5 matchups to watch as Eagles take on Titans

5 matchups to watch as Eagles take on Titans

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. 

More on the Eagles

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week. 

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday, so he’s going to miss the Giants game. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. So he’s going to miss his fourth straight game. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles vs. Giants 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Giants 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (5-7) are hosting the New York Giants (2-10) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. 

Here’s everything you need to know: 

• 6:30 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP 
• 8:15 p.m.: Eagles vs. Giants on ESPN 
• 11:30 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP 
• 1 a.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP 

The ESPN broadcast crew for this game is Joe Tessitore (play by play), Booger McFarland (analyst) and Lisa Salters (sideline). 

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP. 

The Eagles opened as 8.5-9.5 favorites over the Giants. They were 7.5-point favorites on the road last week against the Dolphins and lost. 

The referee for Eagles-Giants is Scott Novak. For the second straight week, the Eagles have pulled a first-year ref. Novak had been a side or field judge since 2014. He was the ref for the Eagles’ loss to the Vikings in Minnesota earlier this season. In that game, the Vikings were penalized four times for 30 yards, while the Eagles were penalized seven times for 49 yards. 

So you're telling me there's a chance 

No one wants to win the NFC East. With a win on Monday night, the Eagles can tie the Cowboys (6-7) for a lead in the division. According to FiveThirtyEight, if the Eagles beat the Giants, their chances to win the division would be at 47 percent. In any other season, they’d be completely out of contention but the NFC East is awful this year and it’s still wide open. 

Hello, old friend 

Rookie Daniel Jones has a high ankle sprain, so it looks like Eli Manning is going to start this game for the Giants. It’ll be his first start since he was benched early this season. The Giants’ offense will obviously change with Manning under center. We know he isn’t going to run or hold onto the ball. He’s going to get it out quickly. 

By the way, Manning’s career record right now is 116-116. 

Recent domination 

The Eagles haven’t lost to the Giants since Week 9 of the 2016 season, which means they’ve won five straight against the G-men. The Eagles are 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Giants and are 16-4 in their last 20 against them. This has been a very lopsided rivalry for a decade. 

But it is worth noting that four of those last five wins against the Giants have come by one score. Just one was a blowout. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles