The Eagles travel to Buffalo today to take on the Bills. It’s a must-win game for the Birds as their Super Bowl hopes have faded.
Not only is the team no longer a legitimate championship contender, but they also aren’t even a threat to make the playoffs anymore. Philadelphia will need to get their offense untracked against one of the NFL’s most elite defenses.
Can it happen? Sure. But after a tumultuous week, filled with drama and controversy in South Philly, it’s going to be an uphill climb.
One thing for certain is it’s all business. The boys better be ready for a battle.
Eagles-Bills: Top 5 Storylines to Watch
Make Josh Allen Beat You
The Bills are a very simple team to gameplan for: stop the run and make the quarterback beat you. It’s not that second-year quarterback Josh Allen isn’t a good player (this reporter thinks he’s a rising star), it’s just that he hasn’t shown the ability to win his team games yet. Allen went 16-of-26 for 202 yards, with two touchdowns last week versus Miami. His 62.4 completion percentage is middle of the road while throwing for 1,324 yards and seven touchdowns in six games. The Eagles have to make Allen beat them through the air.
Eagles Cornerbacks Need to Step Up
It’s the same old song and dance, maybe this week it’ll be a different tune. After cutting Orlando Scandrick, the Eagles will start Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills after both players enjoyed full weeks of practice. The slot corner? Head coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t commit to his starter, but it sure sounds like Sidney Jones will the guy there.
Avonte Maddox is still recovering from a neck injury and Craig James is entrenched as the backup on the outside. Either way, this unit needs to step up. The Bills’ top receiving options are John Brown, Cole Beasley and Robert Foster — not a star-studded field — although Brown has shown flashes. He is clearly their No. 1 target and needs to be locked down, preferably by Mills.
Frank Gore Found the Fountain of Youth
Is this the year Frank Gore finally slows down and considers retirement? It doesn’t appear that way. Gore, in his 15th season, has rushed for 388 yards at a clip of 4.5 yards per carry. He’s a future Hall of Famer. Did you know Gore ranks fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list? He’s just 133 yards behind Barry Sanders. Meanwhile, the Eagles boast one of the league’s top rush defenses after allowing 89.4 yards per game. They had been tops before Ezekiel Elliott ran roughshod over them.
Carson Wentz Looking for Signature Win
Carson Wentz has largely been getting a pass for the team’s disappointing season. Not anymore, not after anonymous sources cited a lack of leadership. Wentz, whose 13 touchdowns is tied for fifth-best in the NFL, needs to put this struggling team on his back and place his stamp on a signature win. The Eagles are in desperation mode and the injuries at wide receiver are no longer an excuse.
Wentz needs to take advantage of his check-downs, keep the chains moving and hit on a few big splash plays. Fans want to see some emotion from the rocket-armed quarterback. If Nelson Agholor drops a pass or fails to put in enough effort, Wentz needs to yell and get in his face. Take a page out of Tom Brady’s playbook.
Bills-Eagles: Players to Watch
Tre’ Davious White, Bills
The best cornerback nobody is talking about. The 24-year-old was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after turning the tide in the Bills’ favor last week with an interception and forced fumble.
He’s a stud and a player former Eagles scouting director Joe Douglas wanted to draft. White went 27th overall in the 2017 draft, or 13 picks after the Eagles chose Derek Barnett. White has nine interceptions in three seasons while emerging as a true shutdown corner. He’ll be stuck to Alshon Jeffery like glue.
Zach Ertz, Eagles
This is finally the game where Ertz proves why he’s arguably the best tight end in football. It’s been slow sledding for him despite leading the team in both receptions (35) and receiving yards (404).
Those stats are hollow as he hasn’t done it in the clutch, even contributing a costly fumble late in the Minnesota game. The rumors that Carson Wents over-targets Ertz can’t factor into the gameplan. Get him involved early and often, specifically on some crossing routes across the middle of the field.
Bills-Eagles: Game Prediction
Let’s keep it brief. The Eagles have to win this game. Otherwise, they’ll probably be sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline on Oct. 29. The gameplan is simple for success. On defense, stack the box to stop Frank Gore and dare Josh Allen to beat you. On offense, run Jordan Howard into the ground and make enough splash plays through the air to walk out with the win.
Carson Wentz doesn’t have to be Superman, but he does have to remind everyone that he is a franchise quarterback capable of winning games with his arm. The Wentz-to-Ertz connection needs to be strong. Eagles do just enough in a 20-13 victory that saves the season at least for another week.
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