Philadelphia, PA - It’s that time again. The middle of November is when crunch time begins for NFL teams. Contenders are separated from pretenders, the playoff picture slowly molds into place, and players make their final statements to their team management before the offseason. At 5-4, the Philadelphia Eagles are afloat in the race but have a ways to go if they want to play January football for a third straight season.
Coming off a bye, Philly has a chance to really start a push for the playoffs. The issue is that their next opponent will be the New England Patriots, who took their first loss of the season last week. The Pats are also coming off a bye week, and figure to regroup after a humbling defeat against the Ravens. It’ll also be a rematch of Super Bowl LII, which Philly won. Hopefully, they can channel some of the magic from that game into a sixth win on the season.
The Eagles will still be without Alshon Jeffery at receiver and it’s fair to wonder if the Eagles will be able to get much done against a stout Pats defense. Even if Carson Wentz gets the time, will he be able to find room for a pass? The Birds did sign Jordan Matthews to play receiver and he figures to contribute immediately alongside Agholor and Arcega-Whiteside. Look for Wentz to target Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and maybe running backs out of the backfield. The defensive weakness for New England is in the linebacking core on passing downs. There may be opportunities in the middle if Wentz can find them.
Defensively, it’s always a challenge to play the surgical Tom Brady. What the Eagles can do, is try to win on first and second down. If you can force Brady to have to drop back on third downs, that’s going to make it easier. The Eagles defensive line will need to force pressure. Look for 1-2 key turnovers being a deciding factor in this game.
Overall, I think this will be a very close battle, but it ultimately will be won by New England. Dropping to 5-5 won’t be the end of the road for the birds though, especially with a lighter schedule down the stretch, which includes two matchups with the Giants, one with the Redskins and another with Miami. Final Score: Eagles, 24. Patriots, 30.
PhillyBite sports contributor and Philadelphia Eagles Writer.