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Could the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 title defense be cut short with injuries plaguing the team to start the season? All eyes are on quarterback Carson Wentz for his status heading into Week 1, and we’ll officially know if he’ll start when head coach Doug Pederson announces it as early as Friday.
Wentz is still recovering from a season-ending ACL injury and has been limited in practice, splitting time with backup Nick Foles, who was able to carry the team to a Super Bowl title. Foles also had a scare with a shoulder injury earlier in the preseason, but that seems to be in the rear-view mirror for now.
However, Foles’ most recent preseason appearance was anything but confidence-inspiring. Completing 13-of-17 passes for over 100 yards seems decent initially, but he turned it over three times (two picks, one lost fumble) and took a safety. Rotoworld points out it’s now ten drives this preseason where Foles hasn’t put points on the board. While signs are pointing to Wentz’s return on time under center, let’s figure out what could happen if he’s out.
The first four games on the docket for the Eagles are as follows: home opener against Atlanta on Thursday, at Tampa Bay, Indianapolis at home, and at Tennessee. It’s mandatory for the team to start off with at least a 2-2 record; ESPN notes that since 1990, teams only have a 14 percent chance of making the postseason if they start 1-3.
While the first quarter of the season is bookended by tougher opponents, Philadelphia will get the benefit of heading to Tampa Bay without the hosts having their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, who is serving a suspension. Unless Andrew Luck is gunning it around and the Colts start off strong, they don’t seem like an overwhelming threat when the Eagles host them.
Without question, Atlanta will be the toughest opponent on this schedule, and that could be a loss regardless of who’s under center. Lead running back Jay Ajayi hasn’t been on the field for at least a week with a lower-body injury. Similar injuries have hit projected backup Corey Clement and wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Let’s not forget Alshon Jeffery is gone for at least two games with his shoulder issues.
It’s weird to tap out in a season opener, but for the benefit of the team over the long run, it might be best to sit Wentz for at least a week even if he was healthy enough to go. They could also take an extra week and limit action for players that are dealing with nagging injuries. Assuming the running game can get back together over the next two weeks, they should be fine if Foles continues to take the reigns.
Where this will all culminate is in Tennessee, where many of the playmakers should be back to full force. If Foles is the leader under center and comes in with back-to-back victories, there’s a better chance he can pull off the win with that momentum. Regardless, even if they lose, they would be at 2-2. Between 1990 and 2013, over a third of those teams still made the postseason