The Eagles have their hands full for week 11 of the NFL season. They will host the dominant New England Patriots who currently boast an impressive record of 8-1. The Birds simply can’t afford to take games off down the stretch as they remain locked in a battle for the NFC East crown with the Dallas Cowboys. Despite being the home team, the Eagles will be underdogs for this Super Bowl LII Rematch. Below are three key aspects of the upcoming showdown to prep you for before Sunday’s 4:25 pm kickoff.
The Coaching Question
While coaching is always an important factor heading into significant NFL games, this is a game where that is especially true. This is because both teams are coming off their bye weeks and have had substantial time to gameplan for the opposing squad. Doug Pederson is one of the few coaches who can say he outcoached Bill Belichick, doing so on the biggest of stages in Super Bowl LII, but you can bet the Sith Lord hasn’t forgotten that moment and will be prepared. The Patriots defense are notorious for taking away a team’s top option and daring second and third options to perform. This likely means that Zach Ertz will be heavily focused on and the Birds need to be ready to look other directions on offense, despite the tight end coming off his best game of the season.
Ability for Pass Catchers to Create Separation
The sad news broke last week that DeSean Jackson would be missing several games and opting for abdominal surgery. The Eagles have played a majority of their games this season without the wideout and will once again rely on other options this Sunday. These receivers will face a daunting task as New England has the best secondary in the league, led by all-pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The primary offensive scheme will likely be to lean on running backs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders in an effort to control the clock and keep Brady’s offense off the field. However, there will definitely come several points in the game where the Eagles have to throw the ball. Carson Wentz will be counting on Ertz, Jeffery, and company to overcome the stellar Patriots secondary and keep drives alive by creating separation.
Understand Patriot’s Offensive Packages
Over the years, the Patriots have proven to be very creative on offense through employing a variety of personnel. The Bird’s defense will need to be constantly aware of substitutions on the Patriots end to know what attack is most likely to come. Sony Michel is their power running back but does little in the passing game. Meanwhile James White is the polar opposite, possessing the ability for large chunk gains through catching the ball out of the backfield. While there are times that screen passes are called for Michel, or that White or fellow pass-catching back Rex Burkhead is handed the ball, these plays are the exception rather than the norm.
The Bigger Picture
With the Vikings and Seahawks each earning victories last week, it is becoming increasingly likely that a wild card playoff spot will be unavailable for an NFC East team. This means that the only path to the playoffs is winning the NFC East outright. The Cowboys have an easier matchup this week, facing a Lions team that is probably without starting quarterback Matt Stafford. This makes the Super Bowl LII rematch all the more vital for the Birds to win.