When the Eagles were rolling along undefeated, this game at Indianapolis looked like a tough hurdle.
Now, with the Eagles on a one-game losing streak, it feels like a game they urgently need to win.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU’LL LIKE
1. RUN THE BALL!
Miles Sanders, one of the NFL’s top running backs, ran the ball just one time in the first half against Washington.
That is a problem.
You know how experts say opponents need to control the ball to keep it away from Jalen Hurts? Well, the Eagles need to control the ball to keep their beleaguered defense off the field and the ball away from running back Jonathan Taylor.
Look for the Eagles to commit to running the ball. Tight end Dallas Goedert is on injured reserve, so the Eagles will miss one of their most effective receivers and blockers.
Pound the rock, as the kids say. Take advantage of your talented offensive line. The Eagles are going to think run first and pass second. If they execute, that is a winning formula.
2. REPLACING GOEDERT
Here is the Eagles’ tight end situation/dilemma:
Goedert: Having a Pro Bowl season for both his pass-catching and blocking abilities.
Jack Stoll: Inexperienced back-up without much of a resume.
Grant Calcaterra: Rookie with *one* career reception.
The Eagles are in a potential mess with Goedert out. Here are the tight end snap counts: Goedert, 87.7 percent; Stoll, 39.4; Calcaterra, 11.4.
“It’s not going to be easy to replace Dallas, and not just one person does it,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
“So how do we replace him? You can’t, right? You have to do it by committee. You have tight ends that are there that we have a lot of faith in, in this building. It’ll start with them.”
Expect the Eagles to throw utilize their excellent wide receivers but also expect the Colts to pay more attention to the wideouts with Goedert absent.
- “Then it goes to where some of his targets go,” Sirianni said. “Probably a couple will go to A.J. [Brown], probably a couple go to DeVonta [Smith], and then you have backs that get intertwined in that. Slot receivers that get intertwined with that with Quez [Watkins].
- “You just have to balance it out and try to make — you’re not the going to be able to duplicate everything he does because he has a unique skill-set. You try to figure out who can do what he does, and can they do it, and then you put that stuff in your offense.”
Establish the run at all costs. Then, judiciously, go after Indy’s 10th-ranked pass defense. The Eagles have the quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver personnel to do it.
3. EAGLES WIN
The Colts have the fourth-ranked defense (Eagles are third), so they will be up for a brawl. Sirianni returns to Indy, where he was the offensive coordinator from 2018-20.
While the Colts are motivated under interim coach Jeff Saturday, the Eagles have more to play for coming off their first loss.
This looks and feels like a field-goal game — Eagles, 17-16.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE
1. JEFF SATURDAY
The Colts’ new coach could be the wild card. Saturday’s record is 1-0. He was hired without any college or professional coaching experience. The hire was roundly criticized but the Colts played well enough to defeat the Raiders.
Will the Colts rally again around their fiery new leader? You better believe it.
2. JONATHAN TAYLOR
Taylor was the NFL’s leading rusher last season with 1,811 yards. Runner-up Nick Chubb had 1,259.
This year, Taylor is in the middle of the pack but he missed three games. He torched the Raiders with 147 yards on 22 carries Sunday.
He is an explosive combo of power and speed. With the Eagles’ defense struggling against the run the past two weeks, Taylor is not the guy you want to see next on the schedule.
The Eagles’ new defensive line acquisitions Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph practiced Friday. If they play, they could help.
- “Every challenge that you would have with a good running football team [is what Eagles face],” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said.
- “They’ve got a good O-line and he’s one of the premier backs in the league.
- “Guy has major gas. He’s big, physical. He has really good vision.
- “So, it’s like any week, but this week he presents a different challenge because of his skill-set, and we have to do a good job, all 11 of us, to stop him.”
Good luck with that. The Colts are going run Taylor until the Eagles show they can stop him.
Then the Colts are going to run Taylor some more.
3. COLTS WIN
Aging quarterback Matt Ryan was an efficient 22-of-28 for 222 yards and a touchdown against Las Vegas. He also had a startling, 39-yard run.
With Indy’s strong running game, and Ryan’s experience, the Eagles’ defense could be off-balance and unable to control the game.
Gimme me the Colts, 25-22.