Eagles-Rams Thoughts: Two Potent Offenses, But Don't Rule Out Defensive Battle

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After spending the week in Los Angeles, it's time to find out whether the Eagles' trip was for business or pleasure, as they get set to face the Rams at the Coliseum on Sunday.

The Eagles never bothered coming home after their loss in Seattle, flying straight to LA instead to prepare for this pivotal intra-conference showdown. We'll find out if saving on some travel means the team is fresh and ready to play, or if there were a few too many distractions on the West Coast to focus on football.

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Of course, distractions can work both ways. Southern California wildfires altered the Rams' practice schedule this week, while there are reports Eagles fans are set to take over the Coliseum. So much for home-field advantage.

In other words, the Eagles have no excuse for coming home from this road trip without a victory – other than the Rams simply being the better football team in Week 14 of this NFL season.

Updating the playoff picture
The good news for the Eagles is they're almost certainly going to the playoffs regardless of Sunday's outcome. A win or a Cowboys loss over any of the remaining four weeks still secures a division title.

Beyond merely getting into the tournament, the Eagles' clash with the Rams has serious implications. With a 10-2 record, the Eagles have fallen behind the Vikings for the No. 1 seed in the postseason for the time being. Adding a loss to the 9-3 Rams might damage their shot at a first-round bye or home-field throughout beyond repair.

At the very least, the Eagles would need help, as the Rams would not only have the same record with three games to go, but would own the head-to-head tiebreaker as well.

The Eagles already need the Vikings to slip up in order to have any chance at the top seed. A loss in LA essentially shelves talk of a bye and home-field temporarily, perhaps permanently.

Lowered expectations? Not so fast
The question coming off a 24-10 defeat at the hands of the Seahawks is whether the Eagles are really that good to begin with, or if the team got fans' hopes up while preying on inferior competition.

The Eagles managed to win nine games in a row, but as you've no doubt heard, beat only one team with a record north of .500 along the way. From that perspective, they could use a quality win to prove they weren't exposed as frauds in Seattle. Or, maybe talk of earning one of the top two playoff seeds was misguided.

That's probably a little unfair, on two levels. First, the Eagles have knocked off multiple teams that are 6-6 (Cowboys, Chargers) or within a game of .500 (Redskins twice, Cardinals) – it's not like they play the 49ers every week. Furthermore, the Eagles are winning in convincing fashion, with an average margin of victory by 16.7 points.

Obviously, the Eagles will need to beat quality opponents in the playoffs, and proving they can do so now is not unimportant. But one loss to a tough Seahawks squad doesn't erase what the team has been able to accomplish up to this point, either.

If the Eagles lose in LA, we may need to adjust expectations accordingly, simply from the standpoint they will have been surpassed by multiple teams at that point. As of right now, on the other hand, they should still be considered very dangerous.

Will the real Eagles offense please stand up?
Here's something you don't see every day. Sunday will me a matchup between the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL and… the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. The Eagles and Rams are tied for first place, with both teams averaging 30.1 points per game.

But which Eagles offense is going to show up on Sunday? The unit behind multiple routs, or the group that posted only 10 points against the Seahawks?

Even in previous weeks, when the Eagles earned convincing wins, the offense struggled for long stretches. They had only seven points going into the locker room in Dallas before erupting for 30 in the second half, then did the reverse against the Bears, mustering only seven after the break. You could call it a slump.

The Eagles can't afford to spin their wheels in LA, although if it's any solace, the Rams' offense can be slowed and even halted, too. They were also held to 10 points by the Seahawks earlier this season, and recently scored only seven against the Vikings.

Is it possible a matchup of the most prolific offenses in the NFL will devolve into a defensive showdown? Don't rule it out.

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