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Vick, Eagles soar to Denver for matchup with Manning, Broncos

Is it January yet?

During the first three games of 2013, the Broncos have toyed with opponents. Monday night was no different as Peyton Manning threw for another three touchdowns, bringing his season total to 12, an NFL record through three contests.

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The lethal quartet of Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker turned in another superb outing, as each was heavily involved in the Denver offense. The 37-21 drubbing of the Raiders doesn’t accurately portray how dominant the Broncos were.

I don’t know about you, but I sure am ready for that first playoff game, where I maybe won’t be yawning by the third quarter.

Well, only 14 more weeks to go.

Week four has all the making of another Bronco opponent never wanting to step foot in Peyton’s Place. Chip Kelly and his NASCAR offense led by Michael Vick pay a visit to the Mile High City Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles have looked solid offensively, ranking in the top 10 in points (26.3). Their 462 yards per game average is good for second in the league, while 209 rush yards per game ranks number one in the entire NFL.

I wouldn’t exactly say the Philadelphia offense is clicking on all cylinders though. They showed how scary they can be during the first half of week one against the Redskins. They also showed how mediocre they can perform last Thursday with the Chiefs.

As dynamic as LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson can be, the Eagles’ success hinges on the performance of Vick. The former Virginia Tech star sports an admirable quarterback rating of 96 and has shown flashes of why he remains a top 10 player at his position.

But he’s gotten little help from his offensive line. Entering Sunday, Vick has been sacked 11 times. To put that in perspective, Manning has been sacked just four times.

Keep in mind, that as good as the Philadelphia offense has been, they’re 1-2 for a reason.

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That reason is a big one with a capital “D.” Defensively, the Eagles have been brutal. Their 29 points per game allowed ranks 26th in the league and their 438 yards allowed comes in at 30th heading into Sunday.

Remember when the Eagles had a vaunted defense that featured Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter? That seems like a century ago. This team just doesn’t boast any consistent playmakers on the defensive side of the football. And especially on the road, that’s not exactly a recipe for winning.

Three keys to the game for Denver:

  1. Be smart with Vick. The Eagles’ quarterback suffered injuries to both ankles last week, so he may not be 100 percent for Sunday. Still, he remains one of the top running quarterbacks in the NFL. When the Broncos blitz, they have to do so in a way that prevents Vick from getting to the outside and having a chance at a huge run.
  2. Slow the high tempo offense. The Denver defense gets a little help with the crowd noise and altitude. But if the Eagles gain any      traction with their Oregon-style offense, this game could get interesting.
  3. Forget the fatigue. John Fox and Manning admitted this week that they aren’t exactly thrilled with the schedule this week. With the Monday night game, the orange and blue have just six days to prepare for the Eagles. Philadelphia, on the other hand, will have had nine days between games after last playing on a Thursday night. That means the Eagles will be a little fresher. Will it matter?

    English: Mike Vick with Philadelphia
    English: Mike Vick with Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My prediction: Broncos-42, Eagles-24

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