Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Will Wentz earn ‘W?’ in his return?

Posted by Eric Fisher On September 21

Carson Wentz is back. But many of his teammates will be missing Sunday (1 p.m.) as the Eagles (1-1) take on the Colts (1-1) at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Birds’ top three running backs could miss the game. Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) have been ruled out for the game. Corey Clement (quadriceps) is listed as a questionable. Left tackle Jason Peters (quadriceps) and receiver Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) are also listed as questionable.

One familiar face for Wentz will be Frank Reich. The former Eagles offensive coordinator is making his return to Lincoln Financial Field as Colts head coach.

All eyes will be on Wentz as he plays his first game since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament against the Rams last December.

Here are 10 questions to consider prior to and during Sunday’s game with the visiting Colts.:

Why is Carson Wentz returning this week?

The simple answer is that he’s been medically cleared. But one has to wonder if Wentz would be starting this week if the Eagles were 2-0 and their offense was humming along.

Will the return of Carson Wentz make much of a difference?

Before suffering his season-ending injury last year, Wentz threw 33 touchdowns and was in the middle of the MVP race. With no disrespect to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, the Eagles are a better team with Wentz under center.

Who will be the running backs?

Jay Ajayi, who injured his back during last Sunday’s loss to the Bucs, and Darren Sproles who will miss his second straight game due to a strained hamstring, are both listed as out for the Colts game. To make matters worse, Corey Clement has a quadriceps injury, Clement is listed as questionable. Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams are the only healthy running backs on the roster.

Will Jordan Matthews make much of a difference?

Matthews, who spent his first three NFL seasons with the Eagles before being traded to the Bills before last season in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby, was re-signed this week. No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery is listed as questionable as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. Veteran Mike Wallace, signed as a free agent during the offseason, was placed on injured reserve after fracturing his tibula. Matthews might not be the old Matthews, but he’s almost certainly better than what the Eagles would be putting on the field without him.

What happened to Dallas Goedert?

After a terrific training camp, Goedert has largely disappeared from the offense. The rookie tight end only caught one pass during Week 1 and was almost invisible last week. The Eagles must find a way to get him more involved in the offense.

Will Jason Peters play? If so, for how long?

Peters, who is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, couldn’t make it through the first quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Bucs. Having Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle protecting Carson Wentz’s blind side in his first game back isn’t an ideal situation.

Is it an advantage for Colts head coach Frank Reich to have been the Eagles’ offensive coordinator last season?

Reich could have an advantage from his knowledge of the offense and of personnel. But the Eagles also know Reich’s tendencies. If there’s an advantage for Reich, it’s a small one.

How has Andrew Luck played after missing last season?

Luck has completed 60 of 84 passes for 498 yards and four touchdowns, but he has also thrown three interceptions. Luck has always been a quarterback who takes chances rather than playing it safe. With the Colts, he needs to make plays.

Who is Darius Leonard?

The rookie linebacker was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after making 18 tackles during the Colts’ 21-9 victory over the Redskins. The Colts drafted Leonard out of South Carolina State with the 36th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Will the Eagles’ defensive backs avoid big plays on Sunday?

This question could be the key to Sunday’s game. If the Colts are forced to methodically move up and down the field, the Eagles will be in good shape. If, however, Luck finds T.Y. Hilton for long gains, the Eagles could find themselves in the same jeopardy as they were against the Bucs.

PREDICTION: When the schedule came out, this looked like an easy win. But the Colts have played better than expected. Before we overrate them, though, keep in mind that they’ve played the Bengals and Redskins. I would be confident in predicting a lopsided Eagles victory if it weren’t for the injuries at running back and receiver. Still, I think the Eagles will separate themselves from the Colts at the end of what might be a close game into the third quarter. Eagles 27, Colts 17

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