Category Archives: Philadelphia Eagles

Birds in first; head to Chicago for big NFC matchup

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy waltzes into the end zone after his 50-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-1 in the last four minutes of play gave the Eagles the lead for good. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Final Score: Eagles 27, Giants 17
Eagles best play: Michael Vick bobble the snap on 4th-and-1 but recovered, pitching it left to LeSean McCoy who took it 50 yards to the house with over 4:30 left in the game to give the Eagles a 24-17 lead.
Eagles worst play: In one of the Eagles’ three red zone possessions that ended in a field goal, Jason Avant dropped a pass all alone in the back of the endzone.

Three stars
J. Maclin (PHI) – 9 catches, 120 yards.
L. McCoy (PHI) – 14 carries, 111 yards, TD. 5 catches, 29 yards.
A. Samuel (PHI) – 2 INT, fumble recovered, 2 tackles.

Breaking down the game

THE GAME CHANGER —With under five minutes left in the game and the Eagles’ chances running out, they found themselves in a do-or-die situation. On fourth-and-one, the Eagles chose to run the ball. Instead of trying to muscle it through the Giants stout offensive line, which held LeSean McCoy to 13 yards on the game, the Eagles opted for a toss.

Vick bobbled the snap but got control of it in time to pitch it left to McCoy, who busted through the Giants secondary for a 50-yard touchdown. Vick found Avant for the two-point conversion to make it a 24-17 game with just over four minutes remaining.

McCoy added a 40-yard run on the next possession to get himself over 100 yards on the game in the win.

The Giants saw their chance at tying the game halted when Eli Manning fumbled the ball away. Asante Samuel recovered it for his second of the game. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

DEFENSIVE STAND — We all know how goofy Eli Manning looks. The Eagles made him look even more foolish in the game, forcing him to throw three interceptions. Manning also didn’t help his cause when he dove forward and fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter, halting the Giants drive when they trailed 24-17.

The Eagles were all over Manning, forcing bad throws and poor decisions. Manning managed to complete only 20-of-33 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The longest pass he completed was to Brandon Jacobs, who picked up most of the 22 yards after the catch.

The ground game for New York, which was one of the best in the league, was absolutely stuffed. The Giants managed only 61 yards on the ground with over half the yards coming on Ahmad Bradhaw’s 17-yard run and Manning’s 16-yard run that ended in a costly fumble.

FINE GAME FOR SAMUEL — Other than being fined $40,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Giants WR Derek Hagan, Samuel had himself a tremendous effort. He picked off Manning twice and recovered two fumbles, the first forced by Brandon Graham and the second off of Manning in the win. Samuel also had two tackles which could be a career high the way he wraps up ball carriers.

HOBBS ON IR — Ellis Hobbs was injured on a scary play in the third. Taking the opening kick-off of the second half, Hobbs was hit head-to-head by Giants DL Dave Tollefson, injuring his neck. No foul or fine was issued to Tollefson because Hobbs isn’t considered a “vulnerable” player and that helmet hits are allowed on ball carriers with established possession (*cough*bullshit*cough*).

The hit left Hobbs lying on the field for over 11 minutes before being taken off on a stretcher.

Hobbs was placed on the injured reserve today. Hobbs missed the last nine games of the 2009 season with a neck injury.

PHI: 7-3, 1st in NFC East
CHI: 7-3, t1st in NFC North
Spread: Eagles by 3.5
Where: Soldier Field (Chicago, IL).
When: Sunday, 4:15 on FOX.
Last Week: The Eagles beat the Giants, 27-17. The Bears shut out the Dolpins, 16-0.

BATTLE FOR BEST IN NFC — People will get a good look at what the Eagles high-powered offense can do against one of the best defenses in the NFC. They saw last week they could over come a tough Giants defense but a repeat performance would solidify them as the top contender in the conference.

Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin are all enjoying years to remember. Vick is a top MVP candidate with his performance this season, throwing for 1,608 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions this season. He had the highest pass rating (108.7) in the NFL. He’s also run for 375 yards and five touchdowns.

