Three-And-Out: Eagles-Rams Predictions
Player I’ll be watching
Kapadia: Jason Peters
It’s been an eventful year for the 32-year-old left tackle. Aside from the skirmish against Washington, Peters is the only Eagles offensive lineman to start all four games in the same spot, and he’s been solid overall. But last week, he and Matt Tobin had a couple communication issues that resulted in big hits on Nick Foles.
If those same issues resurface this week, the results could be disastrous. That’s because Peters will be matched up against Robert Quinn. The 24-year-old is an under-the-radar superstar. He had 19 sacks a year ago, and multiple Eagles defenders this week called Quinn the best pass-rusher in the league.
The Rams line him up almost exclusively at right defensive end in their 4-3 front. He’ll stunt inside, but for most of the game, it’ll be Quinn vs. Peters, one-on-one.
“The one thing that strikes you when you watch him is just how hard he runs to the ball no matter where the play is,” said Chip Kelly. “I think a lot of people have gone away from him. They had such a great tandem when Chris Long was on one side and he was on the other side. He’s obviously garnered more attention because Chris is out right now with an injury, so there’s a lot more attention on him. People are sliding protection to him. Sometimes they’re leaving a tight end over there to help or a running back. But the one thing with him is you can’t think that just kind of sending an extra guy over there is going to help because he just plays so hard and is relentless in terms of running toward the quarterback.”
I wouldn’t expect the Eagles to offer Peters much help. They believe he can handle anyone one-on-one.
“We think Jason is one of the top tackles in the league, so it’s always a comforting feeling knowing you’re going into games and you have Jason Peters on your left side,” Kelly said.
The Quinn-Peters matchup will be one of the best OL/DL battles in the league this year.
McManus: Lane Johnson.
That’s going to be a great matchup, for sure. I’m also interested in how Peters’ partner fares in his first game back.
For Johnson, it’s less about the matchup (He’ll likely face Williams Hayes for much of the day) and more about how much rust his game will be coated with.
“He’s probably not up to speed with everybody here just because he was out for four weeks, but he’s not far off. I just think it’s probably just getting acclimated. Probably a little bit more sore after practice than our guys because we are doing a different type of running,” said Kelly.
“I don’t think you can go anywhere and train for what football is like because you have to actually do it. You can run around and go away to train and things like that but that’s not exactly what we are doing. His conditioning level is good. It’s just a matter of some of the residual soreness that comes after a practice but he seems like he’s handling it halfway decent.”
Realistically, there will probably be a few rocky moments as the 24-year-old gets re-adjusted to playing pro ball. But with the offensive line already in a fragile state, those moments need to be kept to a minimum.
Over/under: 70 rushing yards for LeSean McCoy — Whaddya got?
Kapadia: I’ll take the under. The Rams’ defense has not been good against the run. St. Louis is allowing 5.1 YPC and 155 yards per game on the ground.
But I’m not sure a whole lot is going to be different on the Eagles’ end. McCoy has managed just 39 yards in the past two games combined, and there haven’t been a lot of holes for him to run through. Getting Johnson back will be nice, but he was absent from the team facility for a month. Expecting him to be dominant in his first game back is probably a stretch.
The losses of Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis are huge, especially on the Eagles’ go-to play, the inside zone. I’m expecting tough sledding for McCoy once again.
McManus: I’ll try the over.
Interesting moment at practice Thursday, as Kelly took a long moment in between drills to talk with his standout back. McCoy began walking towards the next station eventually and Kelly followed, wearing a smile and wrapping his arm around McCoy. Duce Staley spent a lot of time coaching him up during practice as well.
I think they’re trying to keep him engaged and focused. He hasn’t been able to get going and is not a happy man at the moment. They need to keep him mentally in it if they have any hopes of getting this running game off the ground. I’ll predict that we see a little of the old McCoy on the field Sunday. I’m not anticipating a major improvement out of the offensive line, but think Kelly will make a couple tweaks to the run attack that will manufacture some space for No. 25.
Kapadia: Eagles 24, Rams 21
It’s been a strange season so far for the Eagles. The quarterback hasn’t played well, the offensive line is a mess, the run game is stagnant, and the defense has been up and down. Yet somehow, this team is 3-1. They’ve made some big plays at critical moments, and special teams have been enormous.
Foles doesn’t look comfortable to me, and while the Rams’ defense has not played well, St. Louis still has some talented guys up front.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you Austin Davis is Joe Montana, but he’s a get-the-ball-out-quick, rhythm passer. The Eagles’ defense faced one of those guys two weeks ago in Kirk Cousins and got torched.
My sense is that the Eagles are a better team and will find a way to win, but I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.
McManus: Eagles 27, Rams 24
Some see the Eagles as a clearly superior team. I don’t. They are down two offensive linemen, their quarterback and star running back are struggling, they are operating without one of their top players on defense (Mychal Kendricks) and three-fourths of their secondary is playing below average ball.
The Rams (1-2) are coming off a bye and need a win to stay in the race. They have some talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and could turn this game into a real scrap.
But I’m not sure I’d bet against Kelly in this spot. His offense was just shut out, in part because the Niners had a beat on what he was doing. While he can’t get too extravagant given the limitations up front, expect his game plan to have a little extra polish this week. The offense will look better, and the defense should be able to handle Davis and company.