The Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) will travel to Mile High this week to take on a Denver Broncos (5-4) team fresh off a convincing win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Denver is .500 at home this year (2-2). They’ve been a relatively consistent group this year. Their Vic Fangio led defense has been a top-10 unit and the offensive side of the ball has done enough to keep the ship afloat.
Despite coming off a loss, it feels like Philly is starting to find their stride as they enter the latter half of the season. Nick Sirianni has finally committed to the running game and the offense has been more efficient because of it. The defense has still had their troubles, but Denver doesn’t pose the same sort of threat offensively as a team like LA, Kansas City, or Dallas.
Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups heading into this Week 10 contest.
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Eagles defensive line vs. Broncos offensive line
The Eagles defensive line has underwhelmed this season. As a unit, they’ve only accounted for 15.5 sacks this season, and they’re coming off a weak performance against a vulnerable Chargers offensive front. They only tallied eight pressure on Justin Herbert last week. In turn, he carved up the Eagles secondary and became the fifth quarterback this season to complete over 80% of his passes against this group.
We can talk all we want about Jonathan Gannon and his passive approach, but it really comes down to whether or not this defensive line can create pressure on a consistent basis.
Denver has one of the worst pass blocking offensive lines in the league. They’ve surrendered 29 sacks on the year, second-most in the league. Outside of left tackle Calvin Anderson, not a single starting offensive lineman has posted over a 70.0 overall grade on Pro Football Focus this season. Starting right guard Netane Multi has graded out at 27.9 in the pass blocking department.
The Broncos are also dealing with some injuries up front. Right guard Graham Glasnow was lost for the season this past week. He was one of their more consistent starters up front.
Will the Eagles actually be able to take advantage of another vulnerable offensive front this week? It’s 50/50. Some weeks they show up, some weeks they don’t. That’s been the tale of the Eagles season.
On paper, they should be able to create havoc. But it’s not a foregone conclusion.
Eagles rushing attack vs. Broncos run defense
Over the past two weeks, Sirianni’s offense has leaned heavily on their rushing attack. They’ve run it a combined 85 times over that span, compared to passing it just 33 times. They did a complete 180 with their offensive identity. Over the first seven weeks, Sirianni’s group averaged just over 34 passing attempts per game.
Is the first year head coach actually committed to running the ball consistently? His offense is undeniably more efficient when it operates as a run-first unit, but they also faced two of the worst run defenses in the league over the past two weeks. On the flip side, Denver has one of the best run defenses in the NFL, allowing an average of 98.3 rushing yards per game and just 85.75 yards at home.
This week will be a true barometer for how committed Sirianni actually is to this style of offense. His philosophy is pass first, so if Denver stymies his offense’s run game, he may revert right back to passing it on nearly every play. But it’s not like Denver’s pass defense is susceptible or anything like that. They’re just as strong in that department.
When you’re facing a defense that’s strong at every level, sticking to what you do best is typically the way to go. Philly is at their best when they find ways to run the ball. If they want to pull off the upset in Denver this week, they’ll have to find ways to move the ball on the ground once again.
DeVonta Smith vs. Broncos secondary
DeVonta Smith has quickly become the best pass catching threat on this Eagles offense. He’s coming off his best outing to date, recording five catches for 116 yards and a touchdown against LA. Week in and week out his impact is felt on the field.
This week in Denver, Smith will likely see a banged up Broncos secondary. His former Bama teammate Patrick Surtain II could miss this game with a sprained knee he suffered last week. Surtain has been a stud for Denver this season. He’s allowing a 52.9 completion percentage and 76.4 passer rating when targeted.
Without Surtain, Fangio’s defense will have to rely on Kyle Fuller and our old friend Ronald Darby to start on the outside. Both have had their fair share of struggles this season. Fuller is currently ranked as the second-worst corner in football according to PFF, whereas Darby finds himself ranked 76th out of 117. Fuller’s 41.7 coverage grade ranks him dead last among 116 qualifying corners.
As long as Sirianni puts Jalen Hurts in favorable situations again this week, the quarterback has proven that he can get the ball into Smith’s hands. Smith has been the focal point of Philly’s passing attack all season, and that shouldn’t change this week.
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