The Bye-week is in the rearview mirror and the Eagles are preparing to face a familiar foe in the way of the New England Patriots. Memories of Super Bowl 52 will automatically come flooding back, but this game is all about igniting a surge for supremacy for the Eagles. With that in mind, here are five bold predictions ahead of the bout.
Record so far: 12-40
The emergence of Miles Sanders
This game annoyingly had Jordan Howard written all over it. The Patriots may have a stern pass defense, but their run defense is questionable at best, allowing 4.7 yards per carry this season. This does bode well for Miles Sanders, so long as the Eagles can keep things simple upfront and prevent the Patriots from exploiting his weaknesses (lack of patience and vision).
Sanders has come a long way since his debut in week one however and with a roaring Lincoln Financial Field behind him, it’s sink or swim. Jordan Howard is sidelined and Jay Ajayi isn’t logically going to be the lead back going into this matchup. If there’s ever a game for Sanders to show the world just how much he’s developed, this is it.
I’m predicting Sanders to total 150 yards from scrimmage and score both a rushing and receiving touchdown.
Wentz makes a statement
This is the matchup that should’ve been but never was: Carson Wentz vs Tom Brady. Wentz may have been crowned a Super Bowl champion in just a second season, but watching from the sideline would have implanted one hefty chip on his shoulder.
Without Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, Wentz won’t exactly have much at his disposal outside of Zach Ertz and the returning Jordan Matthews, but I’m predicting a surgical performance from the NDSU star, who will methodically pick apart the Pats defense by taking the easy passes and keeping his offense on the field.
As a result, I’m predicting Wentz to throw for 250 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT and complete 65% of his passes.
Jumping for J-Matt
The return of Jordan Matthews couldn’t come at a better time. DeSean Jackson needed surgery and Alshon Jeffery will be absent on Sunday, leaving the Eagles extremely light at wide receiver.
Matthews has consistently produced in Philadelphia and despite what some may say, he played the best football of his career last year. Averaging a career-high 15 yards per reception, Matthews only played 16% of his snaps from the slot, demonstrating enough growth to now play at WR2 and hold his own.
With this in mind and the Eagles having a clear need for speed, the Wentz-to-JMatt connection should be back to its best on Sunday. My penultimate prediction is for Matthews to record a touchdown and 50+ receiving yards in his return to the Linc.
The Eagles’ lone trade-deadline acquisition didn’t take long to make an impact. Avery had half a sack in his Eagles debut and with a Bye-week to really acclimate himself with the team and scheme, Avery could see a boost in snap counts this week.
The Eagles have found themselves a gem of a hybrid player who against a porous offensive line, could have himself a field day. I’m going to end this week’s pick by predicting a second sack in as many games for Genard Avery.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports