Here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Sunday’s Eagles-Texans game.
The Birds collect a clean sweep from the five analysts at NFL.com.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com predicts an Eagles win but a rough go for Nick Foles:
This will be a tough day at the office for Nick Foles and that Philly offense. Between the Eagles’ line problems and the presence of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt (a mismatch for anyone), points might be scarce down in Houston. That goes for the Texans, as well, as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been no stranger to turnovers in his career. Bear in mind that Philadelphia leads the NFL in defensive and special teams touchdowns. Thinking this game features two: one by the Eagles’ defense and one by backup Houston running back and special teamer Alfred Blue, who pulls a double-dip with his second blocked-punt score of the season. It’s gonna happen, folks. I don’t want to give away too many of Blue’s clues, but he won’t vulture any touchdowns from Arian Foster, who will score again and top 100 yards for the seventh time in 2014. Check out his per-game rushing yardage this season: 103, 138, 6, 157, 109, 102 and 151.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com puts together his Week 9 viewer’s guide:
The Eagles have the third-most giveaways in the NFL this season (17) and 19.1 percent of Philadelphia’s drives have ended with a turnover, the highest in the NFL. Nick Foles has thrown a pick in four consecutive games. With an offensive line still trying to get healthy the Eagles have the unfortunate task take on the Greek god (probably) known as J.J. Watt and a Texans defense that has at least one takeaway in every game this season (17 total, second in the NFL).
While Watt has been a beast, it’s fair to consider Arian Foster the team’s MVP thus far (Houston doesn’t get much done on offense if he’s not gliding through the secondary with ease). The running back has carried the load this season, with 100-plus rushing yards in six of seven games this season. He’ll be the key to a Houston upset and should eat a lot versus an Eagles ranked 21st against the run and is giving up 116.7 yards per game on the ground.
Don Banks of SI.com has the Eagles by two touchdowns:
Eagles 34, Texans 20
The seven-man contingent of former Texans that dot the Eagles’ roster make this a veritable Houston homecoming affair. Starting Philly linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin are the big names, but don’t forget about tight end James Casey and punter Donnie Jones, too. It should make for quite the pre-game photo. The Eagles should get running back-return man Darren Sproles back in the lineup and that adds a big-play element that was missing last week in a narrow loss at Arizona. Houston’s best chance is to ride the red-hot Arian Foster, who has four consecutive 100-yard rushing games and just dented Tennessee’s defense for 151 yards last week. Foster is Comeback Player of the Year material at midseason, with 722 yards rushing and a stellar 5.2-yard average rush in six-plus games. He may only be the second-best NFL running back in Texas, but this year that’s still a lofty accomplishment.
Over at ESPN.com, 12 of 13 analysts go with the Eagles, with Mike Ditka being the only exception.
CBSSports.com has six of eight analysts taking the Birds.
John Breech of CBSSports.com was one of the two analysts who took Houston:
Texans 23, Eagles 20
When you think about quarterbacks who turn the ball over a lot, you think about guys like Geno Smith, who is going nowhere fast with the 1-7 Jets. Actually, he’s going somewhere, if the bench counts as somewhere. Anyway, the point here is that Smith has turned the ball over 12 times this season, the same amount as Nick Foles. Foles has thrown seven interceptions in the Eagles’ past four games and things aren’t going to get any easier for him when he has J.J. Watt chasing him around.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com was the other:
Texans 24, Eagles 21
The Eagles are playing consecutive road games outside the division, which is always tough. The Texans are getting better on defense and it will be interesting to watch J.J. Watt against that spread offense. I think the Texans rise up here.
Five of seven writers at USA Today are picking the Eagles.
At FoxSports.com, the Birds are the pick for three of five analysts.
Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com goes with Houston:
Texans 24, Eagles 20
Chip Kelly nailed it on J.J. Watt this week, saying, “He does things that defensive linemen don’t do. For contacts with the ball, it’s the most we’ve seen and we’ve faced, and then the ability just to disrupt things if he doesn’t get to the quarterback just by batting balls down is really a unique set of skills that he has. It’s a credit to him. He’s that type of player. You’ve got to know where he is on every play, you’ve got to game plan for him on every play, and then hope you’re right in terms of how you’re trying to approach him and how you’re trying to block him.” Watt has 23 quarterback hits, seven sacks and three touchdowns already this year. The Philadelphia offensive line has been better than it was earlier this year, but I see Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney giving the unit fits on Sunday. Houston wins at home.
SB Nation has five of seven writers picking the Birds:
The Philadelphia Eagles remain in good position in the NFC with a 5-2 record, but are coming off a loss and will face a tough test this week when they match up with the 4-4 Houston Texans and all-world defensive end J.J. Watt.
A week ago, the Eagles nearly escaped Arizona with a win against one of the best teams in the NFC. Instead, a [John] Brown 75-yard touchdown put the Cardinals ahead for good. Still, Philadelphia played well overall, especially for being on the road, and the Eagles remain in the discussion of the best teams in the NFC.
The Texans are trending in a different direction. After winning three of its first four games, Houston has dropped three of its last four. Quarterback remains a problem area for the Texans, with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing just well enough not to force Ryan Mallett into action. However, the temptation to play Mallett could push the fourth-year passer onto the field sooner rather than later. Regardless, any defense that features Watt is going to have a chance to dominate a matchup, and the Eagles’ offensive line remains a shaky proposition.
Pro Football Talk has both analysts taking the Eagles:
MDS’s take: Interceptions are piling up for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, which is a major concern in Philadelphia considering that the Texans have a strong pass defense. But I’m not sold on the Texans’ offense putting many points on the board, and I’ll pick the Eagles to win a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 14, Texans 13.
Florio’s take: The Philly offensive line is getting a little healthier, just in time for J.J. Watt and company. After nearly toppling the Cardinals in Arizona, the Eagles go to Houston and drag the Texans under .500, where based on the overall talent of the team they belong.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Texans 17.
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News is not confident in the Eagles this week:
Texans 31, Eagles 27
The Eagles disappointed in this space last week, as a couple of Nick Foles interceptions and a late breakdown in coverage cost them in Arizona. So let’s turn the tables back on them on the road again. Foles continues to be off just enough with his ball security and accuracy to cost them, and that’s not the best feeling when facing J.J. Watt. The Eagles should run well on Houston, but the problem is, they won’t be able to stop Arian Foster much and the Texans’ outside receivers are also dangerous. In a bit of a Texas shootout, Houston will have a little more “NRG.”
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.
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