The in-state showdown between the Steelers and Eagles was promising…for a good portion of it. The Eagles seemed to do exactly what we thought they’d do. Unfortunately, there’s the part about the execution that matters most.
The Eagles did well to hang in this game. Travis Fulgham emerged as a high-volume, reliable target for Carson Wentz, and Miles Sanders flashed why he was such a solid pick in last year’s draft. Sanders’ 74-yard touchdown run was crucial for the Eagles early in this game.
From there, it was up to the defense to slow down the Steelers in the second half. The Eagles clawed their way back into it, trailing by just two in the fourth quarter. Sadly, the Eagles just couldn’t get the necessary pass rush needed to throw off Big Ben, and the Steelers. For the fourth time in the game, Chase Claypool found the end zone (third time from Roethlisberger).Even though the Eagles were expected to lose, it was a strong effort offensively. Carson Wentz looked better under pressure than in previous weeks. Despite the five sacks and two interceptions, Wentz made some good plays in adverse conditions.
The lingering issue here is health and the defense (namely, the secondary). The problems with the ailing offensive line are league-wide. Nobody is going to be able to build a good offensive line during the season. The Eagles just need to find the best way to mitigate that (more screens and creative, quick passes).
Week 6 Preview
Week 6 can be seen in one of two ways. People can either look at it as a chance for the Eagles to make up ground in the battered and beleaguered NFC East, or as a game the Eagles probably won’t win, but need to at least keep it close.
I’m a little more optimistic than most, so I’d say both ways aren’t wrong. It is a wonderful opportunity to get a signature win, but the team needs to show potency and competence on both sides of the ball. The Ravens are coming off a dominant performance against the Bengals.
The Bengals are similarly constructed to the Eagles, except they have much more depth at receiver. I saw a lot of promise from this Eagles team last week but I think all that comes to a screeching halt this week against a superior opponent.
The Ravens are 18th in passing yards allowed per game and 5th in rushing yards allowed per game. Their defense forces a lot of turnovers and their red zone defense is elite. Despite the non-dominant yardage standings in yards allowed, the Ravens are first in the league in points allowed per game (15.2).
It explains a lot as to why the offense hasn’t been utilized to their full extent. In many ways, the Ravens have yet to be fully unleashed on offense. In their only game in which the offense was truly pressed, the Ravens abandoned their dynamic rush attack following an early deficit. When the Ravens closed the gap, due largely to their defense, they continued to throw the ball in desperation.
The blueprint for stopping the Ravens has been clear now since last postseason. A focus on stopping the run and forcing Lamar to pass the ball is the best plan. Unfortunately, stopping the run and getting a big enough lead on the Ravens has been the hard part.
For the Eagles to beat the Ravens, they’re going to have to commit to stopping the run and going deep into their offensive playbook early. If the Eagles can get out to a decent lead, they can get the Ravens to flip the panic switch and force Lamar to pass much more than he’s comfortable with.
Week 6 Prediction
I like the Eagles to use the strategy that has been successfully implemented by both the Chiefs and the Titans. Unfortunately, my concern is with the offense’s ability to put the Ravens in a negative game script.
I think the first half will be relatively low scoring, with the Eagles calling a cornucopia of runs and screens. In the second half, I anticipate we will see a lot more risk-taking from the Eagles to keep pace with the Ravens.
John Harbaugh is aware the team made some big mistakes abandoning the run against the Chiefs. He’s going to mix it up well in this game and give the Eagles just enough on the ground to keep them in check.
Expect Lamar to hook up with Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews for big chunk plays. In the end, I think Lamar will be too much for the Eagles to deal with on defense. I expect the Ravens to win in a relatively comfortable fashion.