Eagles

Eagles-Chiefs 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Chiefs 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles were able to take down Washington in their opener but things don't get any easier. 
 
Now, they'll face a Kansas City team that knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 1. And Andy Reid has an extra few days to prepare; he usually uses those extra days to perfection. 
 
There will be plenty of familiarity on both sides of the field Sunday, but the bottom line is that the Eagles are going to a tough place to play against a really good team. It won't be easy to pull off a win. 
 
If they do, it'll likely be because they won these matchups: 
 
Kareem Hunt vs. Eagles run defense
Hunt fumbled on his first NFL carry but then rebounded to have one of the best performances from a rookie we've ever seen. Hunt picked up 246 yards from scrimmage (148 rushing, 98 receiving) — the most ever in an NFL debut. He also had three total touchdowns. 
 
So the Eagles will have their hands full. They'll need a team effort to bring him down. In his debut, Hunt forced eight missed tackles and averaged 4.0 yards after contact per attempt, according to ProFootballFocus. 
 
For the most part, the Eagles bottled up Washington's running backs in Week 1 with one major exception. Chris Thompson's 29-yard touchdown reception featured several missed tackles. The Eagles can't give Hunt extra chances as a runner or a receiver. 
 
Alshon Jeffery vs. Marcus Peters 
Jeffery didn't have a great debut with the Eagles and he didn't even face off against Josh Norman all day. Jeffery had just three catches for 38 yards against Washington and missed a couple of jump balls that would have been tough catches — but that's why they paid him. 
 
The Chiefs will certainly miss Eric Berry the rest of the season, but they still have Peters, one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Eventually, the Eagles hope Sidney Jones will follow in Peters' footsteps to be a great corner from the University of Washington. 
 
Tyreek Hill vs. Jalen Mills
Mills had a pretty good game Sunday. He picked up his first career interception and made a huge play on a jump ball in 1-on-1 coverage against Terrelle Pryor (see story). But the Eagles are definitely going to miss Ronald Darby (dislocated ankle). With Darby out, Mills is now the Eagles' top corner, but he simply doesn't have the same speed. A few times last Sunday, Pryor was able to run right past Mills. 
 
Now, Mills is about to see a whole different kind of speed. NBC did a great job explaining just how fast Hill is when they said his high school 200-meter time would have placed him sixth at the Olympics in Rio in 2016. That's nuts.

Jason Kelce vs. Bennie Logan 
We all know Kelce seems to struggle against some of the bigger and more powerful nose tackles in the league. Logan fits that bill, although the two know each other pretty well. They went against each other in practice for years, so they should both know each other's tendencies. This will be fun to watch. 
 
Mitchell Schwartz vs. Brandon Graham 
Graham had two sacks in the Eagles' opener last week and has a chance to do even more damage Sunday in Kansas City. He'll face off against Chiefs right tackle Schwartz, who had a decent opener himself but is coming off a year in which he gave up nine sacks, tied for the most among all offensive tackles, according to ProFootballFocus. There will be a chance to get pressure on the other side, too, against left tackle Eric Fisher. 
 
Bonus matchup: Student vs. teacher
I didn't want to include this in the five because Andy Reid and Doug Pederson are both offensive coaches, so it's not like their units are going to go against each other. But they're still facing off. This is a battle between Reid, who really gave Pederson his career, and Pederson, who owes him a lot. As CSN's Reuben Frank pointed out, Reid is 8-3 against his former assistants and is 3-0 against them since heading to Kansas City (see story). This one is even more unique because Pederson isn't just one of Reid's former assistants, he's one of his former players.

Timeouts are going to go fast in this game. 
 
"Yeah, obviously it's a tough task," Pederson said. "[Reid's] teams are always well-prepared. They're a disciplined group. You see that, very consistent in how they go about their preparation during the week. And listen, it just comes down to the preparation and hard work for them, and that's what he's done in his past. And I think sometimes, in my position, I don't want to put any added stress or pressure on myself to go perform."

What Eagles' DBs can learn from Saints disaster

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USA Today Images

What Eagles' DBs can learn from Saints disaster

With just a few seconds left in Sunday's Vikings-Saints game, Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson walked away from his television and went to throw out some garbage. 

