The Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars will play Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET) at Wembley Stadium in London. Here are a scouting report and prediction.
The Eagles are coming off one of their poorest rushing performances of the season. They were held to 2.4 yards per carry by a Panthers defense that had been allowing 4.6. Wendell Smallwood had a couple of nice third-quarter runs, including an 8-yard gain on a third-and-6 on the Eagles' final scoring drive. But that was pretty much it. He gained 14 yards on his other seven carries, and Corey Clement managed just 6 yards on eight carries. Smallwood is a decent runner, but has limited vision and change-of-direction ability. The Eagles finally green-lighted Carson Wentz for QB sneaks vs. the Panthers, and he converted two fourth-and-1s.
The Jaguars are 12th in the league in opponents' rushing average (4.2 yards per carry), but sixth on first down, holding teams to 3.9 yards per carry. Opponents are averaging nearly 30 carries a game vs. the Jags, but that's mainly because teams have been jumping out to early leads against them and playing ground-and-pound.
Carson Wentz has been relying heavily on Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. Perhaps too heavily. He has targeted them on 53.2 percent of his attempts in the last four games, including 21 of 37 passes in Sunday's loss to the Panthers. The Eagles have 62 passing first downs in the last four games, and Ertz and Jeffery have 41 of them. The problem is, Doug Pederson's offense always has worked best when Wentz has spread the ball around, and that's not happening.
Wentz is seventh in the league in passing with a 108.1 rating and a 70.8 completion percentage. But he hasn't been as good on third down and in the red zone as he was last year when he led the league in passing in both categories. He completed just 2 of 7 passes on third down last week.
The Jags' pass rush hasn't been quite as dominant as it was last year when it had a league-best 55 sacks, but it's still very good. All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey figures to shadow Alshon Jeffery most of the game. Jags have allowed just six TD passes in seven games.
The Jags, who led the league in rushing last season, are 23rd this year. Their top back, Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 1,082 yards as a rookie, injured a hamstring in Week 1 and hasn't played since. Carlos Hyde, acquired last week from the Browns, will make his Jags debut Sunday. The 6-foot, 229-pound Hyde is a downhill runner with explosive power.
Like the Panthers' Cam Newton, Jags QB Blake Bortles is a big part of his team's run game. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and has 16 rushing first downs on 32 carries. Jacksonville is 22nd in the league in first-down rushing (3.86 yards per carry).
The Eagles' run defense has developed some cracks, and DE Derek Barnett's season-ending shoulder injury isn't going to help that any. The Panthers averaged 7.1 yards per carry against them last week. In their last two games, the Eagles have been gashed to the tune of 9.5 yards per carry on first down.
Blake Bortles is in his fifth season in the league, but continues to be inconsistent. He is 28th in passing (80.3), 25th in yards per attempt (6.97), and 29th in completion percentage (60.6). He has nine TD passes and eight interceptions. He was benched in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to Houston after losing two fumbles and completing just 6 of 12 passes for 61 yards, but he will start this Sunday.
Bortles doesn't have a lot of pass-catching weapons. He lost his top wideout in the preseason when Marquise Lee injured his knee. The Jaguars' top two TEs — Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Niles Paul — both are out.
The Jags will be facing an Eagles defense that has its own injury problems. Safety Rodney McLeod (knee) and Derek Barnett (shoulder) are out for the season. Slot corner Sidney Jones will miss his second straight game (hamstring). Cam Newton threw for 202 yards in Sunday's fourth-quarter collapse. More than half those yards came after the catch.
DeAndre Carter has done a nice job subbing for Darren Sproles on punt returns. He is averaging 11.4 yards on nine returns and has yet to fair-catch a punt. He'll have his work cut out Sunday against a Jaguars punt-coverage unit that is ranked second in the league (3.7). Dede Westbrook is handling punt returns for the Jags. He had a 21-yard return Sunday vs. Houston, but overall, Jacksonville is 25th in punt-return average (5.6).
Eagles punter Cam Johnston is first in the league in gross average (49.7) and second in net average (44.0), but half his punts have been returned. Jags rookie punter Logan Cooke is 23rd in net average (38.0), but has seen just 13 of 35 punts returned. Jake Elliott has made 11 of 15 FG attempts. His longest this season has been a 46-yarder (Sunday vs. Carolina). Jags kicker Josh Lambo is 8-for-8 on FG attempts this year and made 19 of 20 last year. He has a 54-yarder this year. The Jags are 30th in kickoff-return average (16.1).
The Jaguars seem to have this whole London thing down pretty well. This will be their sixth trip over there. They've won three in a row and scored 108 points in those three games. So jet lag apparently doesn't bother their offense. We'll see if the Eagles' pass rush does.
Jaguars 17, Eagles 13
Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey: Jeffery has 25 receptions and 4 TDs in four games since returning from shoulder surgery. Ramsey, a first-team All-Pro, is expected to shadow Jeffery most of the game.
Eagles DT Fletcher Cox vs. Jaguars C Brandon Linder and RG A.J. Cann. Linder and Cann are solid blockers with 102 combined starts. But Cox has been a disruptive force inside all season.
Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Jaguars RDE Calais Campbell: Peters is nursing quadriceps and biceps injuries and is nowhere close to 100 percent. He struggled last week against Carolina. Campbell, had 14 ½ sacks last year and has four this year.
Eagles: WR Alshon Jeffery/TE Zach Ertz. They've combined for 61 receptions and six TDs in the last four games.
Jaguars: CB Jalen Ramsey. He has been targeted 35 times this season and has allowed just 18 completions for 226 yards and one TD.
Eagles: RB Corey Clement. He rushed for just 6 yards on eight carries in the loss to the Panthers.