National Football League
Eagles-Texans Preview
National Football League

Eagles-Texans Preview

Published Oct. 29, 2014 4:07 p.m. ET

The Philadelphia Eagles' turnover issues are impeding their progress toward a second straight NFC East title.

Keeping the ball secure figures to be no easier Sunday in Houston with a Texans' pass rush featuring J.J. Watt.

Philadelphia (5-2) hasn't lost back-to-back games since its 3-5 start to 2013, going 12-3 since Nick Foles took over the starting quarterback job for good almost exactly a year ago.

That period started with plenty of offensive efficiency as the now 25-year-old signal-caller threw just four interceptions in the first 11 starts of that span - two during this year's 3-0 start. In the last four games, Foles has thrown seven, including a pair in last Sunday's 24-20 loss in Arizona.


The Eagles committed three turnovers, giving them 12 over the past four games. Their minus-7 turnover differential ranks 29th, ahead of only Washington, Jacksonville and the New York Jets, all of which have now undergone in-season quarterback changes.

Foles is the NFL's 28th-rated passer after leading the league last year.

"I have to do a better job," said Foles, who is also dealing with a banged-up offensive line. "Words can't describe it. I have to keep working on fundamentals, footwork and decision-making. I'm going to keep studying film and keep working. It's all correctable and I can fix it. My words don't mean anything. I have to go out there and prove it."

Doing so against Houston (4-4) could be difficult. Houston has taken the ball away 17 times, more than every team other than Buffalo (18).

Watt has five sacks in the last three games with a forced or recovered fumble in each.

The Eagles, though, may have caught a break because it appears top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney might not play for Houston due to an unspecified illness. The outside linebacker, listed as questionable, had missed six games with a knee injury before returning in last Sunday's 30-16 win at Tennessee.

Coach Bill O'Brien didn't sound optimistic after Clowney missed practice Friday.

"I don't know," O'Brien said. "I wouldn't say it looks very good for him playing Sunday."

It's also uncertain whether Brian Cushing will play due to a left knee problem, though he practiced Friday for the first time in nearly two weeks. The middle linebacker had season-ending surgery on the knee after Week 7 of last year and hopes to return Sunday, but it appears that will be a game-time decision.

"I want to be out there but, at the same time, I want to play at my best level and feel as best as I can and have a good rest of the year," Cushing told the team's official website. "So we've got to figure out a specific technique and formula that works for that to happen."

Continuing with an improved running game could help open things up for Foles and limit the Texans' defensive arsenal. In four September games, the Eagles averaged 3.6 yards per carry and were limited to 87.0 per game. In the last three, they're up to 4.8 and 152.7.

LeSean McCoy has rushed for at least 81 yards in those games with a 4.7 average after failing to reach 80 in his first four on 2.7 per carry.

McCoy could have backfield help with Darren Sproles (knee) potentially returning after missing last week. Center Jason Kelce (hernia) and guard Todd Herremans (biceps) also returned to full practice participation this week.

Houston's Arian Foster has far surpassed McCoy this season and is coming off maybe his most effective game. Foster ran for 151 yards and two scores on 20 carries while catching four passes for 22 yards and a TD against the Titans. He's reached the 100-yard mark in a career-high four straight games and six of seven this year after getting there twice in eight games a season ago.

Last Sunday's win snapped a three-game losing streak, and Foster wants more from the offense as a whole on a weekly basis to ensure another skid doesn't occur.

"We just have to strive to be more consistent as an offense," Foster said. "Our defense holds it down week in and week out, so as an offense we take that to heart ... we have a lot of work to do."

The Eagles defense, much improved by a number of measures, has still allowed at least 400 yards of total offense four times in the last five games.

It could add more to the turnover battle as well. Philadelphia has forced 10 this season - tied for 21st in the league - and has just one player with an interception. Malcolm Jenkins alone has three, and that team total is tied for second-fewest in football.

The Eagles are 3-0 all time against the Texans, but the teams haven't met since 2010.


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