Eagles RB Brian Westbrook vs. Ravens run defense
The Ravens rank third in the league against the run. It was first before the New York Giants’ Brandon Jacobs ran over them last Sunday. Westbrook is banged up and barely functional. Asked if he could cut effectively earlier this week, he said he could make “some cuts.” That’s kind of like having a car that can make some turns. Head coach Andy Reid’s answer to Westbrook’s ineffectiveness has been to keep him on the field and pass, pass, pass – 60 pass plays called versus 18 runs against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals ranked 25th in run defense. The Eagles could become the first NFL team to throw exclusively for the entire game this week.
Eagles QB Donovan McNabb vs. Ravens pass defense
The Ravens’ secondary has been banged up, but the defense could be catching McNabb at the right time. The Ravens’ complicated blitz schemes mean this should be another tough day for McNabb. The biggest problem has been McNabb’s decision-making. McNabb, who owns the best career interception percentage in NFL history, has thrown five picks in the last three games after throwing just three in the first seven games. Never a particularly accurate passer, he has completed 60-plus percent of his attempts in just two of the last six games. In their past five games, the Ravens have allowed six passing touchdowns while intercepting eight passes.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Eagles pass defense
Flacco, from the Philadelphia suburb of Audubon, N.J., a short (but hazardous) swim across the Delaware River from Lincoln Financial Field, faces the team he grew up rooting for. Since Jim Johnson became Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator in 1999, the Eagles have beaten rookie quarterbacks nine times in 12 games. In that time, rookies have thrown 11 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions against Philadelphia, for a quarterback rating of 64.7. This year, Johnson’s unit leads the NFL in sacks. The Eagles held Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons to 14 points, picking Ryan off twice. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who spent nine years on Reid’s staff and worked with Johnson last season, undoubtedly knows he has to establish the run to give his quarterback a chance. Flacco has surprisingly struggled at home, throwing one touchdown pass and four interceptions in four games at M&T Bank Stadium.
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