It's not the first NFL Sunday without the Eagles in 2018. In fact, the Eagles have not played on Sunday twice already in the first half of the season with Thursday night wins over Atlanta and the New York Giants (maybe there's something there). So, you all should be seasoned pros as to how to spend a Sunday without Eagles football. But it is different this week because there's been no game to savor, relive, or debate. You could take advantage of the extra hour on Sunday and prep for the holidays, but let's be honest, who wants to do that now? It's the last weekend without Eagles football for 2018. Here's your survival guide.
The Early-Afternoon Slate: Can Eagles Gain Ground?
The marquee matchup for Eagles fans is Atlanta-Washington to see if Philly can make up some ground in the NFC East without playing a game. The Falcons have won two straight games and are coming off a bye week. At 3-4, the Falcons can't afford to fall farther behind the Saints and the Panthers in a competitive NFC South.
Of course, Washington has quietly won three straight games but has scored more than 20 points just once since the end of September. What's been the key? Defense. Since giving up 43 points to the Saints in Week 5, Washington hasn't allowed more than 17 points in wins over Carolina, Dallas, and the Giants. Adrian Peterson appears to have captured the Fountain of Youth with 97 or more rushing yards in three straight games.
End Result: Atlanta's offense took flight in a 38-14 rout. Julio Jones scored his first touchdown of the season to cap off the win. Washington is awaiting word on a number of injuries along the offensive line that could dictate the course of its season. Most importantly, the Eagles are just one game back in the NFC East with five division games, including two against Washington.
Take Your Sunday Afternoon Nap Early: Will It Be A Shootout In New Orleans?
On NFL Sundays, you're usually going to get a quick nap in either during the 1 p.m. game to power through the late-afternoon slate or during the 4:25 p.m. game to be ready for prime time.
Well, with Rams-Saints on the docket, make sure to rest early in case scoring puts you to sleep. The Saints and the Rams are the two-hottest teams in the league. New Orleans hasn't lost since the opener, a 48-40 shootout with the Bucs, while the Rams are the league's lone undefeated squad. The Saints (33.4) and the Rams (33.0) are the second- and third-highest scoring teams in the league, respectively.
New Orleans is one of the toughest places to play in the league and this game could have significant playoff ramifications. The Rams have the sixth-best scoring defense in football, but will it hold up against Drew Brees and company? A win like this for Jared Goff would show the NFL it's not all Sean McVay and Todd Gurley powering the offense on the West Coast.
Oh, and the Eagles play both of these teams in the second half of the season starting with the Saints in Week 11 in New Orleans.
End Result: It was indeed a shootout in New Orleans and the Saints handed the Rams their first loss in a 45-35 victory. Drew Brees threw three touchdowns in the first half as New Orleans raced out to a 35-17 lead. The Rams rallied to tie the game, but Brees connected with Michael Thomas for a 72-yard score in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Thomas had a career-high 211 receiving yards.
In Prime Time: Brady vs. Rodgers
I'm tired of hearing the team "GOAT" used this week to describe the Packers-Patriots matchup. I'd rather go to a zoo to see two goats at this point, but I get the hype surrounding two of the best quarterbacks of our generation in Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who only play each other once every four seasons.
New England is hitting its typical midseason stride, winning five straight after a 1-2 start. The Patriots are two games up in the AFC East and will run away with it barring some catastrophe for the 20th straight season – only slightly exaggerated.
The intrigue and mystique lie more with Green Bay. The Packers are 3-3-1. They trail the Vikings (4-3-1) and Bears (4-3), and have as many wins as the Lions (3-4). The Vikings play the Lions and the Bears are in Buffalo where the Bills are one play away from Matt Barkley playing at quarterback.
The Packers nearly handed the Rams their first loss of the season a week ago. We all thought that with Aaron Rodgers back and healthy that the Packers would be one of the NFC's elite teams in 2018. It hasn't been the case thus far, but maybe tonight is when things turn around.
End Result: This one was tied going into the fourth quarter, but New England scored two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to win 31-17. Josh Gordon had 130 receiving yards and a 55-yard touchdown to seal the win with 7:20 remaining. At 3-4-1, Green Bay is on the outside looking in at this point in the playoff picture.
Monday Night: Time To Scout Dallas
Interesting that the Cowboys will be coming to Lincoln Financial Field for a Sunday night showdown on a short week. We all get to scout the Eagles' next opponent on Monday Night Football as Dallas hosts Tennessee. Dallas is coming off the bye week and new wide receiver Amari Cooper will make his Cowboys debut.
The Titans are also coming off the bye week and, believe it or not, haven't won since beating the Eagles in Week 4. They've lost to the Bills, were shutout by the Ravens, and dropped an overseas matchup to the Chargers after going for a two-point conversion when an extra point would have tied the game in the final minute.
If Dallas loses, that helps the Eagles. No question. But should the Cowboys emerge victorious, it only helps hype up the Dak-Carson storyline and make an Eagles win that much sweeter. Just sayin'.