November 12, 2021
On Sunday, the Eagles will head into Denver looking to avoid being swept by the AFC West this season. And while that may sound like a terrible thing, that division is actually one of the better in football, with every team currently over .500.
Of course, that may be helped by the fact that each of those teams gets to play four games against the lowly NFC East, which features just one team over .500 (the Cowboys). But that's also counteracted by the fact that they play four against the AFC North, another division with all four teams currently over .500 on the season.
None of that really matters for Sunday's game, as the Eagles simply need a win. They've looked better the last few weeks, but just have a win over the lowly Lions to show for it. Eventually, they're going to need to start producing some results. The good news is, their new run-heavy style of attack should actually keep them in games, rather than garbage time points simply giving the impression that the Birds were in the game. That — and five matchups left against the NFC East, including four against Washington and New York — will certainly help.
But first, a date with Denver.
For the ninth time in 10 weeks, Philly enters the game as an underdog, getting 2.5 points from the 5-4 Broncos. Given that Mile High is actually one of the few stadiums that offers a real, tangible home-field advantage due to the altitude, it's interesting not to see the Broncos giving even more points, especially on the heels of their big win over Dallas last Sunday.
As we do every week, we've rounded up a slew of predictions from both the local and national media to get a feeling for how the experts see this Eagles vs. Broncos matchup playing out — including a few against the spread. Let's dive right in...
• PhillyVoice: Once again we can't seem to come to an agreement on how we see Sunday playing out. Three of our writers are taking the Broncos while two are picking the Eagles. Here's more form Evan Macy, who sees a 24-20 win for Philly...
I picked against the Eagles last week at home against a team that is probably similar in skill level to the Broncos (in the Chargers). So why would I pick them to win, away from home against another AFC West team this week?
Well, what I saw at the Linc last weekend may have resulted in a loss in the ledger but it was one of the more reassuring performances I have seen in a while. The offense appears to be turning a corner with Nick Sirianni starting to figure out how to handle his personnel. The run-pass mix has been very good and the playbook is showing off Jalen Hurts' strengths.
And while Denver's defense is better than the Chargers' D, the Broncos offense is worse, and I think the Birds' defense will do enough to keep them in this game. I see Philly winning this time, putting it all together and keeping the Broncos from doing too much with the football.
• Inquirer.com: All three of their Eagles beat writers are taking the Broncos, including EJ Smith, who sees Denver winning by a score of 27-21.
[...] Denver is on a hot streak, coming off a surprising blowout of the Dallas Cowboys and a close win against Washington. Teddy Bridgewater has played well enough this season to fall on the right side of the “Is this guy good enough to torch the Eagles’ defense?” scale. His advanced metrics are incredible so far — he ranks third in completion percentage over expectation and fifth in expected points added per play.
Considering his efficiency and the emergence of rookie running back Javonte Williams boosting Denver’s run game, this doesn’t feel like the week the Eagles’ defense figures it out.
Offensively, expect the Eagles to stick with their new run-heavy approach. Considering the Broncos rank 23rd in defense-adjusted value over average against the run, there’s good reason to believe the Eagles can succeed. But the same problem that plagued them against the Chargers could come up again: It’s hard to keep up with teams scoring at will if you’re running that much.
• NJ.com: Just two of their six writers are taking the Eagles. Both of their Birds beat writers, however, are going with the Broncos. Here's how Mike Kaye sees it playing out...
The Eagles’ defense just isn’t capable of containing good quarterbacks at the moment. You can blame that on the play-caller or the players, but the fact that they are bleeding out yards (and the play clock) for minutes on end is not a great sign. Against Teddy Bridgewater, the Eagles will need to be more aggressive, because Bridgewater is impressively accurate in the short-to-immediate area of the field.
On the opposite side, the Eagles need to continue to mix up personnel groupings and stay balanced. Running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott have performed well over the past two weeks, and they should help Jalen Hurts sell play-action fakes. DeVonta Smith will need a big game for the Eagles to sneak one past the Broncos. That’s easier written than done.
PICK: Broncos 23, Eagles 20
• Bleeding Green Nation: After a couple weeks of going against the Birds, the staff at BGN is back to their old tricks with each of their writers picking the Eagles.
• The Athletic: This week, Zach Berman and Bo Wulf are split over Sunday's outcome. While Wulf thinks the Eagles will win, Berman is backing the Broncos. Here's more from Berman...
