The Philadelphia Eagles have their backs up against the wall in Week 15 as they head west to face the Los Angeles Rams. Kickoff is at 8:20 EST on Sunday, December 16, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised nationally on NBC.
The Rams opened the week as 9-point favorites at home. However, after the news broke that Carson Wentz won’t play, that line has jumped to 11.5 points. The over/under for the contest is set at 53.5 points. Click here for a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds and game previews.
Just when the Eagles took two steps toward a playoff spot, they took a couple of steps back. After back-to-back wins, Philadelphia lost an overtime game to the Cowboys last week, dropping them to 6-7 on the season. They were also hit with the news this week that Wentz has fractured vertebra, an injury that could keep him out for the rest of the season. In a case of symmetry, this is the exact time last year that Nick Foles stepped in for an injured Wentz, giving fans hope that the Eagles will go on a similar run that ends in the Super Bowl.
However, the Eagles are going to have to fight and scratch just to get into the playoffs this time around. They are currently one of five teams fighting for the final wild-card spot in the NFC. The problem is that the Eagles have to visit the Rams this week and then host the Texans next week. That’s not exactly a favorable schedule for a team that will probably need to win their final three games in order to reach the playoffs.
The Rams, meanwhile, are also trying to bounce back from a loss. For the first time all season, their high-powered offense was completely shut down in a 15-6 loss to the Bears. It definitely brought one of the NFL’s best teams back down to earth. However, odds are it’s just a bump in the road and not a sign of things to come.
Of course, Los Angeles has already wrapped up the NFC West crown, so dropping to 11-2 on the season isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, the Rams lost their hold on the top seed in the NFC. They now have to win their remaining games against the Eagles, Cardinals, and 49ers while hoping the Saints lose one of their remaining games. Otherwise, the Rams may have to make a return trip to New Orleans, the site of their other loss this season, in order to reach the Super Bowl.
I hate eating this many points, especially when the underdog is as desperate for a win as the Eagles are right now. However, the injury to Wentz aside, this game is a big mismatch on paper. Even before Wentz was ruled out, the Rams were 9-point favorites. I think the L.A. offense will bounce back in a big way and help the Rams win by at least two touchdowns.
Obviously, the Eagles are comfortable and confident with Foles at quarterback. He has as much experience as almost any backup in the NFL, so losing Wentz for the rest of the season doesn’t immediately eliminate the Eagles from playoff contention. However, this is not last season. The situation Foles is walking into is not the same as it was a year ago.
Last season, the Eagles had a viable running game to help support Foles, which isn’t the case this year. The team’s no. 1 running back right now is undrafted rookie Josh Adams, who had just seven carries last week. A year ago, the Eagles had one of the best offensive lines in football, which is no longer the case. Finally, Philadelphia’s receivers, save for tight end Zach Ertz, have also underperformed this year. The bottom line is that Foles shouldn’t expect to get the kind of help he had last year.
We also can’t forget the Los Angeles defense. Despite losing last week, the Rams only conceded 15 points on the road while forcing three turnovers. Despite plenty of rough outings this year, the L.A. defense has tons of talent and is capable of playing at a high level. They are particularly dangerous along the defensive line, where the Rams should put consistent pressure on Foles, who’s not quite as mobile as Wentz.
On the other side of the ball, there are lingering questions about the Philadelphia defense. Since Week 3, the Giants, Jaguars, and injury-riddled Redskins are the only teams the Eagles have held to less than 20 points. A week ago, the Philadelphia defense had all kinds of problems keeping Amari Cooper contained. This week, they’ll have to contain two 1,000-yard receivers in Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. That doesn’t even take into account stopping Todd Gurley one week after Ezekiel Elliott went off for over 100 yards against them.
Even if Foles plays a decent game, I don’t see any way the Eagles can stop the Rams from scoring. Last week’s 6-point performance against the Bears was an aberration for Jared Goff and company. They’ll bounce back against a porous Philadelphia defense this week and will be eager to run up the score. In the process, they should have no problem covering the 11.5-point spread.