Eagles analysis

Eagles-Bills player matchups to watch in Week 12

Here are some key matchups to watch on Sunday afternoon when the Eagles host the Bills at the Linc.

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The Eagles (9-1) return home to host the Bills (6-5) at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon.

Here are some key matchups to watch:

Eagles’ defense vs. turnover-prone Josh Allen

When Allen is on, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in football. He’s a physically gifted player, a two-time Pro Bowler and he’s thrown for 4,200+ yards and 35+ touchdowns in back-to-back-to-back seasons.

But he does turn the football over.

Through 11 games, Allen is tied for the league lead in interceptions with 12 and has fumbled four times. And this isn’t a one-year thing. Since he entered the NFL in 2018, Allen leads the league in interceptions with 72 and leads the league in fumbles with 56. There’s some obviously some opportunity to force Allen into mistakes in this game.

Takeaway luck definitely exists and they sometimes come in waves. The Eagles had eight takeaways in their first three games, then went three games without one, then they had three games in a row with exactly one. And then they had two big ones against the Chiefs as they returned from the bye week. It seems like takeaways sometimes come in bunches and the Eagles could certainly get some on Sunday afternoon. When they get their chances, they have to capitalize.

Eagles’ run defense vs. James Cook

The Eagles still boast the NFL’s No. 1 run defense but they had a rough first half against the Chiefs last week. The Chiefs rushed for 121 yards in the first half against the Eagles in Week 11 after the Eagles hadn’t given up more than 107 in any single game this season. But the run defense shored up in the second half allowing just 47 yards the rest of the way. The second half against the Chiefs looked more like what we’ve come to expect from the Eagles.

The Bills have the NFL’s No. 11 rushing offense led by James Cook, who has 688 yards (5.0) this season. Cook ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing, just two yards behind D’Andre Swift.

Darius Slay, Bradley Roby vs. Stefon Diggs

Diggs has led the Bills in receiving the last three years and he’s going to do it again in 2023. Through 11 games, the Pro Bowler has 77 catches for 895 yards and 7 touchdowns. While Gabriel Davis is a solid No. 2 and rookie TE Dalton Kincaid is having a good season, the guy to stop is clearly Diggs. And it’ll take a bit of a group effort.

This could be a game where we see Slay travel side to side with Diggs, which might mean the Bills work to get Diggs in the slot and away from the Eagles’ CB1. While Diggs plays more snaps outside, he does play in the slot quite a bit too. Here’s a look at his snaps by position this season, per PFF:

Wide: 415 (66.6%)

Slot: 199 (31.9%)

Backfield: 9 (1.4%)

The Eagles welcomed back veteran Bradley Roby against the Chiefs and Roby played the majority of the snaps as the Eagles’ nickel cornerback. But we also saw the Eagles use Sydney Brown and Eli Ricks in there a little bit too.

Eagles tackles vs. Leonard Floyd

The Bills are second in the NFL this season with 39 sacks. Just the Ravens (44) have more in 2023. It’s been a bit of a team effort but Floyd is leading the way. Here’s a look at the four Bills with at least four sacks this season:

Leonard Floyd: 9.5

A.J. Epenesa: 6.5

Ed Oliver: 6.0

Gregory Rousseau: 4.0

Floyd, 31, is having the most productive season of his career. He’s had a double digit sack season just once in his career and already has 9.5 in 11 games in 2023 in his first year with the Bills. Typically, Floyd lines up on both sides of the line, which means he’ll see a bit of Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata in this game. Those should be fun battles.

D’Andre Swift vs. Bills run defense

It’s amazing that Swift is third in the NFL in rushing considering he had a bit of a lull before the bye week. But against the Chiefs, Swift had 76 yards rushing and 31 yards through the air, giving him his best game since Week 3.

And there’s an opportunity to run against the Bills in this game. The Bills are 16th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 110.5 yards per game. But the Bills are also 29th in yards per attempt allowed at 4.5. But the Bills have been better against the run recently. After allowing at least 100 yards per game in five of their first six games, they’ve allowed 100 just once in their last five.

Curious to see how things shake out in this part of the game on Sunday.

Eagles receivers vs. Bills banged up secondary

The Eagles go into just about every game feeling like they have an advantage with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith against the opposing cornerbacks. That’s especially true as the Eagles face an injury-plagued group of corners on Sunday.

The Bills top cornerback Tre’Davious White is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Their other starter Taron Johnson and top backup Dane Jackson both suffered concussions in Week 11. And even safety Taylor Rapp is in danger of missing this week after suffering a neck injury in the last game. And then S Micah Hyde (neck) and DB Cam Lewis (shoulder) were also limited participants to start the week.

This is a depleted group of defensive backs that will have to rely on a couple of former Eagles on Sunday. Former Eagles seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer has turned into a Pro Bowl safety with the Bills and even at age 32 is still playing well. And 2017 draft pick Rasul Douglas will likely start the game at cornerback. Douglas has been a nice addition for the Bills, who picked him up at the trade deadline.

But the advantage is clearly with the Eagles in this matchup. And even if the Bills work to take away Brown, then we could see another big performance from Smith like we saw last week against the Chiefs.

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