By Eliot Shorr-Parks | NJ Advance Media for

After taking Monday and Tuesday off, the Eagles will get back to work on Wednesday as they start to prepare for their first home playoff game since 2013.

Who the Eagles will play is not yet known, but one thing is clear -- there is a much different feeling around this team than there used to be.

The Eagles might be 2-1 since quarterback Carson Wentz went down, but the struggles of quarterback Nick Foles have caused many fans and analysts to view the No. 1 seed in the NFC as a long shot to win in the playoffs.

If you are looking for reasons to be optimistic, however, are are 10 reasons the Eagles are still capable of winning a playoff game:


In the NFL, you either need to have a quarterback, or be able to stop the opposing team's quarterback. The Eagles used to have both, but even with Wentz gone, they still have one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.

Even though they average just two sacks a game, the Eagles' pass rush has been altering opposing game plans all season. Opposing offenses have routinely tried to attack the Eagles' defense by getting the ball out quick, which prevents them from standing in the pocket long enough to go down the field.

With defensive end Brandon Graham, rookie Derek Barnett, veteran Chris Long and the defensive tackle duo of Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan, the Eagles have multiple players the opposing offensive line has to game plan for.


The Eagles have suffered through plenty of injuries this season, but one thing has remained consistent -- a dominant run defense.

Even after allowing 129 yards in a meaningless game last Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles are still tops in the NFL against the run, allowing only 79.2 yards-per-game on the ground.

Going into a game knowing that they will be able to make the opposing offense one dimensional should make it much easier for the Eagles to game plan for any opposing offense -- even the high-powered ones that might be coming to Philadelphia like the New Orleans Saints or the Los Angeles Rams.


The Eagles defense has been stingy all season when it comes to allowing points on the scoreboard. The unit finished the season fourth in the NFL in points allowed, surrendering an average of just 18.4 points per game during the regular season.

After a poor outing against the Giants in Week 15, the Eagles' defense has rebounded the last two weeks, allowing a total of just 16 points against the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys.

When the Eagles are playing up to their potential on defense, it will be hard for any opposing offense to score on them.


Taking care of the ball is key in the playoffs, and throughout the season, the Eagles have done an excellent job of both taking the ball away from the opposing team and not committing turnovers.

On the season the Eagles have 31 takeaways, good for fourth in the NFL, and have committed just 20 turnovers. The plus-11 turnover differential is fourth best in the NFL, and second best among the teams that qualified for the postseason.


No, Foles is not the quarterback that Wentz is. That much has been clear the last three weeks.

What Foles does have on Wentz, however, is that he has played in the postseason before -- and played well.

Foles has already started a playoff game at home for the Eagles, back in 2013, when he went 23-of-33 for 195 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against the New Orleans Saints. Although the Eagles lost the game, Foles brought the team back, got them the lead in the second half and was not the reason they lost the game.

How Wentz would have responded to the bright lights of the playoffs is unknown, but Foles has shown he is capable of stepping his game up when the postseason begins.


The Eagles will enter the postseason with home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and that could end up being the main reason they are able to advance to the Super Bowl.

Excluding a meaningless Week 17 game, the Eagles are undefeated at Lincoln Financial Field this season, and are 14-2 over the last two seasons since head coach Doug Pederson took over. They have played some of their best football at Lincoln Financial Field, with some of their biggest wins both this season and last season coming at home.

Add in the fact that three of the other five teams in the NFC playoffs play in a dome (and the other two play in warm-weather states) and the Eagles' home-field advantage is a big deal heading into the postseason.


The other teams in the NFC playoffs might have a better quarterback than the Eagles do, but that might not matter when they come to Philadelphia.

There are three possible opponents for the Eagles in their first playoff game -- the New Orleans Saints, the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons.

The combined road playoff record of Saints' Drew Brees, Panthers' Cam Newton and Falcons' Matt Ryan? 1-7.


The Eagles have held mostly walkthrough practices the last two weeks, an effort by Pederson to get the team some rest this late in the season. That will be changing, however, with the regular season now over.

"I think they understand that there is a sense of physicality that we have to get back to. I'm not saying we're not there because obviously football is a physical game, but I think there is a sense over the course of a few weeks when you've been in shells, pad level begins to rise, and intensity sometimes can be minimized," Pederson said. "So you get back into pads and it sort of refocuses the guys a little bit. It's not like we're going to tackle. It's not a training-camp-type-of practice. The fact of just having them on, banging around on one another, but still protecting each other, I think can be a nice asset for us going into our first game."

Getting back to a full, regular week of practice could be the spark the Eagles need to rebound from their last three lackluster performances.


The Eagles have done an excellent job running the ball this season, and finished the regular season ranked third in the NFL with an average of 132.2 yards per game on the ground.

Running the ball could be the key to getting Foles going, as it is clear that opposing team's plan against the Eagles offense the last three weeks has been to stack the box and make Foles beat them. So far, he hasn't been able to.

With some success on the ground, however, that could change in the playoffs -- and the Eagles have the personnel to be successful on the ground against anyone they face.


The quarterback that got them the No. 1 seed might no longer be there, but recent history shows that it is tough to knock out the top seed in their first game.

Over the last four years, the No. 1 seeds in both the AFC and NFC are 7-1 in their first playoff game, with the only loss coming last season when the Dallas Cowboys losing to the red-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The record is not as great over the last 10 years, however, with the No. 1 seeds going just 12-8.

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