Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders: Five Players, Five Things to Watch

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COMMENTARY | There's not much of a history between the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders. They've only met 11 times with the Raiders winning six. The last time was a Raiders win in Oakland in 2009. It was decided by, of all things, a JaMarcus Russell touchdown pass.


Of course, there was that one game …

The first time the Eagles ever reached the Super Bowl, they played the Raiders. January 26, 1981, and it was an embarrassment. Led by ageless quarterback Jim Plunkett, Oakland jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 27-10 rout that even wasn't that close. Plunkett was the most valuable player for the Super Bowl XV at the Louisiana Superdome, although it should have gone to linebacker Rod Martin, who intercepted three Ron Jaworski passes.

It's been 32 years now, so it's not likely that Super Bowl will stir up too many memories when the Eagles meet the Raiders Sunday at O.co Coliseum in Oakland (4 p.m., televised by FOX).

The Eagles enter this game at 3-5 having lost last Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field to the New York Giants. They've lost all four home games this season, also falling to the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys. Philadelphia has won three of four road games, defeating the Giants, Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers while losing to the Denver Broncos.

The Raiders enter the game at 3-4 with home wins over the Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. They've lost to the Chiefs, Broncos and Indianapolis Colts on the road, as well as the Redskins at home.

5 Players to Watch

Nick Foles, Eagles - He's back as starting quarterback after being on the sidelines last Sunday with a concussion. His replacement, Michael Vick, aggravated an injured hamstring and is out indefinitely. Foles returns by necessity despite an awful performance against Dallas two weeks ago.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders - He's become one of the more unlikely success stories in NFL history. Driven out of the Ohio State University by a scandal that also cost head coach Jim Tressell his job, Pryor arrived in Oakland with little fanfare and no expectations. Through injuries and attrition, he got his chance. He's performed well in winning two of the last three games and appears to be the latest read-option quarterback to make a name for himself.

Mychal Kendricks, Eagles - Criticize the Philadelphia defense all you want, you're entitled to given its second-last in the NFL in yards allowed and giving up just under four touchdowns per game. But they have some darn good linebackers, and Kendricks is among them. The second-year California University product has 56 tackles in eight games, has recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Lamarr Houston, Raiders - The defensive end out of the University of Texas anchors one of the better defenses the Eagles will have faced this season. Oakland is ranked fifth in the NFL in yardage allowed, only giving up 90 rushing yards per game. When you pass, you have to deal with Houston, who has four sacks, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

Alex Henery, Eagles - The Eagles have passed on some long field-goal attempts by Henery in recent weeks, and being that the third-year kicker out of the University of Nebraska has missed half of his eight attempts from beyond 40 yards, maybe that shouldn't be much of a surprise. But he has hit on all 10 attempts inside 40 yards and is perfect on extra points as well.

5 Things to Watch

The Black Hole - Raider fans are notorious for how crazy they can be at the Coliseum, and how hard they can make it for opponents. They have their own YouTube channel and Facebook page. Trust me, seeing is believing.

Eagles offense - It's done nothing the past two weeks under three different quarterbacks. The Eagles started out the season moving the ball up and down the field and stalling in the red zone. In the last two games, they've just stalled period.

Terrelle's feet - This is the first really mobile quarterback the Eagles have faced this season. You can't count Robert Griffin III in Week 1 because with his knee problems, he didn't - and still hasn't - run like the RG3 of last year. Pryor will run and run well, the Eagles will have to deal with that.

The scoreboard - Hard as it may be to believe, if the Eagles win this game and the Cowboys lose to the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia and Dallas will be tied for the lead in National Football Conference East. It's been a strange season.

The clock - No, not the clock on the FOX scoreboard on your TV screen. I'm talking about that battery-powered clock you have hanging on the wall. If you don't turn it back before you go to bed Saturday and look at it to time the opening kickoff, you'll probably be tuning in just before halftime.

Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.

Statistics:

ESPN.com

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