The pressure on beleaguered head coach Chip Kelly has somewhat subsided following the Philadelphia Eagles 23-20 home victory over the Buffalo Bill, to somehow remain alive in the race for the NFC East title at 6-7.
Coming in off the back of a surprise road victory over the New England Patriots, predicting what the Eagles would do against the Bills was a futile exercise.
If this season has taught us nothing, its to give up predicting what will happen in Eagle games.
Then of course there was the little matter of welcoming back all-time team rushing leader LeSean McCoy in opposition colours, following an acrimonious split between McCoy and the Eagles in the off season.
The game was a tight affair all day. The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter through a 1 yard Darren Sproles scamper and 47 yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins.
Rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor finally delivered on his promise, burning off the Buffalo secondary up the middle of the field to score a 53 yard touchdown on 2nd & 26.
Bradford had a good day, going 23/38 for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Eagles are 6-2 in Bradford’s last eight starts, a surprising stat.
Serious consideration must now be given to re-signing Bradford. The other options out there aren’t that much better and word is that the QB’s in the 2016 draft aren’t very good, plus there are other positions of need, such as the offensive line, which has taken a step backwards in 2015.
The running game was solid, with reps split almost evenly between Sproles, Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray. Sproles looks the most dynamic and must continue to be the lead back, depending on his use in special teams.
Zach Ertz and Agholor les the receiving corp. Ertz caught a key pass for 41 yards from inside Eagle territory on a long third down that led to the game winning Caleb Sturgis 30 yard field goal.
Sturgis, who has probably cost the Eagles two wins with missed short field goals, was solid as a rock against the Bills.
The star on defense was Fletcher Cox. With 7 tackles and a sack, Cox continued his stellar season, which must be recognised with a Pro Bowl selection.
McCoy had a strange day on his return to Philadelphia. After hugging owner Jeffrey Lurie and kissing the Eagle logo pre-game, McCoy had a mixed day, with 74 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards, but was held to just 11 yards in the second half. As time expired he ran off the field without acknowledging anyone from his former team and refused to talk to the press post-game.
Perhaps Kelly was onto something when he traded him.
The Eagles move on now, in a three way tie for the NFC East lead with Washington and the New York Giants, to play the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday night football. It’s a tough game as the Cardinals, a hugely talented team in all facets of the game, currently sit in the number two seed in the NFC playoff race and are looking to keep their lead in the NFC West.
The run home for the NFC East contenders:-
Eagles – Arizona (h), Washington (h), N.Y Giants (a) – Predicted record 8-8
Washington – Buffalo (h), Eagles (a), Dallas (a) – Predicted record 7-9
N.Y Giants – Carolina (h), Minnesota (a), Eagles (h) – Predicted record 6-10
It’s likely to come down to the last day.