Behind Enemy Lines: Philadelphia Eagles
Steelers vs Eagles, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA, Sunday 1pm, FOX
Spread: Pittsburgh (-3) 43 O/U
All-time regular season series: Philadelphia leads 46-26-3 overall and 19-17-1 in Pittsburgh.
Last Meeting: September 21, 2008 in Philadelphia, Eagles 15-6
The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-1 after 4 weeks and are alone in 1st place in the highly competitive NFC East. Despite being 3-1, the Eagles have been outscored by 17 points so far this season, winning their 3 games by a total of 4 points and their lone loss being a 27-6 defeat at the hands of Arizona. Turnovers have hurt the Eagles so far this year, they are a minus 5, including a minus 3 in the loss to the Cardinals. QB Michael Vick is responsible for 9 of the 12 Eagle turnovers this year, throwing 6 interceptions and fumbling 3 times. The Steelers may be just what the doctor ordered for Andy Reid, Michael Vick and Co. Pittsburgh has only forced two turnovers this season. The turnover problem has hurt the Eagles on the scoreboard as well. They have scored just 66 points in their 1st 4 games, an average of 16.5 ppg, that ranks 30th in the NFL.
Offensive Player to Watch: LeSean McCoy, Running Back
LeSean “Shady” McCoy called Heinz Field his home stadium for 2 years while a star running back at the University of Pittsburgh and Sunday will be his first chance to perform on that stage as a professional. McCoy is looking forward to his return to Pittsburgh, “I have tons of tickets. I have to get ready for this Sunday. A lot of my old teachers, friends and coaches will be at the game. I’m excited to be back.”
McCoy will enter Sundays game as the NFL’s third leading rusher and you could still make the argument that he has not had a great start to the 2012 season. McCoy led the league in touchdowns last season, but he has been kept out of the end zone in 3 of the 4 games so far this season. He was held scoreless only 3 times all of last season.
Defensive Player to Watch: Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback
Once thought of as one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in the league, Asomugha has recently become a target for opposing QB’s. Asomugha has struggled mightily since signing as a big free agent with the Eagles before last season. He will probably be lined up against Mike Wallace, who is a favorite target of Ben Roethlisberger. You can expect Asomugha to be very busy on Sunday afternoon, if he plays well, his Eagles may very well leave town with another W. However if he continues to struggle it could be a very long day for he and the rest of the Eagles defense.
Strengths: Eagles Skill Players
We already mentioned McCoy, but the Eagles have plenty of other offensive weapons for Michael Vick to play with. Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson are two of the most explosive wide receivers in the league, both with big-play ability. Add tight end Brent Celek and the threat of McCoy coming out of the backfield can put lots of stress on any defense to try to take away all of those weapons.
Weaknesses: Michael Vick
Michael Vick has great big-play ability, however in trying to make those big-plays he has really hurt his team forcing the issue. Vick had at least 1 turnover in the red zone in each of his teams first 3 games this season. For a team that is struggling to put points on the board, they cannot afford to continue to have Vick playing his typical careless style this season.
He Said It:
“They have a great defensive coordinator in Dick LeBeau. He’s one of the best ever. They have good football players. They believe in LeBeau, they believe in his system and they play hard. You add those two in the mix, two of his core guys. I know they mean a lot to him and them.” -Eagles Head Coach, Andy Reid on facing a Steelers defense with Troy Polamula and James Harrison back in the line-up.