New England comes to town to take on the Eagles this afternoon and here is our weekly Sunday look at the game:
This is not the matchup the Eagles need, a week after finally putting it all on the line and winning against the Giants. It would be nice to think Juan Castillo's defense has turned the corner, that Tom Brady won't set the Linc ablaze Sunday, but I think what we saw against the Giants was a defense finally starting to put it all together, not one ready to play at the Pats' level. Remember, before that Jason Babin sack and strip, and Derek Landri's fumble recovery, the prospect of yet another fourth-quarter disaster loomed large.
Maybe I'm overselling the Pats, who did lose to the Giants not that long ago. Maybe Vince Young authors a half-dozen 18-play drives, and Brady barely gets on the field. That might work. But I'm not counting on it, especially with Jeremy Maclin out and DeSean Jackson gimpy.
Prediction: Patriots 30-20.
OK, so Vince Young didn't go all Rose Bowl (when he won the national championship and had one of the best games in postseason history) on the Giants Sunday night, but he did play well enough to lead the Birds to a 17-10 victory. He was 23 of 36 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, but the defense was stout. They'll need another huge performance to stop the prolific Tom Brady. These proud franchises have not met since 2007, when the Pats squeezed out a 31-28 W at home. Brady was his usual brilliant self, throwing for 380 yards and a score. But, the final margin was still only three, and that was on enemy turf. Now, the Eagles get to bask in the crazy that is the Linc, and will be going against a New England defense that gives up 404.2 yards per game, the worst in the league. Let's go for another tight fit and call for the desperate Birds to post a narrow victory.
Prediction: Eagles, 24-23.
Ed Barkowitz - Patriots, 31-21
Bill Conlin - Eagles, 27-24
Paul Domowitch - Patriots, 31-24
Marcus Hayes - Eagles, 30-27
John Smallwood - Patriots, 27-20
DOMO'S KEY MATCHUPS
1. Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Patriots RE Andre Carter: Peters is having an All-Pro season. Carter, who has 8 1/2 sacks in the last five games, is the Patriots' best pass rusher. Advantage: Eagles
2. Eagles LB Jamar Chaney vs. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski already has 10 TD catches. Chaney's coverage skills are improving, but he's going to have his hands full. Advantage: Patriots
3. Eagles CB Joselio Hanson vs. Patriots WR Wes Welker: Hanson is one of the league's better slot corners, but Welker is the league's best slot receiver. Advantage: Patriots
This could turn into a battle of attrition and a battle of backups.
The Patriots downgraded four players to out yesterday: receiver Chad Ochocinco (hamstring), cornerback Devin McCourtney (shoulder), safety Patrick Chung (foot) and center Dan Connolly (groin).
Taylor Price is expected to play in Ochocinco's place. The former star has had a rough season, with only 11 catches for 201 yards.
Antwaun Molden will start in place of McCourtney; Sterling Moore for Chung and Ryan Wendell for Connolly.
If you have not seen it here on philly.com or in this week's edition of SportsWeek, Paul Domowitch talks to defensive line coach Jim Washburn about the wide nine and how the Eagles are using it. Check it out here.
ONE MORE THING
For those of you looking for something to hold on to, eight NFL teams that started 4-6 went on to make the playoffs since 1990.