NFL Predictions for 2010 Season: Philadelphia Eagles 2010 Preview Part 2
The Philadelphia Eagles enter this season with many new and younger faces, and Kevin Kolb is now running the show.
This is the second of a three part look at the 2010 Eagles schedule, focusing on weeks six through twelve, and looking at the Eagles' main strengths and concerns heading into each game.
Once again, it is still week one of the preseason, so we will learn new things about every team along the way and as always, injuries can change the course of the season for any team.
With that said, the Eagles have the daunting task of playing the entire AFC South and the NFC North. Their other two non-division opponents are the Falcons and 49ers (because all three teams finished second in their respective divisions).
If you missed part one and would like to read it, you can find it here:
Week 6: vs Atlanta Falcons, October 17, 2010
2009 Record: 9-7 (missed playoffs)
The Falcons are coming off of their first back to back winning seasons in franchise history, and they are hoping to build on that with a 2010 playoff run. The Falcons have the potential to be one of the better offenses in the league. Their defense, however, is a work in progress.
With two potentially explosive offenses and two defenses that have question marks, this game could be a shootout.
The Passing Game: Last season, the Falcons allowed the fifth most passing yards in the league. They have added Dunta Robinson via free agency, but the Falcons simply don't have enough good defensive backs to stop Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, and Brent Celek.
As long as Kevin Kolb can play well, the Eagles' passing game should have a big day, although Kolb is still a huge unknown.
Stopping the pass: The Falcons have one of the better young quarterback receiver duos in the league in Matt Ryan and Roddy White as well as veteran Tony Gonzalez. The Eagles have to put pressure on Matt Ryan and the Eagles' secondary needs to play well in order to win this game.
Stopping the run: Michael Turner suffered from the "curse of 370" last season and had a bit of an off year. This year, however, Turner, Jason Snelling, and Jerious Norwood form a dangerous threesome in the Falcons backfield.
The easiest way to take these three away is for the Eagles to get a big early lead and force the Falcons to pass. The problem is that the Falcons are explosive enough to keep up in a shootout.
Week 7: at Tennessee Titans, October 24, 2010
2009 Record: 8-8 (missed playoffs)
The Titans had a very strong 8-2 run to close last season. However, an 0-6 start kept them out of the playoffs. Most of the offseason talk has been about Chris Johnson's contract.
However, the Titans have lost key defensive contributors like Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Keith Bulluck over the past two offseasons, and their defense has been on the decline since the dominant 2008 season.
The Passing Game: The Titans gave up the second most passing yards and second most passing touchdowns in the entire league last season. The loss of Vanden Bosch means that their passing defense will be even more suspect.
As long as Kolb hasn't had too rough of a season by this point, he should have a good game in this one.
Stopping the pass: I know that a lot of people say that Vince Young is becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
Sorry guys, he's an over glorified game manager, who makes the occasional big drive. He has never been the type of quarterback to beat you with his arm, and the Eagles should be able to contain the Titans' passing game without too much of a problem.
Chris Johnson: While I think saying that Johnson will get 2,500 yards this season is a stretch, he is still one of the most dangerous backs in the league. The Eagles have to keep Johnson from breaking off 50+ yard runs, which is easier said than done.
Vince Young's scrambling: Yes, I know I just said he's an over glorified game manager. However, he is also a good runner, and the Eagles can't let VY's scrambling become a problem, because just stopping Chris Johnson is hard enough.
Week 8: Bye week
The bye week comes at a good time, because the Eagles have three very tough games in the next three weeks.
Week 9: vs Indianapolis Colts, November 7, 2010
2009 Record: 14-2 (lost in Super Bowl to Saints)
The Colts are one of the most consistent teams in the league. They have put up 12+ wins for so many years in a row now that it just seems like a given that they will do it again. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, one of the best receiving corps in the league, and one of the most under appreciated defenses in the league.
Stopping the run: This is no big secret. The Colts haven't been able to run the football effectively for two years in a row. Making the Colts one dimensional is the easy part.
Running the football/ time of possession: This is the weakness of the Colts defense. Establishing a running game does several things. First, it keeps Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis from pinning their ears back and going after Kolb on every down. Second, it allows the Eagles to have nine and ten play drives which limit the possessions of the Colts' offense.
To put this simply, if the Eagles get away from their running game, THEY WILL LOSE THIS GAME (That's directed at you, Andy Reid).
Quarterback Pressure (on offense): Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are simply scary on passing downs. If the Eagles get away from their running game, these two will be all over Kolb on every pass play and there will be sacks and turnovers. The Eagles' offensive tackles will have their hands full, but they have to protect Kolb.
