JEFF MCLANE Season, 2-2.
If you're the Eagles and Andy Reid you look at the last three games and you say, "We should have/could have won all three games." It's a fair assessment. But they did not, and as Bill Parcells famously said, "You are what your record says you are." By that measure the Eagles are 1-3 and dangerously close to slipping into oblivion. If they lose to the Bills on Sunday you can kiss the playoffs goodbye, not because the Eagles are already mathmatically eliminated, but because, well, they just aren't good. But I don't think the ship will sink this weekend. I sensed a determined team at the NovaCare Complex this week. As much as many people wanted the Eagles to make drastic wholesale changes in personnel, coaching and scheme, they did not. It was the right move at this point. They can beat the Bills as is. It's just not going to look pretty. Buffalo will score points against a defense that can't stop the run for four quarters and one that will be without defensive end Trent Cole. But the Bills defense is as putrid and Michael Vick and company will zoom up and the down the field pretty much as they have all the season. The X factor is whether the Eagles have solved their red zone woes. They lead the NFL with 21 possessions inside the 20, but are 23d in the league after coverting only eight of those drives (38.1 percent) into touchdowns. It says here LeSean McCoy will hit pay dirt a few times, along with a couple of other players, and the Eagles live on -- at least for one more week. Eagles, 31-24.
What goes right: Alex Henery, after two costly fourth quarter field goal flubs last season, strikes back and converts on his first try.
What goes wrong: ... Or continues to go wrong. Nnamdi Asomugha will still struggle with his role in the Eagles' defensive scheme.
I'm more torn about my pick this week than I have been for any previous game. There's a lot to worry about for the Eagles. The Bills can run and score and have an impressive comeback win over the Patriots. The Eagles can't seem to stop anybody, especially when it matters, and that was with Cole and Antonio Dixon in the lineup. Their only win was over the awful Rams. We have no idea if Danny Watkins will actually be better than in the preseason. And, simply, the Eagles just looked horrible the past two weeks. But Reid hasn't survived this long by letting his teams collapse at the first sign of adversity. If the Eagles are going to win this game, it'll have to be on the back of the offense because I don't see the defense suddenly rising up to shut down Buffalo. I've picked the Eagles twice in a row and been burned both times. If they lose again, you can just about write off the season after five weeks. But nothing around here ever happens in such a straight-forward manner. I say the Eagles win a game they have to have and at least prolong the intrigue around this team. Eagles, 33-30.
What goes right: The Eagles find a way to finish their drives, without the run-pass option. (Though after last week's carnage, it really would catch the Bills by surprise if they tried it again).
What goes wrong: Watkins may have studied his playbook like crazy, but doing it in a real game is a different story. He still has some growing pains to work through.