Week 4: Broncos-Eagles matchup analysis

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchangeSeptember 26, 2013

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) at Denver Broncos (3-0)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
*Keys to the game: The Eagles had 10 days between games following a Thursday night loss to Kansas City while the Broncos are playing on a short week after scorching Oakland on Monday night. OK, we have Philly's advantage out of the way. No amount of rest is going to help an Eagles defense allowing 438.3 yards per game - including 323 through the air. Broncos QB Peyton Manning has thrown an NFL-record 12 touchdown passes through the first three games, and has a vast array of weapons to attack the Eagles with downfield. One of Philly's main issues has been terrible coverage support from their safeties, who will have to contend with the athleticism of Denver's receivers in racking up yards after the catch. Eagles coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense has cooled off with receiving options other than WRs DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant failing to emerge. Philly enters with the league's top-ranked ground game and needs to stay balanced to prevent QB Michael Vick from getting abused behind a poor line.
*Matchup to watch - Eagles tight ends vs. Broncos linebackers/safeties: The Eagles have Brent Celek, drafted Zach Ertz in the second round and signed James Casey as a free agent. Celek has been targeted just nine times, Ertz has only four receptions and Casey has played only eight snaps as the Eagles have favored single tight ends sets. However, with Vick getting pounded, the Eagles would be wise to complement their strong ground game by utilizing the tight ends more.
*Player spotlight - Eagles S Earl Wolff: The rookie could get his first start with Patrick Chung (shoulder) questionable.
*Fast facts: The Eagles have run 169 of 199 offensive plays out of the "11" personnel package (one tight end, one running back, three wide receivers). ... Opposing running backs are averaging 1.03 yards per carry against the Broncos the past two games.
Broncos DE Shaun Phillips said Denver is preparing for a "track meet." Few defenses are better conditioned to handle the Eagles' offense than the Broncos, who practice daily against their own up-tempo offense. Considering Philly's issues in pass defense, it could get ugly quickly.
*Our pick: Broncos 38-23