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The optimistic and pessimistic guides to Eagles vs. Patriots

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Which way are you leaning?

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to this week’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, I feel torn. My heart tells me the underdog Eagles are going to find a way to pull off the upset. But my head tells me that could just be wishful thinking.

I can find reasons for both optimism and pessimism regarding this Week 11 matchup, so let’s create a guide for each viewpoint.

THE OPTIMIST

  • The Eagles are riding a two-game win streak! They looked more competent in those two games than they did in bad losses to the Vikings and Cowboys. They’re turning the corner.
  • The Eagles have home field advantage and that’s significant. The Birds are 23-7 at home under Doug Pederson (including playoffs), which marks the second best home winning percentage (.767) in the NFL since 2016.
  • Pederson proved himself capable of outscheming Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LII. He can do it again.
  • The Eagles’ offensive line is playing at a high level. They can open holes for Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders in the running game against a Patriots defense that merely ranks 26th in opponent yards per carry (4.7). Running the ball effectively will make the Eagles less reliant on their wide receivers. Sustaining long drives and winning the time of possession battle will keep Tom Brady off the field.
  • Carson Wentz is doing a great job of protecting the rock he only has four interceptions and three fumbles through nine starts this season. Two of Wentz’s picks game in the first half of an Atlanta Falcons game where the game plan had to be scrapped minutes before kickoff. The other two picks came in garbage time situations. Wentz will play smart and not allow the Pats to get extra possessions.
  • Jordan Matthews is back! JMatt was miscast as a No. 1 option but he proved himself capable as a role player last year with 21 receptions for 337 yards and three touchdowns. JMatt could be a more reliable contributor than the likes of Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins at this point.
  • The Eagles’ defensive line is coming on recently; their 22 sacks over the last five games rank second most in the NFL. Fletcher Cox is looking more and more like himself and now he has Timmy Jernigan back next to him. Being able to generate interior pressure on Brady goes a long way ... just ask Brandon Graham. Pro Football Focus has the Pats’ o-line ranked 13th in pass blocking.
  • The Patriots aren’t as scary as their 8-1 record makes them out to be. New England has had the second easiest schedule to this point. They’ve beaten the following quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick/Josh Rosen combination, Luke Falk, Colt McCoy, Josh Allen/Matt Barkley combination, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield. When the Patriots played a very good quarterback in Lamar Jackson, they lost by three possessions.
  • The Patriots have Nick Folk as their kicker. He only played in his first game since 2017 a couple weeks ago. Maybe he ends up being rusty and misses a kick or two. On a related note, New England only ranks 18th in special teams DVOA.

THE PESSIMIST

  • People are only feeling optimistic about the Eagles because they’re further removed from the team’s struggles. It’s similar to how every team’s fan base feels good in the offseason before the sobering losses pile up.
  • The Patriots are 14-4 after the bye during the Brady and Belichick era. Comparatively, the Eagles are only 1-2 during the Pederson era.
  • In addition to being pissed off about losing to the Ravens, the Pats are really going to want to win this game as revenge for Super Bowl LII.
  • It’s looking like Alshon Jeffery isn’t going to play. How the hell are the Eagles going to beat the Pats with Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside as their top four receivers? Jeffery’s potential absence means the Patriots can simply have Stephon Gilmore take away the Eagles’ most reliable pass catcher in Zach Ertz.
  • The Patriots’ No. 1 DVOA ranked defense is going to be tough to crack. The Eagles already make offense look much harder than it has to be.
  • The Patriots’ defense isn’t just good at preventing teams from moving the ball on them; New England is the best in the league when it comes to forcing turnovers. The Pats are averaging three takeaways per game right now with 27 through nine contests. The Pats are the NFL’s best team in turnover differential at +17.
  • It wasn’t that long ago when the Vikings and Cowboys beat the crap out of the Eagles in back-to-back weeks. Beating Josh Allen and Mitchell Trubisky hardly proves Philly’s season is back on track. The Eagles will struggle against a quarterback who’s actually good.
  • Jim Schwartz’s track record against Belichick is really bad. In six meaningful meetings dating back to 2003, the Patriots have averaged 35 points per game. We all saw how Schwartz’s defense got gashed by the Pats in Super Bowl LII.

Poll

How are you feeling about Sunday’s Eagles vs. Patriots game?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Optimistic
    (811 votes)
  • 52%
    Pessimistic
    (881 votes)
1692 votes total Vote Now