Eagles

Your In-Depth Eagles vs. Broncos Week 9 Preview

RON CHENOY | USA TODAY

Just one more victory and it’s 8-1 heading into the bye for the Philadelphia Eagles.

And if the Eagles weren’t serious enough contenders for a potential Lombardi Trophy, they went out and acquired Jay Ajayi before Tuesday’s trade deadline. This is going to be a fun second half of the season.

Buckle up!

No looking ahead ,though, the Eagles have to take care of business Sunday when the Denver Broncos, losers of three straight, stroll into Lincoln Financial Field.

EAGLES PASSING GAME VS. BRONCOS PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 101.6 PASSER RATING (5/32), 243 YPG (11/32)
DEN- 87.4 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (14/32), 188 YPG ALLOWED (6/32)

Carson Wentz had thrown 11 touchdowns in three games, but was lackluster against the 49ers on Sunday. The offensive line was an abomination, Lane Johnson struggled mightily. Wentz didn’t have a lot of time to scan the field because of this and finished 18-of-32 for 182 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. And even when he was getting protected better in the second half, Wentz’s accuracy wavered. He threw behind some receivers and sailed a couple over their heads.

There was a lot of discussion prior to the trade deadline about the Eagles potentially acquiring a tackle, but Philly didn’t make a move. The Eagles obviously needed tackle help when Jason Peters was lost for the season during the Eagles’ Monday night win against the Washington Redskins, but a steep price was set when the Seattle Seahawks sent a second and fifth-round pick along with Jeremy Lane for Duane Brown on Wednesday.

Instead, the Eagles acquired Jay Ajayi, who will help out in pass protection. His most underrated trait for the team until the end of the season will be his pass protection, where he is solid. Wentz has been getting blitzed and hit a ton in recent weeks and the Eagles’ running backs have all struggled to pick it up. Their best pass protector in the backfield was the diminutive Darren Sproles before his injury. Out of the 44 qualified running backs in pass protection, Ajayi is ranked 19th compared to Blount’s 33 and Smallwood’s 44.

The Eagles better get their pass protections issues sorted out quickly with Von Miller coming into town on Sunday. His get-off might be the best in the NFL. Miller usually lines up on the left side, but I’m sure Denver will try to exploit Big V on the left side. Here’s what Broncos head coach Vance Joseph had to say about that.

We have a plan each week to try to free up Von, whether he’s in the core in the defensive line or right or left end.

The Broncos have the sixth-ranked pass defense in the NFL, led by arguably the best cornerback tandem of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. So don’t expect a lot of production from the Eagles’ wideouts, but where they might find success is from Zach Ertz. Denver is allowing the fourth most yards to opposing tight ends this season.

 

EAGLES RUNNING GAME VS. BRONCOS RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 4.2 YPC (15/32), 129.3 YPG (5/32)
DEN- 3.0 YPC ALLOWED (2/32), 72.9 YPG ALLOWED (2/32)

How much of Ajayi will we see on Sunday? Honestly, I think he’ll be used more for his pass protection than his running skills. I expect his carries to be limited as he continues to learn the playbook.

The loss of Peters makes the running game more predictable, the Eagles will be running along the right side of the line more than they do to the left. They did that last year when Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in for Lane Johnson at right tackle, the Birds predominantly ran the football to the left. The offensive line has done a tremendous job of opening up holes all season long, but with things being a little more predictable, we’ll see how the line responds.

Good thing Ajayi is here now because he can create his own yards. So if the Eagles can continue to run the ball effectively, that helps the passing game and keeping Wentz a little bit more upright.

The Broncos are extremely difficult to run against. They are second in yards per game allowed (72.9), behind only the Eagles, but limit opponents to just 3.0 yards per carry. Philadelphia, meanwhile, surrenders 3.8 yards per tote. This is the same Denver defense that limited Ezekiel Elliott to just eight yards in a win earlier this season against the Dallas Cowboys. Domata Peko is Denver’s nose tackle and men of that girth have given Eagles center Jason Kelce in the past. Derek Wolfe is the key member to that 3-4 front.

BRONCOS PASSING GAME VS. EAGLES PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 84.4 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (12/32), 257 YPG ALLOWED (27/32)
DEN- 76.6 PASSER RATING (28/32), 221 YPG (17/32)

They picked Brock.

Idiots!

Brock Osweiler is a 6’8 statue with one of the strongest arms in the NFL, but his accuracy wavers and he needs a lot of protection in order to complete his deep tosses. That’s a lot of time that the Eagles aren’t going to allow him. Denver doesn’t exactly possess an offensive line that you’d feel confident giving Osweiler either. I don’t think this was the right week to make the move, but here’s what Joseph had to say.

When you lose three in a row and how we’ve lost the football games, again [Monday] on offense with four turnovers, I think everything is for discussion. It’s fair to say, right now, everything is being discussed. … It’s unfair to your team if you’re not discussing that position.

Osweiler started seven games during the Broncos’ Super Bowl season in 2015 while Peyton Manning was injured. This is his first start with Denver since after spending one disastrous year in Houston and a short stint in Cleveland before being released in the preseason. I think Trevor Siemian, who isn’t much better, and his propensity of getting the ball out quicker is the better option against Philly, despite all the turnovers that piled up on Monday night against Kansas City.

The Eagles’ defensive line should be licking their chops.

Emmanuel Sanders is expected to return for the Broncos this weeks after missing his last two games with an ankle injury. He and Demaryius Thomas are a dynamic duo and Sanders is normally the type of jittery wideout that gives the Eagles problems, but with Brock at the helm I don’t feel the pair will pose as much of a threat.

 

BRONCOS RUNNING GAME VS. EAGLES RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 3.8 YPC ALLOWED (12/32), 70.4 YPG ALLOWED (1/32)
DEN- 4.4 YPC (7/32), 123.4 YPG (9/32)

C.J. Anderson is Denver’s starting running back, but like the Eagles, the Broncos like to use multiple running backs at their disposal. Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles will also see carries and Booker was the one Jon Gruden was praising on Monday Night Football, proclaiming him the best of Denver’s trio of backs. Anderson leads the team with 469 rushing yards.

Anderson reacted to Gruden’s opinion.

I play football, that’s all I do. He’s a commentator on Monday Night Football. I’m the running back for the Denver Broncos. Maybe we should switch jobs. I guess that’s my reaction … We have three backs who can play anywhere in the league, and we understand that. However someone feels about Book, someone feels about Jamaal or someone feels about me, everybody has their own opinions. We have three very, very unselfish guys back there and we all share it.

Whether it’s Anderson, Booker or Charles, it’ll be tough sledding against the Eagles’ No. 1 ranked run defense.

 

PREDICTION:
With Osweiler starting I’m a lot more confident in an Eagles victory than with Siemian, because I believe his propensity of getting the ball out quicker is better equipped against Philly. Osweiler has a big arm and needs time to take deep shots down the field and isn’t as accurate on the shorter patterns. He’s going to have no shot going against Philadelphia’s defensive line. The Eagles might struggle against the Broncos’ ferocious defense, but watch for Ertz to be a bright spot offensively going against the Broncos’ fourth-worst yardage allowed mark to tight ends. That could be the difference in a red zone situation. I think Von Miller and company will give Philadelphia’s offensive line trouble, but I’m not so sure the Broncos can score more than 10 points. Give me the Birds.

19-9 Eagles

 


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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