After suffering two straight losses at home, the Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) will try to salvage their season on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (2-9) at Hard Rock Stadium (1 p.m. ET, FOX).
This will be the Eagles’ first game away from Lincoln Financial Field in four weeks as their last road contest was against another AFC East team, the Buffalo Bills, back in Week 8.
Heading into that must-win game, Philadelphia was riding a two-game losing streak and needed a bounce-back win over the upstart Buffalo Bills.
The Eagles stepped up and defeated the Bills 31-13, leaning on the running game and defense. That being said, this Sunday’s game should be a tad bit easier for the reeling Eagles, whose offense is downright struggling.
Over their last two games, Philly’s offense has scored a total of 19 points and produced six turnovers. Simply put, that is not a recipe for winning football, no matter how well your defense is playing.
The Dolphins are also looking to snap their two-game losing streak which was extended by getting destroyed by Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, 41-22, last Sunday.
In that game, Miami’s defense allowed the Browns to rack up 467 yards of total offense. The previous week, the Dolphins got smoked by the Bills 37-20, in South Florida.
Can the Eagles offense find themselves in a must-win game to start the month of December? Or will the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Dolphins upset Philly and put their playoff hopes to bed?
To answer those questions and more, here are a few things to watch out for in this Week 13 matchup:
Will the real Eagles wide receivers please stand up?
If there is a game where Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and his wide receivers could get back on track, it’s this one against the struggling Dolphins defense.
Since Week 6, Miami’s defense has allowed opposing teams wide receivers to score 12 touchdowns. However, over that same period, Eagles wide receivers have only scored once. The lone touchdown reception happened in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings, courtesy of Alshon Jeffery.
Speaking of Jeffery, he missed his second consecutive game due to an ankle injury. But he and fellow receiver Nelson Agholor will be suiting up for Sunday’s game.
With their availability, there is no reason why the Eagles wide receivers cannot break out of their touchdown drought.
We already saw a glimpse of what Greg Ward Jr. can do last week against an improving Seattle pass defense. And with another week of practice, he could play an instrumental role too in this weekend’s game.
Not allowing Fitzpatrick to become Fitzmagic
The last time the Eagles took on a Fitzpatrick-led team was last season in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In that game, Fitzmagic — the legendary quarterback from Harvard — torched Philadelphia’s defense to the tune of 402 yards, an 81.8 completion percentage, four touchdowns and an interception. Tampa Bay ultimately defeated the Eagles, 37-31.
However, Fitzpatrick does not have the same weapons at his disposal that he had with the Buccaneers. This season, Fitzpatrick is only completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,901 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Then you add in a nonexistent running game, which is averaging a league-worst 63.2 yards per game, and you can see how and why Miami is struggling this season on offense.
It will not get easier for Fitzpatrick on Sunday as he faces an Eagles defense which has gotten healthy and improved its play over the last few weeks.
Getting Wentz back on track
In regards to Wentz, he is coming into this weekend’s matchup, trying to get past one of the worst games of his career against the Seahawks.
The former second overall pick completed 73.3 percent of his passes for 256 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also had three fumbles in last Sunday’s game at Lincoln Financial Field.
When you look at Wentz’s struggles over the last few weeks, they have been two-fold. Part of the blame falls on the coaching staff and wide receivers. But the other part falls on his shoulders as he is the franchise quarterback.
In the last two games, we’ve seen Wentz overthrowing receivers and or not taking what the defense is giving him. It also does not help that he was missing his starting running back, two wide receivers and two starting offensive linemen.
However, as previously alluded to, Wentz can get back on track against the Dolphins’ defense.
This season, Miami is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 64.8 percent of their passes while giving up 252.7 yards per game.
Therefore, if I am Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson, I am doing everything in my power to make sure Wentz is comfortable and in rhythm. If that means using more no-huddle to start the game, then do it.
If Philadelphia wants to make the playoffs and win the NFC East, it will be up to Wentz and the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff to figure things out.