"I thought it was over," Robinson said. 

Oops. 

By the time Robinson walked back inside, his friends were eagerly waiting to tell him what he missed. Somehow, the Vikings pulled off a miracle 61-yard, walk-off touchdown pass. Rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle that would have ended the game. And the elusive Stefon Diggs scampered into the end zone. 

For the Eagles' defensive backs, seeing that mistake on Sunday served as a reminder. 

"Make that tackle and we're playing the Saints, but he misses that tackle and now the Vikings are here," safety Rodney McLeod said. "Just like that, your season can be taken away from you in the playoffs."

McLeod, Robinson and Corey Graham, three veterans of the Eagles' secondary, said they feel really bad for Williams, a rookie who had a good season until the last play that ruined it. Robinson pointed out that Williams actually had a huge interception earlier in the game that will be all but forgotten. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson stressed the importance of situational awareness all week heading into the divisional round. McLeod thinks that missed play will be a teaching moment for the Eagles this week. The Eagles always show their players a bunch of those types of plays in two-minute situations. They all know their responsibilities on them. 

"That's crazy," Graham said. "That might be like one of the worst plays I've ever seen. It's tough. I feel sorry for that guy. We all know that situation. He's supposed to be outside that guy, don't let him get out of bounds, so that's what he's thinking. So I'm pretty sure that's why he ran out of bounds, ran outside like that, trying to get outside leverage. But, I mean, I don't know, man. You've gotta do something. Either play the ball or make the tackle. It's tough, you don't obviously want to let the guy score the touchdown and lose the game like that. You've gotta find a way to make that play."

Graham broke it down a little further. He said if he was in that situation, he would have tried to play the ball. There were two choices: Either play the ball or back up some and allow the receiver to catch the ball and then tackle him in bounds.

Williams unfortunately saw what was behind Door No. 3.

"What you can't do is be too conservative where you do neither and the guy catches the ball and scores a touchdown," Graham said. "It's a tough situation for that guy. I feel sorry for him. I wish him the best."

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz declined to say specifically how his defense would handle a situation like the one the Saints found themselves in with 10 seconds left on the clock Sunday. Schwartz didn't want to lose any kind of tactical advantage; the playoffs are stressful times. 

But he did say his players are coached up for those types of situations. 

Having been a defensive assistant in Tennessee during the 1999 season, Schwartz was at Adelphia Coliseum on Jan. 8, 2000, when the Titans pulled off the Music City Miracle.  

"Playoff football, those plays are big," Schwartz said. "And they're remembered for a long time." 

Unfortunately for Williams, he's going to be remembered from Sunday for the worst possible reason. He's going to be remembered as the guy who blew the game and the Saints' chance at a Super Bowl. That's something he'll have to live with and it seems like he's determined to not let this blunder define his career. Good for him. 

For the Eagles, his mistake serves as a reminder of the importance of doing their individual jobs and of the fragility of life in the NFL playoffs. 

"I know he's a good player and he would like to have that play back," McLeod said. "The one thing is, you don't get it back, man. You have to make the most of every play, every opportunity and every second out on that field."

Even Jaguars would be favored over Eagles right now

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AP Images

Even Jaguars would be favored over Eagles right now

According to Bovada's early Super Bowl lookahead, the Eagles would be underdogs against both AFC teams if they advance.

Nothing new for the Birds.

The Patriots would be 7-point favorites over the Eagles and the Jaguars 2½-point favorites.

As for this weekend, the Vikings are currently favored by 3½ points over the Eagles, with 62 percent of the betting public taking Minnesota.

And some prop bets for championship weekend:

• Nick Foles has the longest odds of the four remaining quarterbacks to throw for the most yards. He's 7/1.

• Vikings WR Adam Thielen is tied with Rob Gronkowski at 5/1 to lead the weekend in receiving yards. Teammate Stefon Diggs is next at 6/1. The highest Eagles on the list are Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, tied at 8/1. Nelson Agholor comes next at 10/1.

• In terms of rushing yards, the order goes: Leonard Fournette, Dion Lewis, Jay Ajayi, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.

• John DeFilippo is 4/1 to be named the Titans' next head coach, trailing only Mike Vrabel (3/1).