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Bills-Eagles Preview


After entering the season with very high expectations, the Philadelphia Eagles have endured a rough start.

The Buffalo Bills went undefeated during a surprising opening month, but suffered a disheartening first loss last week.

The last-place Eagles look to avoid their first four-game skid in almost six years Sunday when they visit the Bills, who will be trying to stay atop their division.

Defending NFC East champion Philadelphia (1-3) looked formidable in cruising to a 31-13 win at St. Louis in its season opener, but not much has gone the Eagles' way since.

Despite leading by 20 in the third quarter last Sunday, Philadelphia fell 24-23 to San Francisco. Michael Vick threw for a career-high 416 yards and two touchdowns, but rookie Alex Henery missed two field goals and receiver Jeremy Maclin fumbled on a potential winning drive with less than three minutes remaining.

The Eagles, who haven't lost four in a row since Oct. 30-Nov. 20, 2005, have been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter during their losing streak.

"Our issue right now is we are unable to close out games," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "We have to be able to close out games. You can't come into that last quarter and not be able to pull it out, especially when you're winning."

Despite being at the bottom of the NFC East, Philadelphia remains confident in its ability to turn things around with three quarters of the season remaining.

"We all had high expectations and we still do," said Vick, who this week declared an end to the "Dream Team" label that followed the Eagles after they added several Pro Bowlers and other players in the offseason. "Don't get me wrong. It's still a long season and we just have to dig deep. We've got to dig deep. There's really nothing else to be said. It's self-explanatory.

"It's right there for everybody to see what is taking place, how it's been done, what hasn't been done and what needs to be done. I think that's just the bottom line."

Ryan Fitzpatrick averaged 280.3 passing yards and threw nine touchdowns during Buffalo's first 3-0 start since 2008, but he had 199 yards and no TDs in a 23-20 defeat at Cincinnati on Sunday.

The Bills, who lost on Mike Nugent's 43-yard field goal as time expired, are in a first-place tie with New England in the AFC East.

"We were hoping to go 16-0," Fitzpatrick said. "But, obviously, not too many teams do that.

"We'll be mad about the game for a little bit longer and move on from there. And we're doing whatever we can right now to prepare in trying to get to 4-1."

Fred Jackson had 17 carries for 66 yards and scored his conference-leading fourth rushing touchdown. Jackson has scored 10 TDs - eight on the ground - in his last 13 games.

He could be in line for a big game against the Eagles, who in addition to their fourth-quarter difficulties have struggled against the run. Philadelphia is giving up 139.5 rushing yards per game - 30th in the NFL.

"I'm in the business of finding the problem and solving the problem," coach Andy Reid said. "I know we have good enough players and coaches to do it. I've seen enough glimpses of what this thing can be when it's operating right and it's important that we get it there."

The Bills' defense has also encountered its share of issues. While Buffalo is tied for second in the league with 11 takeaways, the club ranks 27th with 405.0 yards allowed per contest.

"We've played sporadically, and that's not good for a defense," coach Chan Gailey said. "We look really good at times and then we just don't play well at all at times. I think if I had to say one thing, I've seen us do it, so I know we're capable."

Buffalo held Kansas City to 213 yards during a 41-7 season-opening win, but has surrendered 1,407 yards since - the third-highest total in team history over a three-game stretch.

"It's concerning," Gailey said. "You can't give up those kind of yards on a consistent basis and expect to win."

The Eagles have won the last two matchups in this series, the most recent a 17-9 victory Dec. 30, 2007 at Philadelphia.

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