Game Preview: Patriots vs Eagles

Week 12: New England Patriots (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6). Game Preview; a look at each team's camps, news, notes and injury updates. Plenty of links.

New England Patriots (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 11/27/11
VENUE:  Lincoln Financial Field
SURFACE: FieldTurf
LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
WEATHER: Current forecast

TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

PREDICTION: Patriots 30-21

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Patriots still have the league's second-ranked passing attack despite inconsistent play from QB Tom Brady the past six weeks, and the Eagles will attempt to apply pressure with their front four - specifically up the middle. The Eagles blitzed just once in 55 snaps against the Giants last week and the revamped linebacker unit has been stronger against the run. With Eagles QB Michael Vick (ribs) uncertain, Vince Young could get his second consecutive start. Regardless of who is under center, Philadelphia will attack the league's worst pass defense (298.9 yards per game) with or without DeSean Jackson (foot).

FAST FACTS: Brady, who has reportedly been dealing with discomfort in his right elbow, has a 116.2 passer rating in the first quarter. ... The Eagles are allowing 3.9 yards per carry their past five games.

SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Eagles lead series, 6-4. The Patriots have won the last three overall meetings with the Eagles, including a 24-21 victory in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville in February of 2005.

HOT TOPIC: Patriots - Eagles game chatter


   The vague nature of the NFL's weekly injury report has put the New England Patriots in quite a predicament heading into Sunday's game in Philadelphia.

   Although starting quarterback Michael Vick didn't practice due to a rib injury, there's still a chance he'll play this weekend against New England. Preparing for two quarterbacks wouldn't be such a problem were it not for the fact the Eagles' signal-callers are practically complete opposites.

   Vick is a slasher/runner capable of breaking off big plays with his legs, but, at times, his arm strength and accuracy is vastly underrated. Because his speed is superior to his peers, his passing is often overlooked, but teams who ignore his ability to move the chains tend to pay the price.

   Backup Vince Young, a former national champion in college, has an awkward delivery that often leads to inaccurate passing, and though he, too, can scramble, he's far less mobile in the pocket than Vick despite the fact his overall size and strength arguably makes him tougher to bring down.

   The Eagles don't throw out the entire playbook if Young starts, but there are certainly some plays more suited toward Vick's skills, which means the Patriots will have to work overtime during what is a short holiday week to prepare to face Philadelphia on the road.

   "They are not the same player at all," said Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, who's tied for the league lead with seven interceptions.

   "Vick has good arm and he's a little bit faster, a little more dangerous running the ball. Young, he did a good job managing the game (in last week's win over the Giants) and had a heck of a drive at the end there. We just have to be ready, study a lot this week, put in good preparation and try to come out and execute."

   Head coach Bill Belichick doesn't appear too worried about what might happen Sunday when inactives are announced. Chances are the Eagles will wait as long as possible to determine who starts, so the Patriots need to do their homework on everyone on the roster.

   "Whoever is in the game to start the game we all know that could be a different player on the second or some other play of the game," Belichick said. "We'll prepare for all three quarterbacks and maybe later in the week we'll be able to zero in more on one than another.

   "We need to be ready for all of them anyway, especially the two that played the most here -- Young and Vick. Both can run, have good scrambling ability, both have real big arms, can throw the ball down the field as far as they need to. Both guys have done the things offensively that you need to do to be productive and win -- make decisions, key pass plays on third down in the red area, scramble and get out of trouble, play-action and so forth. I think they're both good. Whichever one we get, we get."


   The Eagles face one of the league's most lethal passing attacks Sunday when they host the New England Patriots. And they may have to do it without their best cornerback.

   Five-time Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomougha was carted off the practice field Thursday after injuring his left knee. He was running and cutting when it happened.

   The severity of the injury isn't known. Head coach Andy Reid wasn't available to the media after practice. A team spokesman said Asomugha "tweaked" the knee, pending a further examination. The obvious fear is that he may have torn his ACL.

   Asomugha was unable to put any weight on the leg as he was put on the cart.

   The Eagles already are without one of their other top corners, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain.

   Joselio Hanson replaced Rodgers-Cromartie as the slot corner last week, with Asomugha and Asante Samuel on the outside. If Asomugha is unable to play Sunday, Hanson is expected to move outside in the Eagles' base package, then move inside in nickel, with Brandon Hughes playing at right corner.

   Hughes, who was signed off the Giants' practice squad last November, has seen limited action this season.

   In the locker room after practice, Hanson said he heard that Asomugha's injury "wasn't as bad as it looked," and suggested the he could be back at practice on Friday.


   --LB Jeff Tarpinian is on injured reserve due to a head injury, which means he is out for the season. The team had previously listed him on the injury report due to illness.
   --CB Devin McCourty was at Thursday's practice. McCourty missed last week's game due to a shoulder injury.
   --OT Matt Light, who left Monday's game with a foot injury, was at practice again Thursday. All signs point to him playing this weekend.
   --LB Brandon Spikes missed Thursday's practice due to a knee injury. Unless he heals quickly in the next two days, he will likely miss Sunday's game.
   --LB Dane Fletcher missed his second consecutive day of practice due to a thumb injury. Fletcher will likely miss Sunday's game.

   --CB Nnamdi Asomugha was carted off the practice squad Thursday after injuring his left knee. The severity of the injury isn't yet known. All the Eagles would say is that he tweaked it.
   --QB Michael Vick didn't practice again Thursday, increasing the likelihood that Vince Young will start at quarterback Sunday against the Patriots. Vick has two broken ribs. He didn't play last week either.
   --WR DeSean Jackson was a limited participant in practice Thursday. He injured his foot in Sunday's win over the Giants when somebody stepped on it. It's unclear whether he'll be able to play Sunday against the Patriots.
   --WR Jeremy Maclin, who sat out last week's game with shoulder and hamstring injuries, didn't practice Thursday. He hinted that he may have aggravated the hamstring.
   --CB Joselio Hanson will start Sunday against New England if Nnamdi Asomugha is unable to play. Asomugha injured his knee in practice Thursday. Hanson would likely move inside to the slot in nickel, and Brandon Hughes would line up at right corner.

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