November 15, 2019
Sunday will be the first time the Eagles play the Patriots since beating New England in Super Bowl LII. Both teams are coming off their respective bye weeks, but you wouldn't be able to tell that by looking at the Eagles injury report.
That's because, despite not playing last week, the Eagles somehow enter Sunday's game more banged up then they were before the bye, with Darren Sproles now done for the season, and Jordan Howard and Alshon Jeffery looking less and less likely to play after missing practice all week.
Going up against the NFL's No. 1 defense without your starting running back and No. 1 wideout? What could possibly go wrong?
To help their banged-up backfield, the Birds brought in old friend Jay Ajayi, and Doug Pederson said during his press conference Friday morning that he thinks Ajayi, who was part of that Super Bowl winning team in 2017, could contribute immediately should the Birds sign him despite the running back not having played since he tore his ACL last season in Philly.
That's in addition to the team already signing another former player this week in Jordan Matthews, who is now in his third stint with the Eagles. But is that really going to be enough to knock off the 8-1 Patriots? Based on what you'll read below, most people clearly don't think so.
We've already given you some matchups to watch and offered our own predictions for Eagles vs. Patriots — and we'll have a full injury report later this afternoon. Now, as we do every week, it's time to take a look around the nation to see how various experts, both local and national, see Sunday's game playing out...
• PhillyVoice staff: Our writers are fairly one-sided in this one, with five of our six writers picking the Patriots over the Eagles. Here's a look at what Jimmy Kempski, who picked a 20-16 win for New England, had to say:
When the line for this game first came out, I was very surprised that it was only 3.5 points. Once I dug into the Patri*ts a bit, however, I came away far less impressed than I would have imagined for a team with a +172 point differential. They are obviously very good, but they are decidedly not some kind of juggernaut. There are holes.
The Eagles, in my view, have a significant advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball, so I don't see this matchup becoming a blowout, like so many of the Patri*ts' other games this season. If the Birds can get their ground game going against the Patri*ts' suspect run defense, they can shorten the game, and help keep it out of the hands of their abysmal receiving corps.
Ultimately, it's going to be difficult for the Eagles to score points, especially if Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is out. Even if Jeffery hasn't been good this season, he at least might draw the assignment of Stephon Gilmore. Without Jeffery, or even if Jeffery plays but isn't 100 percent, the Pats will/should just deploy Gilmore elsewhere, perhaps on Zach Ertz.
I see a low scoring game, with the Patri*ts handing the Eagles a frustrating loss. The guess here is that T*m Brady won't skulk off the field without shaking hands like a crybaby this time, if so.
• ESPN staff: All nine of their experts who have made picks so far are predicting an Eagles' loss on Sunday.
• Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Patriots 27, Eagles 23
• Mike Reiss, ESPN.com: Patriots 24, Eagles 20
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 27, Eagles 21
The profile of each team has flipped since Super Bowl LII 21 months ago. The once high-flying Eagles are a station-to-station offense that will rely on a grinding running attack to overpower the Patriots. After ranking 31st in defensive efficiency back in the 2017 season, New England now relies on a big-play defense (first in turnovers, fourth in sacks) to carry a mediocre passing attack and the worst Patriots running game since they gave carries to Steven Jackson in an AFC Championship Game. Both teams are coming off a bye, making this a fascinating test for how two excellent coaching staffs try to fix their shortcomings while laying out their vision for how to get back to the big game.
Both of these teams are coming off the bye. The Patriots need to get back on track after losing the last time out to the Ravens. I think they will. The Eagles need this game a lot more in terms of their division race, but I think the Patriots will find a way behind Tom Brady.
• OddsShark: Rarely does this computer model buck the trend of the general public, but this week they're actually picking the Eagles to knock off the Patriots in a low-scoring game, 23-18.
• Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Patriots 26, Eagles 20
When Bill Belichick has two weeks to get ready, he’s very hard to beat. Except, of course, when facing Doug Pederson in the Super Bowl. But the Pats are better than the Super Bowl LII team, and the Eagles aren’t as good as they were then.
• Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Patriots 24, Eagles 10
The Patriots’ defense should give Carson Wentz fits. I see New England winning this one big.
• Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Patriots 27, Eagles 17
Dating back to November 2010, the New England Patriots have lost eight games by more than 12 points, including their last one two weeks ago against Baltimore.
They've followed up each of their last seven 13-plus-point losses with 13-plus-point wins. Their average margin of victory in those rebound wins: 19.0.
And in the last five years, New England has outscored opponents by an average of 15.6 points per game coming off its bye week.
On Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, the Pats will be coming off both a 13-plus-point loss and their bye.
With that in mind, two of our three analysts are siding with the Patriots as a 3.5-point favorite in Philly. ...
The Pats are also really healthy after the bye, but the Eagles have also had two weeks to prepare and they've become a lot healthier as well. That and the damn hook might explain why we don't have unanimity here. This is a tricky matchup between two well-coached and highly successful teams.
• Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Sheil Kapadia, the former Eagles beat writer turned national NFL writer, is now making picks against the spread for every game over at The Athletic. This week, he's taking the Patriots to cover the 3.5 points against the Eagles.
As a group, Eagles wide receivers rank last in yards (933), 31st in 20+ plays (11), 31st in yards per reception (10.7) and 26th in drop percentage (9.4%). The Patriots have allowed the fewest number of big plays (completions of 20+, runs of 10+) in the NFL. The Eagles will have to methodically move the ball down the field, and they could be without Alshon Jeffery. I don’t think they have enough firepower offensively to pull off the upset.
• SBNation staff: Nine of their 10 experts are picking the Patriots over the Eagles in this one.
• Bleeding Green Nation staff: Not even the usually optimistic BGN likes the Eagles on Sunday, with five of their nine experts picking the Pats to win.
• Inquirer.com: Three of their four beat writers are picking the Patriots to beat the Eagles, with the lone exception being Paul Domowitch, who sees a 23-20 win for the Birds.
Here’s the thing. The Eagles have beaten exactly as many teams with winning records as the Patriots — two. ...
The Patriots’ offensive line is weaker than it’s been in a while. They can’t run the ball. Tom Brady has only been sacked 15 times, but that’s more a credit to his ability to get the ball out than it is to the protection he’s received. If the Eagles secondary can hold their coverage for just a little bit, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham could have some fun Sunday.
Yes, New England’s defense has been incredible. But look at who they’ve played. None of the eight teams they’ve beaten is ranked higher than 19th in scoring or total offense.
Unless Bill Belichick completely outcoaches Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz, I like the Eagles’ chances. This prediction will self-destruct in 20 seconds.
• NJ.com staff: Four of their five writers are picking the Patriots, including Eagles beat writer Mike Kaye.
While the Eagles are coming off their bye week and two consecutive wins, it’s hard to favor them in a matchup against the AFC-leading Patriots. Bill Belichick will look to get revenge for New England’s Super Bowl LII loss and he has had an extra week to game plan for the Eagles. Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz are going need to be in sync for the Eagles to have any shot of putting up points on the New England defense.
PICK: Patriots 24, Eagles 17
• Todd Haislop, Sporting News: Patriots 20, Eagles 17
These teams are trending in opposite directions, with the Patriots having lost against their first legit opponent a couple weeks ago and the Eagles being on a two-game winning streak. They're also both coming off a bye, and we all know what happened the last time Philadelphia and New England met after two weeks of preparation. Of course, none of that will matter since the Patriots still have NFL's best scoring defense statistically and the Eagles rank in the bottom half of the league.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 27, Eagles 24
The Patriots usually play well after a bye under Bill Belichick. The Eagles, however, are coming off a bye themselves, and Doug Pederson did do some great big-game coaching against Belichick in the Super Bowl a couple years ago. Tom Brady has the bigger advantage against a bad Eagles secondary while Carson Wentz draws a tough, deep Patriots secondary. Philadelphia will run well enough to stay in the game, but Brady will outduel Wentz with a game-winning drive.
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