 

Bears RB Matt Forte runs through two Dolpins last Thursday in their 16-0 win. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

On the Bears offense, Jay Cutler has completed over 61% of his passes for 2,064 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He could struggle against the Eagles secondary which features ball hawks Asante Samuel, who leads the NFL with seven picks, and rookie Nate Allen, who has three. As a team, they’ve picked off a league-high 19 passes.

 

The Bears are relying on their defense, which has allowed an average of 290 yards a game this season, third in the NFL. They’ve also allowed an NFL-low 14.6 points per game. D.J. Moore leads the team with four interceptions and ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije have a combined 11 sacks.

Chicago will be well-rested for this game, having 10-days off before kickoff. Their 16-0 win over Miami on Thursday helped keep them in pace for first place in the NFC North.

This game is going to come down to whether or not the Bears weak offense can score on the Eagles strong defense. If their defense holds up their end of the bargain, it could be a very low-scoring game. If not, expect the Eagles to win in a blowout.

Roose’s prediction (6-4): The Bears defense will hold the Eagles offense  enough to win but they won’t score. Eagles win, 19-10.

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Birds Scalp Skins; Face Giants For First

Running back Jerome Harrison knifes his way through the Redskins en route to a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Final Score: Eagles 59; Redskins 28
Eagles best play: Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson hook up on the opening play with an 88-yard touchdown pass.
Eagles worst play: The secondary left Washington TE Fred Davis wide open as he rumbled down the left sideline for 71 yards to set up the Redskins first score in the second quarter.

Three stars
M. Vick (PHI) – 20/28, 333 yards, 4 TDs. 8 carries, 80 yards, 2 TDs.
J. Harrison (PHI) – 11 carries, 109 yards, TD. 1 catch, 15 yards.
D. Patterson (PHI) – 2 interceptions, 5 tackles, 40-yard TD off interception.

Breaking down the game

VICK SIX — Michael Vick was in a whole different world on Monday. Vick threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a grand total of six.

On the first play of the game, Vick and Jackson hooked up for an 88-yard score. The next score for the Eagles, Vick took it himself for a 7-yard touchdown run.

After the Eagles led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter, Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for a 48-yard touchdown to start the second quarter, giving the Eagles a 35-0 advantage only 15+ minutes into the game.

MISERABLE MCNABB — On the day of his 5-year, $78 million extension, McNabb played like he wanted to hand the check right back to Dan Snyder. McNabb was picked-off three times and his two touchdowns came in the second quarter when trailing, 35-0, at the time.

In the third quarter, McNabb was picked-off my Dimitri Patterson and returned 40 yards to the house, giving the Eagles a 59-21 lead.

HISTORIC FIRST — It was the first time in NFL history a road team scored 28 points in the first quarter.

It all started on the first play with the 88-yard Vick-to-Jackson connection. After forcing a Washington 3-and-out, the Eagles drove down field, capped off by a 7-yard score by Vick.

After forcing the Skins to punt again, Vick capped off a 63-yard drive with a 15-yard shovel pass to LeSean McCoy. After the Skins offense pulled another 3-and-out, Jerome Harrison pulled-off a remarkable 50-yard run to give the Eagles the 28-0 lead.

HARRISON > BELL — In a trade for back-ups, the Eagles were finally rewarded with their movement of Mike Bell for Jerome Harrison. Harrison rushed for 109 yards on only 11 carries and scored on a dazzling 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Harrison bursted up the middle through a whole you could drive Jon Runyan’s truck through, shook-off some sad tackling attempts by Asante Samuel’s clones, burst up the right sideline, and dove to the endzone for the score.

____

PHI: 6-3, t1st in NFC East
NYG: 6-3, t1st in NFC East
Spread:
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philly, PA).
When: Sunday, 8:20 on CBS.
Last time met:
Last Week: The Eagles destroyed Washington, 59-28. The Giants got routed by Dallas, 33-20.

BATTLE FOR FIRST — In the last two weeks, the Eagles looked like a team on a mission. After battling it out with the Colts to a 26-24 win, the offense erupted for 59 points in a route over Washington.

New York has had a different last two weeks. They demolished the Seahawks, gaining national recognition as the most dominant team in the NFC. That was until they got handled by the lowly Cowboys, 33-20, on Sunday.

The interesting part of this match-up will be whether or not the Giants loss to Dallas was a fluke. The same goes with the offensive outburst by the Eagles.

