Who’s Picking the Eagles?
Here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Sunday’s Eagles-Titans game.
All five NFL.com experts are picking the Eagles this week.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com picks the Birds to get their first win over the Titans in 20 years (when they were known as the Houston Oilers):
Eagles 34, Titans 17
Key matchup: Tennessee vs. the game clock. The Eagles have run 717 offensive plays from scrimmage in 2014; only the Colts and Steelers have run more, and the latter squad hasn’t had its bye week yet. The Titans’ defense is in the midst of what is, at best, a middling campaign. To limit possessions in this game — and thus keep rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger out of a track meet — Tennessee should lean on Bishop Sankey, who had 11 carries against the Steelers on Monday. Give the rookie twice as many totes and see what he can do. The Titans aren’t making the playoffs anyway.
X-factor: The Eagles’ offensive line. The group is mostly whole once again, with center Jason Kelce and left guard Evan Mathis returning to the lineup in Weeks 9 and Week 10, respectively. That said, the right side of the line has struggled immensely — and Kelce has been getting a bit too creative with those shotgun snaps. We just saw Pittsburgh regain control of a contest with the Titans by pounding the ball with Le’Veon Bell. It sure would be nice if LeSean McCoy had some of those holes to run through.
Football weirdness: The Eagles’ last win in this series came 20 years ago, when the Titans were the Houston Oilers. Randall Cunningham and Cody Carlson were the quarterbacks. The Oilers’ loss pushed their record to 1-6; three weeks later, head coach Jack Pardee was fired, and a young assistant named Jeff Fisher took over as interim head coach — the same Fisher who had been Buddy Ryan’s defensive coordinator in Philadelphia during the Eagles’ playoff seasons of 1989 and 1990.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com puts together his Week 12 Viewer’s Guide:
Zach Mettenberger had his best game last week when he had a ton of time to throw the ball against the Steelers. He’ll face a frustrated Eagles pass rush that was laughed at last week by Aaron Rodgers. If Mettenberger can get the ball out quickly against Connor Barwin (10.5 sacks) and Co. he could hit some big plays down the field.
Mark Sanchez fell back to earth, but is coming off his first career back-to-back 300-yard games. He’ll face a Titans defense that has allowed 300-plus total yards in nine straight games with just one takeaway in its last three contests. Seeing Le’Veon Bell go HAM against this Titans’ front had to put a pep in LeSean McCoy’s step this week. If he can avoid Jurrell Casey, he could be in for his best game of the season.
Don Banks of SI.com is predicting an avalanche of offense for the Birds against the lowly Titans:
Eagles 36, Titans 14
The trip to Green Bay wasn’t a totally lost cause for the Eagles. At least it helped them identify which NFC team they should most hope to avoid in the playoffs. Philadelphia’s only three losses this season are at San Francisco, at Arizona and at the Packers, three teams that are a combined 22-8. But the Eagles were at least competitive with the 49ers and Cardinals, a case they can’t make coming out of that 53-20 drubbing at Lambeau Field. But this week it’s back home and back to playing an inferior opponent. The Eagles at 5-0 at Lincoln Financial Field this season, but haven’t beaten a visiting team with a winning record yet. That trend continues this week against the lowly Titans.
Phil Sheridan and Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com give their NFL Nation Week 12 game predictions:
Paul Kuharsky: A defense that wore down from 73 plays and 39:49 minutes on the field against Pittsburgh will have trouble keeping up with the high tempo Eagles. The Titans will surrender big plays either to LeSean McCoy in tight quarters or to Darren Sproles in space and those will ultimately put the Eagles over the top. Even if Zach Mettenberger continues his steady growth in this one, I have trouble seeing the Titans winning at Lincoln Financial Field. Eagles 24, Titans 17
Phil Sheridan: The reasons to suspect a Titans upset — the Eagles taking a 2-8 team lightly, the trap game risk with Dallas five days later — don’t seem to apply to Chip Kelly’s team. The Eagles have been very good at getting over a loss like the one in Green Bay and refocusing on the next task. In that case, it’s a Tennessee team that just doesn’t seem ready to make a real run as a road underdog. It would take a spectacularly poor game from Sanchez to make an upset possible, and I just don’t see it this week. Eagles 33, Titans 19
The Birds complete the clean sweep of all 13 ESPN.com experts.
John Breech of CBSSports.com is taking the Eagles over the Titans, 34-24.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com also believes the Birds will rebound at home:
Eagles 30, Titans 21
Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger did some good things in the Monday night loss to the Steelers. And the Eagles aren’t great on defense. So expect a close game? Not the way the Titans defense played last week. Mark Sanchez will eat up that blitzing defense.
With the other six analysts in agreement, the Eagles sweep all eight picks at CBSSports.com.
At USA Today, all six writers are favoring Philadelphia.
All six analysts at FoxSports.com are taking the Birds.
Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com publishes his Week 12 Cheat Sheet with the Eagles earning a 10-point victory:
The Titans left it all out there on Monday night against Pittsburgh, and I have to wonder if — in a quiet moment — Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t kick himself for deciding to punt on fourth-and-4 at the Pittsburgh 48, down three points, with a little more than seven minutes remaining. That win would have made the Titans’ season, and even if they were stopped short of a first down, Pittsburgh still would have had to have converted a few first downs on the ground to avoid punting the ball back. I didn’t like the call. Going for that would have been a statement of trust in young quarterback Zach Mettenberger and a sign of fearlessness. Easy for me to say, of course, several days later, sitting in my living room with my laptop open. I like the Eagles in this one.
The Pick: Eagles 27, Titans 17
SB Nation has all seven experts picking the Birds.
Both writers at Pro Football Talk are taking the Eagles and predicting over 30 points of offense:
MDS’s take: A matchup with the lousy Tennessee defense is just what Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez needs. Philadelphia’s offense will look a whole lot better on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Titans 20.
Florio’s take: Nothing helps erase the memories of an ugly game at Lambeau Field than a visit from one of the worst teams in the league.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 37, Titans 14.
Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News believes the Eagles hang a 40 spot up on the Titans and cruise to an easy win:
Eagles 41, Titans 24
The Eagles will pretty much be able to do anything they want offensively at home against the Titans, much like their intrastate friends the Steelers just did on the road against them. Former Vanderbilt star Jordan Matthews and Jeremy Maclin will rip the secondary of the team from Nashville, and a la Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy should see some nice running lanes open behind his nasty line. The Titans’ offense can do something here, but it severely lacks the same fast firepower as Philly.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.