Three-And-Out: Eagles-Bucs Predictions
Player I’ll be watching
McManus: Nick Foles.
Obvious, I know, but is there any more compelling or important story line for this team right now?
Foles is expected to get the start in Tampa after a strong performance subbing for the injured Michael Vick last week against the Giants. If he has a mediocre to decent showing, it will be easy for Chip Kelly to hand the job back over to Vick for the big matchup against the Cowboys on Oct. 20 (assuming his hamstring is all healed up). But what if Foles is lights out? What if he tears it up against the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense? What’s Kelly’s move then?
“If someone comes in and puts on an unbelievable performance, you have to take it all into account,” said Kelly.
What is the barometer by which you measure that?
“I don’t know. And I don’t have those answers. We can go through this a million times. If Nick plays this week and does an outstanding job, that would be great for everybody involved.”
Kapadia: Jason Kelce.
The Eagles’ third-year center had one of his worst games as a pro against the Giants. He spent about 15 minutes earlier this week explaining how New York’s DTs kept him off-balance with a tactic called a nut stunt (All-22 explanation here). Kelce had trouble adjusting, and the Giants clearly won the chess match up front, stopping the Eagles’ most productive offensive play, the inside zone read.
Kelce has reviewed the film, Kelly has put together the gameplan, and the Eagles get another shot. The only problem? Kelce now has to deal with one of the best defensive tackles in the game in Gerald McCoy. Another week, another test for the Eagles’ center. His ability to match up with McCoy is worth keeping an eye on Sunday afternoon.
Prop bet of the week: Over/under rushing yards for LeSean McCoy – 75. Whaddya got?
McManus: I’m going under. A couple factors here. As you did a fine job of explaining this week, Sheil, the running game (and specifically the read option) is more potent when the defense needs to account for Vick. It makes sense to me for Kelly to adjust the attack while Foles is in, and maybe he will, but everything we heard this week suggests little will change. I don’t like McCoy’s chances if that’s the case.
The Bucs’ defense is holding rushers to 3.7 yards per carry. They are the only unit that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season. I think they’ll be selling out to stop McCoy, putting the pressure on Foles to get it done through the air.
Kapadia: Tough one, but I’m going to go over. To me, one of the most fascinating story lines of this game is what we see Kelly do with the run game. Talk to his former players at Oregon, and they’ll tell you Kelly is a master at adjusting his scheme. Several even threw out the term offensive genius.
And when Jeffrey Lurie hired Kelly, he used the term innovator. This wasn’t about just bringing his offense to the NFL. It was about always keeping the Eagles a step ahead of the competition.
This weekend is a great opportunity to see where the head coach stands in that regard. The Giants provided a blueprint to take away one of the Eagles’ most productive plays, the inside zone read. And now Kelly has to put together a gameplan (most likely) with a less-mobile QB against one of the best run defenses in the league. The man takes his offensive scheme very personally. Despite what he’s said all week, I’m expecting some new wrinkles that will enable to McCoy to get close to the 100-yard mark.
McManus: Eagles 26, Bucs 20
Rookie Mike Glennon will be making his second NFL start on Sunday. In his debut against Arizona last week, he went 24-of-43 for 193 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Bucs lost 13-10. After facing a host of quality quarterbacks to start the season, this is a test this Eagles’ defense should be able to pass.
While Tampa’s defense is stingy, I believe Foles makes enough plays to secure the win.
Kapadia: Eagles 27, Bucs 17
Tampa is talented defensively, but Billy Davis gets a nice matchup on the other side of the ball. The Eagles’ scheme is focused on stopping the run and not allowing big plays.
Davis likes to disguise looks pre-snap and bring pressure from different angles. Those things have not worked out against quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. But against a rookie, the Eagles should be able to generate pressure and string together two straight wins for the first time this season.
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