An early look at what it will take for the Eagles to overthrow Houston in week 16

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Week 16 is going to be the biggest game of the season for the Eagles. A shot at the wildcard and the division is in arms reach. With Carolina losing last night to the Saints the formula is a third complete. Beating Houston and Washington is next on the menu. Finally, having Minnesota lose to the Bears or Lions is certainly obtainable.

Offense Outlook

Spreading the wealth is the key to success for the offense. Having 7 different receivers catch a pass on Sunday is outstanding. It holds every defensive player accountable and allows for Foles to get comfortable with different options. Alshon is going to have another monster game and stretch the defense. When the offense rushes for 100 yards or more.the record is 7-1. Just run the ball! This team needs to have both options to be successful. Coach Pederson is going to have to call a hell of game if the birds want to move to 8-7.

Also, shout out to the o-line for not giving up a sack to the Rams. Much love to 71,72,61,62,79,65.

Defensive Keys

There are 3 keys to victory in stopping and containing the Houston Texans offense.

  1. Shutting down Hopkins. Deandre Hopkins is one of, if not the best receiver in the game. There is no route or catch he cannot make, he is simply special. The secondary cannot give up big plays to him over the top, and allow to make key 3rd down receptions. An early interception will be a game changer for this defense who is just starting to get their swagger back.
  2. Stopping the run. I’ve said it since I started covering the Eagles. The Eagles run defense is going to have be on their A game. Making the Texans one dimensional benefits the eagles big time. Let the front 4 do what they do and pressure the QB. The Texans recently gave up 6 sacks to the Jets and allowed 11 TFL. Fletcher Cox will have a monster afternoon per usual.
  3. Keeping Watson in the pocket. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT allow him to scramble. If he is able to extend plays and drives with his legs, it will wear down the front 7 for the Birds. The edge players need to collapse the pocket, and allow the interior players to get heavy pressure up front.

Special Teams

Jake Elliott has to be elite. Missing the late game field goal in LA on Sunday was unacceptable. When you have a chance to finish the game, you finish it. He’s been perfect from 29 yards and under. 8-9 in the 30 yard range, 6-7 in the 40’s and a low 2-5 from 50 deep. I’d rather go for it on 4th down and put the ball in the hands of the offense to convert rather than rely on the leg from 50 yards out. Cam Johnston has been crushing the long ball this season and has really helped in flipping the field for the defense. It would be HUGE if the Eagle’s get another turnover on special teams this Sunday!

The Crowd

The crowd needs to be a factor in this game. Lincoln Financial will be rocking with a playoff type atmosphere. The Texans being a warm weather team and technically a dome team is our advantage. A young Deshaun Watson hasn’t experienced a game in Philadelphia. Hasn’t experienced a December do or die game at the Linc. Against the Rams, the crowd was clearly 50/50 or I would even say more Eagles fans in attendance. Having one of the best home field advantages in the league will be gigantic for this Eagles team to gain even more confidence.

Looking at the Texans

Transitioning to the Texans, they are coming off a close game with the Jets last week on the road. Seeing how Sam Darnold was able to throw on the Houston secondary is promising for the Eagles. JJ Watt and Clowney are two of the best in the league on the defensive line and will give Jason Peters and Lane Johnson all they can handle. Watt with 14.5 sacks and Clowney with 8. Additionally Tyrann Mathieu leads the team in solo tackles and has always been a play maker.

Diving into the numbers, Houston is giving up around 20 points per game all season. They are 4th in the league in rush defense, allowing 88 YPG, and 13th in pass defense with 258 YPG. On the offensive side, scoring 25 per, throwing for 233, and rushing for 130 which is 6th in the league. The Eagles run defense will need to be the dominant force and shut down Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue.

Philly’s defense has been extremely average all season. Giving up 104 rushing yards per game and 281 passing yards will have to change in order to get a much needed win. Stop the run, stop the run, stop the run! The offense is going to need to keep taking shots down the field in order to expand the offense as well.

Prediction

Nick Foles is going to spread the ball around, keep everyone involved, and convert on 3rd down. Running the ball is going to be a factor in the game. Keeping Watson contained is going to be the story on defense. The Eagles have always struggled with QB who are able to escape on 3rd down and extend plays. Mariota, Newton, and Prescott to name a few in tough losses this season. The secondary is going to have to play with the same energy they did Sunday night and get a few takeaways. I Believe the Eagles win a close one at home 24-20, which will put them in a fantastic position for the Wildcard!

 

Go Birds, Fly Eagles Fly!

 

AP Photo/Adam Hunger

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