The Eagles remain a game back in the NFC East behind both the Redskins and Giants heading into an important Week 13 game Sunday at 4:25 p.m. (on FOX).
With the Giants playing the Jets and Redskins slated to play the (nearly out of contention) Cowboys on Monday Night football, the Eagles badly need to break their three-game losing streak to keep pace.
They couldn't have asked for a worse opponent or venue, as the Birds head to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to face the 10-1 Patriots.
Here are three keys to the game as the Eagles desperately reach for their fifth win of the season:
Contain Tom Brady
Lets face it, Tom Brady could be the greatest ever. Every team in the NFL has its hands full with the seemingly ageless Patriots quarterback, and the Eagles struggling defense will certainly need to be on top of its game Sunday to keep him in check.
"We have to be ready," Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said."Brady has been in the system for 16, 17 years. They have this thing wired. They've got it wired, where they not only change the play at the line, but in between series, they can change the whole plan. They go from having a two-tight-end, two-back plan, to empty, spread out, every other series. So you are defending by series a plan of attack that's coming at you."
Brady leads the entire NFL with 28 passing touchdowns, 3,600 passing yards and is second to only Phillip Rivers in total completions (294).
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Benefit from injuries
If there is a good time to face the Patriots, it is this week. The team lost Rob Gronkowskiin their Week 12 loss to the Broncos (though he is expected to be back before the season is over). They are also playing, offensively, without Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
But with Brady behind center, it might not make a difference.
"Did they lose Brady?" Chip Kelly joked to the media Thursday, "because that, I think, would really, truly affect them. And I think it really just speaks to how good of a football player Tom is and the fact that they have had a lot of moving pieces around him. For them, it's that next-man-up mentality, which it really helps when [Brady’s] the guy pulling the trigger because he really is an orchestra leader out there in terms of directing protections, changing routes and changing everything."
Get the offense going
The Eagles scored pretty early during their two most recent setbacks (to the Buccaneers and Lions). The offense came out potent and looked to be on the cusp of having a big day.
And then, on both occasions, the offense completely sputtered out.
Will the possible return of Sam Bradford help add some consistency to the offense?
"I know Sam is a really good quarterback," Kelly said this week,"and he was playing really well for us before he got injured against Miami. I'm excited to see how he progress this is week so we can get him back out on the field."