Philadelphia Eagles: Updated Game-by-Game Outlook for 2012
Despite their inability to hang onto the football, the Philadelphia Eagles should be happy with a 3-2 record and a piece of the NFC East lead.
Loaded with offensive firepower and a stout defense to go along with, this team has developed a tendency of making games more difficult than they ought to be.
For example, in all three of their wins, the Eagles have won by four points—combined!
To add insult to injury, they're ranked 31st in the league in points per game with 16.
Philadelphia entered the season with the seventh hardest schedule in the league. Unfortunately, its not going to get any easier in the coming weeks.
It'll be playing some of the most potent offenses in the league. So 16 points isn't going to cut it.
Let's take a look at what we can expect from each of the Eagles' remaining games this season.
Week 6: Lions
Rob Carr/Getty Images
It would be in the Eagles' best interest not to underestimate this team. Coming off a tough loss to Pittsburgh, it could be easy to look past a 1-3 team, considering the strength of their remaining schedule.
But that could turn out to be a costly mistake.
The Lions will be coming into the Linc with the second-best passing attack in the game, featuring arguably the best receiver in in the game in Calvin Johnson.
At 6'5", 236, Johnson is virtually indefensible. With his strength and speed, he's a threat to score from anywhere on the field. His size and incredible leaping ability make him a nightmare in the red zone. This man is called "Megatron" for a reason.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the rest of the secondary must account for Johnson at all times in order to limit Detroit's offense. If they can take away Stafford's primary option, it'll force him to hold the ball longer, thus giving the defensive line more time to rush.
As for the Philadelphia offense, it, too, has no margin for error. Detroit's defense is anchored by linebacker Stephen Tullock and features other key players like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. Both their run and pass defense is in the top 15, and they're third in the league in total yards allowed.
However, when the Eagles are at they're best, there aren't too many defenses that can slow them down. LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick simply create to many matchup problems. As has been the case for every game thus far this year, if Philadelphia doesn't shoot itself in the foot, there is no reason why it shouldn't win.
Week 8: Falcons
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
It's worth noting that Andy Reid is undefeated on weeks after the bye, so that in itself adds to the Eagles' chances.
When these two teams met last year, it was a shootout with the Falcons coming out on top.
This year should be no different, as far as the shootout goes.
Both teams run high-powered offenses that are capable of putting up points early in bunches.
Atlanta boasts one of the best receiving corps in the league with Roddy White, Julio Jones and the ageless Tony Gonzalez. However, Philadelphia's secondary is equally impressive, sporting two premier shutdown corners in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Whether Juan Castillo can devise a game plan to slow down Matt Ryan's passing attack will be one of the themes for this game.
In last season's game, Jeremy Maclin went wild, bringing in 13 balls for 171 yards and two touchdowns. There's no doubt that Atlanta will make more of an effort to limit his productivity.
One of the headlines of this game that could go overlooked is the battle of the running backs. Michael Turner and LeSean Mccoy are established backs in the league. Considering the nature of both teams to pass first, the tailback that contributes more to his offense could be big factor who comes off victorious.
Week 9: Saints
Harry How/Getty Images
Immediately after their showdown with Falcons, the Eagles will face another outstanding offense.
Although the Saints offense may be high-octane, it is also one-dimensional. They do not have a running game to lean on, which is why Brees is often attempting 40-plus passes.
It will be challenging for the secondary, but at the same time, it works to the Eagles' advantage. Philadelphia is at its best when it focuses solely on rushing the passer. The best way to keep any quarterback out of rhythm is to hit him.
Drew Brees is no different.
Michael Vick and the rest of the offense shouldn't struggle at all this game. New Orleans' overall defense is at the bottom of the league.
In order to beat the Saints, the Eagles are going to have to put a lot of points, but the New Orleans defense won't make that terribly difficult.
Be prepared for another shootout.
Week 10: Cowboys
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
The Week 10 matchup against the Cowboys is crucial to the second half of the Eagles' season. This game will be the first of five divisional games they'll have in their final eight games. It's imperative that they don't get off to a poor start for the final stretch of the regular-season games. The final stretch will prove to be essential to their playoff hopes.
It's safe to say that these two teams know a thing or two about each other. In last year's meetings, the Eagles got the better of the Cowboys both times, including a 34-7 blowout in Week 8.
In that monster win, LeSean McCoy had a career night, rushing for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
In the previous two games, the Cowboys have only been able to muster 14 points total. What's significant about that statistic is that that was against a defense notorious for melting down in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia's defense is significantly better than last year, but on the flip side, so is Dallas'. In the offseason, the Cowboys revamped their secondary, an area of their defense that was exploited last year.
Dallas has always done a decent job of getting pressure on Michael Vick, particularly DeMarcus Ware. And because of its new and improved secondary, Philly may have trouble moving the ball through the air. Therefore it'd make sense for LeSean McCoy to be the centerpiece of the offense.
On any given day, Dallas' offense can compete with anyone. It has talented receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, a future Hall of Fame tight end in Jason Witten and a capable quarterback in Tony Romo.
