The Eagles play the Denver Broncos tomorrow at 4:15 in a game that has playoff implications for both teams. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East with a win and a Cowboys loss, and stay in contention for the #2 seed by winning. The Broncos are in the playoff mix in the AFC.
This game will also feature the return of Brian Dawkins, and Correll Buckhalter. I think Buckhalter was always one of the more underrated players on the Eagles. Even though he was oft-injured, when he was healthy, he has a great burst through the hole, always did what the Eagles asked him to do, never complained, and always filled in nicely when Westbrook would get injured. In fact, you could argue that the Eagles could have used him more since he is on pace this season to have his highest rushing total of his career, which currently is his rookie season with the Eagles. Also, the leader of the defense, and basically the team for the past decade returns in Brian Dawkins. It will be very emotional before the game, and they have said that Dawkins will be announced by name before the game for an introduction. This should be an unbelievable scene, very similar to when Iverson returned. I could go on and on about Dawkins, and have in plenty of posts before, but everyone loves Dawkins, so there isn't much else to say.
As far as the actual game, it is an extremely important game for the Eagles. I personally am very scared of playing the Cowboys the final game of the season in a winner takes the NFC East situation, so I want to avoid that at all costs. The only way to avoid that scenario is to get help from the Redskins, but also take care of business against the Broncos. The Broncos has been up and down all season... mostly down after they started the season 6-0. Their defense, led by Dawkins, has been the big surprise. They were one of the worst units in the NFL last season, and now are a top 10 defense in almost every category this season. The Eagles need to continue to mix the run and the pass effectively in order to win this game. Jeremy Maclin will return, which should help the passing game, as I have to imagine the Broncos will do their best to take DeSean Jackson out of the game. McCoy and Weaver need to run the ball effectively when called upon. Along with Dawkins, the Broncos feature the leader in sacks in the NFL currently in Elvis Dumervil, so the offensive line will have their hands full to keep McNabb on his feet.
On defense, the Eagles definitely took a step forward with a good game last weekend against the 49ers, but it still wasn't great. It is week 16 and the Birds and still having trouble filling the voids created by Brian Dawkins, and the injured Stewart Bradley. At the linebacker position, the Eagles are basically shuffling guys in and out. Will Witherspoon is the only linebacker that is playing almost every snap. After that, Akeen Jordan, Jeremiah Trotter, and rookie Moses Fokou are all part of the mix. I didn't say Chris Gocong because Gocong didn't play 1 snap on defense against the 49ers, and will back up Fokou for the 2nd straight game this weekend. Also, Sean Jones is still the starting free safety, but has been doing an awful job lately, and is now splitting time with Quintin Demps, who doesn't seem to be playing much better. The defense will have to shut down Brandon Marshall, the playmaker on the Broncos offense.
The Eagles would really like to see the Cowboys, and Vikings lose, but first need to go out and take care of business at home against a team that is good, but we should beat.