The Eagles defense managed to hang on and pull off an improbable to say the least road victory in Foxboro. Granted the Patriots were without top offensive targets Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, but the Eagles still had to rally the troops after two awful performances. I thought Malcolm Jenkins in particular backed up his words earlier in the week and played his best game of the season capped with the 99 yard interception return off Tom Brady. All this being said I still will not get sucked back in to believing this team is playoff worthy and it will take more than one impressive road win to do that. This weekend the Eagles return home for the first of three straight home game to face the Buffalo Bills. The obvious storyline for this week’s game is the return of Shady McCoy. Shady has now downplayed his offseason critical comments of Chip Kelly and said there are no hard feelings. I think I speak for almost every Eagles fan that I don’t buy a word of that from Shady. He is having a pretty decent year despite various injuries along the way and you know there’s nothing more he wants than to ruin the Eagles momentum especially at the Linc. Buffalo has the 17th overall ranked offense and averages 24.7 points per game.
Player(s) to Watch: Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin
Both Graham and Barwin will be tested this week by mobile Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman loves to use Taylor’s legs including variations of the read option. Graham and Barwin will need to be disciplined on these plays to avoid big chunks of yards being given up to Taylor on the keep. Last year against Seattle the Eagles struggled versus Russell Wilson who torched them with the read option even running one in for a score. The Eagles have not faced many mobile quarterbacks this year besides Cam Newton who had a very good game when he played them. Taylor has 318 rushing yards and 3 scores on the year.
Matchup to Watch: Sammy Watkins vs. Eric Rowe
Rowe did a solid job last week in his first career NFL start especially considering he was facing a Hall of Fame signal caller in Brady. He didn’t get beat deep or give up costly plays to the defense which is big for a rookie corner. The Bills have begun to target Watkins more in recent weeks since his absence earlier in the season where he voiced his opinion. Watkins has gone over 100 yards receiving in each of the last two games. He has 9 catches and 3 touchdowns during that span as well. I suspect the Bills will look to get Watkins lined up on the rookie Rowe to exploit him like the Lions did with Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving. We all know how much Bill Davis dies with his man coverage scheme so only time will tell if Rowe can hang with a hot receiver.
Player to Watch: Richie Incognito
Incognito is a few years past his well-publicized locker room incident with former Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin who eventually retired from the league. The hazing Incognito allegedly gave to Martin made him a tough sell for most teams to bring into their locker rooms, but not Rex Ryan. Incognito has come in and started at guard for the Bills all season with no apparent issues. He tends to be an instigator on the field so I highlighted him in this week’s blog so the Eagles avoid dumb penalties by getting into it with him. I’m interested to see how Logan and Cox handle their one on one battles with Incognito.
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