The Eagles have one more game before they go into the bye week and it’s a big one. On Sunday, the Eagles will take on the 4-2 Tennessee Titans in what may be their toughest challenge so far this season. The Titans have an offense that features one of the most explosive players in the game, Chris Johnson, and have a defense that is very physical.
The team is going to have to play at a high level to pick up a win, but here are five individuals I think need to have big games to lead their team to victory.
1. Kevin Kolb
The NFC Offensive Player of the Week will look to duplicate the performance that earned him the award. Last week, Kolb was near perfection, moving the ball down the field well as he accumulated over 300 yards passing and threw for three touchdowns.
Kolb has even more to play for as he will try to prove to Andy Reid that he deserves to be the starting quarterback for this team. The good news for Kolb is that the Titans don’t play as well against the pass as they do the run. That fits his style of play, and if Kolb can get a win with another 300+ yard outing, it’s going to be hard for Reid to sit him after the bye.
2. Jeremy Maclin
Maclin elevated his game last week when his partner in crime, DeSean Jackson, left the game. This week, he’ll be without Jackson from the start and will need to pick up where he left off against the Falcons.
Maclin’s play for the entire season has been extremely good, no matter who has lined up at quarterback. Some of his success may have come from teams trying to shut down Jackson, but now Maclin will be the number one guy. He’s definitely going to have a target on his back on Sunday, but he will need to battle through it and help make big plays for the offense.
3. Stewart Bradley
The Eagles have to stop Chris Johnson, and the man in the middle has to be a big part of this effort. Sure the defensive line and supporting cast of linebackers have to play well, but Bradley needs to really bring it this week.
I want to see him attacking holes early, because if Johnson breaks through the line and shifts into another gear, he’s gone. Johnson can turn the smallest bit of daylight into a score, so I want to see Bradley coming up and stopping him at the line.
4. Trent Cole
Cole has been a menace this season, as expected, and needs to continue the trend on Sunday.
The Titans offense thrives on the run, and I’d like to see Cole in the backfield blowing up runs before they can even reach the line. He will also have the responsibility of containing the edge and forcing outside runs back into the middle of the field. If he gets out of position, the Titans could break a big play.
Despite wanting to run the ball all game, the Titans will be forced to throw. Although Vince Young has a high winning percentage thus far in his career, he is far from being an elite quarterback. Cole needs to get to Young all game and force him to scramble and make bad throws.
5. David Akers
In unusual fashion, Akers missed three field goals last week against the Falcons. We rarely see performances like this out of Akers, but I expect him to be able to bounce back this week. Nine points is a lot to leave on the table, and can have a huge affect on a game. It didn’t last week, but it could very easily have in another situation.