Despite beating the Cowboys twice last year, the Philadelphia defense must wipe the slate clean, and respect the potency of Dallas' offense. Not only will the secondary be challenged, but the front seven will be as well, thanks to DeMarco Murray.
Week 11: Redskins
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
The Week 11 matchup against the Redskins is the second of five divisional games in the Eagles' final eight.
It will be the first time they face the new-look Redskins with sensational rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. It should be an interesting matchup considering the fact that both defenses practice against a mobile quarterback everyday.
Having ample experience with a quarterback that uses his legs puts makes their preparations that much easier.
However, Washington's defense has suffered crippling injuries, like the loss of linebacker Brian Orakpo. His absence makes it difficult for the Redskins' front seven to contain an elite back like LeSean Mccoy. So it would make sense for the Eagles to attack Orakpo's replacement.
Even with Orakpo out, the front seven isn't the weak point of the defense; the secondary is. It consistently ranks at the bottom of the league.
The secondary's ineptitude is exactly what Michael Vick and the receivers need to have a big day.
In terms of Washington's offense, everything starts and ends with Robert Griffin III. The receivers Garcon, Moss and Morgan are exceptional, but Robert Griffin III makes them better. So, the best way for the Eagles to derail this offense to make RG3 miserable and contain him when he decides to run.
Containment may be the single most important key to making Griffin ineffective on the run.
Week 12: Panthers
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
The Carolina Panthers are one of those teams that statistically seem mediocre until you see them play on Sundays. Minus a few, they are always competitive in their games, and when they lose, it isn't by much.
At this point in the season, these type of teams are dangerous for the Eagles. These are teams that never seem to be able to put it all together, but play every game with pride and with a belief that they can actually win.
This is going to be a very emotional game between two competitive teams, especially with the end of the season looming.
In order for the Eagles to be successful in this game, they first have to stop the running attack of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton. Stopping the run would make them one-dimensional, and that is advantageous to the Eagles because there is only one major receiving threat on for the Panthers and that's Steve Smith.
On offense, it's simple. The Eagles need to execute because there isn't one particular area that Carolina specializes in on defense. As long as they take care of the ball, they should be fine.
Week 13: Cowboys
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
With the first game being played in Philly, this game in Dallas will serve as a redemption game for the losing team.
It'll be the second time in a month that the two teams play and the third of five divisional games in the the final eight of the Eagles regular season.
The same strategic analysis for Week 10 applies for this week as well.
However, the hate and animosity surrounding this rivalry will be doubled in the second meeting because it's closer to the end of the season and the playoff race will be heating up.
Week 14: Buccaneers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
On the Eagles schedule, this is one of the those "gimme" games that you're supposed to win without a doubt. If you happen to lose them, they're devastating. They halt your momentum and force you to reevaluate at a point in the season where you're supposed to be playing your best football.
In terms of matchups, the Bucs are completely outmatched. This is a game that realistically shouldn't be close, especially late in the season when the Eagles usually peak. The only way Tampa Bay could be competitive is if the Eagles turned the ball over, which is something they've been known to do. But other than that, the Eagles get through this week easy.
Week 15: Bengals
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
For the Cincinnati Bengals, last season was certainly no fluke because it seems as if they're doing the same thing this year. One thing about the Bengals is that they're not one of the flashiest or most publicized teams in the NFL, but at the end of the day, they win football games.
When facing the Bengals, something the Eagles should keep an eye out for is that lethal connection between quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green. These two young studs are a big reason as to why Cincinnati is relevant again. The key to shutting down its offense is making sure these guys don't get in a rhythm.
Defensively, Cincinnati is in the middle of the pack. The Eagles are an elite offense and shouldn't have any trouble moving the ball, provided they actually hold on to it.
Week 16: Redskins
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
This Week 16 matchup against the Redskins will be the Eagles fourth of five divisional games in eight weeks. Depending on the standings, this game could have serious playoff implications.
As always, because it is the second divisional game between these two teams, the loser of the previous game will be playing for redemption. Therefore, the level of intensity and division rivalry should can be expected to rise significantly.
As far as what to expect in turns of strategy, it's the same as Week 11.
Week 17: Giants
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The fifth and final divisional game in eight weeks is against the Giants in the last week of the regular season. You get the feeling that this game could possibly decide who wins the NFC East. Maybe this game will decide one of these team's playoff hopes.
What we do know is that regardless of the implications this game holds, it's going to epic. It's going to be a nasty, physical, gloves-off dogfight between two rivals that absolutely despise each other.
What adds more fuel to the fire is that the Eagles have beaten the Giants eight of the last nine times, including earlier in the season.
This game is going to come down to defense because both of these teams have tremendous pride on that side of the ball. Both are going to get after the quarterback, as well as push the limits to see how much they can get away with.
The Giants are going to have to count on Eli yet again to work another miracle and pull them through the fire. If the Eagles were smart, they'd run LeSean McCoy all night because the pressure on Vick isn't going to give him enough time to exploit New York's weak secondary.
These teams know each other's game plan so well that they don't attempt to switch it up. Instead they rely on execution and mental toughness because that's what ultimately wins the game.