Michael Vick is hungry to make something out of this season as he will be looking at a lucrative contract this off season. On the year, Vick completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs with no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 341 yards on 44 carries and four scores. His passer rating is a stellar 115.1.

Giants QB Eli Manning, like the rest of the Giants, looked befuddled all game, getting handled by the lowly Coyboys, 33-20. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This match up will feature two of the best teams in the NFC. The Eagles have scored the most points in the NFC and the Giants are fourth. Both teams are also 4-1 in their last five games.

Eli Manning is also enjoying a very strong year. He’s completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,448 yards and 19 touchdowns. But Manning has not done a good job of protecting the football, being picked off 13 times.

The Eagles are third in the NFL, averaging 151.1 yards a game while New York is fifth at 146.9.

But the main story this game will be defense. The Giants are the number one defensive team in the NFL right now, despite last week’s poor performance. But going up against an offense has dynamic as Philadelphia’s, this could pose a threat.

The game will feature the best offense in the NFC against the best defense. It’s a battle for first and advantage in the conference.

Roose’s Prediction (5-4): The Eagles prevail in this one, 28-21.

NFL Week 9: Eagles vs. Colts

PHI: 4-3, 2nd in NFC East
IND: 5-2, 1st in AFC South
Spread: Eagles by 3
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philly, PA)
When: Sunday, 4:15 PM on CBS
Last time met: Nov. 26, 2006 – Joseph Addai gained over 200 yards from scrimage as the Colts rolled over the Eagles 45-21. Jeff Garcia was under center for the Eagles a week after Donovan Mcnabb went down with a torn ACL.
Last Week: The Eagles were on a bye. The Colts steam rolled the Texans, 30-17.

Best case scenario: Peyton Manning does not dismantle the secondary completely and they Birds offense stays on the Colts’ heals to maybe steal a game with a winning field goal.

Worst case scenario: Manning absolutely rips apart the Birds very weak secondary, throwing for four touch downs and not needing to run the ball too often. Michael Vick can’t do a single thing against the Colts defense, surrendering the ball back to Kevin Kolb.

Colts QB Peyton Manning looks to pass against Houston last Monday. Manning has arguably been the first half MVP in the NFL and is on the verge of another MVP season. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Opposing player to watch – QB Peyton Manning: People should watch him because he will do work. Like watching Roy Halladay pitch or Kobe Bryant run the floor, watching Peyton Manning run an offense is a thing of beauty. Manning has a passer rating of 101.4 with 2,184 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s only thrown two picks all season.

 

Offenses: The Eagles look to be rolling with Vick as he’s fully healthy. Speaking of returns, DeSean Jackson cleared his concussion tests and will be back Sunday as well. Jeremy Maclin is due for another good game and with Jackson returning, he could give both himself and Jackson some time to get around and make plays. LeSean McCoy is a good running threat every week.

Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL and he’s currently playing like it. Reggie Wayne leads the team with 641 yards and has three touchdowns but Austin Collie has been Manning’s favorite end zone target with six scores. With no Addai, former Michigan stat and Heisman candidate Mike Hart is running the ball. Indy’s run game is weak and with the way the Birds run defense has been playing, running won’t be an option.

Advantage: Colts have Peyton Manning. That’s a given advantage.

Defenses: The Eagles certainly have the advantage with a strong run-stopping game but the Colts are so loaded in the passing game, that’s a non-factor. The Eagles secondary has been shredded the past few weeks and could have a big problem against Indy.

Indy’s defense is nothing special and the Eagles could take advantage of that. Though they are a pass-heavy offense, the balance the Birds have could keep Indy on their heals. This game is lined up for a shoot out because both offenses can exploit the glaring weaknesses.

Advantage: Eagles.

Injury Report
Eagles
: Q: E. Hobbs (hip). P: M. Vick (ribs), D. Jackson (concussion), B. Bunkley (elbow), B. Graham (ankle).
Colts: Q: J. Addai (neck), A. Collie (hand), A. Gonzalez (knee), M. Hart (ankle), B. Sanders (biceps), R. Mathis (knee), D. Freeny.

Roose’s Prediction (4-3): The Colts have the better offense and will win in a shootout, 35-31.

