The Philadelphia Eagles are set to face a second straight AFC West opponent as they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
These two teams last played each other in 2017 when Philly held serve at home in a 51-23 game. Carson Wentz threw four touchdown passes as Denver managed just 226 total yards in the loss. I can guarantee we will not see that many points in this one since neither offense is exactly lighting the scoreboard up.
The Eagles fell to 3-6 last week, losing 27-24 to the Chargers at home. That moved the team to 0-4 in front of their fans during the 2021 campaign. Once again, the team relied on a run-heavy offense with 39 rushes spread out among three running backs and Jalen Hurts. They gained 4.5 yards per carry against the worst run defense in the league. Hurts only attempted 17 passes in the loss and was sacked just once. It was the defense that let Philadelphia down again after Justin Herbert went 32-of-38 for 356 yards in the victory.
Denver shocked the NFL world with a convincing win in Dallas last Sunday — 30-16 in a contest that wasn't even that close. The Broncos forced two Cowboys turnovers and outgained them 407-290 as Teddy Bridgewater was efficient. The run game took advantage of massive holes as well with Javonte Williams going for 111 yards on 17 carries. Denver remains tied for last in the AFC West but still improved to 5-4 on the season.
Philadelphia (5-4) vs. Denver (3-6)
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov 14 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Broncos -2.5
Three Things to Watch
The Eagles are playing their fourth road contest over the last six weeks, which would normally be an issue, but all three of their wins have come outside the City of Brotherly Love. I'd expect a focused effort from Philly since their next matchup is against the Saints at home. The Eagles also are remarkably healthy for this point in the season with only defensive end Josh Sweat (concussion) listed as questionable.
Denver has a lengthier injury report with 10 players questionable and two (tackles Garrett Bolles and Bobby Massie) ruled out. Among the questionable players is rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II and wide receiver Tim Patrick, both of whom are dealing with knee injuries. There is one piece of good news. Tight end Noah Fant will be back after coming off of the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week. Unfortunately, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is not expected to coach on Sunday because of COVID-19 protocols. This also will be the first game for Denver following the trade of Von Miller. Having already defeated the Giants, Washington and last week, the Cowboys, the Broncos will go for the sweep of the NFC East on Sunday. They also have their bye next week.
2. Pass defense
The Eagles this season have allowed just 15 incompletions in 102 passing attempts in three games against AFC West teams thus far. Coordinator Jonathan Gannon's passive system has allowed opponents to throw at will on Philly despite having Darius Slay and Steven Nelson, who are good NFL cornerbacks. Slay's status will be something to watch after he left last week's game late with a hamstring injury. Bridgewater has had a decent season with a 70.2 percent completion percentage and 14 touchdowns to five interceptions. Philly has to get pressure on him or else he'll join the long list of successful QBs against Philly.
3. Run, run, run away
The last two weeks, the Eagles have run the ball a ton because they were facing the now 29th- and 32nd-ranked run defenses in the Lions and Chargers. This week is a little different, as Denver is sixth in rush defense overall and fifth at home. The Philly offense is so much better when there is balance between the pass and the run. Their weapons on the outside aren't good enough to become the Kansas City Chiefs. On the other side, Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III give the home team a solid 1-2 punch. The Eagles are 20th against the run, so we could see them both succeed once again.
This line stinks tremendously as the oddsmakers are essentially saying that these are two even teams. The Eagles will not win with their current defensive structure because most NFL QBs can hit short, open 8-to-10-yard passes. Philly may be able to find the end zone and keep this close, but in the end, if Denver has the ball, they'll score if Bridgewater doesn't throw any interceptions. I can't pick the road team in this one despite the odd line.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Eagles 17
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.