Philadelphia Eagles (3-6, 4-5 ATS) at Denver Broncos (5-4, 5-4), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s Eagles Stats and Trends
Philadelphia is 5-2 toward overs in its last seven games.
Jalen Hurts has turned into a game manager the last two weeks, attempting just 31 passes with the Eagles scoring 70 combined points. Hurts attempted more than 31 passes in five of his first seven games, and he’s now finished with fewer than 200 passing yards in four of his last five games. He has posted 60+ rushing yards in three straight games with the more run-heavy approach. The Broncos kept a potent Cowboys offense out of the end zone for 55 minutes last week and they limited Dak Prescott to season-lows in completion percentage (48.7%) and YPA (5.8).
DeVonta Smith is coming off his best fantasy performance with 5/116/1 receiving on six targets against the Chargers. It was his first touchdown since the season opener, and he accounted for 71.6% of the passing yards last week. The Broncos’ secondary hasn’t allowed an individual WR to top 51 receiving yards in the last three weeks.
Dallas Goedert had a disappointing 3/43 receiving against the Chargers last week, but he was just overthrown for a potential 45-yard score. He’s tied with Smith for the team-lead in target share since the Zach Ertz trade with a 29% share. Dalton Schultz managed 4/54 receiving in this matchup last week, and the Broncos have yet to give up 12+ FP and a TD to a tight end this season.
Jordan Howard went from Philadelphia’s practice squad to being the team’s lead runner in a matter of two weeks. He led the Eagles with 17/71/1 rushing on a 40% snap share in a prime matchup against the Chargers in Week 9. Boston Scott actually led the backfield with a 44% snap share but he finished with 10/40 rushing, while Kenneth Gainwell finished well behind with 2/3/1 rushing on a 19% snap share. Eagles RBs have scored six rushing TDs in the last two games after scoring just three TDs in the first seven games with Miles Sanders in the lineup. The Broncos are middle of the pack against the run, giving 4.2 YPC and 84.4 rushing yards per game.
Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends
The Broncos are 7-2 toward unders this season.
The Broncos are back on a two-game winning streak after stunning the Cowboys thanks to 21.9 FP from Teddy Bridgewater. He completed 19/28 passes for 249 yards (8.9 YPA) and one TD and he added a touchdown plunge from a yard out in their upset victory. Bridgewater ranks third in completion percentage (70.2%) this season, and he’ll look to become the sixth quarterback to complete 80% of his passes or more against the Eagles this season.
Jerry Jeudy’s role grew a little more in his second game as he ran a route on 78% of Teddy’s dropbacks. He’s back to leading the Broncos in target share (33%) after posting 6/69 receiving on eight targets against the Cowboys, and the Broncos moved him all over the formation to generate looks for him. He should be active this week since the Eagles’ defense concedes short targets, with Keenan Allen racking 12/104 receiving out of the slot last week.
Courtland Sutton managed just a nine-yard catch on two targets (7% share) in a tough matchup against Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys in Week 9, which gives him just nine targets in three games with Jeudy in the lineup this season. Sutton has posted 23+ FP three times this season and he’s fallen below nine FP in five of his six other contests, including all three games with Jeudy playing. Sutton is averaging a career-low 14.3 YPR through the first nine games playing with Teddy. Mike Williams posted 2/58 receiving on five targets in this matchup last week.
Tim Patrick still has some fantasy life even with Jeudy back in the fold, leading the Broncos in receiving yards in both Weeks 8-9. He finished with 4/85/1 receiving on five targets (18% share) against the Cowboys in Week 9, scoring on a 44-yard pass against Trevon Diggs. Patrick is averaging 15.0 YPR with four touchdowns so he’s coming up with big plays despite the limited volume available in this passing attack. The Eagles allowed three TDs to Tyreek Hill in Week 4, and they’ve allowed just four other WR TDs in their eight other contests.
Noah Fant will return to the lineup this week after clearing COVID protocols this week, and the Broncos could be without Albert Okwuegbunam (knee) to give him a little boost. Fant is averaging 4.0/32.8 receiving on 6.2 targets per game with two overall touchdowns in five contests with Albert O, compared to Fant’s 5.7/52.0 receiving on 7.3 targets per game with one touchdown in three contests without Albert O. Chargers TEs combined for 11/126/2 receiving against the Eagles last week.
The Broncos held the ball for 41 minutes against the Cowboys thanks to a dominant rushing attack, with Javonte Williams (17/111 rushing) and Melvin Gordon (21/80/1) combining for 38 carries and 191 yards. Gordon has scored touchdowns in three straight games and he has six scores overall compared to Javonte’s two scores this season. The Eagles have limited Austin Ekeler (20/82/0 scrimmage) and D’Andre Swift (17/51/0) in the last two weeks.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.7 (2nd)
Plays per game: 62.4 (31st)
Pass: 55.3% (28th) | Run: 44.7% (5th)
Pace: 31.1 (31st)
Plays per game: 67.1 (16th)
Pass: 61.8% (14th) | Run: 38.2% (19th)
Now, I think their last two opponents have a lot to do with this – but the Eagles have completely flipped the script on their 2021 philosophy. Over their last two games against the lowly Lions and the Chargers league-worst run defense, the Eagles have gone 73% run-heavy on early downs. For reference, this is the same team that was the eighth-most pass-heavy team on 1st and 2nd downs (58%) in their first seven games. As a result, Jalen Hurts has thrown 31 total passes in Weeks 8-9 after averaging 34.6 attempts over his first seven games. The Broncos defense has been hard to predict this year – they shut down the Cowboys without Von Miller and Bryce Callahan but got shredded by the Steelers and Raiders in Weeks 5-6. Still, everything points to the Eagles continuing to run the ball way more often.