Birds Cough-Up Game

Titans WR Kenny Britt catches the third of his three touchdowns on Sunday's 37-19 win. (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)

Final Score: Eagles 19; Titans 37
Eagles best number: 0:00 – the end of the game.
Eagles worst number: 18 – the number Kenny Britt wore seeing. They saw the back of his jersey a lot on Sunday.
Eagles best play:
Eagles worst play: With the game still in reach as the Eagles trailed by eight, Jorrick Calvin fumbled a punt with little over three minutes left, giving the Titans the ball in field goal territory and letting them put the game away.

Three stars
K. Britt (TEN): 7 catches, 225 yards, 3 TD’s
K. Collins (TEN): 17-for-31, 276 yards, 3 TD’s, 2 INT, 90.3 rating.
C. Finnegan (TEN): 8 tackles, interception returned for TD.

Breaking down the game

MELTDOWN — The Eagles put fourth one of the most embarrassing fourth quarters in recent memory. Leading 16-7 with under five minutes left in the third, LeSean McCoy fumbled the ball on the 7-yard line to stall a would-be Eagles touchdown drive.

After that, the Titans marched downfield and kicked a field goal to make it 16-10. After a David Akers field goal to make it 19-10, the Titans scored 27 unanswered points in the fourth.

Eagles PR Jorrick Calvin fumbles away the Eagles' last hopes of mounting a come-back against the Titans. (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)

It all started with Kerry Collins hitting Britt for an 80-yard touchdown catch to make it 19-17. After a 3-and-out, the Titans took the lead with a field goal with 9:31 left.

Another 3-and-out for the Eagles and the Titans scored once again, a 16-yard touchdown pass to Britt to give the Titans the eight-point advantage with little over five minutes left.

After each team traded 3-and-outs and the Eagles were left with no time outs, the Titans punted. But Calvin bobbled and then fumbled the punt to give the Titans the ball on the Eagles 33.

But it got worse. The Titans converted on a should-be stop, kicked a field goal to make it a two-score game, and then Cortland Finnegan picked-off Kevin Kolb and returned it to the house for the last play of the game.

SICK OF SAMUEL — Looking at a 3rd-and-7 on the Eagles 30. With Philadelphia only trailing by eight and there still being a chance of the Eagles to force K Rod Bironas to make a long field goal attempt, all they needed was a stop.

They had shut down Titans running back Chris Johnson all game. The second leading rusher in the NFL was held to only 66 yards on 22 carries so a stop in that situation looked plausible.

Johnson took the hand-off, bounced out to the left and made Asante Samuel look stupid to pick up the first down. One-on-one, Johnson is hard to tackle. One-on-one with Samuel, though, everyone knew what the outcome would have been.

Lowering his head like the typical defensive back does today is what Samuel did. It’s hard to tackle anyone, especially with Johnson’s skill set, when you’re staring into the dirt and you don’t wrap your arms around the ball carrier.

Week in and week out we have to watch Samuel make horrible attempts at should-be tackles. He’ll get his token interception to allow people to forget about his inability to do the simple tasks asked of a football player.

I’m sick of watching it, Asante. Just sick. But at least you’re still better than that wasted of space Ellis Hobbs.

HEADING INTO THE BYE — The Eagles will be heading into the bye week this week. Instead of writing about it here, I will touch on a few things regarding the Kolb/Michael Vick situation and the possible return of DeSean Jackson.

It’s going to be a fun two weeks. Hopefully someone teaches Samuel how to tackle.

NFL Week 7: Eagles @ Titans

PHI: 4-2, t1st in NFC East
TEN: 4-2, y1st in AFC South
Spread:
Where: LP-Field (Nashville, TN)
When: Sunday, 1 PM on
Last time met: Nov. 19, 2006 – The Titans smoked the Eagles, 31-13.
Last Week: The Eagles rolled over Atlanta, 31-17. The Titans smoked the Jaguars on MNF, 30-3.

Best case scenario: With getting another start, Kevin Kolb guarantees that he will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Kolb throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jeremy Maclin. The defense rattles Vince Young, sacking him six times and forcing him to throw two interceptions. Asante Samuel returns a pick for a touchdown.

