After Week 3’s Thursday night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the 1-2 Philadelphia Eagles get set to face the offensive juggernaut that is Peyton Manning and the 3-0 Denver Broncos. Best of all, or worst, depending on which team you’re rooting for, the Eagles get the opportunity to face the league’s best team in the mile-high city. Even though the Eagles are one of the best in the league in yards gained per play, they’ll face a much more potent offense this week. And there is very little doubt that the high altitude will have a detrimental effect on both sides of the ball for Philadelphia.
Denver’s plethora of offensive weapons will be the toughest matchup yet for a Philadelphia defense that is improving week-by-week. Their biggest challenge will come on third downs, where the Broncos lead the league in completion percentage (53.8%). The Eagles are one of worst in the league in every defensive category, including points allowed (28.7), rushing yards (115.3), passing yards (323.0) and total yards (438.3). Against the Chiefs, Philly failed to get timely stops on third down, making WR Donnie Avery look like a future Hall-of-Famer. The Broncos, who have scored a historic 127 points in the first three weeks, just might be licking their chops in anticipation of this matchup.
AccuScore simulations have the Broncos as heavy 73.8 percent favorites. The average score in the 10,000 simulations was 33-23. The Eagles have approximately a 52 percent chance at covering the +10.5 spread. Via OddsShark, Philly is 1-5 against the spread vs Denver in its last six games.
Offensively, there’s really not much to analyze or criticise. It starts and ends with Peyton Manning. In three games so far, he has thrown for 12 TDs and 1,143 yards; he has more touchdowns than 29 other teams. The Broncos rank first in the league in total yards (486.7 yards per game) and first in points per game (42.3).
While Manning has plenty of WRs to throw the ball to, the biggest worry for Philly this week will be Demaryius Thomas. Through three games this season, he’s averaging 15.4 yards per reception. On the other side of the formation, Manning has Eric Decker – who might not be averaging the same number of yards per reception, but is still nearly as big of a problem for the defense. He led the team with 133 yards and a touchdown on eight catches in last week’s 37-21 win over the Raiders.
Thomas is projected to catch the receive the ball five times for 93 yards. Decker is projected to get 60 yards on 4 catches. Wes Welker, Manning’s ever-so-reliable option for quick completions, is projected to catch it 6 times for approximately 62 yards. Thomas and Decker both have high probabilities of scoring a TD.
Denver’s defense ranks 30th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (327). The numbers, however, are a bit skewed since teams have been down big in the second half against them and have been forced to do everything in the air as a result. They do rank first in passes defensed and are tied for first in interceptions (6). Even with All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey still out due to injury, going against this Broncos secondary won’t be any walk in the part. Philadelphia QB Michael Vick, who ranks second in the league with 9.1 yards per pass attempt will have to get the run game going early if he wants any shot at the Eagles staying competitive for the full four quarters.
Denver’s defense is projected to force two turnovers, one interception and one fumble, along with at least three sacks.
The Eagles offense has been up and down so far this season; after averaging 31.5 points per game in the first two weeks, Philly had quite the letdown in a 26-16 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.
WR DeSean Jackson has had a similar start to the season, having two solid games in the first two weeks followed by a disappointment in week 3. As such, it’s safe to say that Philly’s offense this week will go as DeSean does. In both weeks 1 and 2, Jackson went for over 100 yards and scored a TD; last week, he was held to just 62 yards and 3 receptions and no TD. As stated previously, Denver’s pass defense is better than the numbers indicate; Philly’s goal will be to keep the game close in the first half and look for Jackson deep down the field in the second half. He’s projected to receive the ball four times for 71 yards.
RB LeSean McCoy has been nothing short of a stud so far this season. Through three games, he has rushed for 395 yards rushing and a 6.4 per carry average. Unfortunately for fantasy owners of McCoy, he faces a defense this week that is dominant at stopping the run. Denver ranks first in yards allowed on the ground with 130, giving up just 2.3 yards per carry. McCoy is projected to rush the ball 19 times for 96 yards, and receive the ball five times for forty yards. We can expect to see him in the endzone at least once this week.
Former Minnesota Vikings WR Kenny Clark on the Eagles-Broncos Matchup
The Eagles got 12 days of rest while the Broncos are playing on a short week – does that affect much?
It’ll help Philadelphia as far as preparation. The defense has been pretty erratic, so it’ll help them see what Denver does a little better. They’ll be able to prepare a little better. But, at the end of the day, once you get on the field … all that kind of goes out the window.
Peyton Manning’s the quarterback, and I look for him to have a field day against that defense.
Would the extra days of rest help against other good teams?
Yeah, the rest would help more. I mean, because the other teams don’t have Peyton Manning. And Denver has a heck of a defense as well. They’re stacked in all three phases of the game – offense, defense, and special teams.
Can the Eagles run the ball early and often to stay in the game?
I don’t think they run all game because the altitude is going to play a difference. The altitude won’t hurt Denver at all, they live in it. But Philadelphia, they’re definitely going to need a few oxygen tanks on the sidelines.
LeSean McCoy, I think he’ll score – he’s a dynamic back. He will score. As far as putting up a bunch of points? I don’t know about that. Denver will though.
Denver’s favored by 10.5 points. If you were to bet on this game, what side of the spread would you take?
I’ll take Denver. I mean, Denver’s average margin of victory this season is almost 19 points. So with Philadelphia travelling across the country, playing in that altitude on the road … it’s not going to be pretty. I love Michael Vick, but it’s going to be very tough for ‘em.
AccuScore – Broncos by 10 pts | Kenny Clark – Broncos by 11+ pts | Me – Broncos by 9 pts