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Keys To The Game

Fan-Demonium columnist Tommy Lawlor offers his keys to this Sunday's game between the Eagles and the Panthers ...

1. The Eagles defense has to "set the edge" well. This is when a defensive end or linebacker is on the line of scrimmage and stays wide, so that runners can't get outside of him easily. The goal is for the runner to have to cut back inside, where the backside of the defense can get to him.

2. Tackling will be critical. Steve Smith is hard to bring down. Miss him in space and he will make you pay with a big gain. Carolina's runners aren't easy to tackle. Tampa Bay really struggled with them in a late season game and the Panthers ran for 299 yards.

3. The Eagles must get pressure on Jake Delhomme. He can be erratic when pressured and he forces the ball into coverage. Trent Cole has to come up big. It would be great to see Victor Abiamiri get pressure from the left side.

4. Score touchdowns. The Eagles have moved the ball very well in recent years. Execution in the red zone has been a problem. That needs to change in 2009 and this would be a good week to start.

5. Give Donovan McNabb time to throw. The Panthers have a new defensive scheme. They are playing more zone coverage than recent years. The new scheme has caused some coverage confusion. If given time, I think McNabb could have a big day. The linemen, tight ends and backs must block well so McNabb can get the ball to his receivers.

6. The Eagles need to run the ball effectively, in short-yardage situations and otherwise. Westbrook could be a little rusty early on. LeSean McCoy will be playing his first NFL game. Leonard Weaver will be making his official debut as an Eagle. We have a lot of talent in the backfield. Now we need to see these guys move the chains and make some plays.

7. Obviously the turnover battle is always critical to winning in the NFL. Winning the kicking game can also be significant. DeSean Jackson and Ellis Hobbs give us a definite advantage in the return game.

To read Tommy's entire column, click here.

-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 9:53 a.m., September 10

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