Worst case scenario: Kolb is pressured greatly by the Titans defense and is forced to make bad decisions. Andy Reid yanks Kolb in the second half in favor of Michael Vick, who doesn’t do much better. Chris Johnson has a field day, ending the run defense’s string of good games with a 150-yard day and two touchdowns.

Opposing player to watch – RB Chris Johnson: Johnson is arguably the most electrifying running back in the NFL. He has the break-away speed of a wide receiver and can take the hard hits. He is second in the league with 596 yards and leads the league with seven rushing touch downs. If the Eagles defense isn’t on their A-game, it could mean a great performance from Johnson.

Offenses: Kolb is going to start with Vick listed as questionable. Kolb is having a Pro Bowl caliber last few weeks. He’s completed 71-of-105 passes for 804 yards, five TDs, and two interceptions. But he lost a target last week when DeSean Jackson was knocked out with a concussion and will not play on Sunday. But Jeremy Maclin stepped in nicely last week with his two-touchdown game. LeSean McCoy is a very underrated running back in the NFL.

Johnson is the offense in Tennessee. But with a running back that good, that isn’t entirely a bad thing. Young is enjoying a solid season at the reigns despite having Kerry Collins waiting in the wings to take over any time he slips up. Young has completed 62-of-101 passes with seven TDs. Nate Washington and Kenny Britt combined for 32 catches, 236 yards, and seven TDs.

Advantage: Push.

Defenses: Long story short because of how worn down I am with writing: Both have good squads that have been susceptible to bad games. The Eagles run defense will be tested a third straight week with a premier running back in Johnson where the Titans could have their hands full with all the Eagles’ weapons. Should be an interesting game.

Advantage: Push

Injury Report
Eagles
: Out: B. Bunkley (elbow), D. Jackson (concussion), J. Peters (knee). Questionable: Vick (rib).
Titans: Questionable: B. Scaife (groin), V. Young (knee).

Roose’s Prediction (4-2): The teams are very evenly matched. But the Birds will prevail in a close one, 21-17.

Jackson’s Concussion Puts Damper on Win

The Eagles offense suffered a huge blow when Atlanta's Dunta Robinson's vicious hit on DeSean Jackson game the receiver a sever concussion. (Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Final Score: Eagles 31; Falcons 17
Eagles best number: 326 – yards Kevin Kolb threw for.
Eagles worst number: 3 – number of field goals missed by David Akers.
Eagles best play: After scoring on an end-around earlier in the game, Kolb faked an end-around in the third quarter and hit Jeremy Maclin in stride for an 83-yard touchdown.
Eagles worst play: Kolb left WR DeSean Jackson hanging on a lobbed pass in which the star receiver took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Dunta Robinson.

Three stars
J. Maclin (PHI):  7 catches, 159 yards, 2 TD.
K. Kolb (PHI): 23/29, 326 yards, 3 TD.
T. Cole (PHI): 5 tackles, 2 sacks.

Breaking down the game

JACKSON SUFFERS CONCUSSION — It’s one of the most talked about things in sports: concussions. Jackson became a statistic on Sunday while being on the the receiving end of a vicious hit that knocked him out of the game and probably the next few weeks with a concussion.

The Falcons Robinson blind-sided Jackson, who turned around to try and make a catch on a soft pass from Kolb. The helmet-to-helmet hit knocked both players out of the game.

Jackson, the Eagles biggest playmaker, suffered a sever concussion and is likely out of next week’s game against the Titans.

With the league taking a stance against these type of hits, no one has yet to be suspended for them. Only a handful of fines have been handed out. Should Robinson be suspended for the hit? How about James Harrison of the Steelers for knocking two players from Sunday’s game against Cleveland? How about all the other countless incidents that happen on a weekly basis? If the league wants to crack down, make an example out of someone and get the head injuries to a minimum.

MACLIN STEPS UP — Jackson’s concussion allowed Maclin to step-up, which he did on Sunday. Maclin’s performance made many fantasy owners happy (or those who sat him – me – sad) with his seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin makes a diving catch in the second quarter for his first touchdown of the game, an 8-yard score. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

His first score was a nice diving catch in the front right corner of the end zone. Kolb struck Maclin with a bullet into his chest for the 8-yard score in the second quarter to make it 21-7 game.

