Last week we hit on three of these numbers as the Eagles evened their road record to 2-2 down in Houston.
Tonight, Mark Sanchez will try to channel his inner Jeff Garcia, as the Eagles aim to improve their home record to 5-0 against the somewhat struggling Carolina Panthers. In fact, prefacing ‘somewhat’ before the word struggling might be a bit generous here.
The Panthers have not won since October 5 and have averaged 12 points in their past three contests, all losses. Let’s hit the five numbers I believe could push the Panthers losing streak to four and the Eagles to a 7-2 record:
- Cam Newton completing less than 60 percent of his passes — The Panthers are 1-1-1 and averaging 26.7 points per game when their quarterback completes more than 60 percent of his passes this season. They are 1-4 in games where he does not. In a Monday Night game at the Linc back in 2012, Newton carved the Eagles mess of a secondary up, completing 64 percent of his passes. Hold him below the 60 benchmark tonight, and the Eagles should be in good shape.
- Less than 70 receiving yards for Kelvin Benjamin — The Panthers rookie receiver is an absolute stud. He was my favorite receiver in a stacked draft class, and despite guarantees by some doubters that he would be a bust, Benjamin’s rookie year has been very solid so far. I hate that I have to root against him, but he’s the one player on the Panthers offense who scares me. The Eagles secondary has surprised before against big receivers (think back to them holding Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey in check last season). Hopefully they can do it again.
- At least six receptions by Jordan Matthews — Sanchez loved throwing to the rookie receiver in the preseason and looked his way on his third pass last Sunday for a nice touchdown down the seam. Matthews has had an up and down rookie season but put in some good work with the Eagles then backup quarterback over the summer and has a chance to make it count here.
- LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — After a super slow start to the season that had half of Philadelphia going off the deep end, the Eagles Pro Bowl running back seems to be finding his groove. He quietly entered Week 10 fourth in the league in rushing and has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over his last three games, twice going over the century mark. The Eagles are 3-1 this season when the focal point of their offense averages more than four yards per rush and 10-5 going back to the start of the 2013 season.
- Less than two turnovers for the Eagles offense — I am budgeting at least one interception for Sanchez, because well, that’s what Sanchez does. Going back to his 2012 Jets days, he has thrown at least one interception in five of his last six starts. At some point, turnovers could easily catch up to this team, so taking care of the football in terms of fumbles and not adding to the total that Sanchez is likely to start will be key. The next turnover free game the Eagles play will be their first of the season. That might be a lot to ask for tonight, but keeping the number to one should give them a decent chance to win the game.
There we go. 60, 70, six, four, two, and the Eagles hopefully standing at 6-2 at midnight Monday night.
Fist pump away, Chip.