The Tennessee Titans head to Philadelphia this week to take on the Eagles. I reached out to Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation to answer questions about the Eagles to get us ready for the game. You can head over to BGN to see his questions with my answers.
1. What is the biggest difference you see between Jalen Hurts this year and Jalen Hurts his rookie season?
Put simply, he’s improved every year. Hurts is a better player across the board.
Some key areas of improvement include accuracy decision-making, and willingness to throw over the middle.
As a rookie, Hurts would’ve ranked dead last in on target throw percentage as measured by Pro Football Reference if he had enough pass attempts to qualify. This year, Hurts is third overall in this category … only behind Aaron Rodgers and Tua Tagovailoa. He’s pretty good at putting the ball exactly where it needs to be.
Hurts is seeing the field better and processing faster than before. As a rookie, he ranked dead last in average time-to-throw measured by Pro Football Focus at 3.39 seconds. That figure improved to 3.19 in 2021 and now it’s 2.92 this season. Still one of the slower releasse in the league, to be clear, but significantly quicker than it used to be.
The addition of A.J. Brown really unlocked Hurts’ willingness to throw over the middle. Hurts throwing to Brown on slants was a staple in training camp and their chemistry has carried over into the regular season.
Hurts’ role as a leader has obviously grown as well. He’s always checked the box when it comes to intangibles. But now that he’s more established here, he’s clearly emerged as a leader of the team. He’s the one breaking down the huddle prior to the game. His teammates clearly love playing with him and those good vibes are not to be taken for granted, especially after seeing how things went wrong with Carson Wentz in Philly.
Though I wouldn’t say he’s the current favorite to win the award, Hurts is inarguably one of the very top MVP candidates.
2. Is the Eagles defense equipped to stop Derrick Henry?
Well, I can’t say it’s a resounding yes after watching A.J. Dillon rumble for 64 yards on eight carries (8.0 average) and one touchdown on Sunday night. I’m not sure why the Packers didn’t just run with him on every single play until the Eagles proved capable of stopping it.
I’m guessing the Titans won’t be so generous. They should absolutely be looking to pound the rock.
That being said, the Eagles did have some success stopping Jonathan Taylor after the Colts’ first drive in Week 11. And Henry is only averaging 2.78 yards per carry through his last three games. And the Eagles might be getting one of their best run defenders in Jordan Davis back from injured reserve? They activated his 21-day practice window on Wednesday. As of me writing this, it’s not perfectly clear if that means he’ll play or not.
I wouldn’t say the Eagles are hopeless when it comes to limiting Henry. But it’s going to be easier said than done. This just isn’t a team that tackles very well and that could be a big problem.
3. The Eagles have the best record in football and are a Super Bowl favorite. What is one thing you see about this team that could keep them from reaching that goal?
The Eagles’ special teams unit is clearly a big problem. They rank 24th in DVOA and 32nd by PFF’s grading.
The Eagles allowed kick returns of 38, 52, and 53 yards to the Packers. And Green Bay entered that game with the league’s 10th worst kick return average.
It’s not about them being bad at any one thing like defending kicks, however. It’s about how there are different issues every week. Jake Elliott is an entirely trustworthy kicker (knock on wood) but everything else is suspect.
As an Eagles fan, you’re waiting for the weekly special teams miscue(s). And you’re fearful that there’s going to be one game where a mistake results in a damaging loss.
4. Give us a player we have never heard of who will have an impact on this game.
Arthur Juan Brown. He’s pretty good. Ever hear of him?
Trolling aside, I’ll go with Quez Watkins. He began the year as a distant fourth option in the passing attack outside of the top trio of Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert.
With Goedert on injured reserve, however, there have been more opportunities for Watkins. And he’s taken advantage with two touchdown grabs over the past two weeks. Nick Sirianni rewarded him with a game ball for his performance against the Packers, where he made a nice adjustment on a back-shoulder touchdown throw from Hurts.
Watkins is the Eagles’ fastest receiver; he boasts 4.35 speed. If the Titans aren’t careful, he can get behind this defense for a big play. Tennessee is allowing the second-most fantasy football points to receivers this season.
5. The Titans are a 5-point underdog. Which side of that bet are you taking?
The Titans haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points since their Week 6 bye. One of those 20-point performances was against Patrick Mahomes … in overtime. Another just came against Joe Burrow. So, the MVP favorite and an MVP dark horse. Hurts is obviously having a great season in his own right. But it feels like points could be at a premium in this matchup.
I’ll take the Eagles to win the game. The Titans are admittedly tough. But, speaking to a sentiment I’ve seen on Music City Miracles, they lack a real signature win this season. Beating the Birds would certainly qualify as one for them. But I’m not so sure their offense will be able to match the points that Philly should be able to put up. I think A.J. Brown is going to be out for revenge.
The Titans will cover the spread. But the Eagles will emerge victorious in a game that’s decided by a field goal, 20 to 17.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.