The New England Patriots will try to avenge their first loss of the season, by taking out their frustrations on the Philadelphia Eagles. A week after losing two more key players (Rob Gronkowski, Donta Hightower) in an overtime loss to the Broncos, the Patriots will continue to push on towards the playoffs with their B squad.
New England needs to find some semblance of a running game to help Tom Brady cope with the fact that two of his best weapons, Gronkowski and Edelman will not suite up this weekend, and another Danny Amendola will be coming off of a knee injury if he does play. Heading into week 14 against the Eagles, the Patriots rank 29th in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 87.2. Since 2002, only one team has won the Super Bowl while rushing for less than 100 yards per game as a team, the 2011 New York Giants. We saw last week versus Denver how the lack of a running game, cost the Patriots a game when they threw the ball on three straight plays. The same approach almost cost the Patriots week two against the Bills, when Buffalo was able to come back to make the game close.
If ever there was a week the Patriots could show some back bone and run the ball its against the Eagles who are giving up 127 yards per game. Earlier this week Denver Post Columnist Mark Kiszla called the Patriots soft, not only for their injuries but their lack of establishing the running game. Most of Patriots Nation takes exception to this as they find it as a knock on the team. By no means do I think the team, coaching staff or players are soft, however the play calling is remarkably soft. The Patriots do not have horses on offense right now to use the short passing game as its running game. It is time for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to grow a set and punish a team with his 250 lb running back LeGarrette Blount and his offensive line. While Brandon LaFell might talk about how the Patriots haven’s seen any of the ten touchdowns passes the Eagles have given up the last two weeks in the film room, its the running game that needs to be established heading into the colder months.
This is a game that the Patriots even with all the injuries they have should win easily. The Patriots have the upper hand with the coach and quarterback. The Patriots defense should be getting Jamie Collins back this week after a three week hiatus do to an illness. The Patriots must, shut down the Philadelphia running game. By slowing the run game, Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez will be forced to beat the Patriots through the air. With the Eagles only having one good receiver in Jordan Matthews, the Patriots can cover the Eagles with many different looks. Philly gives up the most pressure on standard four man rushes, so expect the Patriots to not blitz as much as last week.
The Patriots will struggle on offense without, Gronk and Edleman, but they will get back on the winning track with a 24-14 victory.