Who’s Picking the Eagles?
Here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Sunday’s Eagles-Rams game.
The Birds claim a clean sweep from all five NFL.com experts.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com predicts a big Eagles victory:
Eagles 37, Rams 16
A tasty little nugget emerged from the Eagles’ loss to the Niners last Sunday: Philly blocked a punt for a touchdown for the first time since 1992, a whopping 22 years ago. I can’t help but think of the punt the Eagles almost blocked for a score in the 2001 NFC Championship Game against these very Rams. Had the immortal N.D. Kalu gotten to that ball … history would have changed, man. Bill Belichick and the Pats would have been facing Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl XXXVI, a wild card if ever there was one.
Oh, how that Rams club was loaded. Flash forward, and the 2014 version has slightly less offensive firepower, unless you consider Austin Davis the second coming of Kurt Warner. Either way, I don’t trust these Rams on the road against an Eagles offense that you know will be fired up to prove nothing ails it after being held without a touchdown in San Francisco. St. Louis needs defensive end Chris Long to get healthy. Every team could use a Jeremy Maclin, who is on pace to break Mike Quick’s Eagles record (set in 1983) for receiving yards in a season (1,409). Quick, by the way, had a mustache that year that Lionel Richie could have been proud of.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com puts together his Week 5 viewer’s guide:
The Austin Davis show hits Philly this week. The young quarterback has the NFL’s best completion percentage (73.2) and faces an Eagles secondary that is allowing 257.5 passing yards per game. Davis must continue his impressive play on the road if the Rams have a chance for the upset.
The Eagles’ offensive line gets some help with Lane Johnson’s return from suspension. It needs it after getting destroyed by the 49ers last week. The banged-up group faces a defense that has just one sack all season. Robert Quinn hasn’t equaled the performance of last season (zero sacks, four QB hurries). If the Eagles keep him away from Nick Foles, Philly’s offense should bounce back this week.
Don Banks of SI.com has the exact same prediction as Harrison:
Eagles 37, Rams 16
LeSean McCoy is simply too good to be a non-factor for much longer, but his struggles in the first month prove that a running back — no matter how elite he is — can be bottled up almost completely behind a shaky offensive line. There’s nowhere to run in Philly at the moment, but maybe the return of offensive tackle Lane Johnson from league suspension this week will start the Eagles’ comeback up front. Look for Chip Kelly to focus like a laser on establishing McCoy’s presence against the Rams, who have had major issues stopping the run this season. A ground game by Philadelphia will help ease some of the pressure on quarterback Nick Foles’ shoulders, and restore some of the balance that has been missing from the Eagles offense.
The Birds get the nod from 12 of 13 ESPN.com analysts.
CBSSports.com has six of eight experts picking the Rams to cover the 7.5-point spread:
Hoping to fix what they couldn’t overcome last weekend, the Philadelphia Eagles are focused on tightening up an inconsistent defense and improving their injury-ravaged offensive line.
The Eagles will try to bounce back from their first loss to start 4-1 for the first time in eight years Sunday against the visiting St. Louis Rams, who are coming off their bye week and look to avoid their second straight 1-3 start.
Philadelphia (3-1) has been both good and bad defensively through its first four games. The Eagles held Jacksonville to 2.6 rushing yards per carry, but surrendered 266 passing yards and two touchdowns in the opener.
All seven writers at USA Today are going with the Birds.
Both Frank Schwab and Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports are taking Philadelphia.
SB Nation has six of seven experts picking the Eagles.
At FoxSport.com, the Birds claim another clean sweep.
Both writers at Pro Football Talk are predicting an Eagles victory:
MDS’s take: The Eagles have been missing a lot of opportunities offensively, with Nick Foles failing to connect on his deep balls. I think the Rams’ defense, which is struggling to rush the passer, is going to give Foles plenty of time to find receivers downfield, and this should be a big win for Philadelphia.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Rams 21.
Florio’s take: Philly’s offensive line is struggling, but so is the supposedly dominant St. Louis defensive line. Look for Chip Kelly to draw up a game plan that gets the most out of a quintet of blockers that welcomes back Lane Johnson. And that shuts down an offense that Austin Davis has wrested from Shaun Hill.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 34, Rams 17.
Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com believes it will be a tight game:
Eagles 24, Rams 23
LeSean McCoy is averaging just 19.5 rushing yards in his last two games — and it has fantasy football owners shrugging, swearing, and making sad emoticons all over the place. Eagles fans have to be a bit concerned, too, and when you throw in the fact he hasn’t had a reception in either of those two games, there’s a bit of panic in the City of Brotherly Love. The truth is, when you have an offensive line as banged up as Philly’s you could have Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, or Thurman Thomas back there and he wouldn’t run wild. Chip Kelly gets Lane Johnson back this week, and the former top-five pick will start at tackle. That helps. But this one won’t be easy. Not when you have the rag-tag line, a unit that Kelly said got “whooped” last week in San Francisco, going up against Robert Quinn and the Rams’ front seven. I still like Philly even as the defense is carrying it at this point.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.