Friday, October 27, 2006

Game 8 Preview

jacksonville jaguars at philadelphia eagles

wow, half way through the season already and the team still appears to be a work in progress. there have been flashes of dominance, for sure, but the bottom line results have been mediocre, as their 4-3 record would attest. i'd like to say the team has been inconsistent, but that doesn't really paint the right picture because game in and game out they've moved the ball and had periods of defensive dominance. it's almost like they are inconsistent from play to play rather than from game to game. it's the strangest thing i've seen from an eagles team.

this is a must win game for them and one that may not come easily. the jaguars can be a formidable opponent, especially because they have a tendency to play to the level of their competition.
- eagles jump to 2nd overall in DVOA, drop to 2nd on offense, jump to 8th on defense, and remain at 18th on special teams
- jaguars come in ranked 8th overall, 19th on offense, 4th on defense, and 19th on special teams
Andy Reid called a special Monday practice to make his team watch film of their last two losses, a 30-minute gag reel filled with facemask-grabbing, 12th-man blitzing, flag-kicking, and public vomiting. Apparently, Johnny Knoxville was called in to edit the footage. "No one's blowing a head gasket or getting out of control right now," Darren Howard said after the film session. Apparently, Howard hasn't spoken to an Eagles fan recently. The Jaguars can match the Eagles play-for-bonehead play: injuries, fumbles, and dropped passes all contributed to an embarrassing loss to the Texans. "We just need to walk out of this Texas stadium and delete this," Reggie Williams said on Sunday. The loser of this game may be deleted from the playoff picture. The Eagles won't let that happen at home.
les bowen
IT'S GUT-CHECK time in Birdland. It's a little troubling that the Jaguars really need this game, too, after falling to 3-3 - they're a good team, and can be expected to put up a fight - but they're on the road, where they are 0-3 this season.

The Eagles sure look like a really good team that hasn't quite put it all together yet. Maybe they won't, but I think if Houston can run the ball on Jacksonville's defense, so can Brian Westbrook. And if the Birds' defense can't handle a gimpy, immobile Byron Leftwich, there's not much hope for the second half of the season.

I really expect Donovan McNabb to snap back into the form of the first 5 weeks and the fourth quarter last week. The Eagles are about as healthy as they're going to get this season, and there's really no excuse for not winning this game.


Eagles 28, Jaguars 20
vegas vic
We don't know who will quarterback the Jaguars (Byron Leftwich or David Garrard), but we do know which group of Jags we'll see. The wounded road warriors who are 0-3 away from home, straight up, and, against the spread.
florida times-union
couldn't find a prediction on their site, but discovered that jaws called them "mentally weak"
Running back Fred Taylor was watching the show Pardon the Interruption on ESPN Monday when he heard former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski say the Jaguars are a "mentally weak'' team.

"Maybe at the time, you're like, 'Whoa.' But then you forget about it. It's nothing,'' Taylor said.

"That's his opinion," Taylor said. "He doesn't play here. He's never been here. It has nothing to do with the mental [state]. We lost the game. They outplayed us. Point blank. We made no excuses about it. We really thought we were going to go in there and win the game."

According to an ESPN spokesman, Jaworski said, "Defensively, they have had a lot of injuries. But also, I think that they are a mentally weak football team and that's surprising because I know Jack Del Rio and he's a very tough guy. He believes in discipline. He believes in hard work.

"But this team, through their history, has struggled against teams they are better than - that they should beat. I don't care how many injuries you have. You can't go down to Houston and play the clunker of a game that the Jaguars played. I think they are a mentally weak team that can't get themselves ready to play each week.''
espn scouts inc
The Eagles have their backs are against the wall as they've let their lead in the NFC East slip away the past two weeks. They need a win at home to generate momentum going into the bye if they are going to keep pace with the division-leading Giants. If McNabb continues to throw costly interceptions, the Eagles might not make the playoffs. The Jaguars are 0-3 on the road and a win at Philly would break that streak before a three-game home stretch. The Jags have a good defense but it will not be enough against the Eagles. Eagles win at home.

Prediction: Eagles 31, Jaguars 20
madden 07

Donovan McNabb didn't have one of his better days as a pro, but he still connected on three touchdown passes, and Philly's defense stifled struggling Byron Leftwich as the Eagles atoned for last week's last-second loss and got back on the winning track. McNabb's scoring strikes to L.J. Smith in the first half and Greg Lewis and Donte' Stallworth in the second half were more than enough to beat a Jacksonville team that squandered all three of its red zone opportunities.

Philly led 10-3 into the break and Jacksonville opened the second half with a nice drive, getting all the way down to the Eagles' three before Leftwich misfired and the team had to settle for a field goal. Philadelphia's response was to drive the length of the field, with McNabb capping the successful drive by hitting Lewis for a touchdown from 15 yards out. That gave Philly a 17-6 lead, and although the Jags kicked another field goal early in the fourth, the Eagles were never in any serious danger as Jacksonville didn't get past midfield after that. Stallworth's 14-yard touchdown with three minutes left provided unnecessary insurance.

Prediction: Eagles 24 - Jaguars 9

what i think
i feel like i'm repeating myself... the eagles cannot afford to lose this game, no way, no how. jacksonville has a tough defense and an offense that actually matches up pretty well against the birds d. factors working in the birds favor: home field, coming off two losses, getting stallworth and possibly hood back, jags stink on the road. factors working against the birds: game preceding the bye (a game with which the eagles have historically struggled), jags coming off embarrassing loss to the texans, transitioning from an immobile QB (leftwich) to a mobile QB (garrard).

jaguars o vs. eagles d
while the jags haven't done much on offense so far this season, they actually appear to match up pretty well against the eagles defense, at least to me anyway. they're built primarily as a power running team with fred taylor and mashers in the middle of the line, but they complement with a mid to deep passing game with three tall wideouts (matt jones, ernest wilford, reggie williams) and an emerging game breaker in maurice jones-drew. this offense may not be productive week to week, but with their power running game and tall wideouts, it is dangerous to the philadelphia eagles.

key for the eagles this week will be containing the running game of the jags, because they'll probably do a bit of running, especially up the middle. since the jags are tall but not necessarily fast in their wideout corps, the eagles may play michael lewis a lot this week and play him close to the line. the biggest danger is probably maurice drew, who already has 5 TDs this season and is effective as both a runner and a receiver (think mini-westbrook).

key matchups i'll be watching:
- eagle d-tackles against the jaguars samoan duo at guard
- matt mccoy covering jones-drew out of the backfield
- sheldon and lito matchup up against 6' 6" matt jones and 6' 4" reggie williams
- eagles ability to contain the mobility of garrard

(BTW wasn't he just "maurice drew" in college? anyone know the story behind that?)

eagles o vs. jaguars d
jags have a good defense, but they've been hit with a few injuries -- most notably starters mike peterson (LB) and reggie hayward (DE) -- and they don't rush the passer all that well. their best defensive players are massive tackles marcus stroud and john henderson and strong safety donovin darius (mcnabb's former teammate at syracuse), but none of those guys are difference makers against the passing game. looking at their roster, the jags secondary looks fairly non-descript (they even picked up ahmad carroll a few weeks back), but then you look at performance and the total appears to be greater than the sum of the parts. according to footballoutsiders, the jags are number 3 in the nfl against the pass so far this season, and that's without the benefit of a superior pass rush. they're only 12th best against defending the opposition's best wideout, but they're 6th against #2 wideouts, 1st against #3 and #4 wideouts, 3rd against TEs and 11th against RBs. (comparitively, the eagles are 5th against the pass and 14th against the rush, and are ranked 29th vs. #1, 10th against #2, 4th against #3 and #4, 14th against TE, and 4th against RB.)

after having moved up and down the field against every defense so far this season, the eagles may have found a defense that can match up against them. getting stallworth back will help everyone on the offense because baskett and avant won't have to play such key roles (making their expected rookie mistakes). still, against a team that doesn't rush the passer that well, don should be able to get the time he needs to carve them up enough, but i don't expect this game to be as high scoring as some others are predicting.

bottom line
somehow the line on this game is 7 points, but i think that's too much. the jags have been up and down, but they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. still, the eagles need this game and i cannot see them losing it. i expect the birds to play a mentally crisper game and make enough plays to win.

eagles 23 - jaguars 20



Anonymous Phil said...

So what you're saying is we're not even half way through this year and I'm already THIS emotionally scarred? I'm really afraid of which kooky play we're going to have go against us this week. Since we haven't had a blocked kick yet, I'm probably going to say one of those . . . along with another lost fumble . . . and a 4-4 performance from their kicker.

3:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Steve72 said...

Don't say 4-4, Phil.

5:03 PM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

I am very, very afraid.

6:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be afraid, Phil. The Eagles are the better team. Sooner or later, this should be enough to drive home a win. I'm still holding onto the fact that the Eagles are a good team. If they can't win at home, I'll give up that notion and concentrate on other things. One way or the other, think of Sunday as an opportunity for fun, entertainment, and excitement.

Have some fun,


9:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MJD (or the artisit formerly known as MD) is the only thing that scares me about this game. So far, he's what Reggie Bush was supposed to be, dangerous in the run/pass/and return games. If the Eagles do a good job on him and don't let Garrard out of the pocket much, they should be fine.


7:15 PM EDT  

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