Week 13 Matchups: Eagles Offense vs. Patriots Defense

The Eagles offense will be getting their starting quarterback Sam Bradford back on the field this weekend in Foxbor, Massachusetts against the Super Bowl Champs.  Bradford is coming off the concussion and AC sprain in his non throwing shoulder as were all well aware at this point.  Mark Sanchez proved to be exactly what we figured he would be based on the rest of his career.  Anyone who thinks Sanchez is a viable starting option in this league is a complete moron plain and simple.  Chip has been under fire lately and rightfully so for the lackluster offense all season as well as his general managerial decisions which have led the Eagles to this point.  The backfield will likely remain without backup tailback Ryan Mathews who still has not passed the NFL concussion protocol.  Tight end Zach Ertz missed the Thanksgiving game in Detroit with a concussion as well, but signs point to Ertz being back on the field this Sunday.  The Eagles last trip to Gillette Stadium was on a Sunday Night back in 2007 where they were massive underdogs and almost pulled the upset led by backup signal caller AJ Feeley.

Player to Watch: Kenjon Barner

As I mentioned earlier the Eagles will likely be missing Ryan Mathews again which means Barner will be active.  He received a few garbage carries and touches in the Detroit game as well as limited action in the Tampa Bay “game.”  I’m not seeing the same type of explosiveness or juice from Darren Sproles as his first two season in midnight green.  I still think Sproles can play in this league it just needs to be in more limited spurts.  Barner certainly has fresh legs as he’s only had 15 touches on the entire season.  At this point I really don’t see what the harm would be in getting Barner more involved in the offense to determine if he’s a legitimate back moving forward.  Barner can fill the role of Mathews running those sweeps Chip loves to run so much this season and get around the edge faster than Demarco Murray can.  The Patriots defense allowed 179 rushing yards and 3 scores last week to the tandem of CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman.

Matchup to Watch: Lane Johnson vs. Chandler Jones/Rob Ninkovich

I made this matchup between the pair of Jones and Ninkovich based on where Lane Johnson winds up playing in this game.  He’ll start at right tackle and inevitabily Jason Peters will go down with an injury sliding Johnson out to left tackle where he’ll face Jones.  Big Lane tends to run his mouth too much for my liking especially his comments a few weeks back which landed him in hot water with the fans.  That being said Johnson is the best offensive linemen on this team and a corner piece moving forward this franchise can build around.  In only his third year out of Oklahoma Johnson has made nice strides even allowing him to fill in for Peters at left tackle which is going to be his future position.  Jones and Ninkovich have combined for 16 sacks on the season.  They are two of the most versatile defensive ends in the league with the ability to put their hand in the dirt or switch to a stand up 3-4 pass rusher.  This type of versatility is what makes the New England defense so successful year in and year out.  Peters missing time in this game wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as it will give us a glimpse how Lane Johnson can hold up against two of the better ends in the AFC.

Coach to Watch: Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia

This is the first time I’ve done this all season as I’m going to spotlight one of the opposing team’s coaches in this case Matt Patricia of the Patriots.  Patricia is not only a very good defensive coordinator, but also a potential head coaching candidate for the Eagles should things continue to spiral out of control with Chipper.  Patricia has been the defensive coordinator for New England since 2012 and before that moved all over the coaching staff including offensive line, linebackers, and safeties.  Many probably know him for the backwards hat, thick beard and beautiful number two pencil in his left ear.  He’s a disciple of Belichick and is an excellent football coach in my opinion.  While other coaches from the Belichick tree have failed as head coaches I believe Patricia will be the exception to the rule.  He’s a young buck at the age of 41 and in the prime of his coaching life.  The Patriots defense ranks 16th overall in the league, however they only allow 19.3 points per game.  Patricia has done a great job scheming up ways for his defense to succeed after losing veterans Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork in the offseason.  Linebackers Jamie Collins and Donta Hightower have missed time during the year as well.

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