An in-state showdown is set for October 7th, when the Steelers will host the Eagles in Pittsburgh. These teams played in the preseason, in a game which the Eagles won 24-23. Pittsburgh and Philly played their last regular season game back in 2008 (the Eagles won that game 15 to 6) . The Eagles own the series at 47-27-3, however they are 20-18-1 when playing in Pittsburgh. After beating the Giants Sunday night, I strongly believe Philly is ready to take control of this season. Here are the reasons why the Eagles will continue their success against Pittsburgh this Sunday.
- Michael Vick: Vick regained the faith of Andy Reid, his teammates, and the Eagles fanbase with the win against New York. Vick looked poised, completing 19 of his 30 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown. Vick also had 49 rushing yards on six attempts. He did not force plays this game. Vick rushed when openings were available, and timed passes that were crucial. He capitalized on an injury laden Giants secondary. Vick spread the ball around evenly. He was able to display his "playmaker" capabilities that Eagles fans fell in love with. Sunday's game against the Steelers will be Vick's chance to close the door on any controversy still floating around. Carson Palmer was able to dial up three touchdowns against the Steelers. I like to believe that Philly has a better arsenal of offensive weapons, and that Vick is a much more dynamic quarterback than Palmer. This game will vindicate Vick's role as a starter. He has faced some of the league's premier defenses to date and - even though it was ugly - has won (minus Arizona). If he can flawlessly mastermind a game plan to take down two great defenses back to back, than yes he deserves to start. It would be an injustice to even fathom Foles playing against Pittsburgh. A young quarterback deserves to be challenged, but there's a difference from trying to conquer a hill and a mountain. Look for Vick to perform to his potential against the Steelers and emerge victorious.
- Lesean McCoy: In simple terms, Lesean McCoy is electrifying. He is one of the most elusive players in all of football. He dazzles with his one-cut moves, amazing awareness, and progressive production. McCoy seems to improve as the game goes on (it may be far fetched, but I could equate it to the performance of Tiger's pitcher Justin Verlander, who is known for getting better as the innings wind down). He is a multi faceted back who will cause headaches for Pittsburgh. Darren McFadden frustrated the Steeler's D last week rushing for 113 yards on 18 carries. McFadden is an injury prone speedster. He is a good back, but nowhere near McCoy. The Steelers faced a mediocre rushing attack against the Jets (mediocre is an understatement at best). Shonn Greene's Defensive-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR )is -79...DYAR indicates the back's overall worth (basically he gained -79 than a replacement running back would...also note that Greene is averaging around 2.5 yards a carry). McCoy is averaging 4.2 yards a carry and has a DYAR currently sitting at 38. He will prove to be a much more formidable foe than the other back's Pittsburgh has faced. Look for McCoy to wear down the Steelers D and create passing opportunities for Vick.
- Defense: The Eagles defense will continue to create pressure and cause chaos for the Steelers. The pass rush is rejuvenated, and has created problems with a new rotation system up front. Proven pass rushers like Trent Cole and Jason Babin are paving the way for rookies like Fletcher Cox. Cox is due to make a big play this week. He is sleek and agile for his size. It is not easy to bring down Big Ben, but look for the Eagles to do so. The secondary will continue to play well this week. Rodgers-Cromartie has all the intangibles to become a premier player in this league. Boykin is showing his worth week in and week out. The Georgia product is tenacious and playing with veteran like qualities. Both Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen have proved they can be effective. Asomugha showed his toughness last week returning after an eye injury. He leads the secondary like a stud should. His physical stature and understanding of the game will give Mike Wallace and the Steelers receiving unit trouble.
- Momentum: Spirits and Morale are at a high in the Philly locker room. Beating a hated foe always cause reason for celebration, however the Eagles are focused on the task at hand.They gained ground in the NFC East race and justified that they are capable of playing with the top-dogs. Look for momentum to propel Philly to a slew of victories (they will be humbled eventually, but for now they need to exude confidence). There is a lot at stake and a lot to play for. The players believe in Andy Reid, he believes in them, and we the fans believe in the Eagles as a whole. Coming off a big home win will help fire up Philly. This game is for state bragging rights and increased morale.