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Can The Eagles Stop The Unstoppable Peyton Manning?

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Get ready for an afternoon of funky hand and arm gyrations like someone playing charades on Sunday afternoon. Also prepare yourself for one salivating future Hall of Famer who’s had a cable-strong history of slicing up the Philadelphia Eagles.

Indianapolis Colts’ superstar Peyton Manning is coming to town, paying a visit to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday in a nationally televised game on CBS at 4:15 p.m.

The underlying theme to Sunday’s conference crossover game is someone’s spotless record will be blemished, considering: Manning is 3-0 lifetime against the Eagles, with his highest quarterback rating against an opposing team (132.3); while Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid has a pristine 11-0 record in games after the bye week.

The Eagles have a number of issues to address, namely curtailing the explosive, unstoppable Manning. He has a career 131-61 record, which translates into a 68-percentage winning percentage as the Colts’ starting quarterback, and he’s been 94-25 since 2003. A small number of those victories have come at the expense of the Eagles, who Manning has completed 48-of-69 passes against for 737 yards, including seven touchdowns and an interception.

Guided by Manning, the Colts have averaged 41.3 points a game against the Eagles in Manning-led victory over Philadelphia in 1999 (44-17), 2002 (35-13) and ’06 (45-21). He’s averaging 245.7 yards passing a game against Philadelphia, though you wouldn’t know it by listening to Manning, who’s done a solid job this week of suppressing his giddiness in facing the Birds’ defense again.

“I think you’ve got to be careful summarizing three games,” said Manning. “One was back in ’99, one was in ’02 and the last one I think was in ’06. Three different teams, three different game plans. Just for whatever reason, we had good execution on those days.”

Now consider the Eagles are coming off their most horrid performance this season, victimized for 276 yards and three touchdowns against Kerry Collins in Tennessee’s 37-19 victory on October 24. The Eagles were only able to get to Collins once, sacking him for a four-yard loss. Manning has only been sacked seven times this season. He’s not very mobile, but Manning’s quick delivery and split-second decisions make him slippery.

The Eagles will also be turning to six-year veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who is making his first NFL start, to replace Ellis Hobbs, who is listed as questionable with a hip flexor injury and was primarily responsible for covering Tennessee’s Kenny Britt (who had the best game ever for an opposing receiver against the Eagles with 225 yards receiving—and three touchdown passes).

Against the defensive schemes of former Eagles’ defensive coordinator, the late Jimmy Johnson, Manning exploited mismatches and one-on-one coverages. Eagles’ current defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was part of Johnson’s staff and is very aware of what Manning can do.

“He’s unlike any quarterback I’ve ever seen,” McDermott said. “We’ve seen him just a few times since I’ve been here and the results haven’t been very favorable. He gives defensive coordinators fits and headaches and keeps them up at night.”

What the Eagles may need to do is rely heavily on the mobility of quarterback Michael Vick, returning from a rib injury sustained on October 2 against the Washington Redskins that forced him to miss three games. Vick’s return, coupled with tailback LeSean McCoy, could possibly lead to prolonged drives—and keeping Manning off the field.

A shootout falls right into Manning’s capable right passing hand.

Another important key will be offsetting Manning’s rhythm. With the Colts’ no-huddle offense, he has a good amount of time between plays to pick apart defenses and read formations. McDermott will need to disguise where the pressure is coming from, because if Manning sees it, he’ll take advantage of it.

Before Sunday arrives, however, ask yourself this: If Collins, who is nowhere near as good as Peyton Manning, can chew up the Eagles defense for 276 yards and three touchdowns, how can the Eagles stop Manning?

Bird Seeds: Eagles’ All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson has now been upgraded to play and should start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday says Eagles’ coach Andy Reid. “I always leave that open when you’re dealing with concussions. But he had a great practice and he’s been feeling well and ready to roll. So we’ll just see, again, I keep those open,” Reid said.

Reid also stated that Jackson will return punts. Jackson practiced Wednesday and again on Friday and passed concussion exams. He missed the Tennessee game with a concussion suffered on the Dunta Robinson hit in the second quarter of the October 17 game against Atlanta. Robinson was fined $50,000 for the hit.

Jackson will wear a protective new helmet designed to prevent concussions.

Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito

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