LOS ANGELES – The (11-2) Eagles reigned supreme over the (9-4) Rams on Sunday, defeating Los Angeles 43-35, even though the game was a much closer contest than the final score suggests.
The Eagles clinched the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with the victory.
The playoff preview showcased two of the NFL’s brightest stars in quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. The two sophomore signal callers showed why they were the first and second overall picks in the 2016 draft.
Wentz went off for 4 touchdowns and over 300 yards total offense, in less than 3 quarters of action. Although Wentz made all the right reads for the majority of the game, one play may have cost him the rest of the season and just about scorched the Eagles’ hopes for a return to the Super Bowl.
Wentz made the fateful decision of scrambling and stretching for the endzone on a first and goal play, down 28-24 with a few minutes remaining in the third quarter. As he reached the goal line, Wentz was met with a vengeance. The Rams’ Morgan Fox and Mark Barron sandwiched Wentz, tearing his ACL and terminating his breakout season.
Wentz somehow managed to tough it out and finish the scoring drive with a gutsy fourth down, two-yard touchdown toss to Alshon Jeffery for the go-ahead score.
Wentz immediately headed to the locker room and on the next drive Nick Foles, the Eagles’ backup quarterback, came in to steer the ship. Foles wasn’t spectacular but he didn’t have to be. He set up a couple easy field goals for Jake Elliott and didn’t turn the ball over.
Ex-Ram and current Eagle pass rusher, Chris Long, strip-sacked Goff late in the game setting up the Eagles’ go-ahead field goal.
On the final play, Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham trumped any miraculous comeback by breaking up a lateral and scoring one for the defense.
Goff threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, completing on 16-of-26 attempts. The Eagles were pressuring the young QB throughout the game but he performed well when blitzed.
His favorite receiver, Cooper Kupp, caught five of Goff’s 16 completions for 118 yards and a touchdown. The rookie wideout accounted for almost 60% of Goff passing yards on only five receptions against the Eagles but has set the Rams rookie record with his 56 receptions on the season. He is third in the league among rookies, only behind running backs Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara.
Todd Gurley had a good game on Sunday, scoring twice but has not rushed for over 100 yards since Oct. 22 against the Cardinals. Gurley only rushed 13 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 7.4 yards a carry and should have been fed the ball late with the lead. He added 39 yards on three receptions.
The Rams special teams were phenomenal yet again against Philadelphia. The Rams were able to block a punt and score a touchdown for the second time this season. All other teams have combined for two total blocked punts for touchdowns all year. Pro Bowl punter, Johnny Hekker continuously pinned the Eagles inside their own 20-yard line and averaged 56.4 yards per punt.
On Monday, the Rams confirmed that corner Kayvon Webster ruptured his Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the year, but are hoping to get Robert Woods back on offense and Connor Barwin back on defense.
The Rams will head to Seattle next week to battle for first place in the NFC West with the (8-5)Seahawks, who also lost last week. The Seahawks are a game back on the Rams and will need to protect Russell Wilson this Sunday, and every game moving forward if they have any plans on extending their season.
Wilson currently leads the team in rushing with 76 carries for 482 yards and three touchdowns. He has been the MVP for that offense, scrambling around the pocket like a madman and somehow winning by sheer will. The Hawks’ defense is depleted and Pete Carroll is as crazy as ever. It’s not necessarily a recipe for success, but Wilson has a heart of a warrior and an undying drive to win. Hard to ever count them out. In fact, many sportsbooks are favoring Seattle at home by a point and a half.
CHARGERS: The (7-6) Chargers won their fourth straight game last Sunday, defeating the (5-8) Redskins, 30-13. The Bolts are tied with the Chiefs for first in the AFC West and are one game ahead of the (6-7) Raiders.
The Chargers and Chiefs will face off for first this Saturday in Kansas City. The Raiders will have their hands full with the Cowboys on SNF in a must-win game on primetime.
The Chargers have successfully bounced back to save the season after starting 0-4. Over the last nine games, the Bolts are 7-2 and have looked like one of the most dynamic teams in the league when they play to their potential. They are looking to become only the second team to reach the playoffs after starting the season 0-4 in the Super Bowl era, joining the 1992 Chargers.
Philip Rivers has been the MVP for the Bolts all season, but especially during the four-game winning streak. Rivers has thrown for eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He has averaged 337 yards and two touchdowns per game during that span.
The Chargers win when Rivers protects the football. He has done a great job of eliminating turnovers all season. The Chargers are 6-2 when Rivers does not throw an interception. He has only thrown one interception in their seven wins this year but has thrown six in their six losses.
Over the last nine games, Rivers has a 17-to-3, touchdown-to-interception ratio. The 36-year-old quarterback is looking as good as ever and is playing the best out of any of the AFC West signal callers.
Rivers’ favorite target, Keenan Allen, eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards for the fourth straight game but did not find paydirt for the first time since they began their winning streak. Allen caught six passes for 111 yards and finished second on the team in receiving yards, only behind Tyrell Williams.
Williams had his best game of the season. He finished with four receptions for 132 yards including a huge 75-yard touchdown burning Redskins pro bowl cornerback Josh Norman. It was only the second time this season Williams had over 100 yards receiving this season. If they want to move on in the playoffs, Williams and Travis Benjamin will need to perform.
Melvin Gordon had another pedestrian performance carrying the ball 22 times for only 78 yards. He managed to score but never seemed to find an opening. His longest run of the day was only 10 yards.
Gordon hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards since Oct. 29 against the Patriots and is averaging barely over 65 yards a game this season.The Chargers will need more out of him moving forward.