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Eagles vs. Miami Dolphins: Final thoughts before kickoff

Eliot Shorr-Parks
December 01, 2019 - 6:47 am
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The Eagles are 60 minutes against a bad football team away from moving into a tie with the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East. 

They just can’t blow it. 

The Miami Dolphins are arguably the easiest opponent remaining on the schedule, and with the Cowboys losing the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving, the Eagles have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. A loss would not only be a blow to their playoff chances, but it would be the kind of demoralizing loss that would be very hard to recover from. 

Here are some final thoughts on the game before kickoff: 

Zach Ertz: The Eagles offense has been struggling, and the idea of them having to break out of their funk without tight end Zach Ertz should have fans worried. Ertz is the most important skill position player on the team, the most dependable player on offense and quarterback Carson Wentz’s safety net. If Ertz can’t play on Sunday due to a hamstring injury, it will be a bigger blow to the offense than the loss of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard combined. There is no getting around it or sugarcoating it — the fact Ertz will likely be dealing with this hamstring injury the rest of the season is very bad news. 

Ertz either not playing or playing injured puts even more pressure on backup tight end Dallas Goedert, who has been very inconsistent this season. The selection of Goedert in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft was a bit of a luxury pick, but now, the Eagles badly need him to step up and show why he was worthy of such a high selection. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Eagles’ defense has been playing at a very high level, and there isn’t much reason to think the Dolphins’ offense will put up much of a fight. The one wild card, however, is veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has average at best this season, but the Eagles know all-to-well how he is capable of putting up a big game out of nowhere. Last season Fitzpatrick picked the Eagles’ defense apart, throwing for 402 yards and four touchdowns in a win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Letting Fitzpatrick get going early on could be a recipe for disaster. 

Special Teams: If there is one are the Dolphins have an advantage over the Eagles in it is special teams. The Dolphins are 17th in special teams DVOA this season according to Football Outsiders, easily the best ranking of their main three units. The Eagles special teams unit is ranked 20th, a fitting ranking for what has been a disappointing unit for the last few seasons. Letting up a big play on special teams might be the Dolphins best way to pull off an upset. 

The Dolphins are bad: Sure, Fitzpatrick is a wild card. Yes, the Dolphins’ special teams have a slight advantage. Make no mistake about it, however — the Dolphins are a very bad football team. The Eagles have advantages all over the field, on both sides of the ball, and simply put they should be able to win this game by 14-plus points. 

Chance to build confidence: The Eagles have had a habit of playing down to their opponent this season. Uninspiring wins over the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears, although important, didn’t leave the team feeling good or give them any kind of spark. Sunday is a chance for the Eagles to not only collect a win, but to also build some confidence. A big day on offense is much needed, as is getting quarterback Carson Wentz out of his funk. A close win where the offense struggles will help them get to the playoffs, but it will be a wasted opportunity to really get rolling before this crucial stretch of the season. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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