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Eagles vs. New England Patriots: Keys to a win

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 17, 2019 - 8:01 am

The Eagles have not played a game in two weeks and enter today’s game vs. the New England Patriots as underdogs. 

Sound familiar? 

The Super Bowl rematch fans have been waiting for is finally here, only this time it will be in Philadelphia and played between two very different teams. The Eagles are not the powerhouse they were back in Minnesota, and enter the game with most of their best players on offense sidelined. The Patriots still feature two very familiar faces in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but unlike the team the Eagles faced in the Super Bowl, the Patriots’ defense is what carries the team now. 

Here are some keys to the Eagles pulling off an upset over the Patriots once again: 

Fletcher Cox: The Eagles’ chances of winning on Sunday start with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. After a slow start to the season Cox has played at a Pro Bowl level the last two weeks, and the Eagles’ defense has been much better as a result. It is well documented that perhaps the only way to rattle Tom Brady is getting pressure on him up the middle, as he isn’t very mobile. Playing behind one of the worst offensive lines he has ever had, the Eagles will have a chance to get pressure on Brady, and it needs to be Cox who leads the charge. 

Win the turnover battle: The Eagles did an excellent job taking care of the ball in Super Bowl LII, turning it over just once despite running the ball 27 times and throwing it 29 times. Taking care of the ball won’t be as easy Sunday as it was in the Super Bowl, however, as the Patriots’ defense is creating turnovers at an almost historic rate so far this season. The Patriots have a whopping 19 interceptions in their first nine games, and with eight recovered fumbles as well, they have a turnover differential of +17. Considering how hard it is going to be for the Eagles’ offense to score, especially with all of the injuries they are dealing with, they can’t be giving the Patriots extra chances with the ball — and they have to take advantage of every chance they get to put points on the board. 

Julian Edelman: The Patriots’ plan on offense isn’t a secret and it isn’t complicated — get the ball to wide receiver Julian Edelman. It is, however, extremely hard to stop. Edelman lines up all over the field, but does the majority of his damage from the slot. The Eagles could decide to keep Avonte Maddox, their nickel cornerback, on him. Or, they could simply put their quickest cornerback inn Ronald Darby on him. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is also an option, although that might be a tough matchup considering Edelman’s speed. Shutting down Edelman will be the key to the Eagles’ shutting down the Patriots’ passing game. 

Run the ball: This team is clearly at its best this season when they are running the ball, and that shouldn’t be overly surprising considering how dominant their offensive line has been. With no Jordan Howard on Sunday, however, the Eagles are going to need to lean on rookie running back Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and newly acquired Jay Ajayi to get the job done on the ground. It is unlikely the Eagles will be able to throw the ball up-and-down the field on the Patriots, and if they can’t get the ground game going like they have the past few weeks, it could be an ugly day on offense. 

Carson Wentz: Putting up big numbers against the Patriots won’t be easy, nor should it be expected of Wentz considering the circumstances. What should be expected, however, is for Wentz to make the plays that are there to be made. There will be four-or-five plays on Sunday, likely on third downs or in the red zone, that will decide whether the Eagles win the game. It will be up to Wentz to make sure he is special on those plays, puts the offense on his back and converts them. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!