The Patriots are 1-point underdogs in the second week of the preseason as they host the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s hard to remember the last time the Patriots were underdogs in a game. The last time it happened, I’m pretty sure that line was set by Moses. But it’s easy to see why the Eagles should be favored in this one. New England’s offensive line is still very much a work in progress, and defensive line is one of the Eagles’ greatest areas of strength and depth. Considering it would be poor form for the Pats to get their all-world QB killed in a meaningless game, I doubt we’ll see Brady for more than a quarter. I won’t be surprised if the Patriots focus a bit more on the running game in the early part of this game as well. Philadelphia’s defensive line is great at getting after the QB, but their linebackers are easily the biggest weakness of the team. Exploiting your opponent’s soft spot while keeping defensive linemen from dry-humping Brady up and down the field seems to be the best course of action. With that said, Belichick likes to buck convention, so don’t be surprised if the offensive gameplan involves Marcus Cannon lining up at TE and going deep every play. And don’t be surprised if that also works.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots’ secondary could have their hands full early with Maclin and Jackson. You have to respect Jackson’s speed, so the safeties will need to play a few steps deeper than usual. LeSean McCoy’s quickness could create issues in the screen game as well. I always preach about the value of backup quarterbacks in the preseason, and the Eagles have pretty decent depth at quarterback (with Vick as a starter, having poor depth at quarterback would be akin to jumping out of an airplane with a napkin for a parachute).
And finally, tonight’s game will be the first of three games in nine days for the Pats. The Eagles have a lot more competition for 53-man roster space than New England at a number of positions. When the F troop takes the field for both teams, the current backups for Philly will have a whole lot more to play for, and in many cases they’ll be getting a longer look. The name of the game tonight for Philly is settling the available roster spots. The name of the game for the Pats is getting through the first 20 minutes of the game healthy, put up a scoring drive or two and trying not to pull a hammy while jogging to the showers in the second quarter.
Bet on Philly.