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Philadelphia vs. New England: Eagles Preseason Week 2 Game Preview

Cody SwartzSenior Writer IAugust 14, 2014

Philadelphia vs. New England: Eagles Preseason Week 2 Game Preview

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles will travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots in the second week of preseason contests. Fresh off a 34-28 loss to the Chicago Bears, Chip Kelly will look to get his Birds back on track this Friday night.

    Nick Foles was rusty in his first action since last year’s Wild Card Weekend loss to the New Orleans Saints, and his two interceptions matched his 2013 total from the entire regular season.

    With that being said, the Eagles still maintained a 28-17 lead midway through the third quarter before letting up 17 unanswered points to the Bears.

    Kelly and Bill Belichick have been holding joint practices this week, giving both teams an early look at the other. The final score obviously isn’t nearly as important in a preseason contest as it would be in a regular-season game, but this will still be a difficult test for Philadelphia's offense and defense.

    Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis is confident in his team, though, even against an all-time great quarterback in Brady.

    "We are so far advanced of where we were last year.” One year later, Eagles secondary much improved vs. Tom Brady: http://t.co/CstBAnUIas

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) August 12, 2014

    One thing is for sure: The Eagles definitely can’t give up nearly 500 total yards of offense as they did to Chicago a week ago. 

Philadelphia Eagles Preseason Week 1 Recap

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It was a disappointing first game for the Philadelphia Eagles—mistakes and excessive penalties stealing the show early on.

    The team jumped out to a 28-17 lead midway through the third quarter, but it was all downhill from there, as Chicago scored 17 straight to win by six.

    Nick Foles looked nothing like the Pro Bowl quarterback we saw running the offense so effectively a year ago. He seemed rattled and confused, and he threw two interceptions (nearly three).

    Second-year running back Matthew Tucker scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground, giving him the clear edge over Henry Josey and David Fluellen for the final running back spot.

    On defense, the team didn’t get much pressure on Jay Cutler or the other quarterbacks. Vinny Curry had the lone sack. Meanwhile, the secondary was torched, with Jaylen Watkins and Roc Carmichael competing to see who could give up the most yards.

    In general, teams that give up 499 yards and 34 points don’t win many games, and coordinator Billy Davis will have to get his unit back on the right track against New England.

    In the upcoming matchup, the Eagles may be without hobbled receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL, and he pulled out of Thursday’s practice as a precaution, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com.

    If he’s unable to go, that will put more pressure on second-round rookie Jordan Matthews, a much-hyped player who was vastly disappointing in his debut. 

News and Notes

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will practice one more time (Thursday) before they play on Friday.

    Heavy rain made Wednesday’s practice difficult, possibly resulting in the setback for Maclin. Per Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com, Arrelious Benn was taking first-team reps in place of the former first-round draft pick.

    He could see a lot of action on Friday if Maclin isn’t ready to go.

     

    Cary Williams the Trash Talker?

    Always an outspoken player, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams has been vocal about his belief that the Patriots are "cheaters," per Rob Harms of the Boston Globe.

    It will be interesting to see if Tom Brady targets Williams frequently on Friday.

    Last year, Pro Football Focus charted Williams as the NFC’s most targeted cornerback, seeing 117 pass attempts his way during the regular season.

     

    The Kicking Competition…or Not

    On another note, remember that competition between Alex Henery and Carey Spear?

    This tweet from Reuben Frank says it all about who’s winning the battle.

    Carey Spear is the worst kicker I've ever seen.

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) August 13, 2014

Injury Report

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Maclin’s injury in Wednesday’s practice was the big news, as he grabbed his hamstring and left practice early, per Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com.

    Maclin is already rehabbing from a torn ACL that kept him out for all of 2013. He is expected to be the No. 1 receiver in the Eagles offense next season.

    Before leaving practice, Maclin had certainly been holding his own against All-Pro talent Darrelle Revis.

    Jeremy Maclin continues to toast Darrelle Revis in 1 on 1s. Looked right at us after beating him as if to say, "You reporters catch that?"

    — Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 13, 2014

    Per Martin Frank of The News Journal, the injury report as of Wednesday's practice is as follows:


    Player

    Position

    Injury

    Jeremy Maclin

    WR

    Hamstring

    Nolan Carroll

    CB

    Hamstring

    Chris Polk

    RB

    Hamstring

    Matthew Tucker

    RB

    Hamstring

    David Fluellen

    RB

    Hamstring

    Jaylen Watkins

    CB

    Hamstring

    Jake Knott

    ILB

    Hamstring

    Fortunately for the Eagles, these aren’t significant injuries. Depth at running back may be thin, which could lead to an increased workload for Henry Josey. Nolan Carroll and Jaylen Watkins may both sit out, which would force last week’s goat, Roc Carmichael, into action.

X-Factors and Matchups to Watch

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    It’s not a regular-season game, so the starters won’t play more than a small percentage of the contest.

    Nevertheless, the following matchups are definitely worth watching.

     

    Cary Williams vs. Tom Brady

    Cary Williams is one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Just ask him.

    #Eagles CB Cary Williams: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis are "equally talented" as me. http://t.co/n77pOtaszT

    — Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherCSN) July 31, 2014

    In reality, he’s a classic overachiever who played above his level in 2013. Williams held his own against some of the finer receivers in the league, but stopping an All-Pro passer like Tom Brady will be difficult.

    Watch for Brady to target Williams often.

     

    Jason Kelce vs. Vince Wilfork

    The Philadelphia Eagles have themselves one of the game’s top centers in Jason Kelce, an undersized blossoming star who will have his work cut out for him against New England.

    Vince Wilfork is a mammoth of a man, and he’s quite possibly on his way to the Hall of Fame. Wilfork is rehabbing from a devastating Achilles tendon injury, but he’s reportedly looking fresh as ever.

    Kelce has been squaring up against Wilfork in practice, and he said the defensive tackle looks ready to play, per Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. The former sixth-round draft pick is a terrific run-blocker and an impressive pass-blocker as well, but can he keep Wilfork away from Nick Foles?

     

    Eagles Front Seven Against Patriots Offensive Line

    The Eagles didn’t get much pressure on Cutler last week, and they will have an even tougher matchup when they square off against New England. Tom Brady is a Hall of Fame quarterback, he’s smart and has a quick release, and he’s blessed with a top-five offensive line.

    Coordinator Billy Davis will need to rely on creative scheming to get to Brady. He has a handful of good players but no standout pass-rusher. Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton are a talented three-man front. Beau Allen and Vinny Curry provide depth on the line. Meanwhile, there’s Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Marcus Smith and Brandon Graham on the edge. 

Prediction

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Remember that preseason games do not matter in terms of the final score—progress is what the coaches are looking for, as well as injury-free football.

    Can Jordan Matthews take a step forward after last week’s disaster? Can Nick Foles look more like a Pro Bowl quarterback and less like a scared rookie? Can the Philadelphia Eagles put enough pressure on Tom Brady, and then Ryan Mallett, and then Jimmy Garoppolo to win the game?

    Look for more of a low-scoring game. Neither coach will want to break out his best stuff in just a preseason contest. The Eagles defense has to play better than last week, but ultimately, New England has more talent and more depth.

    Score: New England 17, Philadelphia 13 

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