THIS week we get a perfect measuring stick game. We’re on the road, (likely) short-handed at WR, and still trying to tighten up our pass defense, despite an injury to FS Rodney McLeod. We have an external threat to handle, while coping with some internal weaknesses. This is the “look in the mirror” game that you need in Week 3 or 4.
Both teams come into this game tied atop their divisions with a 2-1 record. (Although the Titans holds a head-to-head tie-breaker, over the Jaguars.) A win would give either team a tiny cushion and clear control of their division for at least one more week.
Lady Luck may have given us a wink, since we are slated to get back RB’s Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, and possibly WR Alshon Jeffery this week. That might offer Offensive Coordinator Mike Groh, a chance to show some creativity.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus Tennessee :
1) Rattle the cage:
The Titans head coach is on record saying that his QB still can’t make certain throws. (Due to an elbow injury.) That means we need to hit him early, and hit him hard. Yes, that means a couple of early flags, but it’ll be worth it when we stroll out with the “W”. If we put it into his head that we’re about to make his injury worse, he’ll be less accurate with his throws for the balance of the game.
2) More power running: I say it every week. This team needs to run the ball right up the gut. Nothing stops pass rush like a power run game. When a speed rusher has to look inside first, it means he’s not rocketing off the edge. Translation: He has already slowed himself down a step. So far this season, we’ve done a lot of outside running, and it plays to OLB’s already setting the edges. If we make the run a threat in the middle, then our WR’s have more room to get open around the numbers. I’ll say it again. We need to run up the gut. Ten to twelve carries would be amazing, but I’ll settle for seven.
3) Start fast: Let’s try for a couple of early knockout shots. Tennessee is not an explosive team. They make their living off of a plodding, but dogged run game. If we get up on them early, they basically have no chance of coming back. Especially with their QB’s injury situation. If we can lead 14 – 3 or 17 – 7 by halftime, that should be enough to put it on cruise control, and get QB Nate Sudfeld some mop-up snaps late in the 4th quarter.
4) Play our game: That’s not just an Offensive or Defensive key, that’s Special Teams too. This is an opponent that would be very easy to play down to, but that would be a mistake in two parts. First, it would open the door to possibly losing to them. Second, this team hasn’t had an opportunity to play the way we’d like it to. This is a chance to floor it, and learn things about ourselves that will help us against tougher opponents.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
This is probably going to be a boring game to watch. (Unless the Eagles light it up.) Playing tight or nervous against a bad team, only opens the door to losing. Head Coach Doug Pederson knows this, and so the Eagles will likely come out playing with an almost reckless abandon. So expect QB Carson Wentz to throw the ball downfield more than he did last week.
The Titans situation at WR is far worse than ours. In fact, their entire passing game is a nightmare. They have 2 passing touchdowns and 3 interceptions. One of those 2 scores was thrown by their Punter on a fake. It’s a dismal team. As long as CB Jalen Mills doesn’t assist the Titans in moving the ball this week, or he doesn’t getting juiced for another pair of scores, we should be able to keep Tennessee in check. Last week I’d have picked the Colts if they were at home. This week I don’t think it matters where the game is played, Eagles win it in a walk.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 24 – Titans 13