As of a couple of weeks ago the idea of The Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Foxborough and beating The New England Patriots would have been called completely outlandish. Honestly, not too much has actually changed. With Chip Kelly and Co. coming off a 3 week skid where they gave up 90 points in the last two games, they are due for a good showing. As for the Patriots who continue to lose big time players every week, the doors have opened for almost anything to happen in this game as Brady scrambles to carry his team to victory.
After losing starting QB Sam Bradford 3 weeks ago and rookie sensation ILB Jordan Hicks 4 weeks ago, the Eagles have completely fell apart. Sanchez took over in the 3rd quarter of a close Miami game, where he coughed up a late INT in redzone that eventually lead to a loss. In the past 3 games with Sanchez under center there where obvious miscommunications as far as hand offs and passing routes that caused the offense to sputter and fail time and time again. These errors seemed to have been a little more under control and cleaned up in their latest showing against the Detroit Lions; however, the Eagles defense failed to contain Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, letting up 8 receptions for 93 yards and 3 touchdowns. A big part can be argued that rookie CB Eric Rowe was called into action after losing starter Nolan Carroll Jr to a broken ankle. Now let’s be honest, Megatron is tough match up for even a top tier CB, let alone a rookie with limited play time.
Injuries at key position have really held the Eagles back from gaining any momentum and building chemistry this season. I know it is pretty late in the year to still be talking about chemistry, but the bottom line is, if the players aren’t out there next to one another during live games consistently then chemistry is hard to build. Injuries at inside linebacker again have hurt the Eagles all year, the offensive line has been in complete shambles all year, and once again in the month of November the Eagles lost their starting QB to injury.
We are now in the first week of December and things may just be starting to looking up. Sam Bradford looks to be on pace to start this Sunday, barring any setbacks. Jason Peters, who has been battling numerous injuries over the past couple of weeks will be returning to his role as “The Body Guard” at left tackle. They only player that has not practiced this week was running back Ryan Mathews, who has not been cleared from concussion protocol.
With that said, The Eagles turn their aim to Foxborough where Patriots know all to well about injuries. As of yesterday the Patriots had 9 players listed as “Limit Participant” or “Did Not Participate” on the teams official injury report regarding practices this week. Of those 9 listed 3 are major losses if they are unable to play on Sunday, those players are superstar TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman, and WR Danny Amendola. While it is very unlikely that Gronkowski or Edelman play this week without some sort of a miracle, there is a good chance that Amendola could return to action. The Patriots also lost Dion Lewis this season who was having a breakout season at the running back position, given they have still have LeGarrette Blount as a solid runner, Blount lacks the explosiveness as a pass catcher that Lewis offered.
The patriots have also had to work with a make shift offensive line, very much like what is going on in Philadelphia. Injuries have forced players to be moved around, reserve players to step in starting positions and have forced play calling changes to fit the personnel available. If you look at the numbers that reflect directly on the offensive line play, you can see the likenesses to struggles in PA. Brady has been sacked 25 times in 451 passing attempts, as for Eagle quarterbacks, 27 sacks in 426 attempts. Both teams are allowing pressures to land home on their quarterbacks, but Eagles have a the better front seven of the two may be able to take advantage. The Patriots running backs have also struggled behind the poor offensive line play averaging 3.8 yards per attempt and a lowly 87.2 yards per game. For as bad as the Eagles rushing attach has been this year it beats those numbers but not by much, Eagles backfield produces 4.0 yards per attempt and 114.5 yards per game.
With the Patriots in the mist of all these injuries and the Eagles looking like they are finally wrapping up with theirs, it opens a small window of opportunity that Philadelphia so desperately needs.
To start the season the Eagles did very well on the defense, while the offense struggled to stay competitive. These last two weeks the birds have showed us what the bottom of the barrel can actually look like, mostly because of a complete free fall on the defensive side of the ball. Because of the injuries to the Patriots on the offense and complete lack of production from the Eagles offense, I think the biggest marker we have to look at is defense.
The last 2 weeks have really swayed the Eagles numbers defensively, so to start lets look at the first 10 weeks for each team and how they matched up as far as defensive production. Over that time period the Patriots defense was allowing on average of 18.7 points per game and forcing 1.4 turnovers on average per game. In comparison, the Eagles were only slightly higher in points allowed per game with 20.4 and actually surpassed the Patriots turnover average with a solid 2.2 turnovers forced per game. Since week 10 the numbers have not been close. At all. Over the past two games the Eagles have allowed 45 points per game and forced a low average of 0.5 turnovers a game. The Patriots have held close to their former work allowing 21.5 per game and forcing 1 turnover per game.
If the Eagles can bounce back to their production from just a couple of weeks ago, paired with returning players like Sam Bradford and Jason Peters to help on the offensive, there may be a possibility of an Eagles win on Sunday.