The Philadelphia Eagles (4-8) are heading down to Miami to take on the red-hot Dolphins (4-8) in a week 14 clash. The Eagles are coming off an ugly loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week, but will be returning this week with Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin, and Nnamdi Asomugha in the starting lineup. Miami is coming into this game riding a late season surge, that has carried the team on a 4-1 streak, in an attempt to finish the season at .500.
Here are five keys to a Philadelphia win over Miami:
5. Don’t Let Brandon Marshall Get Hot
Miami made a trade a few seasons ago for Pro-Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall, but since going to the Dolphins he has been pretty quiet. However, Marshall can go beast mode, (much like Marshawn Lynch), and can shred a defense when he get rolling in games. The Eagles secondary, which will have Nnamdi Asomugha back, should be able to contain Marshall to an extent, but he is still an elite receiving threat in the NFL.
Matt Moore has developed great chemistry with Marshall, and they can bury a defense down field when they are on the same page. If Juan Castillo was smart, he would put Asomugha in man against Marshall for all four quarters.
4. Philly’s Defensive Line Must Get Pressure
The Dolphins have one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL, and defensive lines can get dominated by them. Philadelphia also has elite talent across their defensive line, and it should be a really fun matchup to watch in the trenches. Trent Cole and Jason Babin will have to get off the line quick, and Cullen Jenkins will have to lock down the middle, and hopefully that will disrupt the Dolphins offensive chemistry.
Babin and Cole alone can cause havoc for an offense, and despite a good bounce-back season for Miami’s quarterback Matt Moore, I can’t see him staying upright all game against the Eagles defense.
3. No Turnovers
I wish I could blame this all on Vince Young casually lobbing the ball to corners and safeties, but some of the blame needs to fall on the Eagles receivers as well. Philadelphia has been cavalier with the ball on offense, and have given the ball away too much over the past three weeks. Young may have been the starter, and that doesn’t help, but Michael Vick has also been known to be turnover prone, and the Eagles offense can’t afford it.
This also carries into a lack of faith in the Eagles defense, as it seems after every turnover, Philly’s defense rolls over and gives up points with almost no resistance.
2. Contain Reggie Bush
In all reality, nine times out of 10, Reggie Bush won’t be an issue. Although, there are games where Bush can go off and run for a buck-fifty and two touchdowns. All it takes is for him to be on his game, and Bush could rip the Eagles poor rushing defense apart. Luckily for Philly, Daniel Thomas is injured for this game, and the entire rushing load will be pushed onto Bush, leaving the Dolphins to giving him all the carries.
Hopefully Bush comes into the game flat and fatigued and he won’t be an issue. But like I stated before, any given Sunday Bush can look like a Pro-Bowler.
1. Play With Heart
Last week against the Seahawks, there was an Eagles team that was playing with no purpose. The team had no effort on defense, the offense struggled, and there was no heart in the team. The Eagles are playing for pride, and for the reputation of the city of Philadelphia at this point in the season. The least they could do is actually show up, and try to win the game. Miami is playing like every week is the Super Bowl, and they were eliminated from the playoffs after week five!
The Eagles need to show effort this week, or there will be bedlam in Philadelphia.
Going into this season, I chalked up this game against the Dolphins as an easy win. Since then, Philadelphia has spiraled their way out of the playoffs, and Miami is red-hot and looking like they are fighting for an impossible playoff berth at (8-8). With the way the Eagles played last week, I don’t see how they can win this game. This team is not playing with any purpose, and it seems like they just want the season to end. It won’t be a blowout, but the Eagles will drop another on the road. Eagles 17 – Dolphins 27
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