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Week 12 Patriots vs Eagles: 5 Things to Preview

This happened. Don't forget it. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
This happened. Don't forget it. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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1. Injuries - We've looked at the injuries of both teams leading up to Sunday's game. The Eagles look to be without their starting quarterback Michael Vick, as well as a few key players, such as receiver Jeremy Maclin, and defensive backs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. The Patriots need to monitor the health of their entire receiving corps, as well as most of their linebackers. Whichever team can overcome their injuries with strong depth and a strong supporting staff will be victorious.

2. LeSean McCoy - The Patriots enjoy taking away the opposing team's biggest threat. Just like in the Super Bowl against the Rams, when they took away Marshall Faulk, look for the Patriots to eliminate McCoy. McCoy is a threat in all facets of the game and, due to the injury to Michael Vick, becomes even more important to the offense. If he can run freely and get the ball in the open field, the Patriots will be in for a long day. If they can eliminate McCoy, then Vince Young will be forced to throw the ball and the Patriots will have a better chance of winning.

3. Pick Young - Vince Young has an ugly throwing motion. He throws sort-of sidearm and can only zip the ball to the sidelines. When he throws up the field, he lobs the ball with plenty of loft. As long as the defensive backs can run with the Eagles receivers, then they can be in position to take advantage of errant throws. If the Patriots can take advantage of potential turnovers, then they can control the ball and force Young and the Eagles to continue to throw the ball in order to stay in the game.

4. Receivers - The Patriots have two receivers who will show up: Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. In order to beat the Eagles and their defensive depth, the Patriots need two other receivers to show up. Whether it's Aaron Hernandez, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco, or Taylor Price, some other player must step up and help the offense. Against the Chiefs, the Patriots offense only succeeded when tackle Nate Solder was an additional blocker, which leaves only four skill players to move the ball up the field. The Eagles defensive pressure puts the Chiefs pressure to shame and you can be sure that the Patriots will have additional blockers on the field for a fair amount of the game. Therefore, those skill players have to step up and catch the ball and move the chains.

5. Protect Brady - As stated, the Eagles have a phenomenal pass rush. Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin can all reach Tom Brady right off the snap so it's imperative for the Patriots' offensive line to create a pocket for Tom Brady to throw from. The offensive line's success has been a point of notice for the past few weeks and they've done little the prove that they can sustain their blocks against elite defenses. This will be one of their final chances to face top talent across the line before the playoffs. They'll face great defensive players, but the Eagles feature one of the best defensive lines in the league. If the Patriots offensive line can hold their positions, the Patriots can get their offense back on track and can put points on the board.