3 key matchups: Eagles vs. Patriots 


Eagles SS Malcolm Jenkins vs. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski: The Eagles will keep a safety over the top of Gronkowski at all times. That main job will fall to Jenkins and Rodney McLeod will help at times. But when the Patriots flex Gronkowski out to the wide receiver position, a linebacker could find himself in one-on-one against the massive tight end. Gronkowski was knocked out of the AFC title game with a concussion, but is expected to play. “The thing that makes Gronk different is that he’s so big, so tall and so strong, that he has the ability to create some space even if there is no real room as far as coverage goes,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “That’s probably the biggest challenge, his size especially on the outside.”

Eagles CB Jalen Mills vs. Patriots WR Danny Amendola: Mills was in coverage against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones on the incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal in the divisional round of the playoffs. Amendola is the Patriots favorite target on crossing routes to beat up zone coverages. The Eagles plan to mix up their coverages. “Just show Tom (Brady) different looks,” Mills said . “You can’t give him the same looks. He picks up things really, really quick. That’s when he starts to shred you.”

Eagles DEs Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham vs. Patriots OTs Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming: The Eagles appear to have a decisive advantage rushing off the edge. Graham and Curry are talented and the rookie Derek Barnett and veteran Chris Long play in the defensive end rotation. Solder has held up well, while Fleming will likely get some help in pass protection from a tight end or running back. “The one thing that jumps out at me will be the defensive ends against the tackles of the Patriots,” said former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik. “I want to watch the perimeter game and I think that’s something that might play in to Philadelphia’s strength. They have guys who can go and collapse the pocket and really push the tackles. I want to see how good of a job and how much they are going to do to protect that knowing that Philadelphia is really talented in that area.” 


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