It's easy to gloss over a mid-season game between two three-win teams in a non-conference contest, but Sunday's meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders could be one of this week's most fascinating games.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has a point to prove since questions have been raised about whether or not his offense has been decoded by opposing defenses. Kelly has (for lack of a better term) a chip on his shoulder and will be looking to make a statement against an underrated Oakland Raiders defense that has quietly become a top unit.
Meet the Oakland Raiders
Eight weeks are in the books and it's still unclear who Terrelle Pryor is. A dearth of offensive weapons has made him the team's focal point and the result is mostly good. There are passes he'd want back, as is the case with most young quarterbacks, but he's still completing over 60 percent of his passes behind an offensive line unable to give him adequate protection. Factor in Pryor's team-leading rushing yards and you have a player that is unpredictable, but capable of gashing opposing defenses like he did on a 93-yard touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pryor has been the focal point for obvious reasons, but the Raiders' 10th-ranked defense isn't getting enough credit. They're allowing just 330.9 yards and 21.4 points per game, both falling in the league's upper echelon. With more help on the offensive side of the ball there's a good chance this team could be 5-2 right now, rather than 3-4.
Meet the Philadelphia Eagles
File "they can't wait to get Nick Foles back" among the oddest mid-season statements you never would have heard prior to the regular season. Perhaps it's coincidence that the Eagles were 2-0 with Foles as a starter, but the switch at quarterback prompted some much-needed reliability at the position. He may not have the big-play potential or athleticism of Michael Vick, but Foles took care of the football and allowed the offense to find big plays itself, rather than force them.
Defense is where this team is a mess. The Eagles are allowing more than 400 yards and 26 points per game. Philadelphia also ranks 25th in sacks. It's a combination that makes it impossible for the offense to keep up, no matter how well it moves the football. Compound this with a poor third-down conversion rate on offense and it's easy to see why this team has dropped its last two games.
Local Takes: Silver And Black Pride
Levi Damien from Silver and Black Pride explained why past failed deals could have caused the Raiders to stand pat at the trade deadline.
The last time the Raiders made moves at the trade deadline was 2011 when Hue Jackson put together two trades, sending a first and second round pick to the Bengals in exchange for quarterback Carson Palmer and sending a fifth and seventh round pick to the Seahawks in exchange for Aaron Curry. Neither deal worked in the Raiders' favor.
Local Takes: Bleeding Green Nation
Mark Saltveit of Bleeding Green Nation looked at the links between Chip Kelly and Raiders quarterback Terrell Pryor.
Chip Kelly had wanted Pryor for the Ducks, and lobbied him hard even as Offensive Coordinator. "Chip Kelly, he can recruit like crazy," Terrelle told the Oregonian newspaper in 2009, but Ohio State was much closer to his home town of Jeannette, Pennsylvania and Jim Tressel lured him to Columbus.
Follow the Fun
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Is Dennis Allen coaching himself out of a job? http://t.co/DpLlRyEwMl— S&B Pride's Editors (@silverandblackp) October 29, 2013
If Foles is cleared this week, then I would say it's a no brainer that he starts Sunday— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) October 28, 2013
SB Nation's NFL experts were close to split on this game with three picking Oakland and two favoring the Eagles.
This game is one of the closest of the weekend as the Raiders are favored by just one point, according to Odds Shark.