The Eagles look to win their sixth straight game and potentially clinch the NFC East division crown. The Broncos control their destiny for a wild card berth. While the fans focus on the return of Brian Dawkins, here is what the Eagles need to do to be victorious on Sunday.
Stick with The Run - Denver is ranked 22nd in run defense. That stat is somewhat misleading. They don't give up four or five yards on every run. The Broncos stop the run pretty well most of the time. They do get burned by big plays. Last week, Oakland ran for 241 yards. You have to break that down to really understand it. One-hundred and seventy three of those yards came on just eight carries. The other 26 runs averaged less than three yards per attempt. Big plays can be had, but you must live with the short gains in order to get to the big plays.
Block Elvis - Linebacker Elvis Dumervil has 15 sacks this year, almost half of Denver's season total. Block him and you limit their pass rush in a big way. No other player has more than four sacks on the season. Jason Peters will be the primary blocker, but you can bet we'll use several other guys to chip and help out on Dumervil.
Go Deep, Young Man – We have speedy receivers. The Broncos seem most comfortable when playing tight coverage on underneath routes. They do have some veteran defensive backs, but also have rookies playing quite a bit. Corner Tony Carter and safety David Bruton played a lot last week. We need to attack them deep and find out who can cover and who can't.
Left Side Pressure – Rookie Tyler Polumbus is the right tackle for Denver. He has pretty good feet, but doesn't anchor well. That means that when he engages a defender Polumbus isn't able to hold his ground. He can get driven back. Juqua Parker can be a solid bull rusher. So can Jason Babin. The best fit would be Victor Abiamiri. He's played very little defensive end in the last couple of months. Abiamiri has the strength and power to drive Polumbus right back into Orton. Will Abiamiri get reps at left end?
Stay Hot In The Red Zone – Believe it or not, the Eagles have been a good red zone team the last few games. This makes a huge difference in winning and losing. There's no way the Eagles beat the Giants in that shootout if they had to settle for field goals. The Niners game could have been very different if we had more field goals than touchdowns. The coaches need to continue running the ball and being creative in the passing game. The players need to continue executing well (blocking, passing, catching).
Run Weaver – Raiders back Michael Bush is a big guy that ran wild against Denver last week. Leonard Weaver isn't as gifted or as big as Bush, but has a downhill running style and good burst. I think quick hitting running plays with Weaver could have some success.
-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 1:50 a.m., December 27