Eagles

Eagles-Broncos predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are looking for their seventh straight win.

The Broncos are looking for their first since Oct. 1.

Two teams with great defenses meet at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles (7-1) welcome the Broncos (3-4) on Sunday (1 p.m./CBS).

Can Denver do enough on both sides of the ball to slow down the NFL's hottest team?

Here are our expert predictions for the Week 9 matchup:

Reuben Frank (8-0)
This one scares me. This is the first time since the Chiefs game that I really considered picking the Eagles to lose. I think it's a very tough matchup, since the Broncos are virtually impossible to run against, and the Eagles — at least since Week 2 — have been successful by setting up the pass with the run. I feel like points for both teams will be very hard to come by Sunday, and this one will be played in the high teens or low 20s. But the Broncos are finishing three straight on the road, including a Monday nighter in K.C. and that's a rough schedule. Factor in a quarterback change on a short week and the Broncos are in a difficult position. The Eagles have found ways to win the last six weeks, and I think they'll find a way to win Sunday, whether it's by picking off Brock Osweiler a couple times, a big punt return, a fumble recovery touchdown or a couple 68-yard Jake Elliott field goals. Imagine going into the bye week 8-1? I think it happens. I'm going Eagles, and see you in Dallas in two weeks.

Eagles 23, Broncos 17

Dave Zangaro (6-2)
The Eagles would have probably preferred if the Broncos kept Trevor Siemian as their quarterback for this game. At least the Eagles would know what to expect. 

If nothing else, Brock Osweiler is more of an unknown this season in their offense this year. 

But it's hard to expect him to somehow become the savior for that offense, which has been absolutely horrible over the first half of the season. I mean, did you see them Monday night? 

Oh yeah, that's right. Monday night. The Broncos are playing on a short week and this is their third consecutive road game. That's tough. 

So as good as Denver's defense is — and it is really good (see key matchups) — the Eagles should win this game and head into their bye week with an 8-1 record. 

Eagles 20, Broncos 13

Derrick Gunn (7-1)
The Eagles' last test before their bye week is a big one. Carson Wentz and his offense must solve the rugged Broncos' defense. And this is no ordinary defense. The Broncos come riding into town with the No. 1 overall D, allowing 261.0 yards per game. They are sixth against the pass (188.1 yards per game) and No. 2 against the run (72.9). Von Miller is one of the best in the business at harassing quarterbacks and his sidekick is finally back. Linebacker Shane Ray, who was on IR with a wrist injury, returned this past Monday night against Kansas City. 

As good as Denver's defense has played, the offense has been the opposite, mainly because of Siemian’s play. Siemian started the season by tossing six touchdowns and just two interceptions in Denver's first two games, as the Broncos won both. Over the last three outings, he's served up six interceptions and two touchdowns, and the Broncos have lost all three. Head coach Vance Joseph announced Wednesday he's switching to Osweiler, hoping to jump-start his lethargic offense. The six-year veteran has thrown just four passes this season. 

The Eagles' defensive rotation up front needs to get after Osweiler to make him as uncomfortable as possible. Wentz cannot afford to hold the ball too long in passing situations or Denver will make him pay. If the Birds can establish their ground game, it will open things up in play action. 

After playing Monday night, getting home early Tuesday morning, traveling this weekend to the East Coast and making a QB change, Denver has a lot to deal with in a short amount of time. That's why I’ll go with the home team in a backyard, knockdown, drag-out brawl.

Eagles 24, Broncos 23

Ray Didinger (7-1)
The Broncos season, which started with high hopes, is unraveling after three consecutive losses. They have the league's top-ranked defense yet they are a touchdown underdog for this game against the Eagles. That will give you some idea how bad their offense has been. They are changing quarterbacks — bye, bye, Siemian, hello Osweiler — hoping it will provide a spark. 

The Broncos will have slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders back this week, which will help, but the real problem is the line, which has allowed four or more sacks in three of the last four games. Osweiler is even less mobile than Siemian so it looks like another fun day for the Eagles pass rushers. The Broncos will try to run the ball but the Eagles have the No. 1 rush defense in the league, allowing just 70.4 yards per game.

Denver's defense will keep the game close for awhile — Wentz will probably see a lot of Von Miller — but it is a tough assignment for a team playing its third straight road game and coming off a Monday night loss in Kansas City. It doesn't hurt the Eagles have been home for three weeks either.

Eagles 24, Broncos 16

Andrew Kulp (7-1)
The Eagles are going to be tested in three ways.

First, the NFL's No. 1 run defense will face a quality ground attack for the first time since Week 2 against the Chiefs. Denver's stable of running backs (C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles, Devonate Booker) is deep and talented and should see plenty of work given the quarterback situation there.

Second, offensive tackles Lane Johnson and especially Halapoulivaati Vaitai are going to have their hands full with Miller. The five-time Pro Bowl selection is capable of taking over a game by himself, which the Eagles cannot allow to happen (see position breakdowns).

Third and finally, this is the best secondary and defense Wentz has faced so far this season. Everybody knows Wentz is the real deal, but so are Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. Wentz must be able to find his second, third or fourth options and check the ball down when nothing is there — and most of all, avoid turnovers.

That's a long checklist, but this team can do it. Unless Osweiler is completely inept under center for the Broncos (which is plausible), it's going to be a tight game. But the Eagles can do this.

Eagles 25, Broncos 16

Corey Seidman (5-3)
Unlike last Sunday against the 49ers, I could see an ever-so-slight path to victory for the Broncos. Why? Because they excel in man coverage and have the defensive backs to shut down Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. They have the run defense to create many 2nd-and-longs or 3rd-and-longs. Could Denver win this game with a TD and three field goals? 

I still think the Eagles pull it out but it’s going to be a closer and more stressful game than most think. 

Eagles 20, Broncos 16