The Eagles (3-4) are heading to Buffalo this weekend to face the Bills (5-1) for the first time since 2015.
After losing in Dallas last weekend by 27 points, the Eagles are now 0-2 in their last two games and have been outscored by 45 points during that span. They are just trying to salvage one win from this three-game road trip.
The Bills’ 5-1 record looks pretty great. Their only loss was to the undefeated Patriots and they lost 16-10. But their wins aren’t that impressive either. They’ve beaten the Jets, Giants, Bengals, Titans and Dolphins. Those five teams have a combined record of 6-27 this year.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Tre’Davious White
The Eagles haven’t gotten enough from their wide receivers since Week 2, when DeSean Jackson went down. And things won’t get any easier for them this week. White, who was taken with the 27th pick in the 2017 draft, has become one of the best corners in the game. My guess is that he travels with Jeffery in this game. Why waste him on Mack Hollins? Quarterbacks are completing just 47 percent of passes when targeting White.
He hasn’t used it as an excuse, but maybe Jeffery isn’t completely over that calf injury he suffered in Week 2. Either way, the Eagles need more from him.
In six games this season, Jeffery has just 26 catches for 253 yards and three touchdowns. He’s on pace for his worst season since his rookie year in 2012. All the anonymous did-he-or-didn’t-he stuff aside, Jeffery needs to play better.
And if you’re thinking it’s fine if Jeffery gets shut down, it’s important to note that the Bills have been very good against opposing tight ends. They’ve allowed just 17 catches for 192 yards. Only the Patriots have been better against opposing TEs.
Eagles’ offensive coaches vs. Bills’ defense
I know they haven’t exactly played world-beaters, but this Bills’ defense is legit. It has given up just 15.2 points per game and just 292.7 yards per game. Even though they lost to the Patriots, the Bills held them to 16 points (seven came from special teams) and 224 total yards. The Bills have playmakers at every level of their defense. Surprisingly, the Bills haven’t gotten a ton of pressure on opposing QBs. They’re getting pressure just 20.8 percent of drop backs.
I think this game is on Doug Pederson, Mike Groh and Carson Wentz to figure out creative ways to produce offense. When you look at it, the Eagles were down just two starters against the Cowboys: Jackson and Jason Peters. Those are important starters, but it’s not like this offense has been completely decimated. And I know the loss of Jackson is huge, but it shouldn’t completely derail what we expected to be a really explosive offense. On Wednesday, I asked Sean McDermott about Pederson’s offense and he said Pederson has really turned that old Andy Reid offense into his own. But McDermott and Leslie Frazier have an understanding of what Pederson likes to do. It’s up to Pederson to be creative.
Josh Allen vs. Eagles’ discipline
No, the Bills’ quarterback isn’t the best pure pocket passer. This season, he’s completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. But his strength is his ability to use his legs. There are plenty of guys who use their legs to buy time, but Allen is a threat to take off running. Through six games, he has 190 rushing yards and three touchdowns. And last season, he rushed for 631 yards in 12 games.
Likely without Nigel Bradham (ankle) for another game, the rest of the Eagles’ linebackers will need to keep an eye on Allen.
John Brown vs. Jalen Mills
In his first game back in nearly a year, Mills played pretty well against the Cowboys, but the Eagles have seemed to struggle with deep balls for a while now and Brown is the guy you have to worry about on the Bills’ roster. Brown leads the Bills with eight catches of 20-plus yards. The next closest Bill has just three. The leader on the Eagles’ roster is Zach Ertz with six.
It’s not like Brown is a great receiver, but he’s the best the Bills have. He has 33 catches for 473 yards and two touchdowns. And with how the Eagles’ corners have played this year, you have to worry about receivers each week.
Brown has played the Eagles three times and has a touchdown in each game. His best performance against the Eagles came back in 2014, when he caught five passes for 119 yards with the Cardinals. His 75-yard game-winning touchdown from Carson Palmer handed the Eagles a 24-20 loss.
Carson Wentz vs. Trumaine Edmunds
Through seven games, Wentz has played fairly well, but even he admitted there’s more he can do. I thought Sunday’s game in Dallas was his worst of the season, which is a shame, because it was the most important game of the season. Earlier this week, Roob tried to figure out how much Wentz is to blame for the Eagles’ struggles, but it’s a hard question to answer. Can he play better? Sure. Is he their biggest problem? Not even close.
This is going to be a big test for Wentz against a really good defense. Edmunds is a game-wrecker. If you watch Bills games, he’s everywhere on the field. He leads the team with 43 tackles, but also has five TFLs, five passes defended, and a QB hit.
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