Our Eagles vs. Titans predictions for Week 13 of the NFL season

Our Eagles vs. Titans predictions for Week 13 of the NFL season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles (10-1) will host the Titans (7-4) on Sunday afternoon at the Linc.

To the predictions:

Reuben Frank (9-2)

They don’t score many points, they don’t give up many points, and the Titans play a brand of tough, physical, grimy football that isn’t easy to overcome.  You better be ready for what they’re about to bring to the table because they like to win these low-scoring hard-hitting games: 21-17 over Washington, 19-10 over the Colts, 17-10 over the Texans, 17-10 over the Broncos, 27-17 over the Packers.

The Titans are 26thin the NFL in scoring at 19.0 points per game and 7th in scoring defense at 18.6 points per game. Nobody is scoring 40 points this weekend. I kept thinking this was a game the Eagles could lose, but I just don’t think the Titans can score enough points. They’re 29th in total yards per game, 29th in passing yards, 25th in sacks allowed, 31st in first downs, 27th on third down and 22nd in time of possession. The Eagles should be able to make a lot of plays in the air, and I expect a big game from Jalen Hurts throwing the ball this time. The Titans are really good at one thing – winning. The Eagles are better.

Eagles 23, Titans 17

Dave Zangaro (10-1)

The Eagles have rattled off a couple wins after suffering their first loss of the season but they haven’t looked unbeatable and now they’re about to face what I think will be their toughest test so far this season. The Titans are a well-coached and physical bunch that never make anything easy. The Eagles know it’s going to be a long afternoon even if they take care of business and win the game.

The Titans aren’t an offensive juggernaut by any stretch. They are statistically one of the worst offenses in the NFL, relying on a heavy rushing attack with one of the game’s best backs in Derrick Henry. This season, Henry has already carried the ball 247 times. He’s on pace for 381 rushing attempts, which would be the most in the NFL since DeMarco Murray’s 2014 season with the Cowboys. All that is to say that the Titans will stick with the run and will grind out games on the offensive side of the football, occasionally relying on Ryan Tannehill to play through the air, especially in the play action game. Tannehill is good enough to throw the ball if a defense really sells out to stop the run.

But the star of the show for the Titans is their defense, which starts up front with Jeffery Simmons. Even with Denico Autry out for this one, that unit is still exceptionally good. The Titans haven’t given up more than 20 points in any game since Week 3. Aside from one outlier game in Week 2 (a 41-7 loss to the Bills) this defense makes you work for everything.

The Eagles might be the better team but this is a really tough matchup. When they were still undefeated, this is the one I had circled as the first loss so I’m sticking with my gut. They’re more talented and more balanced but the Titans have the ability to muck it all up and grind out wins. In the grand scheme of things, you’d rather lose to an AFC team and that’s what I think happens in a very close one on Sunday.

Titans 21, Eagles 20

Barrett Brooks (9-2)

The Titans have a top-three defense against the run. I say so what!? The Eagles still must run the ball against this defense. Last year, the Saints had the No. 1 defense against the run. The Birds ran the ball 50 times and had over 240 yards rushing. The Eagles’ offense will establish the run and Jalen Hurts will continue the high level play on the ground and in passing situations. The run pass ratio will be balanced and the Titans’ defense will pick wrong the majority of the day.

Jonathan Gannon will have the bigs upfront stop Derrick Henry consistently all game. Penetration kills the running game. I think the Bird’s 50 front, (DL covers the center and both guards) will be the base defensive front for the majority of the game. Defensively they must make Henry start and stop his feet. They must not let him get a full head of steam going downhill. If you make him start and stop, it becomes hard for him to get the momentum going again. The Titans’ offense lines him up 8 yards in the backfield, so he can get a running start downhill when running the ball. So, King Henry will be held under 100 yards rushing.

Eagles 27, Titans 20

Mike Mulhern (10-1)

The Titans are going to make the playoffs for a fourth straight year and it isn’t by accident. They are about as tough and fundamentally sound as it gets in the NFL. They will make the Eagles uncomfortable at times and try to turn this into a street fight. Ultimately, what’s done them in over their stretch of success is being unable to keep pace with elite offenses. If they fall behind, Ryan Tannehill isn’t bringing them back. Sure, Derrick Henry is a wrecking ball, and will likely get his. But without the threat of a precision passer dicing them up, the Eagles defense can commit all the resources it needs to keep Henry from killing them.

Meanwhile, the Eagles record-setting rushing attack will face much tougher sledding against a Titans run defense that ranks first in a lot of advanced metrics and is 3 rd overall in rush yards per game allowed. However, as my colleague Barrett Brooks is sure to attest, stopping a traditional running attack is a lot different than stopping one that features a lethal ground threat like Jalen Hurts at quarterback. It’s an extra person to account for on every play in the numbers game of defense. I’ve seen comparisons made to the Saints matchups of the last two seasons. New Orleans boasted one of the best run defenses in all of football but had zero answers for Hurts’ mobility. I have no doubt the Titans will have a better plan that whatever it is the Packers tried, but I’ll believe a team can actually stop this Eagles attack when it happens.

Eagles 24, Titans 17

Adam Hermann (10-1)

The Titans are 7-4, are sitting in first place in the AFC South, and they’re currently the No. 3 seed in the AFC. That doesn’t sound like an opponent any team should take lightly. And yet there’s something particularly fishy about this Titans team, something that tells me the Eagles shouldn’t be shaking in their boots.

Tennessee has a razor-thin point differential (+4) through 11 games, basically a coin flip which suggests this team could just as easily be 4-7. If you take away their three wins against their hapless in-division opponents in Houston and Indianapolis, the Titans are 4-4 with a -19 point differential. Does that sound like an intimidating opponent?

Still, one game can be its own season and the Titans won’t be pushovers. The Eagles’ run stoppers will be tested mightily by Derrick Henry who is averaging 4.2 yards per attempt, 95.3 yards per game, has 10 rushing touchdowns, and might be made of concrete. The Birds have struggled defending the run without Jordan Davis this year and they’ll be challenged again on Sunday. I don’t particularly like this matchup, and I’m not sure I trust Jonathan Gannon to scheme something up.

I’ll also be interested to see if the Titans’ strong run defense (2nd in rush yards per attempt allowed, first in rush touchdowns allowed) can stand up to the Eagles’ titanic run game. Will the Birds try to zig where Tennessee expects them to zag and attack through the air after their monstrous rushing performance against the Packers? I’d like to see A.J. Brown & Co. be aggressive against the Titans’ young corners: Tennessee has allowed 19 passing touchdowns through 11 games. If the looks are there early, make them stop you through the air.

I think this will be a close game that the Eagles win by virtue of having a little more talent in the trenches and at key playmaking positions.

Eagles 24, Titans 20

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