Philadelphia Eagles vs. Oakland Raiders- Game Preview, Breakdowns, Injury List and Predictions

November 4th, 2013 by Kyle Lutz | Filed under Eagles, Football, General.

eaglesraiders

Once again folks, it’s Sunday and time for Eagles’ football to commence. This week, they face off against their 1980 Super Bowl opponent, the 3-4 Oakland Raiders, from the AFC West. Oakland the remainder of the year still has to play their combined 15-1 rivals, Kansas City (8-0) and Denver (7-1) a game apiece, on top of a few other diminishing yet hungry NFC East teams, among others.

Oakland’s coming off of a close, yet impressive victory over Pittsburgh, 21-18, last week at home, in which QB Terrelle Pryor ran for a 93-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Despite his incredible performance on the ground, by air he wasn’t as impressive. Pryor went 10/19 for a measly 88 passing yards and two interceptions; one of which eventually lead to a Shaun Suisham field goal for Pittsburgh. Limiting the turnovers is key for any team, but especially for Oakland, who needs the points per drive as much as possible, considering they play Denver, KC and San Diego six times a season. This proves true for Pryor as well, who needs to limit the turnovers as much as possible, as a rookie, in order to play effectively (especially in the passing game, in order to compliment his running game), and to play, period.

Wide receiver Jacoby Ford had a poor game vs. Pittsburgh, with two fumbles, one of which was recovered by Pittsburgh, and lead to a subsequent touchdown on the latter’s next drive, and -3 yards receiving on one catch.

This season thus far, in his second NFL season and first full, Pryor has a quarterback rating of 77.2, and he’s thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes (7 to 5). He’s still developing his game, and despite the curve, he’s learning tremendously, in strides, not only the fundamentals as a quarterback but the little things it takes to win. Despite the turnovers, Pryor has dramatically improved his passing game accuracy wise, which works wonders for the Raiders’ West Coast Offense offensive scheme, which requires a quarterback to be as accurate as can be in order to attain success, and finding the open receiver quickly. This season, he has a 63.1 completion percentage.

Pryor is learning quickly about the ins and outs of the West Coast offense regime, under offensive  coordinator Greg Olson, who ran the same system previously under former 49ers’ head coach Steve Mariucci in 2005 with Detroit. Pryor certainly has the physical talents to be able to survive in this league, like a younger Mike Vick, but time will tell as to whether or not he can keep his foot on the gas and improve rapidly enough to be successful.

The Eagles’ defense in this game, if they want to have any chance individually and as a unit, need to assess, by quarter, the scenario with Pryor behind center. I would normally advocate blitzing the quarterback, especially in this case since it’s a first-full year rookie QB, but with Pryor’s amazing ability to elude the pass rushers when the pocket breaks down, I wouldn’t advise it as often as usual. Terrelle is ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing yards this season, and first among all quarterbacks in the same category, with 391. His 7.4 yards/attempt average indicates to me that given a short yardage down, be prepared for a possible quarterback sneak.

Philadelphia’s defense, under first year defensive coordinator Billy Davis, has been rapidly improving week-by-week. Even though they’re ranked 24th overall in points-per-game with 26.4, they’ve not only improved within their scheme(s) but on the board, as they’ve only given up 16 points-per-game the past two games. Despite those games coming as losses, I believe the defense wasn’t to blame for either of the two, but rather the offense (surprisingly) and how inept they were (a combined 10 points the past two weeks). Sophomore backup Nick Foles is back and healthy, after a concussion scare the previous two weeks, and starting for Philadelphia instead of Michael Vick, who’s out due to a nagging hamstring injury.

Foles this season, in five games and two starts, has six touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. He has a solid quarterback rating of 101.2 and a completion percentage of 57.8. In his last start, vs. Dallas, he had a very abysmal game, going 11/29 for a disappointing completion percentage of 37.93. In that game, he didn’t throw any touchdown passes nor interceptions, but his quarterback rating was sub-par, to say the least, at 46.2.

In Foles’ (short) career so far vs. the 4-3 defensive scheme (which the Raiders employ), in games in which he’s had 20 or more snaps, he’s gone 2-3 in six games with 1253 passing yards, 8 touchdown passes, 1 interception, a 59.5 completion percentage and an average quarterback rating of 90.8. Simply put, Foles has had some great games in those respective games, but he’s been up and down, and at times, has shown the inability to throw the long ball effectively. It’ll be interesting, to say the least, to see how he performs 01. after an injury; a concussion at that and 02. vs. such an agile, overall good defense in Oakland.

