New England Patriots (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
VENUE: Lincoln Financial Field
LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
WEATHER: Current forecast
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
PREDICTION: Patriots 30-21
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Patriots still have the
league's second-ranked passing attack despite inconsistent play from QB
Tom Brady the past six weeks, and the Eagles will attempt to apply
pressure with their front four - specifically up the middle. The Eagles
blitzed just once in 55 snaps against the Giants last week and the
revamped linebacker unit has been stronger against the run. With Eagles
QB Michael Vick (ribs) uncertain, Vince Young could get his second
consecutive start. Regardless of who is under center, Philadelphia will
attack the league's worst pass defense (298.9 yards per game) with or
without DeSean Jackson (foot).
FAST FACTS: Brady, who has reportedly been dealing
with discomfort in his right elbow, has a 116.2 passer rating in the
first quarter. ... The Eagles are allowing 3.9 yards per carry their
past five games.
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Eagles
lead series, 6-4. The Patriots have won the last three overall meetings
with the Eagles, including a 24-21 victory in Super Bowl XXXIX in
Jacksonville in February of 2005.
- Eagles game chatter
INSIDE THE CAMPS
The vague nature of the NFL's weekly injury report
has put the New England Patriots in quite a predicament heading into
Sunday's game in Philadelphia.
Although starting quarterback Michael Vick didn't
practice due to a rib injury, there's still a chance he'll play this
weekend against New England. Preparing for two quarterbacks wouldn't be
such a problem were it not for the fact the Eagles' signal-callers are
practically complete opposites.
Vick is a slasher/runner capable of breaking off
big plays with his legs, but, at times, his arm strength and accuracy
is vastly underrated. Because his speed is superior to his peers, his
passing is often overlooked, but teams who ignore his ability to move
the chains tend to pay the price.
Backup Vince Young, a former national champion in
college, has an awkward delivery that often leads to inaccurate
passing, and though he, too, can scramble, he's far less mobile in the
pocket than Vick despite the fact his overall size and strength
arguably makes him tougher to bring down.
The Eagles don't throw out the entire playbook if
Young starts, but there are certainly some plays more suited toward
Vick's skills, which means the Patriots will have to work overtime
during what is a short holiday week to prepare to face Philadelphia on
"They are not the same player at all," said
Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington, who's tied for the league lead with
"Vick has good arm and he's a little bit faster, a
little more dangerous running the ball. Young, he did a good job
managing the game (in last week's win over the Giants) and had a heck
of a drive at the end there. We just have to be ready, study a lot this
week, put in good preparation and try to come out and execute."
Head coach Bill Belichick doesn't appear too
worried about what might happen Sunday when inactives are announced.
Chances are the Eagles will wait as long as possible to determine who
starts, so the Patriots need to do their homework on everyone on the
"Whoever is in the game to start the game we all
know that could be a different player on the second or some other play
of the game," Belichick said. "We'll prepare for all three quarterbacks
and maybe later in the week we'll be able to zero in more on one than
"We need to be ready for all of them anyway,
especially the two that played the most here -- Young and Vick. Both
can run, have good scrambling ability, both have real big arms, can
throw the ball down the field as far as they need to. Both guys have
done the things offensively that you need to do to be productive and
win -- make decisions, key pass plays on third down in the red area,
scramble and get out of trouble, play-action and so forth. I think
they're both good. Whichever one we get, we get."
The Eagles face one of the league's most lethal
passing attacks Sunday when they host the New England Patriots. And
they may have to do it without their best cornerback.
Five-time Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomougha was carted
off the practice field Thursday after injuring his left knee. He was
running and cutting when it happened.
The severity of the injury isn't known. Head coach
Andy Reid wasn't available to the media after practice. A team
spokesman said Asomugha "tweaked" the knee, pending a further
examination. The obvious fear is that he may have torn his ACL.
Asomugha was unable to put any weight on the leg
as he was put on the cart.
The Eagles already are without one of their other
top corners, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is out indefinitely with
a high ankle sprain.
Joselio Hanson replaced Rodgers-Cromartie as the
slot corner last week, with Asomugha and Asante Samuel on the outside.
If Asomugha is unable to play Sunday, Hanson is expected to move
outside in the Eagles' base package, then move inside in nickel, with
Brandon Hughes playing at right corner.
Hughes, who was signed off the Giants' practice
squad last November, has seen limited action this season.
In the locker room after practice, Hanson said he
heard that Asomugha's injury "wasn't as bad as it looked," and
suggested the he could be back at practice on Friday.
--LB Jeff Tarpinian is on injured reserve due to a
head injury, which means he is out for the season. The team had
previously listed him on the injury report due to illness.
--CB Devin McCourty was at Thursday's practice.
McCourty missed last week's game due to a shoulder injury.
--OT Matt Light, who left Monday's game with a
foot injury, was at practice again Thursday. All signs point to him
playing this weekend.
--LB Brandon Spikes missed Thursday's practice due
to a knee injury. Unless he heals quickly in the next two days, he will
likely miss Sunday's game.
--LB Dane Fletcher missed his second consecutive
day of practice due to a thumb injury. Fletcher will likely miss
--CB Nnamdi Asomugha was carted off the practice
squad Thursday after injuring his left knee. The severity of the injury
isn't yet known. All the Eagles would say is that he tweaked it.
--QB Michael Vick didn't practice again Thursday,
increasing the likelihood that Vince Young will start at quarterback
Sunday against the Patriots. Vick has two broken ribs. He didn't play
last week either.
--WR DeSean Jackson was a limited participant in
practice Thursday. He injured his foot in Sunday's win over the Giants
when somebody stepped on it. It's unclear whether he'll be able to play
Sunday against the Patriots.
--WR Jeremy Maclin, who sat out last week's game
with shoulder and hamstring injuries, didn't practice Thursday. He
hinted that he may have aggravated the hamstring.
--CB Joselio Hanson will start Sunday against New
England if Nnamdi Asomugha is unable to play. Asomugha injured his knee
in practice Thursday. Hanson would likely move inside to the slot in
nickel, and Brandon Hughes would line up at right corner.
- Eagles: Game Plans & Matchups
Relying On Their Backup DBs
Need To Pressure Brady
Asomugha Hurting For Patriots Game
Has Special Weapon In 'Gronk'