Blake’s Breakdown: Eagles Fly Into Buffalo for NFL Week 5

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Updated: October 7, 2011
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I’ll admit it, why not… I blew it last week, folks. I honestly didn’t believe the Bengals had a defense of that caliber and it clearly showed as my prediction last week was way off. My hats off to Cincinnati. Regardless of the bogus calls by the officiating crew, the Bengals played a great game and they deserve the credit.

However, welcome to Week Five. How can you not get fired up about this game? The weather forecast is predicting lots of sun, with temperatures in the high seventies to low eighties. Both the Eagles and Bills are coming off tough losses to the underdogs from Week Four and it will be exciting to see both of these teams fight as they try get back on the right track. Both teams have high-powered offenses capable of scoring well over 30 points a game, not to mention it’s been eight years since the exciting Michael Vick has paid a visit to the Ralph.

So let’s get right into it.

I see this game having the potential to be yet another shootout, similar to the New England match-up two weeks ago. Both the Bills and the Eagles offenses are ranked among the top offenses in the league (Buffalo is ranked 4th in points per game, Philadelphia 10th), but the same cannot be said about their defenses. We all know that Buffalo has been struggling to generate a pass rush, as well as covering opposing receivers, and the same goes for the Eagles. Although Buffalo has shown bright spots in stopping the run game, they sure did disappoint last week. The Eagles are ranked 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. This is due to their linebacking unit. This unit is composed of undersized players who are underachieving in all categories. They struggle to shed blocks, cover tight-ends, and make tackles. I know I said this game has the potential to be a shootout, but Fred Jackson and Co. could have a field day if they are given the right amount of touches, and if Chan Gailey sticks to the run game. Look for 20+ touches from Fred Jackson as well as a big day from tight end Scott Chandler.

On the other hand, it is no secret that the Philadelphia offense is electrifying and possesses much talent. Running back LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.5 in both yards per carry and yards per reception. It will be crucial for Buffalo to once again play disciplined defense and stack the box. Containing McCoy will be crucial for the Bills to be competitive, but they will also have to contain Vick and not allow him to run around the pocket and make plays. Bills cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Drayton Florence will have their hands full with the Eagles speedy receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. If Terrence McGee can come back from his injury and play this week, that will certainly help the Bills defense in coverage.

Some Quick Facts to Consider:

- Both starting right and left tackles for the Eagles offensive line will be out this week. Buffalo needs to generate a pass rush and start using more blitz packages to rattle an injury-prone and banged up Mike Vick.

- Philadelphia has beaten themselves in many games this season. While Mike Vick makes a ton of plays, he has also thrown 3 interceptions this week and is prone to fumbling, as he runs around the pocket often.

- Chan Gailey had a poor game plan last week and didn’t commit to the run game. It is crucial for Fred Jackson to have at least 20 carries this week against a weak defensive front seven. If I was calling the plays, I would give Fred the ball around 30 carries and mix CJ Spiller into the game plan more.

Bills Keys to Victory:

- Run the ball. Run the ball. Run the ball. It is true that we are seeing the NFL become more and more of  a passing league, but it’s not impossible to pound the rock old school-style. It is crucial for the Bills to exploit this weak Philadelphia Defense, control the clock, maintain possession, and keep Mike Vick and Co. off the field. Fred Jackson will have a huge game if an adequate amount of carries are granted to him.

- Set the Edges. Don’t let the speedy players of the Eagles Offense get around the edges. Mike Vick loves to make plays with his legs, it is important that the Bills keep him in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm. Like I said before, the Eagles have beaten themselves in their three losses this season and are prone to turning the ball over.

- Win the balls in the air. CB Leodis McKelvin and S George Wilson have been giving up a lot of big plays lately. However, this isn’t due to them getting burned by receivers; they are still there foot-to-foot in coverage, but have a hard time making plays on the ball. This week could be a better match-up for them as Maclin and Jackson are not the biggest targets.

- Keep it simple, Stupid. Although it is important to spread out the opposing defense at times by taking shots down field, but Chan Gailey needs to get his offense back to what they do best: simple passing plays and running the ball. TE Scott Chandler needs to be incorporated into this game plan, as well as WR David Nelson and RB CJ Spiller in the slots. Simple 5-15 yard passing plays is where this offense excels at.

- Finally, take the lead early. There is no doubt that the mindset of the Eagles locker room is anything but confident right now. They were a favorite during the offseason by many experts to make a run at the Super Bowl this year. While they continue to play below expectations, their morale continues to plummet. If the Bills take an early lead, the Eagles may not be able to rally and make a comeback.

This is a really hard game to predict because both teams’ defenses are anything but solid. I have to give the edge to the Eagles here simply because I feel their offense has more talent, but I’m not ruling out a Bills victory. The game is set up well for them, and if they execute properly they have a great shot at winning this game, especially with home field advantage.

My Prediciton: Eagles 30 Buffalo 27