(CBS)- The Eagles, despite a loss to the Steelers last week, remain very much alive in the NFC East race. Part of the reason for that is the unfortunate injury to Dak Prescott in Dallas that will keep him out the rest of the season. The other part is an offense that has looked to have a bit more life the last two weeks.
As the team begins to see some players return from injuries, like receivers DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor, there’s reason to believe that progress can continue moving forward. For The NFL Today’s Bill Cowher, he believes the team will continue that improvement.
“I think they’re going to get better as the season goes along and almost I think they’ll become better because of what they’re going through early on in this season,” said Cowher in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “The biggest thing is, you’re playing in a division right now where you’re not losing much ground and no one is really taking control of this division.”
In order for the Eagles to turn things around, however, they will still need better play from quarterback Carson Wentz who threw for a pair of touchdowns last week but took five sacks and threw two interceptions bringing his season total to nine, the second-highest total of his career. His 4.6% interception rate is double that of his rookie season.
More Eagles Coverage:
- Philadelphia Eagles Allowing Fans Back At Lincoln Financial Field After City Gives New Guidance On Gatherings
- How To Get Philadelphia Eagles Tickets For 2020 Season
- Don Bell Says Ravens ‘Physicality’ Will Be Too Much For Eagles To Handle
But, Cowher has praise for Wentz, calling him a “resilient quarterback” and complimenting his competitiveness and fiery nature. Channeling that into better production offensively will only get tougher this week as the Baltimore Ravens come to town.
At 4-1, the Ravens still can’t afford to lose this Sunday as the rival Browns and Steelers each have four wins to their name so far this season. Lamar Jackson hasn’t had quite the same flash that he did in his MVP season last year, leading some in Baltimore to wonder if they should be worried.
One area that has been markedly different this season for Baltimore is in pass protection. Jackson took 23 sacks all of last season and through five games he’s already taken 12. The Ravens rank 21st in the league in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate and 13th in ESPN’s pass block win rate (61%). The Eagles defensive line, by contrast, ranks 8th in Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate and fourth in ESPN’s pass rush win rate (51%). If the Eagles can force passing downs, the line could take advantage.
That’s easier said than done however against a Ravens offense that likes to punish opponents with the running game. Baltimore is averaging over five yards per carry this season (5.6) and has racked up over 800 yards on the ground thanks to the combination of Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. The Eagles have struggled at times stopping opponents on the ground this season, most notably against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.
That matchup of Jackson and the run game against the Eagles front four is the one Cowher is keyed in on come Sunday.
“To me, it’s Lamar going against this defensive front and this defense,” said Cowher. “This offense of Baltimore’s is based on running the football. That sets up everything else. It sets up the play action, the deep balls to Marquise Brown, and other things they like to do. So, I think the defensive front going against this offensive line and this running game of the Baltimore Ravens is the matchup I’m looking at.”
The Eagles host the Ravens Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field with kickoff set for 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.