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Five Key Matchups to Keep an Eye on in the Eagles vs. Bills Game: Predicting the Outcome of the Potential ‘Trap Game’

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PHILADELPHIA – It’s a short week for the Philadelphia Eagles with the Thanksgiving holiday cutting even deeper into preparation time.

Not only that, but Sunday’s matchup between the Eagles and Buffalo Bills at Lincoln Financial Field (4:25 p.m./CBS) has all the looks of a trap game, sandwiched between a Super Bowl rematch win over the Kansas City Chiefs and an NFC Championship Game rematch against the San Francisco 49ers next week.

Are there such things as trap games? Cornerback Darius Slay has his thoughts.

“I don’t really know,” he said on Friday. “I just come to work every week. I promise you I don’t even know what the schedule is. I just come in on Monday like, ‘Who we got this week?’ Damn.

“This s–t is going by fast, you know what I’m saying? I remember early in the season, everyone was talking about this gauntlet of a schedule. Now we’re here, and I forgot about it. I don’t really pay no mind. I’m just ready to go get it out of the way, have fun.”

Here are five things to watch:

A.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs. Two of the best receivers in the game. Brown said that he believes Diggs is one of the league’s top five receivers.

“Definitely have to keep your eyes on him,” said Brown. “He can change the game any time.”

Diggs has 895 yards, putting him seventh in the league for most yards receiving, and seven touchdowns.

As for Brown, the one catch for eight yards he had last Monday isn’t going to cut it. The Eagles and Brown need to devise ways for him to get open against beefed-up coverages designed to thwart him.

Having DeVonta Smith on the other side helps, but Brown needs to get going if this offense wants to reach its scoring average of 27.3 points per game.

Philadelphia Eagles A.J. Brown talks about “living in a new world” and adjusting to double teams and bracket coverages.

Ed Kracz/SI Eagles Today

The quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen are two of the game’s best, though both have struggled at points this season. Allen has been reckless at times with the football as his 12 interceptions attest, but he has also completed close to 70 percent of his throws and has tossed 22 touchdowns.

Hurts’ accomplishments are too lengthy, but here’s one to grow on: he is just the fourth QB to post back-to-back 9-1 seasons, joining Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, John Elway, and Jim Kelly.

Albert Okwuegbunam. It feels like now or never for a tight end who has had three months now to learn the offense after not being acquired until the end of training camp. He got some snaps on Monday night, but nothing of great consequence as the Eagles seemed to struggle to figure out what to do without Dallas Goedert, who will miss this game as will Grant Calcaterra (ankle). 

Noah Togiai is back for his third stint with the team, signed to the practice squad on Nov. 14 and perhaps he will be elevated and thrown into the gameday mix. Whoever the tight ends are, they need to produce.

Sack attack. Like Patrick Mahomes, who had been sacked just 12 times going into last Monday’s game, where the Eagles only got to him once, Allen is equally difficult to get to the ground. He has been sacked just 14 times.

That doesn’t mean the Eagles can’t generate enough pressure to move him around and get him unsettled. The defense has generated the league’s third-most pressures with 175, behind Baltimore (185) and San Francisco (176).

Against the Chiefs, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat combined for 16 pressures, 10 hurries, five hits on Mahomes, and a 21.1 percent pass-rush win rate.

Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown. Those are the Bills’ offensive tackles who are in charge of blocking Reddick and Sweat, who made life mostly miserable for KC tackles Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor last week.

Dawkins and Reddick are good friends from their time together at Temple, with Reddick being the 13th overall pick in 2017 and Dawkins the 63rd overall pick in the same draft.

PREDICTION: Unlike Slay, I believe in trap games, and this is one – Bills 27, Eagles 24

Season record: 7-3

Related: ‘Iron Eagle’: Brandon Graham To Enter Philadelphia Record Book

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