Week 11 Matchup: Eagles at Browns
So is there any way to completely forget last week’s car wreck of a game? In a lackluster season, last Sunday's game against the New York Giants had to be the worst performance I had seen the Eagles play all year. Even so, the Birds are going to have to brush it off and move on as they head to Ohio to face the Cleveland Browns.
This event will be the 50th time these two franchises have played against one another. The Browns may have a winning record against the Eagles (37-17-1), but the birds have had recent success against the Browns, as they have won their last five matchups in the series. A lot of things are much different since their last matchup, the Browns are on track to have their first winning record since 2007 and the Eagles are on track to have one of the worst in the 21st century. Despite the winning record, the Browns are in third place while the Eagles are in first? 2020 is weird... anyway here is a matchup of the two teams.
As I had previously said, the Browns are on track to have their first winning record in 13 years and a lot of that has to do with their strong rushing offense. They are currently ranked fourth in the league with 159.0 rushing yards per game and the only reason why they are not second is that the two teams above them (Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots) have quarterbacks that run quite often. They get most of their rushing production from their star running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb had missed a portion of this season, but when he has played he has played in an outstanding fashion, composing 76 rushes for 461 yards (6.1 YPC) and five touchdowns. Hunt has yet to miss a game this season, registering 134 rushes for 633 yards (4.7 YPC) with three touchdowns.
Normally, the Eagles defensive line has the advantage against each opponent, but this week might be a bit of a challenge for them. The Browns have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Their linemen are incredibly athletic and can make the run game super effective on stretch plays, misdirections, and counters. In the passing game, their line has only allowed 12 sacks all season, which is fourth-best in the NFL. Baker Mayfield has also been impressive this year, but he does still struggle in some departments. Even with a great offensive line to protect him, but he has had moments where he holds onto the ball too long (sound familiar?). He’s 38th in the NFL with an average time to throw of 2.83 seconds and is also 38th with an average time in the pocket of 3.01 seconds. This season, Mayfield has completed 61.3 % of his passes, adding 1,646 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, seven interceptions for a 90.0 passer rating.
The Eagles are headed into arguably their toughest part of the season, and it could not have come at a worse time. They are standing up top of the division at a measly 3-5-1 record, and if they can win at least a couple of these games they easily can make it into the playoffs. But with teams like the Browns, the Seattle Seahawks, the New Orleans Saints, and the Green Bay Packers, it won’t come easy. Philly's defense has been the strongest part of this team this season, but they have some weak points and they are massive. Their rush defense is one of the worst units in the NFL, giving up 133 yards/game on the ground. The Browns rely heavily on the run game, so they should not have to worry too often about anything else other than running plays. If they can't figure out their issues in the running game, Cleveland could run wild all game long.
I hate to be that guy but Doug Pederson needs to RUN THE BALL! The Eagles are currently passing on 63.7% of their plays this season, which is the third-highest rate in the NFL. When the Eagles run the ball, they have been pretty effective. Miles Sanders has an impressive streak currently going on. Sanders has become the first running back in 10 years and only the second in the last 35 years to rush for 80 or more yards on 15 or fewer carries in three straight games. So...run... the...ball. The Eagles had only one completion of 20-plus yards against the Giants and have only 21 the entire season. That’s the third-fewest in the league. Carson Wentz is having the worst season of his career. He has an NFL-high 16 turnovers (12 interceptions, 4 fumbles) and has been sacked a league-high 35 times already. So again....run....the.....ball...
If I were to suggest anything for the Eagles offense for Sunday (besides running the ball), it would be to exploit safety and former Eagle Andrew Sendejo. He wasn't supposed to be a starter this season, but since their starting safety, Grant Delpit, went down with an Achilles’ injury in late August, he has had to try to step up for Cleveland's defense. He is simply not a good football player. He’s allowed 27 completions on 35 balls thrown his way so far, so whether if it's a slot receiver like Greg Ward or a tight end like Dallas Goedert, the offense needs to figure out a way to get Sendejo involved, because he’s obviously the weak link of the Browns.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles bounce back from this terrible loss and find a way to finish off this season in a positive way. Tune in on Sunday at 1:05PM to find out.