The Philadelphia Eagles 2015 regular season football schedule continues this week with a game against the New England Patriots. The Eagles will have a tough time winning this one. In advance of this game, I reached out to our friends over at Pats Pulpit. Our friend Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming matchup. Let's take a look at his answers.
1) The Pats are really good and the Eagles are not. Philadelphia has allowed 45 points in two straight game. Are you even a little worried that New England might lose somehow? Could this be a trap game?
I would say it could be a trap game if it were on the road, but the Patriots have a pretty good track record of righting the ship whenever they're playing at home. It's also very rare for New England to lose back-to-back games under Bill Belichick (just four times since 2003) and Tom Brady will want to prove that the offense can function with Rob Gronkowski on the sideline.
There's little reason to think the Patriots banged up offense can post 45 points on anyone this week, but there's a general sense of confidence that the team will figure out how to move forward in a positive way.
2) The Eagles’ struggles on defense have been highlighted recently, but their offense is pretty awful as well. What’s your confidence level in the Patriots’ defense?
New England's defense is better than last year's version and is probably the team's best since the core of the Dynasty disappeared around 2009 (Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel). The run defense has been stellar and the secondary has exceeded all expectations after the departure of Darrelle Revis.
There is definitely concern surrounding the health of the Patriots linebackers as Jamie Collins has missed the past four games with a serious illness and Dont'a Hightower just suffered a knee sprain in the first half against the Broncos. Denver's running back yards per carry jumped from 2.9 to 8.8 once Hightower left the game, and he offers less visible value in the passing game. If either one of these players can start on Sunday, the defense will be fine, but if both are sidelined, the Eagles could have a day in the middle of the field.
3) Who is one player you’d steal from the Eagles’ roster to put on the Patriots?
Where to start? Fletcher Cox is someone I'd highlight as the best player in Philadelphia and would be an undeniable asset. However, the Patriots are kind of full on the defensive interior and his value added over what's currently on the New England roster might not be the best use of stealing a player.
I could point to Jordan Matthews as the dominant receiver that the Patriots could use with Julian Edelman and potentially Danny Amendola sidelined. Zach Ertz would be a wonderful addition with Rob Gronkowski sidelined. Maybe even DeMarco Murray or Ryan Mathews.
But for this one game, there's no player I'd want more than Darren Sproles. I envision Sproles functioning a similar capacity as Dion Lewis in the Patriots offense, acting as an outlet receiver for roughly 10 targets per game. New England has really missed Lewis since he tore his ACL and Sproles would be a great player to join the roster.
4) Can you name one matchup that really favors the Eagles?
Fletcher Cox against [insert Patriots interior lineman here]. Cox will win a lot and it's why I think the Patriots could very well ignore the running game. New England features tremendous youth on the inside as rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson rotate at guard, second year player Bryan Stork just took over for rookie David Andrews at center, and third year guard Josh Kline is a full time starter.
All of these players had trouble against the Broncos' Derek Wolfe. I consider Cox a cut above Wolfe and the Broncos had absolutely no issues discarding the Patriots blocks.
5) Let’s hear your predictions for this game. How many points do the Patriots win by?
I think the Patriots win by roughly 10 points, but it won't be a major blowout that you're expecting. The Patriots will want to get through this game unscathed, so if they get a lead in the fourth quarter, they'll probably take their foot off the gas and try to drain the clock