The Eagles (3-5-1) are on the road to face the Browns (6-3) in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (4-5)
The Browns are a weird team. They’ve had games scoring 6, 6, 7 and 10 points, and they’ve had games scoring 32, 34, 35, 37 and 49 points. They’re the first team in NFL history that didn’t score between 11 and 31 points in any of their first nine games. Which team shows up Sunday? Who the heck knows. Which Eagles team shows up Sunday? Who the heck knows? I have no feel for this 2020 Eagles team, maybe because they have no feel for themselves. I don’t think they have a ton of talent, but they have enough good players that they shouldn’t be 3-5-1. I keep deluding myself into thinking they’re going to flip the switch and start playing better because they generally do in the second half of the season, and I’m going to go with that this week. The Eagles keep getting healthier, and the Browns without their best offensive player - Odell Beckham Jr. - and without their best defensive player - Myles Garrett - shouldn’t beat the Eagles. Delusional, yeah. But I’ll go …
Eagles 19, Browns 17
Dave Zangaro (3-6)
If you’re wondering why a six-win team is such a minimal home favorite over a three-win team, you’re not alone. The Browns have six wins and they’ve played better than the Eagles this year, but they’re not as good as their record indicates. In fact, they have just one win over a team with a winning record and their point differential of -28 is the second-worst point differential in NFL history for a team with at least six wins for nine.
On the flip side, the Eagles aren’t good at all. They were outplayed by the Giants last week and as much as they focused on self-inflicted wounds, their issues are way deeper than that. But I have a funny feeling about this game and I never go against a feeling. (Although with my record, maybe I should.) But during the Pederson era, whenever I count out the Eagles they end up winning a game they shouldn’t. This feels like that to me.
Eagles 24, Browns 22
Ray Didinger (4-5)
This game feels a lot like the Eagles game in Buffalo last season. Remember? The Eagles were coming off an embarrassing division loss in Dallas to slip below .500. The fans were ripping them and the media was burying them. They were going to Buffalo to play a red hot Bills team and no one (including me) gave them a chance.
So what happened? They creamed the Bills, 31-13. They ran the ball 41 times for 218 yards, Miles Sanders had a 65-yard touchdown run and they handed the Bills their worst loss of the season.
To me, the similarities are striking. The Eagles are coming off an ugly division loss on the road, the fans and the media are trashing them, they are traveling to the shores of Lake Erie to play an improved AFC opponent. There is even the Philly angle. Sean McDermott (LaSalle) is the coach in Buffalo. Kevin Stefanski (St. Joseph's Prep) is the coach in Cleveland.
There is too much stuff lining up here for me to simply ignore it. Give Stefanski credit, the Browns (6-3) are on the upswing but they have a lot of wins over bad teams so their record is a little inflated. I believe Doug Pederson when he says his team is angry. I think this week they take it out on the Browns.
Eagles 24, Browns 20
Barrett Brooks (4-5)
Everyone knows that, I’m a homer! My glass is always half full, but my cup is starting to get a little low! There is no way the Birds should be sitting at the top of the division, with a record of 3-5-1. It is embarrassing. Last week's loss to the Giants is especially hard to swallow because it’s the basic fundamentals that are getting in the way. This team is not good enough to recover from being 0-for-9 on third down conversions or having 11 penalties for 74 yards. This can all be corrected if they get back to basics. Doing the little things in practice can get them going in the right direction.
Now, when I listen to players like Brandon Graham and Darius Slay, I hear all the right things. Both pointed to bad practice habits creeping into the locker room. Every player will tell you games are not necessarily won on Sunday, they are won during the week in practice! Crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s can give a great amount of confidence entering a game. Knowing what to do and how to do in the game plan, affords a player to perform faster in a game! Execution is hard to obtain if preparation is not the focus during the week in practice.
So, I won’t point to a bunch of X’s and O’s, or even individual players dictating how this team will win this game. Of course, this team needs a great effort from players like Wentz and Cox, we know this. But the biggest factor on whether the Eagles win or loss, is the attention to detail.
Eagles 26, Browns 22
Mike Mulhern (4-5)
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they can’t seem to pinpoint the root of their problems. Doug Pederson says it’s not the play-calling, despite going 0-9 on third downs a week ago. Carson Wentz refuted an NFL Network report that his practice habits have been “sloppy” while Brandon Graham specifically cited team-wide problems at practice that need to be cleaned up. So, if you can’t properly diagnose the issues, how do you fix them? Short answer: you don’t. Without the necessary self-reflection, I don’t expect things to get better for the Birds anytime soon.
Of the next five games, this one appears to be the most winnable on paper. I don’t believe the Browns are nearly as good as their record indicates. Five of their six wins are against two-win teams, but they have an identity and play to their strengths.
Baker Mayfield doesn’t pose nearly the same kind of challenge that Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers and a potentially healthy Drew Brees will. However, the Browns coaches are well aware of Mayfield’s limitations and have forged a run-first mentality to alleviate pressure from their quarterback. If only the Eagles could do the same.
Browns 24, Eagles 17
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