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Eagle Eye: Eagles-Broncos Game Prediction
Five things you need to know as the Eagles prepare for their 4:25 p.m. shootout with the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High …
1) Points aplenty
Top two offenses in the NFL? Check.
Record-breaking quarterback? Check.
Leading rusher in the NFL? Check.
Second-leading receiver in the league? Check.
Highest over-under point total in nine years? Check.
If you like offense, this should be one of the most exciting games of the NFL season.
Sometimes when two offensive juggernauts face off, a low-scoring game ensues. Sometimes when two defensive-minded teams meet, a high-scoring game breaks out (see: 49ers-Ravens).
But with this one, it’s going to be almost impossible for the teams to combine for fewer than 58 points.
The Eagles scored 30 points in their first two games and could have done it again against the Chiefs if not for five turnovers. The Broncos are averaging better than 42 points per game. The two defenses rank 29th and 30th in pass yards allowed.
2) Eagles vs. Peyton
The Eagles have lost three of four career games vs. Peyton Manning and given up an average of 37 points to the future Hall of Famer. However, Michael Vick and the Eagles beat Manning’s Colts, 26-24, in 2010 (see story), and Manning has three interceptions in his last two games vs. the Eagles.
It’s mostly meaningless because it was years ago and Manning has better weapons now than he ever had, but it shows that he’s human. He can’t throw three-plus touchdowns without turning the ball over every week.
Or maybe he can. As a Bronco, Manning is 9-1 in Denver and has thrown 32 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
3) Challenge for Vick
The top two secondaries in the AFC might reside in the AFC West.
Last Thursday, Vick was picked apart by the Chiefs’ big, physical secondary of Eric Berry, Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers.
Now he faces a Broncos D that has given up most of its yards in garbage time.
In the first halves of Denver’s first three games, opposing quarterbacks -- Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Terrelle Pryor -- went 38-for-64 (59 percent) for 493 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and two sacks.
The completion rate is ugly, and the yards were boosted by a few huge pass plays. One was a 73-yard TD from Pryor to Denarius Moore that came on a defensive breakdown where Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie bumped into a safety.
Another was a 51-yard catch by Victor Cruz on the Giants’ first play from scrimmage. After that, Eli Manning went 10-for-20 and averaged less than 6.5 yards per pass.
Without Champ Bailey, who missed the first three weeks with a foot injury and is getting closer to game action, the Broncos’ corners have held their own. Chris Harris has allowed the fifth-lowest QB rating in the NFL on passes directed at him, and Tony Carter is seventh-best, according to Pro Football Focus.
The one corner who has been burnt is Rodgers-Cromartie, who’s allowed 19.1 yards per catch.
4) Worried about Welker
The Eagles weren’t able to cover Eddie Royal in Week 2 (three touchdowns) or Donnie Avery in Week 3 (seven catches, 141 yards). Both are short, speedy slot receivers who proved elusive on short crossing routes.
In Week 4, the Eagles face the best slot receiver the NFL has ever seen, Wes Welker.
Welker has made an instant impact in Denver, catching 19 passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns in his first three games.
When you combine Manning’s ability to diagnose defenses and Welker’s uncanny ability to find the soft spots in zones with the Eagles’ constant miscommunications and missed tackles the last two weeks, the result could be an enormous day for the 5-foot-9 receiver. Brandon Boykin will have his hands full.
5) In case you missed it …
Here are this week’s Eagles headlines: