You have to feel bad for Philly, don’t you? Their basketball and baseball teams are the worst in their respective leagues, their hockey team is below .500 and the Eagles are officially a laughingstock after that Thanksgiving debacle. They are currently the worst team in the worst division in football, Eagles fans think their Pats fans, and Chip Kelly thinks he’s Bill Belichick. To top it all off, they have to come to Foxboro following the Patriots getting “Tim Donaghied” last Sunday by the league office and bitter Commissioner. The only win they’ve had in Boston in the last 3 years is Jahlil Okafor popping a trashed kid in the parking lot outside of TD Banknorth Garden last week. It’s simply the wrong place at the wrong time for these Eagles.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so visibly pissed after a loss.”-Tom Brady
Pray for Philly.
Let’s take it around the table and see the BBS Staff thinks of this Sunday’s showdown…
Tom Brady: Over/Under 300 yards passing?
Niko: Yes, we are decimated. Yes, the O-line is inconsistent. Yes, the best tight end in the history of the game (Shannon Sharpe couldn’t hold Gronk’s jock strap) will be out. None of that matters. #12 gets it done with whoever, whenever, in whatever circumstance. No excuses. OVER.
Pete: All accounts point to Danny Amendola lacing up the cleats and putting on the shoulder pads this week against Philly. If thats the case, I think Touchdown Tommy will go OVER here. Even with all the injuries last week, Brady played a hell of a game, some of that coming when his #1 receiver was Brandon LaFell.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 62 yards rushing?
Niko: No way to sugarcoat it, the running game has been horrific since Dion Lewis tore his ACL. It takes too long for Blount to hit the hole, White gets little to no yards after contact, and Bolden makes most of his bones on special teams. I do think McDaniels will continue to try establishing the run, but it won’t be a one back show. UNDER.
Pete: Blount was virtually invisible for the majority of last week's game against the Broncos. I don't know what it is about Blount, maybe its his inability to get to that second level or find the hole quickly, but I am close to being done with him. The Pats need a shifty back (like Lewis), and we saw how effective they were when they had that. Blount should get some yards, but I hope to see a revolving door in the backfield this week. Give some over guys some looks. UNDER.
Scott Chandler: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 58 receiving yards?
Niko: Chandler was better, but still left a lot on the table last week. He’ll get plenty of opportunities without Gronk moving forward, now it’s up to him to take advantage of them. He finally will. OVER on both.
Pete: Its put up or shut up time for Scott Chandler. Chandler had a better game last week, but dropped some very catchable balls. He should go OVER, just because Brady will feed him the ball, but don't expect it to be pretty. Scott "Stone Hands" Chandler.
Danny Amendola: Over/Under 7.5 catches, 75 receiving yards?
Niko: OVER on both. Assuming no pitch count coming off a knee sprain, Danny explodes on Sunday. Philly has no matchup for him.
Pete: Last week, we saw just how effective and important a guy like Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola is to this offense. Sure, slant routes across the middle are dangerous, but its one of the main things that fuels the Patriots offense. With Amendola back, this offense should pick up some speed against a pretty week Philly squad, even without Gronk. OVER.
Brandon LaFell: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 62 receiving yards?
Niko: JoJo has looked more like his Carolina self this season, putting together uneven and underwhelming performances since his return from the PUP. That being said, I think he bests Maxwell more than 4 times in this game. I’ll go OVER here on both. Brady is going to lean on him moving forward.
Pete: At some point, LaFell is going to need to step up. He seems to be 100% after his foot injury, but he just hasn't got it going yet. With the plethora of injuries, LaFell is essentially Brady's #2 option. I will go OVER on catches, but UNDER on yards.
Sam Bradford: Over/Under 259 yards passing?
Niko: I think the Eagles are going to have a hard time moving the ball efficiently on Sunday. Cornerbacks Butler and Ryan are playing extremely well right now, and it will be Bradford’s first game back from a bum shoulder. UNDER.