His second came on a fake end-around in the third in which he bolted down the left side line and caught Kolb’s offering in stride for an 83-yard score.

Maclin has big-play ability written all over him as well. But what separates Maclin from Jackson is that he is a smarter route-runner with better hands. Many people don’t believe it but Maclin is the Eagles best wide receiver and could turn into  Kolb’s favorite target.

BE GONE, PINK SHOE! — You may have noticed the pink equipment on a handful of NFL players the past few weeks. One of those players was Akers, who sported a pink cleat on his left foot.

Eagles kicker David Akers kicks with the unlucky pink left boot on Sunday.

But while the pink gear is an obvious stance for breast cancer awareness, it was a hinderance to Akers’ ability to make field goals.

In his first three attempts, Akers’ kicks all went wide left. But in the fourth quarter, Akers ditched the pink cleat for his old one and punched the ball through the uprights, finishing 1-for-4 on the day.

RUN DEFENSE SHOWS UP AGAIN — The Eagles run defense has really made a stance since getting run over by the Redskins a couple weeks ago. Coming off a strong performance in San Francisco, the front-seven again stuffed a big-time running back on Sunday.

The Eagles held Michael Turner to only 45 yards on 15 carries and the Falcons only gained 65 yards on the ground. Atlanta has a top-10 running game in the NFL and Turner is also in the NFL’s top 10 for yards so unlike last week against a weak San Fran offensive line, this was a big step towards becoming a strength once again.


NFL Week 6: Eagles vs. Falcons

PHI: 3-2, t2nd in NFC East
ATL: 4-1, 1st in NFC South
Spread: Eagles by 2.5
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philly, PA)
When: Sunday, 1:00 PM on FOX
Last time met: Dec. 6, 2009 – The Eagles destroyed Atlanta, 34-7. FB Leonard Weaver gained over 100 yards from scrimmage and scored a TD. Even though Donovan McNabb was the starter, Vick threw TD pass and ran for another in front of his former home crowd in Atlanta.
Last Week: The Eagles beat the Niners, 27-24. Atlanta rolled over Cleveland, 20-10.

Best case scenario: Kevin Kolb continues to play well, having another great day with over 250 yards in the air and a couple TDs to DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek. Celek finally has the breakout game the Eagles are waiting for. LeSean McCoy has another 100+ yards from scrimmage.

Worst case scenario: Matt Ryan and Roddy White hook up for a pair of touchdowns while Michael Turner rushes for over 150 yards and two scores of his own. Kolb sputters against the Falcons defense, reassuring faith in Michael Vick to take the reigns.

Falcons WR Roddy White makes a catch last week in Cleveland. He's one of the best kept secrets in the NFL. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Opposing player to watch – WR Roddy White: He’s just a smart football player. White is one of the most dangerous players in the league that nobody talks about and unrightfully so. White has 37 castches for 463 yards and three TDs in five games so far this year. He has the ability to go off every game. If the Eagles secondary has a similar showing like last week, White could have a field day on the Eagles secondary.

Offenses: Kolb is riding a very good performance against San Francisco and will look to keep it up against a solid Falcons defense. As a whole, the Eagles are in the top 10 in most offensive categories but could be higher if they haven’t been swapping back and forth with Kolb and Vick due to injuries. Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Celek are all dangerous weapons but have all been inconsistent this season.

Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s matured greatly as a passer and that helps when you have a top-tier running back in Turner and wide receiver in White. Don’t discount TE Tony Gonzalez, who may be aging but is still considered a top-5 tight end. Jason Snelling has been a very good back-up running back and is a change of pace from the bruising Turner.

Advantage: Atlanta’s offense is clicking while Philly’s still isn’t. Advantage, Atlanta.

Defenses: The run defense for Philalphia had a much better showing last week against San Francisco and Frank Gore but that’s partly due to how bad the Niners offensive line is. Atlanta is very different. With two running backs who can exploit all the weaknesses in the front seven, the Eagles run defense could have problems especially without Broderick Bunkley, who injured his elbow and is out indefinitely. Asante Samuel will be back, a boost the secondary needed after Alex Smith exploited them last week. Rookie S Nate Allen leads the Birds with three picks and Juqua Parker leads with four sacks.

