The Eagles are soaring above the rest of the NFL and after Dallas fell 4.5 games back to the Birds following a dominating defeat, the NFC East is all but wrapped up. That said, the Eagles have no signs of stopping their quest to become the best anytime soon. The path to the Super Bowl begins now…and keeping momentum is crucial. Here are five Eagles to watch on Sunday afternoon.
It’s been a dream start to life in Philadelphia for Jay Ajayi. Leading the team in rushing in both of his appearances thus far after breaking out for a huge 71-yars run on Sunday night, the Brit has changed the shape of the Eagles backfield. On Sunday, the Eagles face a defense allowing just 3.8 yards per rush and who very rarely allow a big play on the ground.
Ajayi has a tendency to replicate shaking a bottle of Soda…there are only so many shakes before the lid blows off. The Eagles will attempt to establish the run early as they have all season, but it will be down to the man taking the load off the shoulders of LeGarrette Blount to make big things happen at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday as he seeks his second touchdown as an Eagle.
With 2 catches, 213 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games, Alshon Jeffery has exploded in terms of productivity. This week, his former team comes to town and while the game will be fueled with emotion, we can likely expect a calm and composed outing from the 6’3 wideout against a cornerback corps yet to record an interception. Having been targeted a team-high 80 times this season, Jeffery’s offensive impact will be pivotal in a matchup where the Bears will be looking to make a statement.
Joe Walker and the Eagles linebackers:
The Eagles have survived so fart without Jordan Hicks, but the impressive Bears backfield will prove to be a challenge. Sophomore rusher Jordan Howard has followed up his stunning rookie campaign with a season just as strong. Howard now has 2,154 yards in his first two seasons and there are six games still remaining After a 125 yard explosion against the Lions, he may be at his most dangerous. Without even factoring in the shifty Tarik Cohen, who has 273 rushing yards and 259 receiving yards this season, the Bears have a dangerous rushing attack. But with an ability to split the backfield and hurt the Eagles in the intermediate passing game, the linebackers will be put to the test.
Joe Walker has filled in admirably thus far, but with more on his plate this week, it will be interesting to see how Walker and the rest of the linebackers perform. Will we see Dannell Ellerbe take his first snaps as an Eagle? Will Mychal Kendricks ball out? Only time will tell…but stopping
The Eagles first round pick is absolutely dominating. The Tennessee product led the Eagles with a career-high-tying 2.0 sacks, becoming the first Eagles rookie to have two multi-sack games since Trent Cole in 2005. Barnett now has 4.5 sacks (all of which have been recorded in the last 5 games), which are the most by an Eagles rookie since Fletcher Cox (5.5) in 2012.
The Eagles face a difficult task in containing a rookie quarterback who loves to make plays on the ground and has 163 rushing yards already this season and bending the pocket to keep Trubisky enclosed as they did against Dallas just one week ago will be crucial. Barnett’s rise in production has been a blessing for the Eagles pass rush, but will he continue that growth against another athletic rookie?
One of the unsung heroes of Jim Schwartz’s ruthless defense this year has been Malcolm Jenkins. The veteran Safety has been playing lights out each and every week and his ability to line up just about anywhere on Defense. That skillset will be invaluable when it comes to containing the many screens, read-options and split backfield looks that the team are set to face this weekend. Jenkins may not spend most of his time at the last line of Defense, but make no mistake…his presence will be felt heavier than ever.
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