Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is finally healthy. Having locked him up for the long haul, the Eagles are expecting big things from their franchise quarterback.
The 2019-20 Philadelphia Eagles are loaded with talent on offense and have a chip on their shoulders after last year’s playoff loss in New Orleans. The buzz in Philly is that this team is hyper-focused on bringing home another Lombardi. With Carson Wentz back at full health, expectations are high. Here are four games Wentz needs to win this season in order to help him meet and exceed those expectations.
Week 2 @ Atlanta Falcons
The Eagles and the Falcons have tangled in both the regular season and in the playoffs over the past two seasons, with Philadelphia winning both of those games. Getting an early conference win is always a good thing, and this game could have serious postseason ramifications. The Falcons struggled to a 7-9 record last season, but Matt Ryan is an MVP caliber quarterback, making the Falcons a perennial contender. Matt Ryan is what makes this game a must-win for Wentz. Prior to his 2017 ACL tear, Wentz was almost assuredly going to be dubbed MVP of the league. Getting an early season win against another MVP-caliber player will push Wentz to the top of the conversation.
Week 6 @ Minnesota Vikings
The Eagles have also sparred with the Vikings in the past two seasons, splitting the matchups. Of course, Philadelphia won the more important of the two in early 2018 when the Eagles defeated Minnesota 38-9 en route to an NFC title and an eventual Super Bowl Championship. This is yet another early season game that could determine playoff seeding for either team, but that is not what makes this game a must-win for Wentz. The location is. The last time Philadelphia played in Minnesota, the Eagles left U.S. Bank Stadium with a World Championship. Winning here in 2019 helps Wentz avoid some of the unavoidable comparisons he will endure this season. More on that later.
Week 9: Chicago Bears, Home
Chicago was a double-doink away from advancing in the 2018 playoffs. The Bears have spent the offseason retooling the kicking game and appear poised for another long playoff run this year. Chicago will no doubt be one of the teams that are contending for home field advantage in the playoffs, which is what makes this a must-win for Wentz. Home field advantage in the playoffs is a huge advantage for Philadelphia, as observed in the 2017 playoffs. Lincoln Financial Field in the postseason is a very difficult place to play. A head-to-head win over Chicago would change the playoffs dramatically for both teams.
Week 11: New England Patriots, Home
This is a must win for a couple of reasons. One: it’s the Patriots. New England has been the class of the NFL for almost two decades now, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Defeating New England raises the profile of any team, and at this point in the season, the Eagles will be poised to close out on a high note. There are fewer high notes than defeating New England. Reason two: Super Bowl LII. New England has not forgotten the upset loss the Eagles handed to them, evidenced by the preseason matchup prior to the 2018 season. New England played its starters longer than in any other preseason game that year and used exotic blitz packages typically not seen in the preseason. Wentz gets the chance to outshine one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game in this Week 11 matchup, pushing him closer to the expected MVP level of play.
The Hidden Opponent: The Unseen Spectre of Nick Foles
The underlying reason that these four games are must-wins for Carson Wentz should be clear by now. These four teams are the last four playoff teams that the Eagles faced in the past two postseasons. These four teams were not only defeated by Philadelphia, but by Nick Foles and Philadelphia. Carson Wentz was forced to watch Foles hoist the Lombardi Trophy and win the hearts of the fans. The quarterback debate raged most of last season and appeared to be a distraction to the team at times. Carson Wentz defeating the Falcons, Vikings, Bears, and Patriots will go a long way towards boosting his confidence as a quarterback and will silence the last of the Nick Foles allegiant. With such high expectations on him in Philadelphia this season, Carson Wentz must win these games.