Atlanta has a top-10 defense right now. DE John Abraham lined up against Eagles T King Dunlap is scary. He leads their defense with four sacks and may rack up a few more. You can’t discount LB Curtis Lofton, who leads the team with 37 tackles and has also reached the quarterback twice. Atlanta’s 10 interceptions are tops in the NFL, led by S William Moore’s two with the rest spread around to eight other players.

Advantage: Both units have their strength’s and weaknesses. Push.

Injury Report
Eagles
: Out: B. Bunkley (elbow), J. Peters (knee). Questionable: R. Cooper (concussion), M. Vick (rib).
Falconss: Questionable: J. Abraham (back). Probable: B. Finneran (knee), C. Lofton (knee).

Roose’s Prediction (4-1): The Falcons offense will be too much for the Eagles defense as Atlanta wins in a high-scoring game, 34-30.

Eagles, Browns Swap Backs

The Eagles hope RB Jerome Harrison will give them a reliable back-up for LeSean McCoy.

Maybe a change of scenery is all Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison need. The Eagles sent Brown to Cleveland for Harrison in a trade that involved two back-up running backs who were there to take the heavy work leads off each team’s starters.

LeSean McCoy is taking a beating already. The Eagles star running suffered a broken rib against Washington in Week 4 but was able to play this past Sunday in San Francisco, amassing over 130 yards from scrimmage. Bell did little to help in that game, rushing for eight yards on four carries.

Bell has only had 16 carries on the season for the Eagles, rushing for 28 yards. He’s also only made one catch for five yards, taking away any offensive threat the Eagles hoped he would be coming off  a successful season in New Orleans.

Harrison brings the same thing to the Eagles that they expected Bell to bring. Harrison is a load running the ball. The 5’9″, 205-pound bruiser is an excellent pass blocker, something the Eagles need with their porous offensive line. Harrison hasn’t had many opportunities to actually be an affective part of Cleveland’s offense with the emergence of all-purpose back Patrick Hillis.

A change of scenery for both players could benefit them. With Harrison having a shot to play a more significant role in the Eagles offense, this was a good trade by the Birds.

Birds Keep Niners Winless

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy runs against the 49ers on Sunday. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Final Score: Eagles 27; Niners 24
Eagles best number: 138 – LeSean McCoy’s total yards from scrimmage despite playing with a broken rib.
Eagles worst number: 25% – The Eagles 3rd-down conversion efficiency.
Eagles best play: Kevin Kolb avoided the 49ers pass rush while rolling right and buying time to find TE Brent Celek for an 8-yard TD pass to tie the game up in the first quarter.
Eagles worst play: At the end of the first half, Kolb was sacked by Niners LB Manny Lawson and lost the ball. It was recovered by the Niners but they failed on a last-second field goal before the half’s end.

Three stars
L. McCoy (PHI): 18 carries, 92 yards (5.1 YPC), TD. 5 catches, 47 yards… with a broken rib.
K. Kolb (PHI): 21/31, 253 yards, TD.
M. Crabtree (SF): 9 catches, 105 yards, TD.

Breaking down the game

Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb rolls out against the Niners. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

KOLB LOOKED STRONG — If Kevin Kolb really wants to be the future of the Eagles franchise, he will need to have more games that resembled Sunday night. Kolb completed 68% of his passes for 253 yards and a touchdown pass to TE Brent Celek.

The opening drive was probably Kolb’s best. Following a quick score by San Francisco, Kolb began the drive. His second pass was a 32-yard strike to Celek, who was wide open thanks to Kolb buying him time with his legs. Kolb went on to complete all six of his passes for 64 yards and capped it off with a touchdown to Celek to finish the 79-yard drive.

There were still mistakes made by Kolb but his efficient passing, composure in the pocket, and even some athletic plays to buy himself and his receivers time were all positives and that will be the key to his maturation as an NFL quarterback.

SHADY TOUGH — Shady McCoy is one tough SOB. I don’t care if he’s a professional. He had himself one helluva game despite playing on a broken rib. That is mental toughness. 138 yards from scrimmage which was highlighted by a 29-yard touchdown in the second quarter that made it a 17-7 game.

