The Philadelphia Eagles have the NFL’s best record and a chance to clinch a playoff berth at home Sunday.
The visiting Tennessee Titans appear to be well on their way to a third consecutive AFC South division title.
Those plots are secondary, however. This battle between the Eagles (10-1) and Titans (7-4) is all about A.J. Brown.
Tennessee traded the star wide receiver to the Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft, acquiring the No. 18 overall pick and a third-round selection.
Philadelphia then signed Brown to a four-year, $100 million contract (with $57 million guaranteed), a deal that he was unable to negotiate in Nashville.
Brown, 25, has been a big reason why the Eagles are enjoying their best start since the 2017 team that won Super Bowl LII. He is tied for fourth in the NFL in touchdown catches (seven) and ranks ninth in receiving yards (831).
All of Tennessee’s wide receivers combined have just three touchdown receptions, two by Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and one by Robert Woods.
Brown tried to turn down the temperature on his impending reunion with the Titans, for whom he piled up 2,995 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in three seasons (2019-21).
“I know people are going to try to hype it up,” Brown said. “I’m going to be focused and try to play my best ball on Sunday.”
Brown caught only four passes for 46 yards Sunday night in the Eagles’ 40-33 win over the Green Bay Packers, but his third-quarter touchdown gave Philadelphia a critical 14-point cushion.
Brown, who fully expects to receive extra attention from Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel’s defense, said he is at peace with his departure from the Titans.
“I know they’re going to be coming. I know they’re going to be chirping,” Brown said. “But it really doesn’t mean nothing to me. Honest. I mean, I feel like I’ve won. I’ve won in the sense of I got a chance to take care of my family. They did give me an opportunity, but I got a chance to take care of my family and I’m 10-1.”
Vrabel, whose Titans are coming off a 20-16 loss to Cincinnati, said his team has bigger concerns after coming away with zero touchdowns on three trips to the red zone against the Bengals.
“It’s the best team in the National Football League,” Vrabel said of the Eagles. “There will be plenty of challenges. It’s a good football team, on the road. The Titans — and who we have proven to be and hopefully who we are — have to prepare this week and we have to show up and try to do things that we know are successful and not start changing things and pointing fingers.”
They will be facing an Eagles defense that ranks No. 2 in the league, allowing 304.4 yards per game.
Philadelphia will be without standout safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the NFL leader with six interceptions, due to a reported lacerated kidney. Linebacker Patrick Johnson (ankle) and wide receivers Zach Pascal (groin) and DeVonta Smith (groin) were all limited in Wednesday’s practice.
Titans kicker Randy Bullock has missed the past two games with a calf injury but was a full participant Wednesday in practice, as were center Ben Jones (concussion) and quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle). Defensive ends Denico Autry (knee) and Jeffery Simmons (ankle) and cornerback Elijah Molden (groin) did not practice.
–Field Level Media