National Football League
Eagles-Rams Preview
National Football League

Eagles-Rams Preview

Published Sep. 8, 2011 1:22 a.m. ET

While the St. Louis Rams have their sights set on making the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the Philadelphia Eagles have their eyes on a much bigger prize.

With a roster full of marquee talent, the Eagles begin their quest for the franchise's first Super Bowl title Sunday against the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

Paced by the re-emergence of quarterback Michael Vick, Philadelphia finished 10-6 to win the NFC East and make the playoffs for the third consecutive season in 2010. However, the Eagles' postseason stay was short-lived after losing 21-16 at home to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay in the wild-card round.

Since coach Andy Reid arrived in 1999, the Eagles have made nine playoff appearances, won six division titles and played in five NFC championship games, but they've only reached one Super Bowl.


Motivated to take the next step, the Eagles signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the prize of the 2011 free-agent class. He'll team with veteran corner Asante Samuel and newcomer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was acquired in the trade with Arizona for quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Philadelphia also signed defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, and added depth on offense by bringing in former New York Giants receiver Steve Smith, running back Ronnie Brown and quarterback Vince Young.

With those new faces added to a roster that already included Vick, versatile receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy, anything less than a Super Bowl title will be a major disappointment in Philadelphia.

"Our expectations are to win a championship and I'd be lying if I told you anything else," Vick said. "It's all about the team and what we're trying to accomplish. We want to win it all."

In 12 games in 2010, Vick set career highs for passing yards (3,018) and touchdowns (21) to earn comeback player of the year honors. He also scored nine rushing TDs to lead an offense that averaged an NFC-high 389.4 yards.

"Experience is the best teacher like I've always said and we have to go out this week and show improvement," said Vick, who has not faced St. Louis since 2004. "So, you can't dwell on the past, can't dwell on what happened last year. It's all about moving forward."

Vick won't need to do it alone.

McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards and seven TDs, and also led the team with 78 receptions in his second season. Jackson caught 47 passes for 1,056 yards with six touchdowns in 14 games and remains one of the league's top kick returners.

"We know we have a lot of talented guys," said receiver Jeremy Maclin, who set career highs with 70 receptions for 964 yards and 10 TDs in 2010. "We know if we do what we're capable of and play to our abilities, then we can achieve what we want to achieve. But we have to go out there and do it."

The Eagles, however, could receive a test right out of the gate against a St. Louis club that completed a six-win improvement to finish 7-9 last year. Despite a losing mark, the Rams only missed winning the weak NFC West because of a tiebreaker after falling 16-6 at Seattle in Week 17.

"Obviously, everyone's talking about Philly," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "They deserve it. If we could come out and get a win against a team like that I think it would give guys on the team a lot of confidence."

With Bradford running the innovative system of new offensive coordinator and former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels, the Rams believe they will again contend for a playoff spot. The former Oklahoma star set NFL rookie records for completions (354), attempts (590) and passing yards (3,512) last year, becoming one of only three rookies in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards.

He'll again hand the ball off to veteran Steven Jackson, who is coming off his sixth straight 1,000-yard season - the NFL's longest active streak.

The Rams signed guard Harvey Dahl, receiver Mike Sims-Walker and backup running back Cadillac Williams. They also anticipate an immediate impact from rookie tight end Lance Kendricks.

"We have the potential to be a very good offense," Bradford said. "I think it could turn into a special year. It's just a matter of everyone doing their job and being great on Sunday."

Defensively, the Rams added veteran safety and former Eagle Quintin Mikell and linebacker Ben Leber to a unit that ranked 12th in the NFL in 2010, allowing 20.5 points per game.

"Confidence level is high," defensive end Chris Long said after the Rams recorded their first undefeated preseason since 1979.

Philadelphia has won three of the last four games against the Rams, including the most recent 38-3 at home Sept. 7, 2008. The Eagles also won 17-16 in their last trip to St. Louis on Dec. 18, 2005.


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