The Philadelphia Eagles will play Sunday against the Broncos in Denver. Here are the game predictions from Inquirer beat writers for Week 10.
EJ SmithIf the Eagles are going to turn this season around, a win in Denver would go a long way.
Their schedule is this close to easing up drastically, with two matchups each remaining against the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team. They also have a very winnable game against the New York Jets coming and won’t have to get on a plane again once they return from Mile High and catch their breath.
Because of this, it’s still very possible this team will finish the season with seven wins. I just don’t see it making headway toward that number this week.
Denver is on a hot streak, coming off a surprising blowout of the Dallas Cowboys and a close win against Washington. Teddy Bridgewater has played well enough this season to fall on the right side of the “Is this guy good enough to torch the Eagles’ defense?” scale. His advanced metrics are incredible so far — he ranks third in completion percentage over expectation and fifth in expected points added per play.
Jalen Hurts might not be the best of the best, but he might be the best of the Bridgewaters
Considering his efficiency and the emergence of rookie running back Javonte Williams boosting Denver’s run game, this doesn’t feel like the week the Eagles’ defense figures it out.
Offensively, expect the Eagles to stick with their new run-heavy approach. Considering the Broncos rank 23rd in defense-adjusted value over average against the run, there’s good reason to bel ieve the Eagles can succeed. But the same problem that plagued them against the Chargers could come up again: It’s hard to keep up with teams scoring at will if you’re running that much.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Eagles 21
Josh TolentinoTeddy Bridgewater might not join the 80% club, a nod to the five opposing quarterbacks — Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Derek Carr and Justin Herbert — who’ve completed more than 80% of their passes versus the Eagles. But Bridgewater has shown in recent weeks he’s capable of getting maximum effort from his offensive teammates. Not many predicted Denver to pull out a road victory against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, but Bridgewater and the Broncos are riding a two-game win streak as they return to Mile High to host the Eagles.
Vic Fangio-led teams are typically a sound bunch, although this year’s version of Denver’s defense hasn’t forced many turnovers. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni views explosive plays and turnover ratio as two of his most crucial stats, and the visitors might need to force a few takeaways if they want to steal a victory.
While the defense handles an abundance of issues, Sirianni is still navigating the responsibilities of play-calling and finding the perfect pass-run ratio. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has thrown only 31 passes over the past two games compared to 239 passing attempts over the first seven weeks (34.1 passes per game during that stretch). All three of Philadelphia’s victories this season have occurred on the road, but the Rocky Mountains will be a tough environment as the Eagles face a solid Broncos squad that knocked off one of the hottest teams in the NFC last week.
Prediction: Broncos 33, Eagles 27
Jeff McLaneThe Eagles have made strides, however minor they appear. On offense, Nick Sirianni has finally embraced balanced play-calling that has taken the onus off Jalen Hurts’ shoulders. Does that mean he should continue with a run-heavy attack? No, not if defenses stack the box. He has established an identity that not only plays to his unit’s strengths but will force opponents to prepare for its likelihood.
On defense, the improvement hasn’t been as pronounced. Another quarterback completed more than 80% of his throws last week, but it wasn’t as if Jonathan Gannon didn’t try to switch things up. He’s still playing too soft in certain situations, but the insertion of linebacker T.J. Edwards and other tweaks has settled the run defense. Personnel on that side of the ball may be the greater issue.
But the Eagles have played winning football the last two weeks, if they only won the first game. The Broncos don’t have a quarterback of Justin Herbert’s quality, but Teddy Bridgewater is accurate, if anything. He’s just always been reluctant to throw downfield, which could have Gannon utilizing fewer Cover 2 zones.
The Eagles’ soft defensive coverage is wasting the benefits of the offense’s run-heavy approach
The Broncos defense made the Cowboys’ explosive offense look pedestrian last week. If Vic Fangio’s group did that to Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on the road, who’s to say Jalen Hurts and company will have any shot to score in Denver? The NFL is week to week, though, and I think DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert present mismatches if Sirianni and Hurts can find ways to exploit them.
My best guess is the Eagles finish 4-4 in their last eight games. Maybe they steal another, or maybe they cough one up. But they should be competitive in most games. This is another toss-up. I’m going with the better defense and the more consistent quarterback.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Eagles 20.