As the top two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will forever be compared. This week, the two rising stars play against each other for the first time. Rather unexpectedly, the stakes will be very high. Wentz and the 10-2 Eagles will travel to Los Angeles to battle Goff and the 9-3 Rams in a game with crucial ramifications for the NFC playoff picture. If the Eagles win, they will keep pace or potentially move past the Minnesota Vikings for the top seed. If the Rams win, they will move past the Eagles into the second seed and secure the head to head tiebreaker, which they also have over the 9-3 New Orleans Saints.
Obviously, expectations were high for the pair of quarterbacks, or teams would not have made them the face of their franchises. But it was not expected to happen this year. After a disastrous rookie year in which Goff threw for just 1,089 yards and five touchdowns along with 11 turnovers and did not win a game, new head coach Sean McVay has transformed Goff into a new player. Through 12 games Goff has 20 passing touchdowns and just 10 turnovers. The player who took 26 sacks in seven games is gone, and the Rams have already more than doubled their win total.
Now, Goff and the Rams look to add another statement win to their resumé after besting the Saints in week 12. Not many people expected the Rams to be in this position, and even less thought Goff would be one of the main reasons for their success, but Goff and the Rams toughest task still awaits. After the Eagles game, a trip to CenturyLink Feld awaits the Rams, and Seattle , now just a game back of Los Angeles will not want to relinquish the NFC West crown. Goff and the Rams have been crafty and resilient all year, but in order to prove that they are real contenders, they need to take down the big guns.
Speaking of a team in need of a marquee win, after getting punched in the mouth by the Seahawks just last week, Wentz and the Eagles had their nine-game win streak snapped. Other than a five point road win against Carolina, the Eagles best win is either their home contest against a 5-7 Redskins team, or away against a Cowboys team missing many key cogs including Ezekiel Elliot, Tyron Smith, and Sean Lee. The Eagles, like the Rams face a two game test against Seattle and then against each other. The Eagles failed the first part of their test, if they fail the second, what reason will we have to believe that this team is going to win big games come January? If they pass, they will score a key road win and all but assure themselves of a first round bye with no other teams over .500 on their remaining schedule.
But like the Rams, the Eagles were not expected to win much of anything this year, and their lack of big wins is a relatively small blemish on a 10-2 season that has gone as well as any fan could have hoped. With a revamped cast around him, led by Alshon Jeffery, Wentz is in the thick of the MVP race, leading the league in touchdown passes through week 13 with 29. The North Dakota State product has developed faster than nearly anyone could have expected and the Eagles have had a great season, but if they really want to show that they are more than a team that beats up on lesser opposition, they need to beat the Rams, they will have no other chances for a statement win before they will need to rattle off three or four in a row to achieve their biggest goal.
The Rams and the Eagles likely both would have been pleased with their current win totals being their final win totals at the start of the season, but their young signal callers have grown up faster than expected, and the top two selections of their draft class will do battle for the first time in one of the biggest games of the regular season. Which young quarterback will take the first round of what should be a great rivalry for years to come and cement their squad as real threats to win the Super Bowl?
No mater who wins Sunday, we now know both these fanbases have plenty to be excited about moving forward.