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FOX NFL Game of the Week: Eagles
It has been an inauspicious start for the NFC East. Collectively, its teams have notched seven wins through six weeks of the season. (To give this figure proper context, the AFC West claims 17 victories to its credit, with the NFC West right behind at 15.) A perennial playoff contender, the Giants are winless through six games. Washington’s franchise player has been a shell of himself in return from injury, and the organization is under intense fire to change its racially-charged nickname. The Eagles have the worst-ranked defense in the league; the Cowboys haven’t fared much better, checking in at 30th. Safe to say this division has seen better days.
Nevertheless, the NFC East is not without theater. Spurred by Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense, Philadelphia is averaging the third-highest yardage output in the league. While Dallas flaunts a .500 record, the team is this close from an undefeated state, as three losses have come by a combined 13 points. The winner of Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys rendezvous will sit atop the division, making this showdown our FOX NFL Game of the Week.
Five Things to Watch: Philadelphia Eagles
Spotlight: Nick Foles
Michael Vick’s ground prowess is allegedly the stimulus for Coach Kelly’s spread attack. Conversely, whatever level of evasiveness Vick’s speed injects, his accuracy, or lack thereof (53.8 completion percentage), negates. Enter Foles, who hit 71 percent of his intended targets last Sunday for 296 yards and four total touchdowns in replacement of Vick, who was sidelined by a hamstring injury. At first glance, these deeds can be brushed off, realizing they came against a winless Buccaneers ball club. Further investigation reveals that Tampa’s record is not indicative of its defense, as, before Week 6, the Bucs had amassed more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed.
Vick’s dual dexterity is enticing, but his erraticism can put the reins on the Eagles’ potential. With Foles under center, the Eagles offense could transform into an unwavering threat.
Matchup Watch: Tony Romo vs. Philadelphia secondary
Hope you’re over that game-deciding pick, Cowboys fans. With starter DeMarco Murray out, Dallas’ offense, already a pass-happy attack, should see an elevated rate of aerial forays. Meaning, more than ever, the fate of your team is in the hands of Romo. It’s ok, go rest in a cool place for a few moments, we’ll be here when you get back…
If it’s any solace, Romo battles a harassed Eagles defense that has been anything but stout, yielding 29.8 points (29th in the NFL) and a league-high 420.2 yards per contest. Philadelphia has particularly labored against opposing arms, relinquishing a conference-worst 315 yards per game and has allowed double the amount of touchdowns (13) as interceptions (six). The emergence of Terrance Williams (13 catches, 249 yards, two scores in the last three weeks) bestows a fourth viable receiving option to Romo, further cementing his positive forecast.
The Eagles do have a formidable front seven, one that can apply the necessary pressure to coerce Romo into multiple ill-advised attempts. If such a circumstance transpires, it’s imperative Philadelphia cornerbacks Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin close the passing windows that have seemingly been open against their unit all season.
Can LeSean McCoy keep up torrid pace
McCoy enters this skirmish boasting a league-best 105 rushing yards per contest off 5.1 yards per carry. Better yet, McCoy has been an asset in the receiving arena, hauling in 15 receptions for 241 yards. Though Vick and Foles are viewed as the leaders of Philly’s offense, McCoy is the catalyst that keeps the engine running.
But is McCoy in danger of overuse? The frenetic rhythm of Kelly’s offense is physically draining in itself. Coupled with the toll of 138 touches, as well as his checkered health history, McCoy is operating in an especially unstable environment.
Unless Bryce Brown sees amplified implementation into the game plan, it’s a matter of when, not if, McCoy goes down.
Will this be Michael Vick’s last game in Philly?
Probably not, but you would be amazed what “Michael Vick” and “trade” will do for an article’s search engine optimization.
But if you’re Philadelphia, you at least have to entertain this proposition, right? A handful of teams are in desperate need for an arm, even one as capricious as Vick. Don’t be surprised if Vick rumors heat up following another commendable performance from Foles.
The Eagles win if…
McCoy and DeSean Jackson go nuts on the Dallas defense, the Philadelphia secondary bends but doesn’t break, Romo has one of those putrid showings that causes those “Is Tony Romo an ELITE quarterback?” debates that make you want to pull your hair out…
Philadelphia needs to shore up its resistance in a hurry, and Kelly needs to monitor McCoy’s usage with better care. However, I see Philadelphia coming out on top in the City of Brotherly Love this weekend.
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