By Matt Citak
This week’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles features two teams trending in very different directions. The Eagles are currently the hottest team in the National Football League, winners of six straight games, and the owners of the league’s best record (7-1) and point differential (+76). Philadelphia’s second-year quarterback Carson Wentz has put himself in the MVP discussion halfway through the season. The 24-year-old QB has completed 61.0 percent of his passes for 2,063 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only five interceptions, while adding 42 rushes for 203 yards (4.8 yards per carry).
The Eagles offense has been firing on all cylinders in 2017. Philadelphia sports one of the league’s top offensive units, averaging 29.0 points per game, and just added another lethal piece. On Tuesday, the Eagles traded a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for running back Jay Ajayi. The acquisition adds a talented back to a running back group that was already finding a lot of success this season, averaging 129.3 rushing yards per game. Ajayi will join LeGarrette Blount (100 carries for 467 yards) to form a powerful 1-2 punch.
On the other side of the field, the Broncos find their season unraveling as they enter this Week 9 matchup in Philadelphia. Losers of three straight, Denver has a struggling offense that has managed only 29 points during that span. In the five games since their 42-17 shellacking of the Cowboys in Week 2, the Broncos have not reached 20 points, going 1-4 in those contests. As well as the defense is playing, the team will not win any games if its defense does not improve.
Broncos head coach, Vance Joseph, hopes benching Trevor Siemian in favor of Brock Osweiler as the team’s starting quarterback for Week 9 will solve the problem. Siemian has thrown only three touchdown passes, while accumulating eight interceptions, over the last five games. Osweiler will have every chance to perform well this weekend, as the Eagles enter the game 22nd in passing yards allowed (243 yards per game) and tied for 31st in passing touchdowns allowed (19). The veteran QB should also benefit from the likely return of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
NFL ON CBS analyst Dan Fouts weighed in on this week’s Broncos-Eagles matchup, which he will be calling alongside play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle and field reporter Evan Washburn, as well as other upcoming NFL ON CBS action in Week 9.
Denver Broncos vs. Philadelphia Eagles – 1:00 PM ET Sunday – CBS
CBS Local Sports: The Eagles added another piece this week in running back Jay Ajayi. Is this the move that pushes the already-stacked Philly offense over the top?
Dan Fouts: It certainly gives them another option. It will be interesting to see how he shares the ball with LeGarrette Blount, because they are both starting-caliber tailbacks. He’s a big, physical runner with good moves. He had a good season with the Dolphins last year. We’ll see how he fits in with the Eagles. The biggest problem for the Eagles has not been with their running backs, but rather in their run-blocking. That’s why Blount has been so valuable. He’s been able to make yards after contact.
CBS Local Sports: The Broncos offense has looked awful over the last few games. How does Vance Joseph fix this unit in time to save their season?
Dan Fouts: The Broncos have had a number of injuries up front. The teams that have depth or can stay healthy on the offensive line are the teams that are going to do well. Right now, it’s been a big problem for the Broncos, regardless of who the quarterback is. They’re just not getting it done up front. For Brock Osweiler, this is going to be a real challenge with Denver’s offensive line going up against this great Philadelphia defense.
CBS Local Sports: Carson Wentz is one of a few very talented, young quarterbacks appearing in NFL ON CBS action this weekend, joining Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson, and Dak Prescott. Of the four, which QB has looked the most impressive this season?
Dan Fouts: You have to give it to Deshaun Watson at this point. He’s performed extremely well under some really pressurized situations. He’s given Houston what they haven’t had — a quarterback who has been able to produce for them. He looks like the quarterback of the future for the Texans. All four of the quarterbacks mentioned are going to be superstars in this league. But right now, the biggest surprise is the rookie Deshaun Watson. The other three have some experience [under their belts].
[Editor’s note: This interview was conducted on Wednesday, November 1, prior to the announcement from the Texans that Watson would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.]
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Dallas Cowboys – 4:25 PM ET Sunday – CBS
CBS Local Sports: Will the Cowboys offense be able to succeed without their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, and will it even matter in Week 9, as the Cowboys face Alex Smith and the high-scoring Chiefs offense?
Dan Fouts: Of course it matters. If Elliott cannot play, that changes things a great deal for the Cowboys. They’ll have to lean on Dak Prescott and their passing game a lot more. Kansas City is the most versatile offense in the NFL right now. Alex Smith is doing a great job, and he’s in the conversation for league MVP for a reason.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.