The biggest reason for the Eagles’ magnificent turnaround in 2017 is pretty simple. They are just better than everybody else in the trenches, on both sides of the ball nonetheless. Though also outstanding on the offensive line, there is no doubt who the Eagles’ best pure talent is. That would be defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
He’s a disruptive wrecking ball in the middle of Jim Schwartz’s defense. Cox will be all that Raiders’ Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson can handle and then some. Then again, Hudson has been otherworldly in terms of pass protection in 2017. He has allowed only one pressure in 14 games in 2017. Keep in mind that the guy played in Week 15 with a kidney stone. The guy is tougher than nails.
But even toughness may not be enough to stop Cox. You can only hope to contain him. Hudson will be in charge of keeping the integrity of the Raiders’ pocket intact. He will obviously need help from his guards in Pro Bowler Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson. Vadal Alexander is forced into a tough spot this week, as he moves to right tackle to replace Marshall Newhouse who moves to left tackle to replace the injured Donald Penn.
Osemele may be the only Pro Bowl starter for the Silver and Black, but it has been Hudson who has been the Raiders’ offensive MVP this season. The Raiders might be out of the AFC playoff picture entirely before kickoff on Monday night, but look for Hudson to continue to shine, even if Cox tries to muddy things up in the trenches.