Berman: Start with the Eagles defense, which must play more aggressively in coverage against Bridgewater. Live with the possibility of allowing a deep ball over too many easy completions. I’m expecting a bounceback performance from Jonathan Gannon’s unit, although not to the point that they look like they did against Detroit or Carolina. The offense will have a harder time. Denver is No. 22 in defensive DVOA, but they made life difficult for Dallas last week and have the second-best scoring defense in the NFL, limiting opponents to 17 points per game. If the Eagles are a touchdown better than that average, they’ll win this game. But I’m not predicting that to happen. Give me the Eagles covering the spread and keeping it close but falling to 3-7. However, this is a winnable game, and a victory would keep any hopes of a winning record a realistic possibility. Broncos 23, Eagles 21
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Broncos 24, Eagles 21
You could tell me literally any outcome will happen in a 2021 Eagles-Broncos game and I would believe it. Denver's sudden defensive resurgence sticks despite injuries and Teddy adots passes all over the field in a Broncos romp? Sure. Philadelphia's sudden run-game resurgence grinds the Broncos' third-string linebackers to dirt in an Eagles romp? Bring it. The only certainty here is that the winning quarterback will get less shine for his role in the outcome than the losing quarterback gets blame.
• ESPN: Just four of their 11 experts are taking the Eagles over the Broncos, two more than last week against the Chargers.
• Tim McManus, ESPN: Eagles 20, Broncos 19
• Jeff Legwold, ESPN: Broncos 26, Eagles 17
• Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Broncos 23, Eagles 17
The Broncos are in the playoff chase after their upset victory over the Cowboys on the road last week. They dominated that game. Being back home against an Eagles team that isn't in the same class, they will do so again. The defense will limit Jalen Hurts as the Broncos do enough on offense to win it.
• ProFootballTalk: While Michael David Smith is picking the Eagles to win by a touchdown, Mike Florio is predicting a blowout loss for the Eagles, to the tune of 44-20. But we'll include MDS here since he's taking the Birds...
Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith are showing great chemistry, and I think they’ll have a big game in Denver.
• USA TODAY Sports: Just two of their seven experts are picking the Eagles.
• Bleacher Report: Eagles 24, Broncos 23 (NOTE: Four of their six writers are taking the Birds to at least cover, while two are taking Denver.)
Did the Denver Broncos discover something in handily beating the Cowboys on the road in Week 9? The majority of our experts think not. They're backing the Philadelphia Eagles as a three-point underdog in Denver on Sunday afternoon.
"Congratulations to the Eagles for finally remembering that running the football is a thing," Davenport said. "Philly's rededication to the ground game has helped take some of the pressure off Jalen Hurts under center, and while the wins aren't stacking up, the Eagles are at least staying in games. The Broncos are coming off their biggest win of the season, but Denver isn't as good as the team that rolled the Cowboys in Dallas. Take the points in what will likely be a low-scoring affair."
That Week 9 performance from Denver might have had more to do with Dallas not showing up. The team had just traded team legend Von Miller, and that and the absence of key offensive linemen Garett Bolles and Graham Glasgow could catch up to them against a strong Philadelphia defensive front in this spot...
• Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Sheil picks games against the spread every week, and this week he thinks the Broncos both win and cover against the Eagles.
The Eagles have found a formula on offense that at least suits their talent. It’s a run-heavy approach with play-action, run-pass options (RPOs), and Jalen Hurts creating out of structure. Defensively, they’ve struggled to find answers.
Weekly film/numbers check-in on Eagles defense:— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) November 9, 2021
* Allowed Chargers to drive to at least the PHI 27 on EVERY possession.
* Did not force a punt, have a takeaway, or have a sack.
* DL: 0 sacks, 0 QBH, 0 TFLs.
* Allowed 80% completions for FIFTH time this year.
The Broncos are coming off of back-to-back wins, including an impressive victory last week at Dallas. Javonte Williams has emerged as one of the most fun running backs in the NFL, and Teddy Bridgewater currently ranks sixth in EPA per play. Their offense is well-suited to go up and down the field against the Eagles.
The pick: Broncos (-2.5)
• Bill Bender, Sporting News: Eagles 29, Broncos 24
This game is tough to pick. The Eagles are 3-2 ATS on the road this season, where they have played better in spots. Denver is coming off one of the biggest upsets of the season against Dallas but is just 2-2 at home.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 23, Broncos 20
The Eagles present a bad matchup for the hosts. They will squeeze their defense on Teddy Bridgewater and will load up to contain the Broncos' running game. Denver is prime for.a letdown after expending major energy to take down Dallas. Jalen Hurts' running and intermediate passing will set up the Eagles to steal this game late. Philadelphia's defense also tends to show up against limited offenses.
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