1. Dwight Freeney & Robert Mathis vs Jason Peters & Winston Justice
Dwight Freeney is a fantastic defensive end, with five sacks and 23 quarterback pressures already this season. He is frequently double-covered, which opens up holes for Robert Mathis to burst through. Mathis also has five sacks this season. Mathis and Freeney will create a lot of problems for Jason Peters and Winston Justice. Peters is returning from arthoscopic knee surgery this week.
2. Peyton Manning vs Sean McDermott
In three games against Peyton Manning, former Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson did nothing right. Manning threw for seven touchdowns and just one interception, for a 132.7 passer rating. The Colts scored 124 points, an average of 41.3 per game. There is no reason to think that the Colts won’t have the same success against Sean McDermott, who is not even close to the same caliber that Jim Johnson was as a defensive coordinator. Yes, Manning is playing without the game’s best tight end, Dallas Clark, and Marvin Harrison won’t be around to torch the Eagles, but as long as the Colts have Peyton Manning, they’ll score. A lot.
Advantage: Colts, easily
3. Colts’ Running Backs vs Eagles’ Defensive Line
Joseph Addai is injured and will probably miss Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Second-year running back Donald Brown is terrible and probably won’t get more than a few carries. Mike Hart will likely receive the bulk of the carries. If the Eagles can shut down the Colts’ running game, Peyton Manning will be forced to throw the ball a lot (which actually could be a bad thing for the Eagles). The Eagles shut down Frank Gore, Michael Turner, and Chris Johnson in back-to-back-to-back weeks. Let’s hope they can stop the dangerous duo of Mike Hart and Donald Brown.
Advantage: Eagles, easily
4. LeSean McCoy vs Colts’ Defensive Line
This could actually be the key to the game. I don’t think Michael Vick will run a lot because of his ribs. I don’t think DeSean Jackson will play a large role in the outcome of the game because he is still recovering from his concussion. I think LeSean McCoy’s ability to run the ball well will be extremely important. The Colts have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. If he carries over 20 times, I think the Eagles win. If he tops 100 yards, I think the Eagles win.
Advantage: Eagles, easily
5. Andy Reid vs Game Clock
Calling Andy Reid’s clock management skills a weakness is like calling the Buffalo Bills a bad football team. If the outcome of the game comes down to the Eagles needing a timeout or two at the end of the game, they probably won’t have any left. This has cost the Eagles in multiple games in the past, and I’m going to be pretty angry if the Eagles lose by a few points because they didn’t have any timeouts at the end of the game.