Eagles (5-7) vs Bills (6-6) Week 14 – Preview

This game has a chance to be a very good match-up.  There’s a lot of potential for this game, but it’s a shame no one has talked about it.  Leading up to this game during the week everything was discussed except X’s and O’s.  Chip and Shady’s handshake has been discussed at nauseam.  Shady says he’s over the whole trade but he’s the only one who can’t seem to let anything go.  Aside from Handshakes and how butt hurt Shady is we have the whole DeMarco Murray and did he meet with Jeffrey Lurie or not saga as well.  It’s clear he met with Lurie, but to what extent?  To be honest, I don’t think it matters.  The Bills and Eagles come into this game jockeying for the playoffs.  The Bills obviously won’t win the division but are battling for an AFC Wildcard.  They are battling the Chiefs, Jets and Steelers for a playoff opportunity.  The Eagles sit at 5-7 and are tied with the division leading Skin’s atop the division.  The Redskins hold the tie breaker edge as they’ve beat the Eagles earlier this year.  They play again the day after Christmas.

Below are the injury reports for both teams from philadelphiaeagles.com – It’s rare to see an NFL team completely healthy at this point in the season, but that seems to be the case at the moment for the Eagles. According to Thursday’s injury report, every single Eagles player participated fully in Thursday’s training session. Bennie Logan (knee) did not participate on Wednesday, and Ryan Mathewswas limited (groin, concussion), but both players were upgraded to full participants on Thursday.  Of course, there are still two days of training before Sunday’s game so there’s no telling if things will hold this way, but the Eagles appear to be getting healthy at the right time as they head into the final four-game stretch of the regular season – philadelphiaeagles.com.

Buffalo’s Thursday injury report was very similar to the one releases on Wednesday, with cornerback Stephon Gilmore (shoulder) and running back Karlos Williams (shoulder) both sitting out and missing practice. All signs point towards Gilmore missing Sunday’s game, which would be a huge blow to Buffalo’s secondary. If Williams doesn’t play on Sunday, that could mean even more touches for LeSean McCoy in his return to Lincoln Financial Field.  Tight end Charles Clay was once again limited with a knee injury, as was wide receiver Chris Hogan, also dealing with a knee injury. Defensive end Mario Williams was added to the report with a hand injury, but he was listed as a full participant – philadelphiaeagles.com.

The Eagles are getting healthy at the right time but most importantly they are getting their leading rusher (in terms of YPC) back.  Ryan Mathews was upgraded to full participant during yesterdays practice.  Mathews has been fantastic all year average 5.7 per carry.  He hits the hole with power and authority.  Hopefully we see more of the same Sunday vs a stout Bills front seven.  There has been an ongoing discussion with Murray and whether his struggles are due to scheme.  It has nothing to do with scheme.  He isn’t hitting the holes Mathews is and if he does he’s tip-toeing to the line of scrimmage.  We have all seen the game tape of Murray.  I don’t know if he’s seeing ghosts or not but the holes are there.  Right now he’s bouncing everything to the edge.  He doesn’t have the speed to get to the edge anyway.  It was well documented last week regarding Murray’s carries.  Sproles got the bulk of the touches vs New England.  I expect Murray to get roughly the same.  Some where right around 10 touches is where I think he’ll end up.  Barner will be the odd man out with Mathews returning.  Expect Mathews get to the end of game carries after a Barner fumble last week.

Going into this year I thought this Bills defense would be a top 5 maybe even top 3 defense.  They have struggled for a good part of this year in all levels of the defense.  Injuries haven’t helped but all teams deal with injuries so we can’t use that as an excuse.  They have allowed 20 plus points in each of the last 4 games.  I expect that trend to continue on Sunday.  The Eagles should be able to move the ball and keep Bradford upright.  The Bills haven’t been able to get to the QB as often as last year.  Earlier in the year Mario Williams voiced his displeasure with the scheme. He thought he was dropping into coverage more than he ever has.  I expect him to be coming after Bradford all game.

If the Eagles want to win this game someone will need to make a play downfield.  They can’t rely on 3 non-offensive TDs again. If they are relying on those it will be a long Sunday afternoon.  In limited snaps last week it’s clear Jonathan Krause has a little speed.  I would like to see if he can stretch the field Sunday against Ronald Darby and company.  Darby is arguably an AFC Rookie of the year candidate.  Drafted from FSU he’s done an excellent job.  I’ve been saying this for weeks the Eagles need to stretch the field.  We all have.  It’s ok if the WR’s are covered.  Give them a chance to make a play.  Good things happen when the defense has to worry about the deep ball.

Prediction – Mike Missaneli made a good point earlier in the week when discussing this game.  When picking this game we need to do it honestly rather than with our heads.  I feel last weeks game was more of a fluke than anything.  If it wasn’t for 3 return the Eagles would have lost that game.  The Bills present some match-up problems for the Eagles with mobile QB Tyrod Taylor and wideout Sammy Watkins.  Due to the injuries the Patriots trotted out the JV squad.  Expect Rex Ryan to make Shady a team captain.  Eagles 21 – Bills 23

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