Chip Kelly’s strategy has to change with Foles behind center, as opposed to Vick, but the Eagles still must maintain a level of balance between the pass and the run, and utilize DeSean Jackson, who hasn’t had a touchdown reception in two weeks, and a 100+ yard receiving game in almost a month. Oakland is weaker statistically vs. the pass, compared to the run, and on top of that, considering Jackson’s prowess and now that the Eagles can’t utilize a quarterback such as Vick with a strong ability to elude the pocket safely, Jackson’s value increases that much more.

Even though this season, vs. the AFC West, Philadelphia is 0-3, if you’re the Eagles or Chip Kelly, don’t let that interrupt your game plan. Same with Michael Vick being out. I truly believe Nick Foles can be an asset this year for the team, and moving forward as well, if he remains confident and the team continues to build on his strengths and improve his weaknesses. He’s proven to be more accurate, percentage wise, than Vick has since Foles’ arrival, but he has much more to learn and build upon. Oakland’s defense could be a problem for him, as could Terrelle Pryor for Philadelphia’s defense, unless they play smart, effective and hinder his ability to run effectively. Kelly is also learning a lot, and as he goes, in his first season as an NFL coach, so that’s still a minor problem for the team, in in-game decisions.

Injury List

Philadelphia

Probable

OLB- Connor Barwin (back)
LS- Jon Dorenbos (groin)
WR- DeSean Jackson (ankle)
P- Donnie Jones (left foot)
OT- Jason Peters (shoulder, finger)
RB- Chris Polk (shoulder)
DE- Cedric Thornton (knee)

Questionable

S- Patrick Chung (shoulder)
WR- Damaris Johnson (ankle)
LB- Casey Matthews (hip)

Doubtful

LB- Jake Knott (hamstring)

Out

QB- Michael Vick (hamstring)


Oakland

Questionable

OT- Menelik Watson (knee)
WR- Andre Holmes (hamstring)

Out

LG- Andre Gurode (knee)
DB- Tyvon Branch (ankle)
T- Tony Pashos (groin)

*Game Match up

-Terrelle Pryor/Oakland’s rushing attack vs. the Eagles’ rushing defense

This season, Philadelphia has surprisingly been good vs. the run. They’ve given up the 8th fewest rushing-yards-per-game average, slightly behind Oakland’s 89.9, with 99.5. If Philadelphia wants to force turnovers, and most importantly, prevent the big play from occurring, they need to protect the first down marker and downfield in hopes of catching Pryor if he escapes the pocket and starts running, which very well may occur. Furthermore, on the flip side, Oakland is ranked fifth in the NFL this season in rushing-yards per game with 138.9, behind Philadelphia, who’s second to San Francisco with 150.4 yards/game.

Look out for, and don’t forget about Darren McFadden either, who has 340 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns this year.
Player of the Game Predictions

Philadelphia

For Philadelphia, I foresee linebacker DeMeco Ryans having a terrific game, clogging up the middle and making it troublesome for McFadden to find an open lane or lanes, to penetrate. He leads the team with 51 tackles this year; on pace for over 100 tackles this season, which would be a second occurrence for him, and the first since his rookie season of 2006 with Houston. The past two games vs. the division rival Giants and Cowboys, Ryans has totaled 11 tackles with an interception (the first of his career) and a sack. Oakland this year has allowed the second most sacks on offense in the NFL with 29 (second only to Miami’s 35). In this game, I will look for Ryans to make a huge contribution in continuing the Eagles’ defensive unit’s continuous improvements.

Oakland

For this pick, I was going to go with either Pryor or McFadden, especially the latter since he’s overshadowed many a times by the former in the rushing department, but I’ll stick with a defensive player again and go with another middle linebacker in Nick Roach. Roach has made vast improvements this season after a sub-par career, in which he’s never even come close to grazing the single-season 100 tackles mark. This season, he’s transformed into almost a completely different player, averaging over 7 tackles per game, and on pace for over 100 tackles this season if he remains healthy.

I firmly believe that the newcomer, current Raiders’ linebackers’ coach Bob Sanders (not the former Colts’ player), who came over from a four-year stint with Buffalo, has helped aid and improve Roach’s game. Best believe Philadelphia will utilize star running back Shady McCoy as often as possible, considering Foles, even though he’s playing, is probably still a little bit hazy from the post-concussion symptoms he’s endured. Surely, Oakland realizes this, and will try to put the pressure on Foles, and that’s where McCoy comes in, as usual. Despite Oakland owning the sixth best rushing defense this season, I still believe that Chip Kelly will try to get McCoy as many touches as possible, now that Vick’s out once again, and considering Foles’ nagging injury. If Roach can be part of the unit that stops, given it happens, McCoy, or at least slows down, then it increases Oakland’s chances of winning the game, considering Shady’s dominance.

Game Predictions

Despite Philadelphia coming off of two straight losses to inner-division rivals, and Oakland being 3-1 at home this season, I have Philadelphia winning it, in a close one, 20-17.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.