|NFL Week 12: Eagles at Patriots Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Sunday, 25 November 2007 10:00|
Stomping The Competition
Tom Brady has been the better quarterback on the field in each game during New England's undefeated start - just like when he led the Patriots to a victory over Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Brady and the Patriots look to improve to 11-0 when they meet the Eagles on Sunday for the first time since that Super Bowl, but he may not have the chance to beat McNabb again.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made New England -22 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 50.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on New England -22 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Brady went 23-for-33 for 236 yards and two touchdowns without an interception as New England defeated Philadelphia 24-21 to win its third Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2005. McNabb threw for 357 yards and three TDs, but was picked off three times and appeared to tire out in the game's final minutes.
While Brady is on pace to shatter the NFL single-season records for touchdown passes, completion percentage and passer rating, McNabb has had an up-and-down season and is considered a game-time decision for Sunday due to thumb and ankle injuries.
Brady continued his amazing season last Sunday night, completing 31 of 39 passes for 373 yards and five touchdowns as New England beat Buffalo 56-10 to become the 10th team since 1970 to start 10-0.
Four of those TD passes were to Randy Moss, whose 16 touchdown receptions are six off Jerry Rice's NFL record of 22 set in 1987.
"I'm still in a dream, man, and I'm loving every second of it," Moss said. "It's too good to be true. I'm with the Patriots. What else do you want?"
Brady's quarterback rating this season is 134.0 - well above Peyton Manning's single-season record of 121.1 in 2004. With 38 touchdown passes, Brady also seems primed to break Manning's record of 49, and his 74.0 completion percentage is above Ken Anderson's record of 70.6 in 1982.
McNabb, meanwhile, was 3-of-11 with two interceptions before leaving last Sunday's 17-7 victory over winless Miami because of the injuries. He may be forced to sit out practice all week, meaning A.J. Feeley could start Sunday for Philadelphia (5-5).
"I don't think there is any added incentive to get out there and play," McNabb said. "We all know what happened in the Super Bowl and we know they are undefeated. If you need more motivation, then you shouldn't even step on the field."
The Patriots have been motivated all season, and have at times looked invincible. They can clinch a fifth straight AFC East title this week with a win or a Buffalo loss.
They've managed to feed off the negative attention surrounding the "Spygate" scandal that surfaced in Week 1, and they won't have to look far to find extra incentive this week. In the aftermath of the scandal, at least one member of the Eagles questioned the legitimacy of the Patriots' victory in Super Bowl XXXIX.
"I think they should forfeit, man," Eagles running back Reno Mahe said earlier this year. "We won the Super Bowl. I think we should get it. I'm going to go trade my NFC championship ring for a Super Bowl ring."
McNabb isn't the only injury concern for the Eagles, whose banged-up secondary will be facing a Patriots team that leads the NFL in total offense (436.8 yards per game), passing offense (305.0) and points per game (41.1).
Free safety Brian Dawkins (neck stinger) and cornerback Lito Sheppard (sprained knee) are still playing hurt, and a shoulder injury shelved strong safety Sean Considine for the season three weeks ago.
Considine's replacement, Quintin Mikell, didn't practice Wednesday after spraining his knee in last week's win over Miami, meaning third-year player J.R. Reed may make his second career start Sunday.
But Dawkins hasn't bought into the hype surrounding the Patriots, who are outscoring opponents by more than 25 points per game.
"Every team can be beaten, that's a given," Dawkins said. "There's no team that's played the game that can't be beaten. We, as a team, want to go in there and do what we can so we can get a win up there."
Slowing down Moss would be a good start. Acquired from Oakland during April's draft, Moss has 66 receptions for 1,052 yards and is one TD catch away from tying his career high of 17.
"I'm glad we have Randy Moss, let's put it that way," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "... As a head coach, I've never had a better receiver than Randy. I've been on teams that have had a lot of other good receivers, but he's very good and he's been good for this football team."
Feeley was good for Philadelphia last week, going 13-for-19 for 116 yards and throwing a TD pass to Jason Avant to put the Eagles up by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"It's nothing out of the ordinary," Feeley said. "It's what I do as a backup. You never know if you're going to play."
Philadelphia has won three of four to pull within a game of the final NFC wild-card spot. The Eagles, who have won three straight on the road, haven't visited the Patriots since a 34-31 overtime win on Nov. 29, 1987.
New England ended a five-game skid in the regular season to the Eagles with a 31-10 victory at Philadelphia on Sept. 14, 2003.
Feeley beat the Patriots in his only career start against them when he was with Miami in December 2004, leading the Dolphins back from an 11-point deficit with just under four minutes to play to win 29-28.
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