The Week 16 finale between the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles features two teams that are absolutely loaded on both sides of the trenches.
There are only two weekends left of NFL regular season football in 2017. For teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s all about soaring through the NFC playoffs to reach Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. With teams like the Oakland Raiders, it’s about righting the sinking ship in the final weeks of the season before a long winter. These two NFL teams will clash in the Week 16 finale on Christmas Day on Monday Night Football.
While Philadelphia is looking towards home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, Oakland just hopes it won’t be eliminated from playoff contention before kickoff. Sadly, they probably will, as the Baltimore Ravens should handle the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of Week 16.
Nevertheless, this rare regular season meeting between the Raiders and the Eagles features some of the very best pass rushers, defensive interior players and offensive linemen you’d ever hope to find on an NFL gridiron. Regardless of where each team is heading, this will be a great game to watch the trenches intently. My goodness, are there some players on these two teams.
Combined, these two teams are sending 10 players to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl. Philadelphia will be sending six if the Eagles don’t make it to the Super Bowl. Oakland is still sending four players to Orlando, even in a down year for the franchise.
For the Eagles, three of their Pro Bowls play with their hands in the dirt: right tackle Lane Johnson, right guard Brandon Brooks and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. One could easily argue that center Jason Kelce got robbed of a Pro Bowl nod, too. Defensive end Brandon Graham should be in Orlando, too. There are cases to be made for defensive end Vinny Curry and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan as well.
In short, the Eagles are so loaded as a football team, it’s ridiculous. The star power on Doug Pederson‘s team is off the charts. However, the Eagles will have to win their first Super Bowl without breakout star quarterback Carson Wentz, who suffered a torn ACL two weeks ago in Los Angeles.
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As for the Raiders, yes, this has been a down year for the team. However, all four of their Pro Bowlers make their living in the trenches. Oakland sent all three of its star offensive linemen in left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Kelechi Osemele and center Rodney Hudson to Orlando. That being said, Penn won’t be able to go, as he suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 15’s home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Then there is defensive end pass-rushing superstar that is Khalil Mack for the Raiders. While he’s not a front-runner or really even a contender for Defensive Player of the Year, his reputation precedes himself. Mack is a bona fide superstar as one of the few transcendent talents in NFL front-sevens.
So if you take these seven Pro Bowlers out of the equation, we’re still left with a bunch of high-end ball players have great years inside the tackle box. Oakland has six Pro Bowl alternates including right guard Gabe Jackson and running back Marshawn Lynch. Most teams would love for guys like defensive end Chris Long and running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to be on their teams.
Overall, NFL fans will have a real treat on Monday night to cap off their Christmas holiday. The Raiders and Eagles will surely give us great offensive line play, some great pass rushing and hopefully a few great runs from these signature tailbacks. Let’s just hope the Raiders keep this one competitive.