Coming off their bye week and first loss of the season, the New England Patriots will have to go on the road again in Week 11 to face one of their toughest tests of the year — and the first of four straight contests against playoff hopefuls: the 9-1 Patriots will travel to Philadelphia to take on the 5-4 Eagles in a highly anticipated rematch of Super Bowl 52. Let’s take a closer look at their opponent and what the Patriots can expect this week.
Record: 5-4 (2nd place NFC East)
Offense: 13th (24.9 points/game)
Defense: 18th (23.7 points/game)
Head coach: Doug Pederson
Coordinators: Mike Groh (OC), Jim Schwartz (DC)
Games so far
Week 1 vs Washington Redskins: W 32-27
Week 2 at Atlanta Falcons: L 24-20
Week 3 vs Detroit Lions: L 27-24
Week 4 at Green Bay Packers: W 34-27
Week 5 vs New York Jets: W 31-6
Week 6 at Minnesota Vikings: L 38-20
Week 7 at Dallas Cowboys: L 37-10
Week 8 at Buffalo Bills: W 31-13
Week 9 vs Chicago Bears: W 22-14
Week 10: bye
The Eagles started their season with a come-from-behind win against Washington, before losing their next two game. The team bounced back by beating the Green Bay Packers on the road — one of just two losses suffered by Aaron Rodgers and company so far this season — and blowing out the New York Jets. Philadelphia went just 1-2 over the three-game road stretch that followed, however, before bouncing back with two straight wins ahead of the bye week.
Three storylines that describe the 2019 season
The return of Carson Wentz: Coming off back-to-back seasons that ended on injured reserve, the second overall selection of the 2016 draft was handed the keys to the offense again during the offseason — all while veteran Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to their Super Bowl win over the Patriots two years ago, moved on to Jacksonville. So far this season, Wentz has looked good: he has completed 190 of 303 pass attempts for 2,060 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing only four interceptions.
The inconsistent performances: As can be seen when looking at the schedule up to this point, the Eagles have been up and down all year long. How come? Neither the offense nor the defense have been able to string together good stretches of play just yet despite fielding plenty of highly talented players, with the team ranking in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories on both sides of the ball. This, in combination with some injuries, has led to Philadelphia’s 5-4 start.
The injuries: As noted above, the Eagles have had some bad injury luck so far this season. While “only” seven players are currently on the team’s injured reserve list — New England has 11, for comparison — it does include some big names: slot cornerback and ex-Patriot Cre’Von LeBlanc was lost in training camp, high-priced free agency defensive tackle Malik Jackson in Week 1, and DeSean Jackson just recently after showing plenty of potential in his only healthy game (opening day; eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns).
Three players to know
RB Miles Sanders: The Eagles selected Sanders with the 53rd overall pick in this year’s draft, and he turned into an enormous part of their offensive attack. The versatile running back is second on the team with 76 carries for 336 yards and a touchdown, and also ranks fourth with 22 catches for 305 additional yards and another score. His combined yards from scrimmage — 641 — ranks the rookie as Philadelphia’s most productive offensive players through nine games.
OG Brandon Brooks: Philadelphia fields one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and the play of its right guard is a big reason why. Brandon Brooks, who recently signed a four-year, $54.2 million contract extension, has a strong argument as one of the best interior lineman in the NFL right now and has stood out as both a run blocker and a pass protector. He leads a unit that will be a challenging one to go up against for the Patriots’ front seven defenders.
DT Fletcher Cox: The Eagles’ strength lies in the trenches, and this also includes the defensive line — one led by former first-round draft choice Fletcher Cox. The 28-year-old remains a force from the interior and ranks third on the team with 2.5 sacks while also being one of the best run defenders in all of football. Together with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett he forms one of the premier defensive line in the NFL.
What to watch this week
The biggest story leading into this game is certainly the “Super Bowl rematch”-factor. As noted above, the two teams met on the game’s biggest stage two seasons ago with the Eagles winning 41-33. Both teams have changed quite a bit since then, so it will be interesting to see whether New England’s defense will find more success against Carson Wentz as it had against Nick Foles in February 2018. All signs point to yes, but the extent of this success could very well determine the winner on Sunday.