Category Archives: Philadelphia Eagles

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles are the first top seed in NFL history to enter its opening playoff game as an underdog.

According to standout defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, it’s just another example of this Eagles team not getting its proper respect.

“We’ve been disrespected all year,” he said. “Our record can speak for itself. We’re a team that’s been disrespected week in and week out, and we just come out and ring the bell every week.”

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook set the opening line at minus-2.5 in favor of the sixth-seeded Falcons, who upset the Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card round to advance.

Since 1975, when the NFL began basing home-field advantage on teams’ regular-season winning percentage, no No. 1 seed has ever been an underdog in its first playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Until now.

“It just puts a bigger chip on our shoulder and just adds fuel to the fire, and that’s what this team, obviously, has been going off of all year,” Cox said, “people doubting us every week. So we just want to go out and shut those doubters up.”

Westgate Superbook oddsmaker Ed Salmons estimates the Eagles could have been as much as a 6.5-point favorite over the Falcons with a healthy Carson Wentz. The fact that Wentz is out with a torn ACL is clearly having a major impact on public perception. So, too, has the recent play of backup Nick Foles. He’s 23-of-49 (47 percent) for 202 yards with a TD over his past five quarters of work.

Following a Christmas night win over the Oakland Raiders, in which Foles and the offense struggled, right tackle Lane Johnson faced a string of questions about his unit’s down play despite the fact that the Eagles had just improved to 13-2. He later told reporters that he was done talking for the year, but he rescinded that a week later after he’d cooled off.

“Obviously I wasn’t happy with the way we performed, but then again, we are where we are and it’s kind of, nothing is ever good enough,” he said last week. “There’s kind of pros and cons to it. I think it’s a good motivator. It’ll piss you off and get a lot of guys fired up, and that’s what it did for me.”

Not everyone is using external forces as motivation. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz insists he has no idea in a given week whether his team is a favorite or underdog, and he’s not going to start paying attention to that now.

“The game’s going to be about preparing well, the game’s going to be about executing on Saturday,” he said, “and the teams that do that the best are going to win, not the team that got picked by the most number of analysts or experts or what the simulation games say or any of that stuff. That has zero bearing on the game for us.”

But it is serving as good bulletin-board material for some.

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Two days after hauling in a team-high seven receptions and a touchdown, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess was held out of Tuesday’s practice with a knee injury. Funchess was also a non-participant on Monday, reportedly walking around the locker room with ice on his knees.

Carolina, which hosts the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, is already playing without tight end Greg Olsen. Funchess has caught 14 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns in the past two weeks and leads all Panthers wide receivers with 24 receptions on the season, second to only running back Christian McCaffrey (27) on the team.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Panthers coach Ron Rivera did not seem concerned about Funchess’ status for Thursday.

Rivera also said he anticipates cornerbacks James Bradberry (calf) and Daryl Worley (ankle) will play despite not practicing.

Offensive lineman Ryan Kalil (neck) still has not fully returned to practice but is working with trainers on the side.

In other Panthers injury news, offensive tackle Matt Kalil (ankle), defensive end Julius Peppers (shoulder), quarterback Cam Newton (right shoulder) and running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle).

Here are other injuries we’re tracking Tuesday:

1. Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the season. The 12-year veteran had 18 receptions in his first year with the Giants.

Teammate Odell Beckham underwent surgery to repair a broken ankle sustained in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers.

2. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did not practice Tuesday after suffering an AC joint sprain in his non-throwing shoulder, a source informed NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Brady, who has played through the injury in the past, has said he’ll play Sunday versus the New York Jets. Brady was sacked three times last Thursday by Tampa Bay and took several other hits in the Patriots’ win.

3. Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) was a full participant Tuesday. Cox has missed the past two games. Cox told reporters he was not sure yet if he would play Thursday against the Panthers.

4. Bears linebacker John Timu, carted off Monday night against the Vikings, has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and will be out 2 to 4 weeks, Rapoport reported.

5. An MRI revealed no new injury for Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (knee), who could miss Sunday’s game versus the Packers. Minnesota trainer Eric Sugarman said Bradford has wear and tear on his knee joint related to his two previous surgeries.

Sugarman also said quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) will be re-evaluated Monday. Bridgewater, who’s been out since the 2016 offseason, is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list next week.

6. In non injury news, the San Franciso 49ers added depth to their secondary by signing veteran cornerback Leon Hall. In order to make room on the roster, the team placed cornerback Asa Jackson on injured reserve.