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Off-field drama clouds an important game for the Eagles and Bills

Happy Friday, let's talk some football.

Handout/Getty Images

Each week Patrick and Dave discuss the week that was and will be. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!

Dave: Time to eat some crow, neither one of us saw the Eagles standing a chance against the Patriots. Nobody could have foreseen two special teams touchdowns and a 100 yard pick six, but here were are, the Eagles won and mmm, this crow is delicious.

And rather than be able to enjoy it all week, the talk has been nothing but two idiot running backs being babies. This is why we can't have nice things. DeMarco Murray has sucked all year and decides to whine about it to the owner, then leak it to the media, but no, he's not trying to cause a scene. And then, predictably, LeSean McCoy reminded us of why Chip Kelly couldn't stand him.

Can we talk some actual football instead?

Patrick: A lot of people were making fun of Herm Edwards for his outburst on NFL Live earlier in the week, but I personally loved it. What this does is take the focus off football. Players aren't being asked about the game - which is an enormous game for the Eagles, by the way. Instead they're being asked about a former teammate who thinks you can say a bunch of disparaging things about Chip Kelly and get away with it as long as, at the end, you say "Oh, I don't have a problem with Chip." For all the talk about how the #culture talk has been largely overblown during Chip's tenure, the offseason and this week should remind everyone why the culture stuff existed in the first place.

But on to football! The mediocre Eagles take on the mediocre Bills for a chance to advance toward the playoffs! I'd like to say that the Eagles will win this game - I have faith that the defense can stop McCoy and Tyrod Taylor, and the offense can do just enough to eek out a win - but it's impossible to know which version of the Eagles will show up. Will it be the one that takes the ball away and stops big plays? Or will it be the one that forgets how to take good angles and tackles like Juan Castillo's back on the sidelines?

Either way, I feel pretty confident that the offense will be up and down again. The Bills defense is good but nothing to write home about. But as has been the case all season, this game is more about what the Eagles offense can (or can't) do, rather than what the defense can do to the Eagles offense. What are your concerns in this game? Are there any matchups you like?

Dave: The Bills defense being bad and the offense being good is quite the turnaround from what we expected. They had an outstanding defense the past two years, then they add Rex Ryan and suddenly they're an offense first team. Meanwhile the Eagles are a defense first team. Go figure. Down is up, up is down.

There's nothing about the Bills that excites me (*Jules Winston voice* I've been saying that shit for years), but I am pretty concerned about the dreaded "trap game." We've talked a few times this year about the Eagles being the beneficiaries of it, which says a lot about this season. But I can't help but feel that we might hit some deja vu from the second Cowboys game: big win that covered up some flaws and isn't followed up with a win. The offense scored half the points the Patriots did and won. Yeah yeah, the offense was "robbed" of three possessions, but they only scored 14 points in 10 possessions, three more wouldn't guarantee any points. So the Eagles are coming off a fluke win, face a lesser opponent than last week, and all week there's been plenty of distractions. That's setting the stage for a let down, and we're past the point of "this week we'll really find out what this team is made of"--we already know what they are, an inconsistent, mediocre team.

So I'm not feeling good about this game. Make me feel better about it.

Patrick: Maybe this will help - so you know how Shady's been saying things like "you know all know who's next" and that he "ain't shakin' shit"? And how he's going to come out and play angry? I see no reason why the same won't be true for DeMarco. It's been a tough week for him, what with him being homesick and all. He had one of his better games in his Dallas homecoming earlier this year (more than 150 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns), and I could see that same thing being the case this week. Add to that the fact that the Chiefs and Texans-both of whom are missing their starting running backs--rushed for a combined 284 yards on the Bills.With a full compliment of backs now at the Eagles' disposal (welcome back, Ryan Mathews) I could see one of the four having a big day. And it wouldn't shock me to see it be DeMarco.

The more I think about this game, the more excited I get. These are two teams with things to prove, both at the player level and the team level. It wouldn't surprise me to see the defense try and set the tone early, and look to take Shady out of the game. And really, that's what you have to do - make Tyrod beat you. It's definitely doable, but we'll see if the defense is up to the task, and if the offense can capitalize on opportunities.

Dave: I could buy that if Murray didn't look so damn slow this season. And if he didn't then he would have gotten more carries against the Patriots. And then he wouldn't have complained. It's a Catch-22. I can though see the Eagles having a better day on the ground than the Bills, in part because the defense is in turn motivated by Shady's motivation. Those games where a jilted lover returns and spends the build up to it making it a pity party for him and then he and his team don't play well, those are always fun. Wouldn't mind one of those.

But I just don't know what to think of this game. I can't trust this team. They can't play well for four quarters let alone four games in a row. The play like crap for two games then pull off the upset of the week. This season is so maddening.

However I'm encouraged that Miles Austin was released and Murray was relegated to a backup role. It was nice to see the coaches realize their mistakes and do what they can to fix them. I've been saying all season there's no simple in-season fix but there are a number of small ones that can be made to improve things. Those two moves were steps in the right direction.

So I'm encouraged about Eagles chances, not just in this game but for what's left of the season. Bill Belichick has talked about about how Thanksgiving is really the start of the "second season"--by then a team knows what it is and where it stands, and the coaches and players can make the needed adjustments to improve. Six days ago his team didn't and the Eagles did, and because of it the Eagles are still in good position to make the playoffs. This season is strange.

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