Here is a look at what we'll be watching during tomorrow night's Eagles-Texans game:
1. As DeSean goes. If DeSean Jackson isn’t the straw that stirs the Eagles’ drink, then he’s definitely the ice cubes that chill it. When he has a big game, the Eagles usually win. When he doesn’t, well, just check out their 4 defeats this season. He missed the Tennessee game with a concussion and had just 9 catches for 75 yards and no touchdowns in their other 3 losses. Tonight, he’ll face a secondary that has given up 25 TD passes and a league-worst 13 pass plays of 40-plus yards.
2. In the zone. The Eagles have been stinking it up in the red zone on both ends of the field. They are dead last in the league in red zone defense, giving up 23 TDs in 30 inside-the-20 tests. On offense, they’ve converted just 2 of 10 red-zone chances in the last 2 games and only 12 of 31 since Week 4. In the last 5 games, they’ve completed just 22 of 44 passes in the red zone.
3. Andre the Giant. After getting lit up for 4 touchdowns by Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen, the Eagles, the Eagles’ secondary now has the unenviable task of trying to neutralize one of the game’s very best wideouts, Andre Johnson. The Eagles’ undersized corners have not fared well against big, physical receivers like Johnson.
4. Fostering hope. Lost in Jay Cutler’s 4-touchdown performance against them Sunday was the fact that the Eagles reverted to early-season form against the run, giving up 131 rushing yards, including an early 61-yard run by Matt Forte that set up the Bears’ first TD. If they hope to stop the Texans’ dangerous passing game tonight, they first must do a better job of tackling than they did last week and find a way to neutralize Arian Foster, who only is the league’s leading rusher.
5. It’s better to take than give. The Eagles are tied for the league lead in takeaways and are first in interceptions, but for the first time this season, they failed to force a turnover against the Bears. They’re 7-1 this season when they win the turnover battle. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Texans don’t turn the ball over much. Their 13 giveaways are the fourth fewest in the league. – Paul Domowitch
To read our earlier posts from today, including Les Bowen's video preview, click here.