eagles.