Meanwhile, the Broncos are the same team offensively every week: They play extremely slow (31st in pace) and are balanced overall. They’ve also been easy to predict from a game-script perspective thanks to their clear-cut pass | run splits. When Denver has been behind on the scoreboard, they’ve thrown it 73.8% of the time (third-highest rate) but morph into a run-first team when they’re ahead (53% run rate; seventh-highest rate). As 3-point favorites against a sliding Eagles defense, this sets up as another good spot for Javonte Williams / Melvin Gordon to get a lot of work.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
If DeVonta Smith saw a 35+% target share every week, he’d be a weekly no-brainer. But he’s mixed those massive rates with those of 20-or-less to deflate the excitement. Smith will face enough of the Broncos’ most vulnerable corner, Ronald Darby. If only we could count on consistent involvement…
Meanwhile, Jerry Jeudy will face a tough opponent in Avonte Maddox. And his presence is what persuaded me away from a featured write-up. Maddox — Philly’s primary slot CB — ranks fourth-best in YPCS, 10th in FP/CS, fifth in AY/CS, and with the eighth-lowest TPR.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
NOTE: the Broncos might not have playcaller Pat Shurmur (COVID) this week.
#Broncos OC Pat Shurmur is in COVID-19 protocols and is not expected to coach in Sunday’s game against the #Eagles, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 12, 2021
To cut right to the chase, my question for the Eagles is how they’re going to play QB Teddy Bridgewater this week. Are they going to treat him like he’s an elite QB they’re scared of, or are they going to actually come after him?
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say this Eagle defense — schematically — is one of the easiest defenses I’ve ever seen to play against. The numbers back it up!
Justin Herbert is the 5th QB to complete 80-plus percent of his passes against the Eagles this season.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) November 8, 2021
Between 1950-2020, Eagles allowed just 6 QBs to complete 80-plus percent of their throws (min. 25 attempts), per ESPN Stats & Info.
Of course, there have been some pretty good QBs who have done that — Herbert, Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Patrick Mahomes. But the Eagles are so dedicated to preventing the deep ball that they give up the easiest completions in the NFL. Their completion percentage against — 75.5% — would easily be an NFL record (for comparison, the record by a passer is 74.4%… Drew Brees).
#Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon: “We have to get the quarterback’s completion percentage down.”— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) November 9, 2021
Derek Carr and Justin Herbert set new career bests vs. Gannon’s defense. In 9 games, Eagles have allowed 5 quarterbacks to complete 80-plus percent. pic.twitter.com/LTUPwanmBZ
Yeah, ya think there Jonny?
Anyway, I actually think Gannon will get his head out of his ass and try to come after Teddy in this game. Teddy is down multiple linemen — Graham Glasgow, Bobby Massie, potentially Garrett Bolles — and the Eagles have been very effective defensively when they’ve actually decided to try to pressure the QB (against Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Darnold, Jared Goff). Still, I wouldn’t blame someone for playing the odds and streaming Teddy this week.
It’s become clear that the presence of Jerry Jeudy has been a negative for Courtland Sutton this year. Here’s Graham from Stat-Pack:
Broncos’ target share leaders over the last two weeks with Jerry Jeudy back: Jeudy (24%), Okwuegbunam (16%), Patrick (16%), and Sutton (12%).
Courtland Sutton’s finishes in the three games that Jeudy has played this year: WR100, WR64, WR65.
Sutton has seen just 3, 4, and 2 targets in games Jeudy has played.
Sutton was averaging 9.2 targets per game without Jeudy.
The one thing the Eagles have done well with this year is limiting the production of top perimeter receivers, shutting down Mike Williams last week, for example. Even if Darius Slay (hamstring) is limited (he has no gameday designation), I much prefer Jeudy and the Broncos TEs to Sutton this week, all things considered (the Eagles gave up 11 catches and 2 TD to Charger TEs last week).
The Eagles’ offense has completely changed in the last two weeks, with QB Jalen Hurts playing more of a facilitator role on the ground as his pass attempts have plummeted. And it’s worked — they blew out the Lions and nearly pulled the upset on the Chargers with Hurts throwing just 31 combined passes, with zero turnovers. Unfortunately, it’s … hurt… Hurts’ massive fantasy upside, and while he’s still getting it done with his legs, we need a little more balance.
The problem is the Lions offered no resistance at all, so the Eagles could just pound the rock, while the Chargers offered too much resistance, going on long drives and killing clock, while never punting and converting plenty of fourth-down attempts.
I think the Broncos will be somewhere in between, giving Hurts his best fantasy performance in weeks (just a hunch).
You might notice when Hurts does throw the ball that rookie WR DeVonta Smith is constantly wide-ass open. Well, that’s because he runs routes like a five-year pro.
Devonta Smith shows the advanced ability to manipulate defenders on the simplest of routes.— JetPack Galileo (@JetPackGalileo) November 10, 2021
A little bit of texture makes a big difference.
This type of knowledge is what separates receivers from defenders and vets from rookies. pic.twitter.com/DoVIFhtsbi
I like Hurts, Smith, and Dallas Goedert quite a bit this week — the Broncos have been a brutal matchups for TEs, admittedly. Remember, the Broncos are already down top slot CB Bryce Callahan, and rookie CB Patrick Surtain is dealing with a knee sprain.
Denver is 6th against the run, 20th in pass coverage per PFF. Big week to see if Jalen Hurts and the passing game can carry the offense if needed. #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) November 9, 2021