Free NFL Picks: Philadelphia at Tennessee 10-24-2010

October 22, 2010

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Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans

Sunday October 24th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Tennessee -3

Overview:

If I have to pick one game to watch on Sunday, it’s this one. Kevin Kolb is fighting to prove that he is the best quarterback on the roster. Both teams are 4-2 and both teams sit atop their respective divisions. This will be a very telling game for both teams, as ‘experts’ speculate they have overachieved. The knock on the Eagles was that they couldn’t beat any team worth mentioning. They proved that allegation to have no merit by knocking off the Atlanta Falcons last week. The Titans have made a habit of knocking off flawed teams, the Cowboys and Jaguars were their latest victims. As the two teams square off, this is the most enticing match up of the week, drawing logical arguments for both sides.

Keys to the Game:

  • Vince Young is hurt and even if he plays, he isn’t going to be able to run. That takes away from the effectiveness of Chris Johnson, who is on a tear. The last two games, the Titans have come out throwing in the first quarter. Teams have loaded up the box, putting eight defenders to harness Young and Johnson. The Titans have launched an aerial assault and taken advantage of the mismatches the defense is all but handing the Titans. As the game goes on, the Titans force defenses to play more honest, which gives Johnson the green light to destroy defenses. When you take away Young’s ability to move, he becomes less dangerous. When Young is ineffective, so is Johnson. If the Titans decide to go with Kerry Collins, Chris Johnson’s versatility takes a hit. The Eagles are fairly generous in their run defense, giving up roughly 115 yards a game. Johnson will still be able to put up his numbers, but with Young being damaged, he isn’t going to be able to destroy the Eagles.
  • The Eagles love the screen pass, but the Titans are not vulnerable to being screened to death like the Titans’ former opponents. Lesean McCoy proves time and time again that he has to be accounted for at all times, especially on screens. Still, opponents get caught up in the deep play potential with Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. This week, Jackson is out, so the field won’t be as stretched as the Eagles are accustomed to. The Titans like to have eight in the box, but the still keep everything in front of them. Their linebackers run downhill, so although McCoy is elusive, he is going to have difficulty breaking loose on the Titans. The Eagles are a big play offense. The screens to McCoy are set up to have big play potential. With Jackson out, if McCoy can be held in check and his screens can be limited to four or five yards, the big play factor rests solely in the hands of Jeremy Maclin.
  • Kevin Kolb is putting up ridiculous numbers as the interim starting quarterback. Kolb lost his job after Michael Vick proved he can be one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. Since Vick’s injury, Kolb has thrown five touchdowns and only two interceptions. He is completing 70 percent of his passes over the last three games. Andy Reid is in a win win situation. He has two quarterbacks that can win games. If the Eagles decide to go with Vick when he is healthy, Andy Reid is going to have his phone ringing off the hook with offers for Kolb this off season. Kolb needs to take this game as an opportunity to prove his worth. This could be the last opportunity to start and he needs to make the most out of it. Even with Jackson out and Maclin battling Cortland Finnegan, the Titans love to run zone coverages, which means Brent Celek could slip underneath and open up opportunities for Maclin to break loose.
  • The Tennessee defense has mastered putting pressure on the quarterback. They lead the NFL with 24 sacks. This doesn’t mean teams can’t throw the ball on them, as they allow 231 yards a game. They run effective packages that shut down the run and make the quarterback make rushed decisions. Kolb should take advantage of the blitz at times, but he is still going to feel the heat. The last time he saw a team that applied pressure like the Titans was Green Bay, where he suffered a concussion and had a miserable outing. It will be interesting to see how Kolb responds given the pressure.

Wrap Up:

I really like what the Titans are doing on offense. That being said, if Young is not 100 percent, neither are the Titans. They can’t beat the Eagles with Kerry Collins under center.  I see this being a close game and one look at the Titans schedule and you see that they are not involved in many close games that result in a win. In fact, they have not had one game decided by less than six points. Given that the Eagles have not lost on the road all season long and their big win last week, I like the Eagles to win outright. The fact they are getting three points is icing on the cake.


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