After more than a month the Eagles will have a 1:00 PM kickoff. Both these teams are coming into this game trending in different directions. The Dolphins sit at 3-5 after a beatdown of Rex Ryan and the Bills. They currently sit in last place looking up at the New England Patriots. Their season is essentially over. Eagles come into this game after an up and down overtime win vs the Dallas Cowboys. They now sit a .5 game out of first place behind the Giants. This season so far is about missed opportunities. I’ve mentioned on the podcast and in other blogs the theme so far has been 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Not including the Week 1 this will be the Eagles second opportunity to get over .500 for the season. A win paired with a Giants loss will net them first place in the NFC East past the midway point of the 2015 season.
Below are the injury reports from philadelphiaeagles.com – The Eagles second injury report of the week had some slight changes from the one released on Wednesday. After missing practice on Wednesday, safety Malcolm Jenkins returned to the field and was a full participant on Thursday. Jenkins suffered a concussion but has since passed through the league protocol. “I’m pretty sure (I’ll play). I don’t see anything stopping that,” Jenkins said in the locker room. “I practiced full-go today, got cleared this morning. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t.” Guard Josh Andrews did not practice after being limited yesterday. Andrews suffered a concussion on Wednesday and won’t be able to play on Sunday. Fellow safety Jerome Couplin (shoulder) was the only other Eagle besides Andrews not to practice. More good news for the Eagles is that DeMeco Ryans was upgraded to a full participant after being limited with a hamstring injury on Wednesday. “We’ll continue to see how the week goes, but I’m confident and very optimistic that I’ll be out there on Sunday,” Ryans said on Wednesday. For the second straight day, left tackle Jason Peters was listed as questionable with a back injury. Inside the locker room, Lane Johnson explained that he’s preparing to play left tackle for the second straight week if Peters can’t go on Sunday. “I was mostly at left,” Johnson said on Thursday. “(Peters) went a little bit and I did some right in team and in some pass rush drill, but mostly left. “I’m expecting to play left. If (Peters) is back, I’ll play right. It just depends. But if he goes down, I think from now on I’ll be playing left. That’s kind of the game plan” – philadelphiaeagles.com.
As for Miami, their Thursday injury report was nearly identical to Wednesday’s report. Tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe) was injured at the end of October and he will not play on Sunday. Meanwhile, starting right guard Billy Turner (knee) and linebacker Spncer Paysinger (neck) were limited participants on Thursday after not practicing on Wednesday. Wide receiver DeVante Parker was limited for the second straight day with a foot injury – philadelphiaeagles.com.
There a few match-ups the Eagles should be able to take advantage of. Most of them revolve around running the football. We mentioned in our match-up blog and its worth mentioned again, the Dolphins are 31st against the run giving up over 140 YPG. The Eagles have really excelled when they operate out of 12 personnel. I know I bring this up more often than not but its worth mentioned. With two TE’s on the field the Eagles can pass and run out of various formations and really keep the offense off balance. This personnel group can also help with an injured OL, which might be the case due to Jason Peters. Peters hurt his back against the Panthers and hasn’t played since.
The Eagles defense needs to get back on track. The last two games they have been average at best. Through the first half of the season they were one of the leagues best run defenses. After allowing multiple 100 yard games they have dropped all the way to 21st vs the run. This defense also needs to improve situationally. Last week vs the Cowboys they allowed 8-16 conversions on 3rd down and two on 4th down. A few were converted via penalty. These conversions swing momentum and usually lead to points. If the Eagles win the 3rd down battle they will win the game.
Jordan Matthews had a great game last week with 9 rec 133 yards and more importantly 0 drops. A game like that can hopefully jump start him and turn him into the WR threat the Eagles desperately need. It’s a good thing Matthews has broad shoulders because he is the only viable option this team has. He essentially is the passing a game. Nelson Agholor might return this week from an ankle injury he suffered against the Saints. Agholor through the first half of his rookie year has been a huge bust. I’m not saying he can’t turn it around and contribute this year but he’s got a long way. If the Eagles can find another viable option opposite Matthews, the passing game could really open up.
Sam is coming off of his best game of the season. He has had two good games going back to Carolina. After the Giants game, Bradford and Eagles QB coach Ryan Day went over the film and realized his footwork had been off. After the corrections it’s clear to see he’s a new QB. He’s been firm in the pocket standing tall and his weight transfer is much better. He is stepping into throws and has improved confidence. Pair mechanics with a simplified playbook means better play from Sam Bradford. Reports surfaced this week Chip had paired down his playbook to make it easier on Bradford.
Prediction – The Dolphins are not a good football team. After firing Joe Philbin and inserting Dan Campbell they seemed to play with a little fire. After two beatdowns they reverted back to their old ways. At 4-4 the Eagles are in no position to take anyone lightly and every game from here on out is a must win. This game does worry me a little bit because of the let down factor. After a huge win, teams can come out a little flat. This wouldn’t be new for the Eagles because they’ve come out flat in every game this year. NFL teams break down their season in quarters. They lost the first quarter at 1-3 and won the second at 3-1. This weeks game kicks off the 3rd quarter and the Eagles need to get off to a good start. EAGLES 31 – DOLPHINS 21
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