October 10, 2015
The Eagles will look to pick up their second win -- and first at home -- this Sunday against the Saints. A loss, and fans will really begin to abandon the Chip Ship, but a win and they could suddenly be a game out of the division with a matchup against the Giants looming on the horizon.
Needless to say, there's a lot at stake this weekend at the Linc.
Here, as always, are the weekly over/unders:
That's what's currently being offered at topbet.eu, but I think it's going to be a little higher than that. In my prediction this week, I predicted a 30-24 final, but I wasn't the only one to suggest a score totaling in the mid-50s. Rich Hofmann predicted a final of 35-21. Jimmy Kempski projected a somewhat lower scoring affair (24-23), but even his pick was 47 total points, just two below the current mark of 49.
Both of these offenses have the ability to score, although neither is performing at the level we're accustomed to. And neither defense is good enough to complete stop the opposing offense. Even the Eagles D, which has been solid against the run, is a concern against Brees, Jimmy Graham or no Jimmy Graham.
Murray said after last week’s loss that he wanted to get the ball more. Chip Kelly followed by saying everyone needs the ball more, as the Eagles ran just 52 plays against Washington, well below their average under Kelly. Against a soft Saints defense, look for Murray to get the ball plenty. In the three games in which he has played, Murray’s lack of touches has more to due with the struggles of the offensive line than any favoritism between coach and running back. Sure, Murray’s only totaled 29 carries in his three games this season, but that still means 60 percent of the running plays were called for the reigning rushing champ. Ryan Mathews averaged just three carries per game when Murray was active (nine total), while Sproles was right there with him at 3.33 carries per game (10 total). For this week, I’m taking the over.
The only way for Murray to surpass the 12 carries I suggested above is by instilling some form of confidence in his coach. If he doesn’t produce early, and Bradford has success against a vulnerable Saints secondary (more on that later), it could look much like the rest of the season for Murray. But as you can see from my previous pick, I think Murray will get off to a decent start. As long as he is able to keep away from negative plays on first and second down, he could be in line for his best game of the season, although that’s not saying much.
We’re going to do this one strictly by the numbers.
Bradford is averaging one interception per game, or one per every 36.25 passing attempts. The defense he’ll be facing Sunday, however, has yet to intercept a pass all season, or zero per every 110 passing attempts. And that’s saying something considering they played Jameis Winston at home in Week 2.
On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees has thrown just two interceptions in his three starts this season, or one per every 63.5 pass attempts. And as for the Eagles defense, they’re still tied for sixth in the league with five picks on the year — despite being unable to force one against Kirk Cousins in Week 4. They were without CB Byron Maxwell for much of that game, and getting him back this week will hopefully translate to more turnovers for Billy Davis’ defense. And before you rush to point out that Maxwell hasn’t played all that well and is without an INT so far this season, his return is just as important to the rest of the secondary. It allows his teammates to return to the roles they had grown comfortable in over the first three-plus games.
I think the Eagles D gets back on track with an interception this week ... and the Saints also get their first of the season.
The answer to this question could have a lot to do with what happens in the ground game. With the Saints averaging the sixth-most rushing yards allowed per game this season, it could be a chance for that unit to get going. And if so, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Chip Kelly stick with that.
However, Bradford may not need a high number of attempts to find success against the New Orleans secondary. It's allowing an NFL-high 9.8 yards per attempt this season.
Bradford, on the other hand, is averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt (237 per game). But if Bradford gets anywhere close to the 36 attempts he’s been averaging through the first four games, it’s not hard to envision him surpassing his season average. Of their four other opponents, only the Falcons have allowed more total passing yards than the Saints, and Bradford posted a season-high 336 yards that night, albeit on 52 attempts. I’m going to take the over on this one.
After being allowing just two sacks through the first three games of the season, the offensive line allowed the Washington defense to get to Bradford five times last Sunday.
This week, the Eagles will be facing the Saints, who have three sacks in each of their two home games this season (Tampa Bay and Dallas) but just one in their two road games combined (Arizona and Carolina). That bodes well for a banged up Eagles offensive line that saw its two tackles — Jason Peters (quad) and Lane Johnson (knee) — some this week. However, both Johnson, listed as probable on Friday’s injury report, and Peters, still listed as questionable, practiced fully on both Thursday and Friday. Both will likely play against the Saints, but what remains to be seen is how long they can stay in the game. If one or both can’t go the distance, the line will likely struggle — as it did against the Redskins — in their absence. Based on how things have gone for the Eagles this season, specifically along the offensive line, I wouldn’t bank on the entire unit making through the game.
It’s just not a safe bet. And because of that, I’ve got to take the over here.