Quarterback Pressure (on defense): I remember the last time the Eagles and the Colts played a regular season game against each other. The Eagles ran a soft zone and Peyton picked it to pieces.
The Colts' offensive line does an excellent job of protecting Peyton. The Eagles have to find a way to get pressure, whether it be through the front four or from well timed blitzes. It's also important to disguise the blitzes, otherwise Manning will make the pre-snap adjustments to beat the blitz.
Week 10: at Washington Redskins, November 15, 2010
2009 Record: 4-12 (missed playoffs)
This is the second Eagles vs Redskins game and McNabb's second time playing his former team. I'm sure we will see something in the first game that will change something in this slide but for now the keys are the same as in the first game.
Quarterback Pressure: Like I said for the first Eagles Redskins game, the Eagles have an advantage over the Redskins' offensive line, who will likely be starting rookie Trent Williams at right tackle.
Trent Cole is clearly the starting right end, but the Eagles have several players that they can line up across from Williams, including Juqua Parker, Daryl Tapp and rookie Brandon Graham. If they can use a rotation of the three players throughout the game, Williams will constantly be facing rested pass rushers, which will be a handful for him.
Redskins' Lack of Clear Cut Number One Receiver: The Redskins have the same problem that the Eagles had for most of McNabb's tenure: they have plenty of number three or number four receiving options, but nobody that stands out as a clear number one. McNabb will get the most of what the Redskins have, but there isn't much to work with.
Rivalry: These teams are so familiar with each other that most of the analysis could just be thrown out the window. Eagles vs Redskins games are always close, and either team could walk away with this one.
Donovan McNabb: Think Brett Favre against the Packers. McNabb wants to prove that the Eagles were wrong for trading him, and he'll be extra motivated to have a big day. He's been around the Eagles' defense for over a decade. There's no doubt he's familiar with how it works even if he is an offensive player.
Week 11: vs. New York Giants, November 21, 2010
2009 Record: 8-8 (missed playoffs)
The Eagles have beaten the Giants four times in a row, and look to continue that streak here. The Giants' defense had some serious problems in 2009 stopping opponent's passing games. Eli Manning had a big year, but his performance was overshadowed by the woes that the rest of the team had.
Matchups in the secondary: The Giants have added defensive backs Antrel Rolle and Deion Grant to help their pass defense. Aaron Ross is also returning from injury. However, the Eagles still have favorable matchups due to the plethora of receivers they have.
The Pass defense: Although Eli Manning did have a good game in his last matchup against the Eagles, the three he had before that ranged from average to awful. I won't call that performance a fluke just yet, but the Eagles have gotten the better of Eli over the past two years.
Protecting Kolb: The Giants pass rush last year was a story of big names not playing the way we would expect them too. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora still have the potential to return to a premier pass rushing duo, and I'm not counting them out yet.
The Eagles have to keep Kolb on his feet otherwise it won't matter that the Giants can't cover the Eagles' receivers.
Stopping the Run: The Giants still have most of the components from their dominant running game from 2008. Why they are no longer dominant is a slight mystery.
However, the Eagles can't fall asleep on the Giants running game unless it's obvious by this point in the season that the Giants have gotten away from running the football (by Week 11 we should have a pretty good idea).
Week 12: at Chicago Bears, November 28, 2010
2009 Record: 7-9 (missed playoffs)
The Chicago Bears are mostly known right now for two things: their interception machine otherwise known as Jay Cutler and the blockbluster offseason moves they made by bringing in Julius Peppers and Chestor Taylor.
The Bears had an up and down 2009 season that ended with them missing the playoffs, and coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat this season.
Turnovers: The Eagles are one of the better teams at forcing interceptions, and they are playing Jay Cutler. Unless Cutler cleans up his act, the Eagles could potentially force 4+ interceptions in this game (although he only threw one interception when the two teams played last year).
Stopping the run: The Bears have good running backs in Matt Forte and Chestor Taylor. The bigger issue here is run blocking for the Bears, which wasn't great last year. The better job the Eagles do of stopping the run, the more Cutler throws it, the more the Eagles can blitz, and the great the likelihood of turnovers.
Protecting Kolb: The addition of Julius Peppers to a defensive line that already has Tommie Harris makes the Bears' defensive line dangerous. The Eagles have to be able to pass protect in this game.
Bears' Big Plays: While the Bears' offense has turnover issues, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are both fast, fast receivers that can make some explosive passing plays. The Eagles have to keep the Bears' explosiveness in check and force them to move the football consistently.
Thanks for Reading!!!
That's all for now. I will be posting Weeks 13 through 17 within the next few days.
Any comments, suggestions, or general feedback is always welcome.
I hope you enjoyed the show!