Philadelphia's Keys to Success: 5 Ways the Eagles Can Beat the Titans
It's Week 7 in the NFL, and it's the Philadelphia Eagles' (4-2) turn to head down to Tennessee to play the Titans (4-2).
Both teams are coming into the game after very big wins in Week 6—the Eagles wiping the Falcons 31-17, and the Titans winning big in Jacksonville, 30-3.
Both teams share the same record and are looking to keep their winning streaks alive, and if history has shown us anything, the Titans know how to do that.
The Eagles are heading away for another tough road game, and they are looking to keep their short two-game winning streak going. The Eagles have yet to lose a game on the road, so hopefully this won't change in Tennessee.
Time to see what Kevin Kolb and the Eagles offense can do without DeSean Jackson and if the defense can keep containing these all-star running backs. Let's see if Vince Young and the young Titans team is for real and ready to be a playoff contender.
Here are five ways the Eagles can beat the Titans.
5. Offensive Line Needs to Give Kolb Time to Throw
The Eagles' offensive line did a great job against the Falcons.
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I admit, I have been stunned by Kolb's recent play. He is looking sharp, composed and ready to be an NFL QB—which means he knows how to move the ball and how to get the ball in the end zone.
Kolb is an accurate pocket passer. However, I have seen some very good plays on the ground from him, which means that he needs time to throw the ball.
If the Eagles' offensive line can play like they did against the Falcons, Kolb should have no trouble locating a receiver down the field. He showed it last game, finishing the game with these numbers: 23 completions for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
Yikes—do I smell Peyton Manning?
Still, those are very good numbers and a very good showing from Kolb. So, if the O-line keeps up the good work, we are looking down the barrel of a big offensive game.
4. Watch Vince Young's Ground Game
Young may have a sprained knee, but he can still run
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Vince Young left last week's game with a knee/ankle injury. It was later determined that it was a sprained knee, and he is currently day-to-day.
There is no doubt in my mind that he will be starting this game, and he will be playing like his normal speedy self.
Young and Michael Vick are very similar. If you leave a wide receiver open down the field, they can launch the ball to him, or if you leave them with an opening in the defense, they will take off and burn you for a first down.
Young plays aggressive, fast-paced offense, and he does not shy away from a hit. Even with the sprained knee, I would expect him to take off and make some big plays with his feet. The Eagles defense needs to plan and watch for this, especially on 3rd-and-long.
Young only has 88 yards rushing in total this year, but when that comes on a big third down, those numbers mean much more.
Hey, but on the rare chance that Young does not start, the Titans are looking at Kerry Collins. Woo-hoo!
3. Don't Let the Titans Get a Big Lead
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For those of you have read my previous "keys to success" articles, you know that I am a very big believer in home field advantage. This is more true in the NFL than any other sport.
Oh, wait. I'm forgetting the home field advantage involved in golf.
But really, the Titans have a very good fanbase, and when they are having a good year it is going to be a sold-out crowd. It is going to be tough for Kolb to command the offense when he can't even hear his own voice.
How do you keep the crowd out of the game?
You don't allow the home team to even get a lead. The reason I put "Get a Big Lead" is simply because it is never easy to come back from a big lead. This is even more true on the road.
I saw Kolb perform very well against a very loud and anxious 49ers crowd two weeks ago. Hopefully nothing has changed since then. It should be very interesting to see how Kolb can conduct himself with another road game coming off such a big win at home the week before.
I have faith in Kolb now. So, Kolb, quiet those Titans fans back into their seats.
2. The Offense Must Adjust Without DeSean Jackson
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This is a fairly obvious one. (Wait until you see the next slide.)
Honestly, I think the Eagles will be able to move the ball just fine without Jackson. Jeremy Maclin had a huge game against the Falcons and showed excellent skill as the No. 1 receiver.
But Maclin can't be the only one making catches.
I'm talking about getting Brent Celek more involved. It seems like the Eagles, and Kolb, are forgetting that they have one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. This is a player that can easily beat coverage and make big plays downfield.
Also, I would like to see more of this Chad Hall. He is a rookie out of Air Force? Huh? Apparently he was stationed at a base, and then suddenly the Eagles signed him. He seems almost like a Wes Welker type (I have my fingers crossed).
It seemed that Kolb and Hall were finding some chemistry in the last game, making some big plays for first downs.
Kolb should also try throwing the ball to Jason Avant on the inside. Avant is a great physical receiver and can out-jump most line backers and safeties. Kolb has definitely delivered the ball to him, but it just doesn't seem to be for that many yards.
I wouldn't mind seeing Andy Reid run some more of those WR handoffs. Those totally threw the Falcons defense for a loop, but that was the bullet Jackson taking those handoffs. The Eagles did run one with Hall, and he is pretty quick out of the backfield. So why not? Try to get that Titans defense falling all over themselves like the Falcons.
1. Contain Chris Johnson
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I have been saying a key to success for the Eagles is to stop the opposing team's running back for three weeks straight now. But look at the RBs that the Eagles defense had to contain: Frank Gore, Michael Turner and now Chris Johnson.
If the Eagles can contain arguably the best running back in the league, I will never put this down again—because at that point they will have proven they are once again are an effective defensive unit.
This is no doubt the Eagles' most difficult defensive matchup all season, except for maybe Peyton Manning. Johnson can make something out of nothing. Every. Single. Play. He is deadly and has speed that could kill a Porsche.
So how does the Eagles defense stop him?
Realistically, they can't. The only thing they can do is contain him and hope he doesn't run all over them the entire game. I predict Johnson will have at least one touchdown, maybe two, and more than likely about 150 to 200 yards rushing.
Kind of a bleak outlook for the Eagles defense, but I think that's a very fair guess. So I'll take it, and if Johnson finishes with these numbers, the Eagles defense has done its job.
Here is some wishful thinking: What if Johnson doesn't set his alarm to go to the game?
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The Eagles are rolling. They are moving the ball on offense easier than the traffic in the Midwest, and the defense has been shutting down some difficult opponents.
The Titans have had some pretty good games, but they have also had some games where they have looked very bad.
I think the Eagles have the momentum edge and overall better and sharper play. This is turning quickly from a rebuilding year into a contending year. That's something I didn't expect, and neither did Reid and the Eagles' upper management.
Keep up the good work, Kolb, and Vick could be right back where he started.
Final Prediction: Eagles 38, Titans 23