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Eagles opposing player to stop, Week 12 edition

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo Bills Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

He can look brilliant at times, and then be perplexing the next. It’s been Josh Allen’s narrative with the Buffalo Bills. What version of Allen will show up this Sunday when the Eagles host the Bills at 4:25 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field on national TV?

Allen is No. 6 in the NFL in passing, with 2,875 yards over 11 games in which the Bills are 6-5 and playing for their playoff lives. Allen has also thrown 12 interceptions and lost three fumbles. Buffalo blamed its unsteady offense on offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and fired him elevating quarterbacks coach Joe Brady to that role last game against the New York Jets. The Bills responded with 32 points, using a more simplified offense under Brady. Entering Week 12, Allen led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 22 (since surpassed on Thanksgiving by Dak Prescott).

Much like Jalen Hurts, Allen has an ability to create something from nothing with his legs.

“It’s really hard to defend him,” conceded Eagles’ defensive coordinator Sean Desai of Allen. “He can beat you throwing the ball, running the ball as a true runner with the quarterback run game and as a scrambler. He can create explosives in a lot of different ways. He’s big. He’s tough and physical. He’s accurate. He has a strong arm. All those things present unique challenges.”

The Eagles have been extremely vulnerable against the pass. Entering Week 12, they are No. 28 against the pass in the NFL, giving up an average 248.1 yards a game. After leading the NFL with a franchise-record 70 sacks, the Eagles have sagged in the pressure area this season, ranking No. 17 in sack percentage. Compound that to the Eagles’ struggles covering and Allen could potentially have a big day. Cornerback James Bradbury does not seem to be the player he was a year ago, and the Eagles have had constant problems with defending the middle of the field.

The Eagles pulled out a 21-17 victory over Kansas City on Monday night, though were fortunate to escape with that. Philadelphia has been yielding about 194 yards a game to opposing receivers this season, which is the third-highest total in the NFL. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 26 drops. Kansas City has no one like Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs, the NFL’s No. 5 receiver entering Week 12 with 77 catches for 895 yards and seven touchdowns. Buffalo’s other wide receivers, Gabe Davis and Khalil Shakir, can do some damage, too.

“I think week to week something that we evaluate and look at are how the defenses are kind of playing us,” said Brady about facing the Eagles. “I don’t think it’s anything where, hey, this week or for the rest of the season, we’re going to be a team that just attacks the middle of the field for example. It’s how can we put our players in position to have success based on what we’re going against, and not just doing it because somebody else had success running against that defense. Does it fit us? Does it fit our guys? What are the matchups?”

The Eagles will need pressure from edge rushers Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat, who will be forced to do double duty staying disciplined in maintaining the edge in keeping Allen inside. The Eagles have given up 21 passing touchdowns, the third-most in the league behind Washington (28) and Chicago (22). The Eagles have just five interceptions this season, the only team with fewer is Tennessee (3).

What’s worse is the Buffalo team arriving at the Linc on Sunday is in danger of not making the playoffs. It is a team that was expected to be a Super Bowl contender this season and through 11 games have been a grave disappointment. The 9-1 Eagles are in the throes of their schedule gauntlet coming off the Chiefs’ victory.

With a revived Allen surrounded by a desperate team, this could translate into the Eagles’ first home loss this season. Keeping Allen contained in the pocket and forcing his Mr. Hyde hero-ball version to surface could prevent that from happening.

Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for,,,, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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