After a disappointing loss in Dallas on Christmas Eve, the Eagles got some bad news, as it was announced that Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox will miss the rest of the regular season. While they are expected to be back for the playoffs, the team will miss them as they are still trying to wrap up the NFC East and the first overall seed. With a win, they can secure the feat while also winning the NFC East for the first time since 2019. The Eagles also hold the Saints’ first-round pick in the 2023 draft (via trade), so winning this game can bump their pick up to a more valuable slot.
Minshew Mania… Again?
Pro Bowl QB Jalen Hurts returned to practice on Thursday, but he was listed as a limited participant. He then practiced again on Friday but was again listed as a limited participant. On Friday, the team designated Hurts as “doubtful” for the game on Sunday. While he has not yet been ruled out, it is very unlikely that he takes the field. Getting the first seed locked down is an extremely important thing, but Hurts’ health is just as important.
With Hurts being doubtful, it’s looking like Gardner Minshew will get his second start of the season. In last week’s loss against the Cowboys, Minshew was 24/40 for 355 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Although the offense was able to move the ball, it was obvious they missed Hurts’ productivity. Without Hurts’ legs, the Eagles struggled to get the running game going. The Eagles will need Minshew to clean up the turnovers if they want to wrap the division up this week.
A.J. Brown Looking to Make History
A.J. Brown became the first Eagles receiver since 2014 to surpass the 1,000-receiving-yard mark in a season. Heading into week 17, Brown has 1,304 yards receiving. With two games to go, he has the Eagles’ all-time receiving yards record in his sights. The franchise record for receiving yards in a season is held by Mike Quick, who had 1,409 yards in 1983. Brown needs just 106 yards to set a new record. Quick set the franchise record in just 16 games played. This upcoming game will be Brown’s 16th game of the season, so if he is able to have another monster game this Sunday, and secure the record, there will be no asterisk by his name.
Brown is not the only Eagles receiver making history this season. After last week’s monster performance, DeVonta Smith has passed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. Smith set the Eagles’ rookie receiving yard record last year with 916 yards. With Smith getting to the 1,000-yard mark, he and AJ Brown became the first wide receivers in franchise history to both top 1,000 yards in a season.
Smith and Brown have a chance this Sunday to break another Eagles franchise record. Their record for receptions by a wide receiver in a single season is held by Irving Fryar with 88. Currently, Smith has 79 receptions and Brown has 80 receptions. They both have a chance to break that record this week.
The Injury Bug
The injury bug has hit both the Eagles and the Saints pretty hard over the last few weeks. The Eagles have ruled tackle Lane Johnson and cornerback Avonte Maddox out for this week’s game. These are two huge losses for the Eagles. Johnson has proven to be the best right tackle in the NFL, so not having him will be a massive loss. While Maddox has missed games this season, his impact has been missed every time. Last week against Dallas, his backup, Josiah Scott, along with Darius Slay, gave up a 3rd and 30 that led to a Dallas touchdown. They are both expected to be back for the playoffs.
The Saints could potentially be missing some important players as well. Safety Marcus Maye and guard Andrus Peat have both been ruled out. Wide receiver Chris Olave and cornerback Marshon Lattimore are both questionable for the game. Olave has had a great rookie season while Lattimore is one of the premiere corners in the NFL. Lattimore suffered an injury in week 5 but has not played since.
Even at 6-9, the Saints are still alive for the NFC South crown and will for sure bring their A game to Philadelphia.
UPDATE: Jalen Hurts has been ruled out according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (1/1/23, 11:17am)