N.F.L. Playoffs: Eagles Are a Rare Top-Seeded Underdog

Philadelphia had already secured home-field advantage before being shut out in Week 17 against Dallas, so an uninspired performance on that day can be excused. But to understand how little ball movement the Eagles generated under Foles, an instructive statistic is his adjusted yards per attempt, which accounts for the effect of interceptions. Among the 46 quarterbacks who attempted 50 or more passes this season, Foles’s adjusted average of 5.42 yards per attempt ranked 38th. His average was not only worse than that of every quarterback in the playoffs, but he also found himself ranked lower than players like Tom Savage, C.J. Beathard and Trevor Siemian, each of whom lost their starting jobs despite playing for non-contenders.

Coach Doug Pederson has tried to remain upbeat about Philadelphia’s ability to win without Wentz, and told reporters that getting a chance to go over film of Foles’s more successful stints in the past had given the team a blueprint for success.

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In 2013, Foles looked like an emerging star. He went 8-2 as a starter, including a 49-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders in which he threw for 406 yards and seven touchdowns.

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Brian Bahr/Getty Images

“My message to Nick is, ‘Listen, you have a great opportunity. Just go be Nick. Go play. Let’s go execute the offense,’” Pederson said.

For Foles, that most likely means focusing on film from the 2013 season, when he burst onto the scene as an ideal fit with Coach Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia. In 10 starts that year, Foles went 8-2, leading the N.F.L. with 10.54 adjusted yards per attempt. He threw 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions, earning a Pro Bowl appearance and making people quickly forget Michael Vick, who had been ineffective earlier that season before a hamstring injury sent him to the bench.

Foles followed up his strong 2013 regular season with a…

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