In what looks like a David vs Goliath match-up on paper, Bleeding Green Nation gives us their insights on what the Broncos can load in their sling in order to be victors this week.
The Philadelphia Eagles have obviously played very well this season; they own the NFL’s best record at 7-1. They’re legitimately good. But no NFL team is entirely without flaws. Here are three reasons why the Eagles could lose on Sunday.
The Eagles have scored over 20 points in 12 of their last 12 games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. The Eagles have also scored at least 25 points in their last six games, which is also the longest active streak in that category.
We know the Eagles can score. But can they keep things going against a really good Denver Broncos defense? That’s the question this week.
Carson Wentz is coming off arguably his worst game of the season against a bad 49ers defense. Wentz wasn’t downright awful, but he just wasn’t as sharp as he’s been for most of 2017. He can’t really afford to struggle like that again this week.
Wentz’s struggles likely weren’t aided by the rainy/windy conditions, but San Francisco’s pressure also had an impact on him. The Eagles’ offensive line, which has played very well for most of the season, didn’t turn in their best performance against the 49ers. Despite winning by 23 points, starting right tackle Lane Johnson said it felt like the Eagles lost the game based on how poorly he felt they played offensively.
Losing Jason Peters for the season obviously hurt them. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is “decent” in pass protection but he’s just not a great run blocker.Last week, Vaitai (aka Big V) was going up against some run-of-the-mill defensive linemen. This week, however, he’ll potentially be going up the likes of Von Miller and/or Shane Ray. That’ll be a big challenge for the second-year offensive tackle. There’s concern Vaitai could get beat and cause Wentz to get strip-sacked from behind.
Wentz (and company) must protect the ball this week. The Eagles can’t give the Broncos’ struggling offense short fields to work on. If Wentz struggles with his accuracy like he did against the 49ers, he might find himself sailing a pass and getting picked off by this Denver defense.
The Broncos’ offense isn’t very intimidating. Whereas the Eagles have scored over 20 points in 12 of their last 12 games, Denver has only managed to do it three times. The Broncos are only averaging 9.7 points per game in their last three tilts.
The difference this week, of course, is that Trevor Siemian was starting those games. Now the Broncos are turning to Brock Osweiler, who has been able to win games with assistance from the Denver defense. Osweiler isn’t very intimidating by any means, but maybe something weird happens where he comes in and sparks the offense. Doesn’t seem likely to me, but you never know.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles fare against the Broncos’ defense. Philadelphia currently ranks as the top run defense in the league; they’re only allowing 70.4 yards per game. If the Broncos can somehow get the run going, that’d be pretty concerning. It just doesn’t seem super likely based on how this season has gone thus far, but C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles are some talented backs. Philly’s defense has the potential to be exposed if they can’t stop the run. That’s their main goal. Take away the run, make the opponent pass all game, allow their pass rushers to tee off on the quarterback.
One might call this a “trap game” for the Eagles since their bye is next week and they might be taking a struggling Broncos team lightly. I don’t think that’s the case, though. Everyone knows Denver’s defense is tough. I don’t see them taking Vance Joseph’s side lightly.
The big concern I have here is something that popped up on Thursday. Starting tight end Zach Ertz popped up on the injury report with a hamstring issue. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has since said Ertz is going to play on Sunday, but I wonder if the tight end’s effectiveness might be hampered. That’d be a major concern for Philly because he’s the Eagles’ leader in targets, receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, and first downs. Ertz is a major security blanket for Carson Wentz. He’s also poised to be the offense’s biggest weapons against the Broncos, on paper. Denver has struggled to cover tight ends so the Eagles really could use a healthy Ertz in order to win. The offense could struggle if he’s not 100%.