By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots (7-3) are coming off of a home victory against the Chiefs, and are back in action later today to face the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) on the road at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on WBZ Channel 4 at 4:15 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
The Eagles are coming off of an impressive 17-10 road victory against the Giants. Their play-off hopes are still alive, but for that to happen they cannot really afford to lose anymore games this season. They are an extremely talented team, and will be a huge challenge for the Patriots.
On defense, this is an aggressive group that can really get after the quarterback. Their defensive line is very impressive lead by defensive ends Trent Cole (5 sacks) and Jason Babin who has 10 sacks. Also, Cullen Jenkins is a real presence in the middle of the line at defensive tackle.
The other serious strength of this unit has to be the cornerbacks. Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha could be the best tandem at their position in football. They can shutdown the Patriots receivers if they want to.
On offense, reportedly quarterback Michael Vick will be missing this game with an injury. In his place will be Vince Young who played fairly well last week against the Giants.
He should have two really good receivers to get the ball to with DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin. However, Maclin is listed as doubtful for this game. If he cannot go they still have another dangerous receiver in Jason Avant who already has 35 receptions this season.
The big threat of the offense has to be running back LeSean McCoy who has 1,019 yards this season, and averages 5.4 yards per carry. He will be the player the Patriots will have to really contain in this game.
The Eagles have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but have yet to be able to really put it together this season as a team. With the absence of Vick in this game, I do see the Patriots pulling out a close victory.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots need to contain LeSean McCoy in this game. When the Patriots have put their mind to it, they have been able to stop the run. McCoy is a huge challenge as he has breakaway speed and could break some long runs.
Without Brandon Spikes, the Patriots run defense won’t be at its best, but will need to limit the runs of McCoy. He has the ability to take over a game.
2. The Patriots need to keep Vince Young in the pocket. Young has the ability to be effective with his running and passing when he breaks containment.
In this game the defensive ends have to keep Young in the pocket at all costs. He is not the most accurate passer, so let’s see him beat the Patriots throwing the ball from the pocket.
3. The offensive line needs to step up against the Eagles defense. The offensive line cannot afford the breakdowns it has shown in the last several games. In their last game, in the first half they really did not do a good job at protecting Brady. They will need to be better this week against the Eagles.
4. The Patriots need to focus on the running game. The Eagles are 14th in the league against the run, and the Patriots last week established the running game against the Chiefs.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis really can grind out the yards, and the Patriots really need to do that against this aggressive defense. I also hope we see Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen get some carries in this game, as they have potential to really be impact running backs.
5. The middle of the field needs to be taken advantage of in the passing game. The Eagles corners are excellent on the outside, but that might open up the middle of the field, which could allow the Patriots tight ends to have a field day this afternoon.
Wes Welker could also find some openings in the middle of the Eagles defense. This is a game where the Patriots strengths might really be able to expose a weakness of the defense.
The Eagles have so much riding on this game as their play-off chances could be on the line. However, I see the Patriots being able to take advantage of the Eagles weaknesses on both sides of the ball. It will be close, but in the end I am predicting a 24-21 Patriots victory against the Eagles.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.