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The Battle of the Birds: Who will prevail?

History suggests that Sunday’s game could be close

NFL: AUG 22 Preseason - Ravens at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Outside of preseason, the Ravens and Eagles have only played each other five total times during the regular season. Out of those five games, the Ravens managed to earn themselves two wins and a tie, which dates back to 1997.

Once again, we analyze Baltimore’s performance during the infamous yet contentious Joe Flacco era.

The Ravens faced the Eagles in 2016 during the latter part of Flacco’s tenure as a Raven. At the same time, a young Carson Wentz commenced his temporary greatness as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback. In essence, this game exemplified the idea of out with the old and in with the new in the grand scheme of things.

Entering the Week 15 matchup, the Eagles held a 5-8 record while the Ravens entered with a modest 7-6 record.

After putting up the first points of the game, Flacco and the Ravens led the Eagles for nearly the entire game. Flacco was making a number of beautiful passes yet, at the same time, made mistakes that allowed for the Eagles to capitalize and nearly steal a win from the Ravens.

After a red zone touchdown pass to Kamar Aiken and a couple of field goals from both teams, Nigel Bradham forced a fumble while Flacco and the Ravens offense were deep in their own territory. Afterwards, a Ryan Matthews touchdown gave Philadelphia an 11-10 lead at the start of the second quarter.

After trading a couple of field goals, Flacco dropped an absolute dime to Steve Smith Sr. to give the Ravens a 20-14 lead. A couple of possessions later, the Eagles trimmed Baltimore’s lead to 20-17 after a Caleb Sturgis field goal.

The Ravens immediately followed up with a touchdown of their own. Kenneth Dixon took a halfback toss from Flacco, rumbled for 16 yards and got pay dirt. Baltimore leads 27-17 late in the third quarter. At this juncture, the Ravens begin to unravel and let the Eagles back into the game.

In the red zone, Flacco tossed a devastating interception; any sort of points would’ve made this an easy finish for the Ravens. Eventually, the game boils down to one possession with all eyes on Wentz to lead his team down the field for a game-tying drive.

Wentz exhibited his aforementioned arm talent and marched down the field to eventually tie the game himself with a four yard rushing touchdown.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

In typical Doug Peterson fashion, rather than tying the game with a field goal, Pederson elected to go for two and steal the victory away from Baltimore. A tipped pass at the line of scrimmage ended the game for Philadelphia and put the Ravens at 8-6.

Despite the win, Baltimore failed to reach the postseason as they lost their final two games of the season, ending with a disappointing 8-8 record.

What can we expect on Sunday?

Despite historic trends of close outcomes between the Ravens and the Eagles, I don’t expect that to be the case on Sunday.

Baltimore is too well-coached, talented, and well-balanced for the Eagles to come away with a victory. A myriad of injuries for the Eagles doesn't help their case either.

A more-than-underwhelming Wentz doesn't have the weapons or talent to pick apart Baltimore’s Top-5 defense. I still do believe Wentz can rediscover his greatness from a couple of years ago, but the Baltimore defense is way too strong and driven to allow for Wentz to do damage against them.

I expect a mild blowout at the hands of the Ravens barring any unforeseen circumstances. The Ravens are currently 7.5-point favorites, which I find a little surprising. That being said, the Eagles did play Pittsburgh very tough, but ultimately mistakes, miscues, and a lack of discipline resulted in another loss for them.

If the Eagles are to have any chance at victory against the Ravens, mistake-free football needs to be at the forefront heading into Sunday.