When the Patriots Run: The Eagles have a list of problems, but the one that issue that tops all is their ability to defend the run. Philadelphia is ranked 27th in the NFL, allowing 126.6 yards per game on the ground, a number that is just too high to compete. The Patriots running game has struggled this year, but they've always been able to take advantage of bad run defenses, and I fully expect to see that happen this week. LeGarrette Blount is going to get the lion's share of the carries, but Bolden and White will also get plenty of chances to make plays today. Expect to see the Patriots run for at least 125 yards as a team, whihc help control the game.
When the Patriots Pass: Danny Amendola returns for the Patriots today, a much needed addition with the absence of Rob Gronkowski. Scott Chandler is going to be targeted at least eight times today and could have his biggest day as a Patriot. Brandon LaFell was disappointing last week as he could only muster four catches for 27 yards and not help the Patriots when they needed it the most. Hopefully Lafell recovers like he did the week after he returned and had 10 drops. The Eagles have the 20th ranked passing defense in football, so even with all the injuries, Brady should be able to find open targets throughout the day and move the Patriots up and down the field like their accustomed to doing.
When the Eagles Run: With Demarco Murray and Ryan Mathews as your running backs, one would expect that moving the ball on the ground was a given for this Eagles team. Well, it hasn't been that easy, and this week and it doesn't get easier as the Eagles are forced to deal with the Patriots run defense that allows just 97 yards per game, a number that went way up last week after CJ Anderson ran wild. The reason Anderson ran so well was because of the offensive line, and the Eagles don't posess the same talent as Denver does up front. The Eagles are currently ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing, averaging 114.5 yards per game. With the return of Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo appearing to regain his form, it will be difficult for Philly to break 100 yards today. Also, Ryan Mathews is reportedly inactive with an injury, another hit to the Eagles.
When the Eagle Pass: The Patriots secondary has been hit or miss; last week they were excellent for three quarters and then struggled in the fourth. There isn't a lot of consistency there, but the same can be said for the Eagles passing game. Sam Bradford has been recovering from an injury and Mark Sanchez has taken over the starting role, but the same results have occured with both quarterback, and the results are quite average. Philadelphia is currently ranked 16th in passing, throwing for 2,717 yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Again, not awful numbers, not good numbers, just very average. In order to hang with the Patriots today, the Eagles passing offense is going to have to be good, not average, and if they aren't, this game may get ugly.
Special Teams: New England remains the top special teams unit in football, and after a few weeks facing some other formidable special teams units, this week the Patriots have a huge advantage. Philadelphia, according the Football Outsiders, is the 20th ranked special teams unit in the NFL, just another reason why their season has been such a disappointment. Caleb Sturgis is 16-21 this year, missing kicks that have been costly for Eagles. Punter Donnie Jones has done a good job, punting 59 times for an average of 47.1 yards, but his high amount of punts doesn't say a lot for the inconsistent Eagles offense.
Bill Belichick vs. Chip Kelly, a very intriguing matchup of two coaches that are actually friends. Kelly is a good coach, but let's be honest, he is no Belichick. Kelly will run his no-huddle today and try to get the Patriots defense on their heels, but execution tends to be a problem no matter which quarterback plays today. Like I say every week- Belichick ALWAYS has the edge in x's and o's, but the game is going to come down to Jimmy's and Joe's. The Patriots are banged up, but they still are more talented than the Eagles and that will show today. Belichick with the big edge in the coachin matchup today.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Eagles 20
The Eagle are going to make some plays, but ultimately the Patriots offense recovers after a rough outing in Denver last week. The return of Danny Amendola and Jamie Collins gives shots in the arm to both the offense and the defense, and combined ith an angry Tom Brady, we are looking at the Patriots picking up their 11th win of the season Sunday afternoon.
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