JEFF MCLANE Record, 5-7
Fool me once, shame on the Eagles. Fool me five times, shame on me. Every game is its own entity, but after last week’s debacle in Seattle when the Eagles flat out dogged it, I’m not sure if I’ll pick against an Eagles opponent the remainder of this season. All four games are winnable for the Eagles, starting with Sunday’s meeting at Miami. But at this point I’m not sure if I would even rubber stamp a victory over the likes of the Colts.
That being said, the Eagles should beat the Dolphins. Michael Vick will return from a three-week absence, as will Jeremy Maclin. They’ve been missed. The Eagles offense averaged just 17 points over the three games in which they were out. Before their injuries the Eagles averaged 24.4 points in nine games. If the offense can limit its turnovers – and that’s a big if – there’s no reason to think they can’t put up points against a solid Miami defense.
Even if that’s the case, I have little trust in Juan Castillo’s defense to stop Reggie Bush and Miami’s run game. With the exception of the Redskins game and second Giants game, the Eagles’ porous run defense has allowed 4.7 yards a carry. I exclude those two games because Washington and New York have the 31st and 32d-ranked run offenses in the NFL. So chalk this one up for the Dolphins, and stick a fork in the Eagles, who will be mathematically eliminated with a loss. Dolphins, 27-24.
What goes right: DeSean Jackson scores his first long touchdown on the season.
What goes wrong: Casey Matthews, now back in the lineup, gets burnt in the nickel.
Getting Vick back will certainly help, as should the return of Maclin. But let’s be honest, Vick didn’t look all that great even before his injury and the Eagles have found ways to lose all year (not that it’s stopped me from continuing to pick them to win).
As usual, stats provide decent arguments for an Eagles win. The Dolphins offense isn’t stellar and the Eagles have put up points when they have had all of their weapons on the field. But the Fish play real defense. They’re fifth in the NFL in rushing D and Miami has held their last seven opponents to 20 points or fewer. They have created seven turnovers in their past four games. The Eagles, on the other hand, lead the NFL in give aways.
Their records are the same, but the Eagles are coming off of two lifeless losses while the Dolphins are 4-1 in their last five. Miami's last three losses have all been by three points or fewer. The Eagles defense, meanwhile, has had no answers the past two weeks, and they’ve been healthy. Call me crazy, but I’ll take the losing team that has gotten hot, rather than the losing team that seems to have packed it in. DOLPHINS, 24-20
What goes right: Vick moves the offense more smoothly than Vince Young managed.
What goes wrong: The Eagles continue to give the ball away once they get into scoring position.