Here is what we will be watching in Sunday's Eagles-Titans game:
1. Biggest challenge yet for run defense. After a poor start, the Eagles’ run defense has been very good the last 2 weeks. They held the 49ers’ Frank Gore to 2.9 yards per carry and the Falcons’ Michael Turner to 3.0. But neither of those 2 runners are as lethal as the Titans’ lightening-fast Chris Johnson. He’s rushed for at least 110 yards in 4 of 6 games this season. Gap control and sure tackling are going to be essential.
2. Seize the lead. The Eagles jumped on the Falcons early last week and took them out of their run-first mode by forcing them to play catch-up. They need to do the same to the Titans and make Vince Young or Kerry Collins throw the ball more than they would like. The Titans have more than 25 pass attempts in just 2 games this season. Not coincidentally, they’ve lost both of those games.
3. Keeping Kolb safe. Slowly but surely, the Eagles’ offensive line is stabilizing. They’ve allowed just 1 sack in 2 of their last 3 games. But it will get another big challenge this week from the Titans, who already have recorded a league-high 22 sacks in their first 6 games. Defensive ends Dave Ball and ex-Eagle Jason Babin are undersized, but quick and have combined for 10 ½ sacks.
4. Touchdowns not field goals. This game probably will be decided in the red zone. The less you see of David Akers Sunday the better. The Titans own the league’s best red-zone defense, allowing just 6 touchdowns to opponents in 26 red-zone opportunities. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 31st in red-zone defense, giving up 11 TDs in 14 opportunities.
5. Ball security. One of the big reasons for the Eagles’ 4-2 record is their +8 turnover differential. They’ve got just 5 giveaways in 6 games. Fewest they’ve ever had in a season in the Andy Reid era is 22. The Titans have turned the ball over 10 times, but 7 of those giveaways came in a Week 2 loss to the Steelers. They’ve got just 2 giveaways in the last 4 games and zero in the last 2, so it’s going to be hard to make them cough it up.
To read our earlier report from today's practice, click here.