Eagles (3-5) at Raiders (3-4)
4:05 p.m., FOX
Raiders by 2½
There's a growing faction of Eagles fans who want the team to start tanking for that highly cherished franchise QB now that they've suffered consecutive ugly losses to the Cowboys and Giants, both at home.
You know what Chip Kelly has to say about that?
"If we start planning long term, I may not be here long term," the coach said. "You know what I'm saying? So let's go beat Oakland." (See story.)
Kelly's attitude is the right one — and the only one a coach should have — when his team remains just one game and a tiebreaker out of first place (see story).
That's why he rushed Michael Vick back last week, albeit unsuccessfully, and that's why Nick Foles is returning to start this week against the Raiders.
Here are five things you'll want to know before kickoff:
1. Where do they rank?
Offense: 397 yards per game (5th), 247 passing (15th), 150 rushing (2nd)
Defense: 402 yards per game (31st), 302 passing (31st), 100 rushing (9th)
Turnovers: 13 takeaways (T-12th), 14 giveaways (T-22nd), minus-1 differential (T-15th)
Offense: 315 yards per game (25th), 176 passing (32nd), 139 rushing (5th)
Defense: 331 yards per game (10th), 241 passing (17th), 90 rushing (6th)
Turnovers: 11 takeaways (T-19), 12 giveaways (T-16th), minus-1 differential (T-15th)
The Eagles' offensive numbers are highly deceptive. As we all know, they've failed to score an offensive touchdown in their last two games. Ouch. Over that span, Vick, Foles and Matt Barkley have combined to go 45 for 84 for 346 yards and five interceptions.
As the Birds have struggled to throw the ball, opponents have focused on shutting down LeSean McCoy — still the NFL's rushing leader, believe it or not — to 103 yards on 33 carries (3.1 yards per attempt) and a long of 10 yards.
The Raiders are hardly a threat to pass, sitting dead last in the category, but that's because Terrelle Pryor more often chooses to pull the ball down and run with it. He's the team's leader with 391 yards rushing, with Darren McFadden not far behind at 340.
2. Where'd the O go?
Remember when the Eagles were the first team in NFL history to rack up 425 yards in each of their first six games? And LeSean McCoy was calling Chip Kelly an offensive "genius?" Yeah, that seems like eons ago.
Of course, the quarterback carousel hasn't helped. Foles returns this week after one of the worst performances by a QB in recent memory vs. Dallas (11 for 29, 80 yards, 46.2 QBR). Barkley remains a play away from entering a game he didn't practice to start. And the Raiders, who already possess the league's sixth-best rushing defense, can zero in on McCoy.
This week, it's time to get creative. It's time to be stubborn about running the ball — what happened to that? In the last two weeks, the Eagles have had 84 passing attempts to 42 rushing attempts. That's a 2-to-1 ratio, and it's not how the No. 2 (formerly No. 1) rushing attack should operate.
The Eagles are 12-3 (and 2-1 this season) when McCoy runs for 100 yards or more.
3. Make Pryor throw
The Eagles' secondary against the Raiders' passing attack ... how did this matchup not demand a primetime slot? Sure, the Birds' passing defense was at one time the laughing stock of the league, but the unit has improved drastically since Peyton Manning carved it up in Week 4.
In four games since, the Eagles have held four QBs to subpar games: Eli Manning (56.1 QB rating), Mike Glennon (84.7 QBR), Tony Romo (69.2 QBR) and last week Eli again (81.8 QBR). And they've forced six interceptions to five TD passes allowed.
Terrelle Pryor has had a passer rating over 80 just twice this season: in a blowout loss at Denver in Week 3 and a home win over San Diego in Week 4. He ranks 28th in passing yards (1,149), 28th in TDs (5), 25th in QBR (77.2) and ninth in picks thrown (7). He's got only limited weapons at wide receiver, with just two wideouts among the top 80 in receiving yards: Denarius Moore (431, 39th) and Rod Streater (319, 76th).
The Raiders' leading rusher, Pryor does almost all of his damage with his feet. He's already got two 100-yard rushing games this season and set the record for the longest run by a QB last week with a 93-yard TD dash. The Eagles need to make him beat them with his arm, which he likely won't.
Oakland is 3-0 when he throws 24 or fewer passes and 0-3 when he throws 28 or more.
4. It's really a Black Hole
Believe it or not, the Eagles have never won a game in the Black Hole. The Eagles have played the Raiders just three times in Oakland — a 13-9 loss in 2009, a 48-17 beating in 1995 and a 34-10 defeat in the teams' first meeting in 1971.
The Birds' lone win on the road against the Raiders came at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when the franchise hailed from L.A. Even in Super Bowl XV, the Raiders were technically the home team at the Superdome.
5. This and that
• The Eagles' 2009 loss in Oakland was the last meeting between the two squads. An 86-yard connection from JaMarcus Russell to Zach Miller in the first quarter was the game's lone touchdown, and the teams traded field goals the rest of the way in a 13-9 Raiders win.
• Last week, the Raiders jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead and held on in a 21-18 decision over the Steelers. Pryor dashed 93 yards for six on the first play from scrimmage, and Darren McFadden punched in two scores for the first time in two seasons.
• Pryor is 3-0 in three starts at the O.co Coliseum.
• The Eagles have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season and have held four straight opponents under 100 yards combined.
• The Raiders are the lone team yet to give up a run of 20 yards or more this year.
• The Birds have held the opposition to 21 or fewer points in four straight weeks, a feat matched only by Kansas City over that span.
• Remember Bobby April, the Eagles' special teams coordinator from 2010-12? He's currently working in the same position for the Raiders, the seventh different team for which he's served as a ST coordinator.
• Injury Report: For the Eagles, QB Michael Vick (hamstring) is out; LB Jake Knott (hamstring) is doubtful; S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR/KR Damaris Johnson (ankle) and LB Casey Matthews (hip) are questionable; and QB Nick Foles (concussion), WR DeSean Jackson (ankle), OT Jason Peters (shoulder/finger), RB Chris Polk (shoulder), DE Cedric Thornton (knee), LB Connor Barwin (back), LS Jon Dorenbos (groin) and P Donnie Jones (left foot) are all probable. For the Raiders, C Andre Gurode (quad), S Tyvon Branch (ankle) and OT Tony Pashos (hip) are out; while WR Andre Holmes (hamstring) and OT Menelik Watson (calf) are questionable.
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