POOR SECONDARY — The defense had another mental breakdown, this time in the secondary. Despite picking off Alex Smith twice, he burned a secondary missing their best player, Asante Samuel. Smith lit up the third level for 309 yards and three touchdowns.

Crabtree also had a great game, catching nine balls for 105 yards a touchdown. Also Vernon Davis caught five balls for 105 yards and a touchdown.

STOPPING THE RUN — The run defense was much better this time around, holding Frank Gore to only 52 yards on 18 carries, less than three yards a carry. The only other carry by a Niner running back was ex-Eagle Brian Westbrook, who only had one carry for six yards. It was a much better outing than last week when they were run over by a poor Washington running attack.

NFL Week 5: Eagles @ 49ers

PHI: 2-2, 2nd in NFC East
SF: 0-4, 4th in NFC West
Spread:
Where: Candlestick Park (San Fran, Ca)
When: Sunday, 8:20 on NBC
Last time met: Dec. 20, 2009 – DeSeason Jackson caught six passes for 140 yards in a touchdown as the Eagles shut down the 49ers, 27-13, in week 15.
Last Week: Eagles lost to Washington, 17-12. San Francisco lost, 16-14, to Atlanta.

Best case scenario: Kevin Kolb and the offensive line do not suck. I’m not expecting the Eagle to light up San Francisco but I do expect a much better performance out of the line and Kolb. A clean slate with penalties and allowing Kolb time in the pocket will be the best thing for this team this week. With LeSean McCoy likely out, the running game will be a non-factor. Defensively, the Eagle should hold up and feed off the last two weeks’ success.

Worst case scenario: The line forces Kolb to get hit hard and knocked out of the game again. With no Michael Vick, Mike Kafka has to play and will not do well either. Frank Gore runs rampant on the Eagles offense, gaining yards in bunches and rushing for over 150 yards and two touchdowns.

RB Frank Gore could be a serious threat to Philly's run defense, who is coming off a poor showing last week.

Opposing player to watch – RB Frank Gore: Gore, when not battling health issues, is one of the most dangerous backfield threats in the NFL. Leading San Fran in both rushing and receiving, he could be a possible problem for the Eagles defense, which struggled against the run last week. Gore has 29 catches for 263 yards and a touchdown for San Fran while rushing for another 270 yards on 73 carries and a touchdown.

Offenses: Philadelphia took a huge blow last week in losing Vick. But Kolb played admirably well and will look to build off of that as he will look to make Philly forget about the concussion and Vick’s resurgence. But Kolb may have to do that without his favorite target, McCoy, who suffered a broken rib last Sunday. He still has targets Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek to throw to but McCoy was Kolb’s safety chord. With a week of work with the first team, hopefully Kolb won’t need to rely on dumping the ball off.

Alex Smith is not a good quarterback. He’s thrown seven interceptions to only three touchdowns this season. With ball hawks in the Birds secondary, this is not a good thing. Gore is their offense and is all the Niners really have. Michael Crabtree is a very formidable wide out but he’s been quiet this season. So has highly touted TE Vernon Davis.

Advantage: The Eagles have the weapons but will they be used? Slight advantage Birds.

Defenses: Philadelphia is coming off of two very strong perfoRmances. Despite giving up 169 yards on the ground last week to the Redskins and going up against a top back in Gore, a repeat performance isn’t highly expected. The secondary may take a huge blow with losing Asante Samuel, who suffered a concussion last week. Rookie S Nate Allen leads the team with three interceptions and is turning into an already dominant safety in the NFL. Poor tackling is still a huge concern for the Eagles’ line backers and secondary, who choose to go for the big hit rather than wrapping up.

San Fran’s defense is coming off of strong game against Atlanta, sacking Matt Ryan three times and holding Falcsons backs to 83 yards on 25 carries. Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer each have two interceptions on the year. But the Niners have allowed 25.3 points per game, leaving them vulnerable to a poor defensive performance against Philadelphia.

Advantage: Eagles hold a strong advantage.

Injury Report
Eagles
: Did not practice – A. Samual (concussion), M. Vick (ribs), L. McCoy (ribs), R. Cooper (concussion). Limited practice: N. Cole (knee).
Niners: no major injuries.

Roose’s Prediction (3-1): Eagles squeeze out a win, 13-6.