November 13, 2015
The Eagles open the second half of their 2015 schedule on Sunday against the Dolphins. It'll be the Birds' first game at the Linc since beating the Giants on Monday Night Football in Week 6.
This is a must-win game for the Eagles -- you'll be hearing a lot of that the rest of the season -- because a loss would render their overtime win over the Cowboys totally meaningless. Furthermore, with the Giants taking on the Patriots this week, the Birds have a chance to re-take sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
And when you add to that the fact that the Eagles will have to face New England December 6 (followed by the 5-4 Bills and the 6-2 Cardinals), it becomes immediately clear that Chip Kelly and his team must take care of business the next few weeks, or that 3-game stretch to start December could end their season.
That being said, here's a look at what the local and national media, as well as our own writers, think will happen in South Philly on Sunday afternoon.
TV: CBS | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Eagles -6 | TOTAL: 49.5 (via topbet.eu)
It's official. Brandon Lee Gowton over at Bleeding Green Nation is a traitorous troll. For the fifth game in a row, he's picked against the Eagles -- and for the fourth time in those five games, he's the lone BGN writer to predict the Birds will lose. Fortunately for Eagles fans, he's been wrong more than he's been right, as the Eagles are 3-1 in that span. Furthermore, Gowton was quick to point out that for the season, the Eagles are 4-1 when he picks against them. So if that's his reasoning, maybe he has Eagles fans' interests in mind when making his selection.
As for the city's paper of record, I can't tell who its writers picked because their website refuses to load. But maybe you'll have better luck -- you can check out Jeff McLane and Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer, here. And down in South Florida, the Dolphins writers don't have much faith in their local team. All four at the Palm Beach Post predicted an Eagles win, as did Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote.
As for the national outlets, here's how they see the Eagles' Week 9 matchup playing out...
• For the first time this season, all 13 of the experts over at ESPN.com are picking the Birds.
• Elliot Harrison of NFL.com predicts a two-touchdown win for the Eagles.
• Seven of the eight CBSSports.com writers are picking the Eagles to win.
• Over at USA TODAY, all seven writers are betting on the Birds.
• And if you want to go strictly by the numbers, Nate Silver and the FiveThiryEight crew think the Eagles should be favored by a touchdown and give them a 73 percent chance of winning.
And now, our staff picks:
The Dolphins have a pair of wins against two horrible AFC South teams in the Titans and Texans, as well as a Week 1 win over the Redskins in which they were thoroughly outplayed. In their five losses, which includes a loss to the horrendous Jaguars, they were outscored 160-62. This is not a good football team.
Miami has very little in the way of dangerous skill position players, and an offensive line that has struggled to protect Ryan Tannehill. Defensively, they just lost their best player, Cameron Wake, for the season with a ruptured Achilles.
The Eagles' next three opponents have a combined record of 7-17. It is imperative that the take care of business in all three of those games before they head up to New England to take their beating from the Patriots. And I think they will. Eagles big, 36-17.
The Miami Dolphins aren’t a particularly interesting team, as has been the case for a while now. It’s amusing what they have tried as an organization this year, though. Soft-spoken Joe Philbin wasn’t getting the job done, so who did they tab to replace him? His polar opposite! Next thing you know, this 39-year-old, jacked, Metallica-loving tight ends coach is leading the Dolphins, preaching intangibles like GRIT, TOUGHNESS, and ATTITUDE. And two games in, the change actually was working. Miami throttled their next two opponents (both from the AFC South, but still), winning by a combined 46 points.
Predictably, the new coach smell has since worn off. The Eagles are back at home and the better team. Even if the performances weren’t necessarily pretty, the Birds have won these types of games handily this year.
Remember in the preseason when people were predicting that the Dolphins could be a contender in the AFC? Good times. They've fired their coach and replaced him with Man Campbell, who looks like that bully from junior high who used to shove the smart kid in his locker; Chip Kelly was that smart kid. Still, Campbell's style initially worked for the Dolphins -- or maybe it was the fact that they were playing two crap teams -- as they won their first two games following their decision to fire Joe Philbin. Since, however, the Dolphins are 0-2 with losses at New England and at Buffalo.
Now, the Eagles are back at home, where they have won their last two games after losing their home opener to the Cowboys, and their offense finally seems to be working like we thought it would. This reminds me a lot of the Saints game; it's a one the Birds should easily win, but if their offense suddenly reverts to early-season form, it could be much closer than you think. Miami's offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, is a former assistant under Kelly, so it will be interesting to see if either side throws a wrinkle or two in the playbook to try to keep their opposition guessing.
The Dolphins have turned the ball over 12 times in their eight games this season and have forced just eight. If Bill Davis' defense can generate multiple turnovers -- and if Sam Bradford can protect the ball like the did against Dallas -- the Eagles should be able to handle the Dolphins. Even with Jason Peters questionable and Jordan Hicks gone for the year.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin