The Eagles are coming off of a Thursday Night Football loss to Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs, 26-16. Prior to the last game, they lost a tough, close game to San Diego 33-30. The defense this year in all 3 games (1-2) has been out on the field almost twice as much as the offense has. To be exact, the defense this year has been on the field over 59%. Both of their losses concluded with the opposition averaging almost 40 minutes of ball possession.
All three games for Philadelphia this year have been decided by ten points or less, including two games that were only decided by a field goal. They're -2 in the turnover column, including a 5-turnover game vs. Kansas City four days ago. In order to have any chance of winning on Sunday vs. Denver, they'll need to play solid defense, control the time of possession battle and win the turnover battle as well, which will be tough against arguably the best quarterback in the league in Peyton Manning.
All three starters on offense for the Eagles lead all three respective categories in the NFL thus far this year: Michael Vick in overall passing yards, LeSean McCoy in rushing yards and DeSean Jackson in receiving yards. Vick is also sixth in the league in rushing as well. Vick has 832 passing yards, McCoy has 395 rushing yards, while Jackson has 359 receiving yards, respectively. Because of the Eagles' up-tempo, high-octane offense under Chip Kelly, it's no surprise to see all three Eagles' stars leading the league in each respective category.
As for their defense, that's another story. They're one of the worst defensive teams in the league, perhaps the total opposite of how good the offense is and has been thus far this year. The Eagles have five new defensive starters this year, including Super Bowl winning cornerback Cary Williams, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and former Patriots' safety Patrick Chung. The new players will have to have more allotted time under their belts in order to gel more successfully with their new teammates, and to learn the new system as well under new defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
Denver features one of the best, if not the best, offensive units in the league. They're lead by 15-year veteran, and superstar, quarterback Peyton Manning, newcomer and star Wes Welker (wide receiver) and one of Manning's favorite targets, Eric Decker. Tight end Jacob Tamme, and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are also threats on that Denver offense.
While veteran cornerback Champ Bailey is questionable with a foot injury for Sunday's game -- as well as linebacker Shaun Phillips -- Denver might just have enough offensive firepower to make it by, regardless of the team's health. Welker is probable for the game, but all signs point -- for now -- to him suiting up for the game. He's active and will play in tonight's game vs. Oakland.
Speaking of injuries, the Eagles, while they have no probable or game-time decision players for this week, have six players this year on the IR list (injury-reserve). The loss of wide out Jeremy Maclin, due to a torn right ACL sustained in training camp, has been a tough deficit for the Eagles- and especially for Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson, because of Maclin's injury, is frequently double teamed, due to the lack of a quality receiver on the team besides the two.
The good thing is, for Eagles' fans, that Chip Kelly's offensive schemes, McCoy's explosiveness, Vick's play-making abilities -- especially in the read-option -- and Jackson's speed may be able to get the Eagles by this year. After all, the offense really isn't the problem, in fact, it's entirely on the defense where problems have arose.
Due to the shakeup of the Eagles' roster after last year, as mentioned, the inconsistency of the Eagles' secondary and adjusting to the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme, the defense has been a liability thus far, and probably will continue to be.
With Denver's offensive explosiveness, Philadelphia's defensive woes and Philadelphia's kicker Alex Henery's troubles, I predict maybe not a blowout but a big win for Denver this upcoming week.
Date/Time- 4:25 PM ET- Sunday September 29th, 2013
Stadium- Sports Authority Field (Denver)
Game Time Temperature (Approximate): 75 degrees- Sunny- (Accuweather Real Feel- 81 degrees)
Brandon Hughes- IR- Hand
Joe Kruger- IR- Shoulder
Phillip Hunt- IR- Torn ACL
Arrelious Benn- IR- Torn Left ACL
Jeremy Maclin- IR- Torn Right ACL
Jason Phillips- IR- Torn Right ACL
Champ Bailey- questionable- Foot
Shaun Phillips- questionable- Back
Wes Welker- probable- Ankle
Joel Dreessen- questionable- Knee
Chris Kuper- probable- Ankle
Jacob Tamme- probable- Not Injury Related (personal)
Eric Decker- probable- Shoulder
Omar Bolden- probable- Shoulder
Aaron Brewer- probable- Rib
Duke Ihenacho- probable- Ankle
C.J. Anderson- probable- Knee
Ryan Clady- IR- Lisfranc injury- left foot
Lerentee McCray- IR- Ankle
Quanterus Smith- IR- Torn ACL
Stewart Bradley- IR- Wrist
Greg Orton- IR- Ankle
Quinton Carter- IR- Left-knee
Justin Boren- IR- Undisclosed
Dan Koppen- IR- Torn left ACL
After taking a glance at the injury list for both teams above, it appears that both teams are suffering from many injury-reserved injuries this year, on both sides of the ball.
Still, with Manning's accuracy, consistency and fire power arm-strength wise, I still expect to Denver to win big, especially considering Manning threw 7 touchdown passes to one of the better defenses in the league in Baltimore. With that being said, Philadelphia's defense is probably 10 times worse than the Ravens' defense is. So it'll be especially critical for Michael Vick and the Eagles' offense to limit the amount of turnovers to as little as possible if they want to and will have any chance to win.
Odds- Denver by 7
*Over/Under- 59 1/2
* -- I'll take the over on this one
Game Predictions/Predicted Score
Denver winning, 49-24