The New England Patriots saw their undefeated season end last weekend with an overtime loss to the Denver Broncos, and now return home for their second-to-last home game of 2015. The Patriots' run of injuries continued in Denver, with Rob Gronkowski becoming the latest victim with a sprained/bruised knee. Luckily Gronkowski will be back at some point this season, but will likely be out against the Eagles, leaving the Pats scrambling to replace their biggest offensive piece.
The Eagles have lost three in a row, including the last two to the Buccaneers and Lions by a combined 59 points. Despite their 4-7 record, the Eagles remain just a game out of the division lead in the NFC East. The Eagles are a talented team, but time is running out and injuries have hurt them at a number of key spots. With their season hanging in the balance, along with Chip Kelly's job very much on the line, the Eagles will need to pull out all the stops and play their best game of the season to win in Foxborough.
Philadelphia at New England
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET (Sunday)
Line: Patriots -10
Three Things to Watch
1. Chandler for Gronk
Scott Chandler has been somewhat of a disappointment this season for the Pats, snagging just 19 catches and three touchdowns. Still, Chandler had a couple big grabs on New England's final drive of regulation against the Broncos that set up the game-tying field goal. No one can replace Rob Gronkowski, but Chandler is certainly a far better option that the Pats would've had in recent seasons. If he can finally find some synergy with Tom Brady playing a focal role in the offense, the Pats could be well set once Gronkowski does return. The Pats' offense will be a shell of itself if Chandler's inconsistencies continue.
2. Bradford or Sanchez?
Sam Bradford is expected to be available after an AC injury kept him out last week, but is he really a better option than Mark Sanchez? Let's not forget Sanchez played arguably his best game as a pro in New England, leading the Jets to the upset in the 2010 AFC Divisional playoff game. It might be too much to expect Sanchez to turn in that kind of game against a much better New England defense, but Sanchez won't be intimidated by the Patriots' mystique.
3. Patriot Defense Back to Full Strength?
The Patriots have been missing one of their most dynamic defensive players with Jamie Collins' extended sickness that has kept him out over a month. With both Collins and Dnt'a Hightower, who suffered a sprained MCL against the Broncos but has not missed practice, in the lineup, the Patriots' defense will be back at full power. The Pats were a different defense without Collins and Hightower against the Broncos, and if both are back in the lineup, they should keep the Eagles' offense in check, both on the ground and through the air.
It likely won't take much for the Eagles to pack it in. If the Patriots get out to an early lead things could get ugly, so a fast start for Philadelphia is a big key. But regardless, the Patriots are nearly unbeatable at home and will be hungry to get the taste of last week's overtime loss to the the Broncos out of their mouths. They'll be shorthanded on offense, but with the offensive line finally settling in and the potential return of Danny Amendola, the Pats should have enough to put points on the board.