The Titans take on the Eagles next Sunday, and to kick things off Brandon Lee Gowton of BleedingGreenNation was gracious enough to answer five of my questions about the match-up, and the state of the Eagles at present. You can find my answers to his five questions on the fine SB Nations blog BleedingGreenNation here.
1) How do you see the Eagles down the stretch in the race for the NFC East?
The Eagles are 7-3 with six games left to play. If the season were to end today, they would be the third seed in the NFC playoffs. They own first place in the NFC East due to a division tiebreaker over the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys.
Despite a brutal Week 11 loss to the Green Bay Packers, that’s far from a bad position to be in. The Eagles have a few very crucial games coming up. They play the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving on November 27 before having to face them again on December 14. The results of those games will obviously have a significant impact on which team wins the NFC East.
I do see the Eagles at least splitting those games and doing enough to win the NFC East. I think they can reasonably go 4-2 down the stretch and finish with an 11-5 record.
2) Titans fans on MCM generally love Chip Kelly, and were pining for him a few years back when we thought Munch was getting the can (the year before he did). After a few years at the helm, how do Eagles fans view Kelly as the head coach?
It’s no secret that Eagles fans love Chip Kelly. Kelly has never finished below 91% approval in the approval rating posts I set up monthly at BGN. He’s really revitalized an Eagles franchise that had been growing stale in the final years of Andy Reid’s tenure.
As with any coach, Kelly isn’t above criticism. So far, however, it’s really hard to argue with his success. The team is 17-9 in his first 26 games and they’re 12-4 in his last 16.
3) What is your view on Mark Sanchez so far? Do you think he can carry the Eagles the rest of the way?
I think Mark Sanchez has been solid so far. He needs to show more before I can comfortably say I’m confident in his ability. He played fairly decent in Week 9 when coming off the bench cold while filling in for Nick Foles. Then he played a good game against a bad Panthers team in Week 10. Sanchez didn’t look encouraging in Week 11 against the Packers but it’s worth noting his turnovers came when the game was already out of control and needed to throw.
I don’t doubt the Eagles can win with Sanchez. But can he carry the team himself? Not at all. He’s going to need help from a run game that has really struggled to get going this season. The defense and special teams units will need to do their part as well.
4) Obviously ex-Texan Connor Barwin is having an excellent season in Philly. Who else do the Titans need to watch out for when dropping back to pass?
Fellow starting outside linebacker Trent Cole is getting up there in age but he’s far from toast. The veteran has 4.5 sacks this season and has forced three fumbles. Cole also ranks fourth in quarterback hits and ninth in quarterback hurries.
Backup linebacker Brandon Graham, who was taken a few picks before Titans pass rush Derrick Morgan in the 2010 NFL Draft, is also someone to watch out for. In only 296 snaps played, Graham has recorded five sacks, two quarterback hits, and 22 quarterback hurries. He has also forced four fumbles in limited playing time.
Note that the Eagles are averaging 4.8 sacks per game at home, which is the best total in NFL.
5) What is the Monday headline in Philly following the game?
I do think the Eagles will win this game. They’ve obviously been the better team this season. They’re also really good at home. The Eagles are 9-0 in their last nine regular season home games. They have outscored opponents 313-168 in that stretch, which is an average of 34.8 to 18.7 per game.
If the Eagles win by a few scores or so, the narrative will be that the team is back on track after suffering a bad loss to the Packers. If the Eagles win by a close margin, it’ll probably be something about how the Eagles still have flaws despite the win. If the Eagles lose, it’ll be how they’re frauds. I think the first option is the most likely, but we’ll see.