While the Philadelphia Eagles were favored going into their home game against Denver, nearly everyone thought that the Broncos defense would pose a formidable challenge for Carson Wentz. Even though Denver’s offense has struggled, Von Miller (8 sacks) and friends were still statistically one of the best defenses in the league.
The challenge never materialized. The Eagles blew past the Broncos with relative ease, finishing with a 51-23 decision that wasn’t even that close. In the process, Wentz solidified his MVP bona fides, pushing his touchdown total to 23 through nine games. Head coach Doug Pederson can throw Philly’s 8-1 record and playoff front-runner standing back in his critics’ faces.
So, who were the other winners (and one loser) from the blowout?
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles Run Defense
Heading into the week, a lot was made of the fact that, while Philadelphia was leading the league in rushing yards allowed, the Broncos were better in yards allowed per rushing play. Evidently, that became bulletin board material in the Eagles defensive meeting room.
Philadelphia limited Denver to 35 yards on 19 carries, which comes out to 1.8 yards per carry. By comparison, the Eagles rushed for nearly 200 yards and averaged more than 5 yards a carry against the vaunted Broncos D.
Winner: Brent Celek
It’s easy to forget just how good Brent Celek was for a long time in Philadelphia. With Zach Ertz unable to go after pulling a hamstring during the week, Celek got into the spirit of turning back the clock on the day that Daylight Savings Time came to an end.
Celek wasn’t spectacular, but along with fellow tight end Trey Burton, they managed to replicate the production that Wentz normally relies on Ertz for. The duo combined for seven catches for 80 yards and a score (Burton).
Ertz will be back after the bye, but it was a reminder that his fellow tight ends are more than capable of carrying some of the load.
Winner: Jay Ajayi
On his way out the door from Miami, there was no shortage of whispers about why the Dolphins were giving up on a Pro Bowl running back. The nicest rumors had to do with the health of his knees. The worst inferred that Ajayi was locker room cancer.
To punish the former Boise State star, Miami traded him to the team with the best record in the NFL. Working with only a handful of plays, Ajayi managed to score his first touchdown of the year on a 46-yard dash.
He’s going to have to share carries, at least for the rest of this season, and that still might be a challenge for a back who’s used to being “the man.” Still, he should send Miami head coach Adam Gase a nice gift basket for exiling him to a contender.
Winner: Corey Clement
With Ajayi joining the backfield, someone was going to take a step back. Turns out that Clement, the undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin, won’t be the one.
The rookie scored three touchdowns, including one on a 15-yard toss from Wentz.
Clement actually led the team in touches out of the backfield, a situation that surely won’t happen often with Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount around. Still, it shows just how far he’s come since the beginning of training camp.
Winner: Alshon Jeffery
Coming into the season, Alshon Jeffery was meant to give Wentz a true number one receiver to work with. In practice, however, the former Chicago Bear has been just okay.
On Sunday, though, Jeffery finally looked like what fans had in mind after the Eagles signed him. The wideout finished with 84 yards on six catches and found the end zone twice.
Perhaps more importantly, he faced off against Denver’s accomplished cornerbacks, Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, and won those match-ups. If Jeffery syncs up with Wentz like this consistently, the Eagles offense becomes nearly unstoppable.
Loser: Brock Osweiler
It was an odd path that led to Osweiler starting on Sunday. The former Denver second-round pick famously spurred the team’s offer in the wake of their Super Bowl victory to sign a giant free agent contract with Houston.
As we all know, that was a disaster that led to the Texans trading the quarterback to Cleveland just to get rid of his contract. Adding insult to injury, the Browns just ate the money and cut him.
Back where his career started, Osweiler had a chance to reclaim some measure of respect. Unfortunately, the latest Denver incarnation looked a lot like the Houston version.
Osweiler completed just 50-percent of his passes and tossed a pair of interceptions. He did help Demaryius Thomas find the end zone for the first time this season but that was a hollow victory.
John Elway should be thanking his lucky stars that Osweiler opted to turn down that contract offer since now he can potentially sign a legitimate starting quarterback in free agency next offseason.