The Eagles are fresh off a tough win against the Colts in the rain and they’re heading down the Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans.
Both teams are 2-1 and tied for the top spots in their respective divisions. The Titans are 1-0 at home and the Eagles are 0-1 on the road.
Here are five matchups to watch:
Titans run game vs. Eagles run defense
Unstoppable force, meet immovable object. The Titans are going to run the ball; the Eagles are very good at stuffing the run. This should make for a fun matchup.
Through three games, the Titans have run the ball 98 times, an average of nearly 33 carries per game. They’ve had mixed results. While they’re averaging over 122 yards per game, they’re also averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt. But this offense is based around running the football. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are perfect complements for each other. But Henry is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and Lewis is averaging just 3.7.
The flip side of this is that the Eagles’ defense is incredible against the run. The Eagles have allowed just 61.7 yards per game on the ground. They’re the NFL’s best rushing defense. They were the best rushing defense in the NFL in 2017 too, when they gave up 79.2 yards per game.
Marcus Mariota vs. Eagles’ defensive ends
The Eagles’ run defense is great, but the one area they might be a little susceptible to big gains is from QBs. In the last two seasons, the Eagles have given up 40 rushing plays of 10-plus yards. Eleven of them have been from quarterbacks, including Andrew Luck’s 33-yarder last week. That’s the fourth-longest run against the Eagles in the last two seasons.
That run from Luck fell on Chris Long, who lost contain. With a quarterback like Mariota, it’s going to take a team effort to keep him from rushing for big yardage.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Malcolm Butler
This matchup has been a long time coming. Among the unanswered questions in the world, there’s “What happened at Area 51?” What is Stonehenge?” and “Why didn’t Malcolm Butler play in the Super Bowl?”
At this point it seems more likely we’ll get an answer to one of the other ones before Butler, but all that’s in the past now. Butler has a new team and he’s had an up-and-down start to his season.
“I’m sure that he’s anxious for this matchup and is looking forward to seeing the Eagles out there since he wasn’t able to play in the last game,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.
It looks like Jeffery might return from his rotator cuff surgery. This will be a good, physical test for him to start his 2018 season.
Taylor Lewan vs. Derek Barnett
Barnett is coming off a really impressive game against the Colts last week (see story). Before that game, he’s shown plenty of promise as a run-stuffer, but in this game he showed off his ability as a pass-rusher. He’s got a tough matchup this weekend when he faces two-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan. Lewan missed a game earlier this season with a concussion but he returned for last week’s game.
I still really haven’t seen Barnett beat a really good tackle consistently, so this will be a huge matchup for him. We might learn a lot about Barnett’s growth on Sunday.
Carson Wentz vs. Carson Wentz
Wentz showed flashes of the brilliance that had him in the MVP chase last season, but he also fumbled and threw an interception when the Eagles were backed up. He also missed wide open guys as he tried to make too much happen. That was probably to be expected a little bit in Wentz’s first game back. But now, he’ll be expected to settle down this Sunday. Those types of mistakes have to be wiped out.