Pete: I hate Sam Bradford. My hatred for Bradford goes all the way back to when he was with Oklahoma and went head-to-head with my boy, Colt McCoy. His potential has always been there, but Bradford never really puts it all together. With a surging defense that is expected to get back Jamie Collins, who is much better in pass coverage, I will go UNDER here.
Demarco Murray: Over/Under 65 yards rushing?
Niko: OVER for Murray. With Hightower out, I think Philly will have some success running the football. Demarco has struggled all year, and seems like a very poor fit in Kelly’s offense, but he’ll get a full plate of work and should hit this mark.
Pete: Tough but interesting scenario. Like Niko said, Murray has been terrible all season and has been exposed. Against a weaker offensive line, the Patriots defensive should be able to get into the backfield and blow a few plays up. I think he will be right around 65 yards, but I will say UNDER just to be different.
Ryan Mathews: Over/Under 60 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: UNDER. If Mathews plays (concussion), he may be limited, and still plays second fiddle to Murray. It will be close, but no cigar for Mathews.
Pete: Mathews is banged up and could see a limited role, if he plays at all come Sunday. I just don't see the Patriots giving up a ton of yards to defensive backs, never mind the fact that they play for the Eagles. UNDER.
Zach Ertz: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 46 receiving yards?
Niko: UNDER on both for Ertz, who is also coming off of an injury. Collins/Chung should mix up coverage and will keep him in check.
Pete: Because he has been banged up, I would be inclined to go under here, but someone has to have a somewhat decent game, right? I think that Ertz will get a couple catches, so I will go OVER on catches, but UNDER on yards.
Jordan Matthews: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 56 receiving yards?
Niko: Due to pure volume, I’ll go OVER here on both for Matthews. He’s a talented receiver but has had several communication issues with Bradford and has dropped a good amount of balls all year. Matthews doesn’t scare me, but should be productive enough to hit these marks.
Pete: Like I said, someone has to step up for the Eagles. Although our defensive backs have played great all year, I think Matthews will get his. OVER on catches, UNDER on yards.
Niko: I’m going to go more “key player(s)” than “key matchup” here. With the expected absence of (in my opinion the best player on the Pats’ D) Donta Hightower, and uncertainty with Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Jonathan Freeny need to be better than average. Combined, they’d be an All-Pro player. Mayo’s brain outpaces his physical ability since his motley of injuries, and Freeny’s physical prowess is slowed by his inability to read a play. Let’s hope more playing time helps both sharpen their games.
Pete: Morelli and his crew vs. the Patriots.
I know, its a losing battle, but Morelli and his officiating crew were demoted, and what better game to be reassigned to than the New England Patriots! If I'm not mistaken, the Patriots have the biggest spread this week in the NFL. Maybe Goodell didn't pick the Pats to cover?
Niko: With Eagles center Jason Kelce banged up (knee) and guards Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin struggling for most of the season, I think we see Dominique Easley blow up a few drives and make a real impact on this game. I’ll say a sack and a half, and a forced fumble for the 2014 first round pick.
Pete: I think that the Patriots' secondary, specifically Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler, have huge games. Philly doesn't have that stud wide receiver, so McCourty should be able to roam free in the secondary and help out immensely.
Game Total: Over/Under 49 points?
Niko: Just barely UNDER. Philly’s offense has been extremely inconsistent this season and it won’t get any easier to move the ball in Foxboro. Also, with the injuries the Patriots have suffered, we can’t just close our eyes and expect 40 like earlier this season.
Pete: If this was 3 or 4 weeks ago, you would be a fool to say under, However, without most of Brady's top targets, the Patriots offense may sputter at times. I will go UNDER.
Niko: 31-17 Patriots. This may be competitive early, but injuries or not these teams aren’t on the same stratosphere. Brady has a big one, Pats get it done.
Pete: 27-13 Patriots. The Pats D should be all over Philly, and, for the most part, the Patriots offense should have their way. This game will be competitive early, as most Philly games are, but will get out of hand in the second half.