In this town, Andy Reid has always walked a thin line between hero and villian.
As a villain for most of this season, Reid frustrated fans with disappointing losses to inferior teams as the Eagles fell to 3-6. But just when fans thought the villain had finally met his demise, "Hero Reid" came through with a season saving win over the New York Giants. It renewed hope in the season, made the Eagles chances of making the playoffs realistic, and for at least another week, secured Reid's future with the Eagles.
Like their head coach, the Eagles team have been Jekyll and Hyde this season- a hero one week only to turn evil the next and rip out the hearts of the fans.
After last week's win, the fans are back in. Can the Eagles keep them there?
Check out the Buzz On Broad Eagles-Patriots preview below with key players and a prediction.
Tom Brady Has High Praise for Eagles Defense
The Eagles defense has been ripped all season by fans in this city, and at times rightlfully so. But to New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, Juan Castillo's unit is nothing to laugh about.
"They really have threats everywhere," said Brady. "They rush as good as anybody that we face. They have two of the best corners in the league that intercept passes. They force you to throw it quick and then they're on you quick."
Brady has never been an especially mobile quarterback, which should excite Eagles defensive end's Trent Cole and Jason Babin. The two have combined for 15 sacks, and if you throw Cullen Jenkins into that mix, the Eagles can rush three players who know how to bring down the quarterback.
"They are a very athletic and fast group," said Brady on the Eagles defense. "They're a really dangerous group and we have to go out and execute really well."
The Patriots offense is a dangerous group themselves, but they are also very one dimensional. With Ben Jarvis-Green Ellis as their lead running back, the Patriots have not been able to establish a running game all season. That means it will be up to Brady, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski to carry this team to a win- a task that Brady said will not be easy.
"They can play with anybody," said Brady. "They're as good as any team in this league. They're a tough team in all phases."
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots- While the Eagles defense did play well last week, a dirty secret on one seems to be talking about is that Giants TE Jake Ballard could have had a monster game if it were not for multiple dropped passes. The Eagles should not expect Rob Gronkowski to drop those passes, as he is playing as well as any tight end in the league has for some time, and it an absolute monster in the red zone. Gronkowski move's this Patriots offense, and it's key for the Eagles to contain him.
Brandon Hughes, CB, Eagles- Kept on the roster for his special teams play, Brandon Hughes could see his first extended action today on the defense is Nnamdi Asomugha is unable to go. With Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie already out, Hughes would become the 3rd cornerback on the Eagles defense. The Patriots like to run a lot of 4 and 5 reciever sets, so Hughes should see a lot of action even if Asomugha does play. Tom Brady will be looking to take advantage of the mismatch, which means Hughes will have to be on top of his game.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots- Joselio Hanson has said all season that he is the best nickle cornerback on this team, and it is time for him to prove it. Wes Welker is one of the best in the league in the slot, and besides Rob Gronkowski, he is the player Brady looks to the most when he is under pressure. Hanson matches up well with Welker, as niether has elite speed and both use their experience in the league to make plays. It's important that Hanson stays with Welker and does not let him stay over the middle all game and convert 3rd downs.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles- LeSean McCoy was vaulted to super star status following his performance against Dallas and Washington in back to back weeks this season, but since then he has not been the dominant player the Eagles have come to expect. McCoy had 113 yards against the Giants last weekend, but 60 of those came on the last play of the game. In the two prior weeks, McCoy had under 100 yards rushing, but some of that had to do with a lack of carries. For the Eagles to keep Tom Brady and the Patriots offense off the field, McCoy has to have a big game today and keep the clock running.
Asomugha Questionable With Knee Injury
Asomugha has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
After being carted off the field at Eagles practice with what looked like a serious knee injury, an MRI on knee revealed no damage.
Asomugha has not practiced since the injury, and should be a game time decision.
If Nnamdi is unable to go, the Eagles will be without both Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, who is still out with a ankle injury.
It would be a big game for Asomugha to miss, as his size and experience would help the Eagles in containing Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Asomugha has covered tight ends before this season, and while he has not been successful at time, still represents the best option the Eagles have to slow down the record setting pace Gronkowski is on.
Not catching a break has been a re-occuring theme for the Eagles this season.
After beating the New York Giants last weekend to keep their season relevant, the Eagles could have benefited from playing a lesser opponent to try to build momentum. But that is not the case, as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to town looking to strike a major blow to the Eagles chances of making the playoffs.
Is this a must win game? Not in the same way last week's game was, and the Eagles could suffer a loss today and still have a chance at making the playoffs. The Giants play at New Orleans on Monday night, and the Eagles still have another matchup with the Cowboys this season. But no mistake about it- the Eagles need to win today.
Before the season started, when the Eagles were still being thought of as a dream team and seemed like one of the best teams in the NFL, many people had the Patriots game down as a loss. The Eagles have never matched up well against New England, and have not beaten the Patriots since 1999.
The games have been close, as the last two contests were both decided by 3 points. After watching Vince Young drive the Eagles offense down the field for a game winning touchdown last week, you have to think that the Eagles are better suited this week to make a play when it counts then they have been in weeks past. Throw in the fact that the defense is playing better than it has all season, and the Eagles seem primed to pull the upset.
But if their is one thing we have learned about the Eagles this season, it is that prediciting how they will play based off of the prior week is a dangerous game. The Eagles have followed big wins with big losses twice this season, and yet to win in back-to-back weeks (their was a bye week between the Redskins and Cowboys game).
The Eagles showed a lot of things last week- heart, talent and discipline (at times). But most importantly they showed that they appeared to have rallied together to give it one more try to save the season.
But can they bring that same focus and heart in back-to-back weeks?
They will have to show me before I predict they will.
Patriots 24, Eagles 20
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