Eagles vs Bills: 5 matchups to watch as the Birds look to stay undefeated at home

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Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles safety Kevin Byard (31) intercepts a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson (84) as Eagles linebacker Zach Cunningham (52) watches during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

It’s a short week for the Eagles as they look to carry the momentum from their incredible come-from-behind win against Kansas City at Arrowhead on Monday night when they welcome the Buffalo Bills (6-5) to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.

The atmosphere should be electric in South Philly Sunday evening with the Bills Mafia coming to the parking lots to try and outdo the tailgates of Eagles’ fans and of course, the Kelly Green uniforms will be worn by the Eagles for the second time this season.

The Eagles have the best record in the NFL while the Bills need to stack up victories to keep pace in the AFC East and playoff picture. Below are some of the biggest matchups to keep an eye on in this contest.

Brian Johnson vs. the Bills’ Defense

Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 29: Philadelphia Eagles coach Brian Johnson looks on during the NFC Championship Game between the San Fransisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 29, 2023 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

This Eagles’ offense will be under the microscope from the get-go in terms of how they start. Despite how poorly the offense played through the first half and into the start of the third quarter last week, the offense was able to score just enough with the help of the defense pitching a shutout in the second half to pull out the unlikely win.

Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson saw his unit outgained the entire game with multiple drives resulting in three-and-outs. There were also questionable play calls. Most notably, the decision not to use the highly successful “Brotherly Shove” on a crucial third-and-one. There was also a stretch where five consecutive wide receiver screens were called that netted just one yard when they were pinned deep in their own territory.

Johnson will have to face a Bills defensive unit that has allowed the 10th fewest yards to opposing quarterbacks (223.3 yards/game) and 16th fewest yards on the ground (85.2). The home faithful who will be packing the Linc will certainly let Johnson know what it thinks about the play calling if the offense gets off to another slow start.

Eagles Rush Defense vs. James Cook

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New York Jets’ Breece Hall, center, scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

To the surprise of many, Philadelphia’s rush defense which entered the Monday night showdown against the Chiefs boasting the fewest yards per game (66.3) was gashed multiple times by Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco.

The tailback had 66 yards on the ground through the first two quarters while the Chiefs ran for a total of 168 yards, the most this Eagles’ defense has surrendered all season in a game.

Now the defensive unit will have to take on the two-way running back in James Cook, who interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady clearly wanted to have involved in the gameplan last week in the Bills 32-6 win over the Jets last week.

Cook finished with 102 total yards and scored a touchdown. He ran for 73 yards on 17 carries and added 29 receiving yards on three catches.

The Eagles will be without defensive lineman Milton Williams (concussion) who had a solid game against Kansas City. The defensive line will look to return to its stingy form on Sunday to force turnover prone Josh Allen to throw the ball for the majority of this game.

Kevin Byard vs. Dalton Kincaid

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Philadelphia Eagles safety Kevin Byard (31) is congratulated by teammates after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

For a second straight week, the Eagles will face a talented tight end who presents plenty of mismatches. The Eagles contained Travis Kelce on Monday night, thanks to newly added All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. Kelce finished with seven catches for 44 yards and a touchdown as Byard primarily defended the future hall-of-fame tight end and has had success neutralizing Kelce during his career. He certainly did just that along with getting some help from teammate Bradley Roby who was able to force Kelce to fumble in the red zone.

Now Byard and company will have to slow down rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid who has become one of Allen’s top targets. The 25th overall pick by the Bills in this year’s draft out of Utah has 34 catches on 39 targets for 318 yards and two touchdowns over the last five games.

James Bradberry & Darius Slay vs. Stefon Diggs

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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) is congratulated by quarterback Josh Allen (17) after his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The duo of Bradberry and Slay was one of the strengths of this secondary a season ago. This year however, the two have been unable to match last year’s success, having a rollercoaster 2023 to this point. The two will now need to defend one of the top wideouts in the league in Stefon Diggs.

Diggs is looking to break out of a two-week slump and against this Eagles’ pass defense which allows the fourth most yards to receivers (193.1). The three-time Pro Bowler has racked up just 61 yards receiving on seven catches over the last two weeks. He also hasn’t reached 100 yards in a game over his last five contests after surpassing the century mark in five of his first six games of the season.

The star wideout for the Bills will certainly look to return to his early season form on Sunday.

Josh Allen vs. Eagles Home Crowd

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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, left, is congratulated by quarterback Josh Allen after his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

There’s no doubt Allen has one of the best arms in the NFL. There’s a throw he doesn’t think he can make. However, with that confidence comes recklessness and Allen has had his fair share of coughing of up the football since joining the league in 2018. The gunslinger has the most turnovers of any player in the NFL with 95!

The dual-threat quarterback has certainly won games for the Bills, but also has lost some as well. Eagles’ fans make Lincoln Financial Field one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Philadelphia is a perfect 4-0 at home this year and over the last two years, have the third-best winning percentage in the NFL at home with a 13-3 record.

Allen will have to deal with the raucous crowd, the strong defensive line of the Eagles and perhaps some slick conditions with possible rain in the forecast. The Bills quarterback has thrown an interception in all but one game this season. Expect him to turn it over at least once in this one as well.

The Eagles are off to a 4-0 start in their schedule gauntlet and after the Chiefs victory, there’s no reason not to believe this team will find a way to win at home, even on short rest, against a talented Bills team. They are the better team overall and are back home where they have thrived. Expect a fifth straight win for the Eagles on Sunday.

AP Photo/Ed Zurga