The Eagles are preparing for a homestead against one of the toughest defenses in the league. Sitting at 7-1, the Eagles are in an extremely strong place, but they can’t afford to underestimate how dominant this Broncos outfit can be. Here are five players to watch when the teams lock horns this weekend.
It’s unclear whether or not the newest Eagle to the nest will play on Sunday, but if he does, all eyes will be on him. The former Dolphin who rushed for 200+ yards in a single game three times last year brings plenty of intrigue to the Eagles backfield. Doug Pederson told reporters on Friday that he has progressed well in picking up a package of 15 plays, but was non-commital on whether or not he would play. If Ajayi does suit up wearing number 36, the Eagles Offense may be the most exciting unit to watch this weekend.
The NFC Defensive player of the week has enjoyed a great season so far and has handled everything thrown his way. The challenge of a veteran wideout in Demaryius Thomas will be the latest in a long-line of hurdles that if jumped over, will go a long way in earning a solid reputation for the Green Goblin. Thomas has 455 yards on the season but with a quarterback change this week, could see plenty of traffic due to familiarity with Osweiler. It will be down to Mills to remain disciplined and keep everything ahead of him yet again.
Defending Von Miller is no easy task, especially when he’s amassed 7 of the team’s 17 sacks this season. Miller is debatably playing the best football of his career and will undoubtedly seek to pounce on the inconsistent Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The 29-year old will be the toughest challenge that Vaitai has faced in his NFL career so far, and one which has the protection of Carson Wentz resting in the balance.
Torrey Smith & the underdog cast
The Broncos cornerbacks are once again a force to be reckoned with this season. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib set the standard while Bradley Roby develops at an alarming rate. For the Eagles, overcoming a unit so esteemed in man coverage will be no easy task, and they already know the attention Alshon Jeffery is going to draw.
They will likely rely on the footwork and burst of Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor to create separation…and given Smith hasn’t exactly exceeded expectations this year, it could paint a dangerous picture for the Broncos. We have already seen the impact Marcus Johnson and Mack Hollins can have if they go unaccounted for, and if the Eagles are able to create mismatches this weekend, then we could see more than our fair share of deep-pass attempts and big-play opportunities.
The Oregon product has been called up to the plate in the absence of Jordan Hicks and despite a few wobbles early on, has done a relatively stable job so far. The Eagles loved what they saw from Walker prior to his ACL injury last year, especially in coverage…and it’s something that has carried into his second year and first regular season snaps on Defense.
C.J Anderson may not be the most prolific back that the Eagles face this year, nor the most productive…but he’s an up the gut rusher who can make even the most experienced linebackers miss. The Broncos may well lean on the run a little more than normal due to the change at quarterback, meaning Walker will be left to guard the middle of the field and keep his eyes fixed on Anderson.
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