Philadelphia Eagles vs. Denver Broncos Keys to the Game

Written By Bob Cunningham On Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dawk may wear blue and orange, but he bleeds green.

The Eagles have already clinched a playoff spot, but there is still more to be done if they want to take the NFC East for the first time since 2006. With their win over the Saints the Cowboys are really turning up the pressure on the Birds to win every week.

With a win, and a Cowboys loss, the Eagles can clinch the NFC East. With a win, and a Minnesota loss, the Eagles can leapfrog the Brett Favre-led Vikings for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye -- something the Eagles could use to get healthy and make a push.

Andy Reid and company just need to win these last two weeks and a lot of good things could come their way. But before we start looking at the playoffs, the Eagles need to handle a reeling Denver team this week.

How do they do that, you ask? Well, sit back baby birds, and I'll feed you.

Attack Brian Dawkins in the Passing Game

It's going to be very difficult for Brian Dawkins to avoid letting either DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin behind him in a cover 2 scheme -- something the Broncos will have to do eventually.

The Broncos' corners will not be able to stick with Jackson and Maclin one-on-one all game long, so it will be up to the Broncos' safeties to give help over the top to prevent the big play. However, that's exactly why Dawk is no longer wearing Eagles green.

Dawk has been having problems in coverage for a few years now, and it's something that Andy Reid and Marty Morhinweg are more than aware of. They will do everything they can to get Dawk to move up a step toward the line of scrimmage because they know once he does that, it's over.

Expect the Birds to run their patented play-action streaks to start the game in an effort to stick a dagger in the Horses' side early.

Double-Cover Brandon Marshall -- No Matter the Situation

It's not something the Eagles usually do, but with Brandon Marshall there may not be a choice.

Asante Samuel is probably capable of shutting Marshall down by himself, but with his affinity for gambling and going for the big play, having a safety over the top to make up for it becomes a neccessity.

And with Eddie Royal already ruled out for Sunday's game, Marshall will get even more targets than usual -- a scary thought considering the guy just broke Terrell Owens' single-game reception record a couple weeks back.

If Sean McDermott's defense can shut down Marshall and force Orton to go elsewhere, they should be able to frustrate the offense and make them one-dimensional. After that, just start bringing the blitz and watch the turnovers force themselves.

Get Up Early and Make the Broncos Play Catch-Up

This is a bit general, but it's got to be the gameplan when playing a team like the Broncos. The Bengals showed us that when they are allowed to stick around a game and keep it close that they can squeak it out in the end.

The Broncos have a pretty good defense and an offense that can eat up the clock and put drives together, so it's imperative to get them out of their comfort zone and turn them into a quick-strike team.

Kyle Orton is a guy who can manage a game, then win it in the fourth quarter. But if he's asked to throw the ball 40-45 times he's a guy who can turn it over because he's trying to do too much.

If the Eagles offense can put up 14-17 points quickly and make Orton and the offense nervous, it should be a field day for Trent Cole and the defense.

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