Philadelphia Eagles: Pre-Preseason Predictions, Game-by-Game
The Philadelphia Eagles are just a handful of hours from their first game since their season ended prematurely last January.
Andy Reid, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and the Green Gang must be itching to get on the field against their in-state rival Pittsburgh Steelers. It may be the preseason, but Philadelphia is happy to start its quest on a new year.
Given their talent and media attention, they will always have their critics and naysayers. But here's an updated look at my predictions for each game this season.
Have a look at my "way-too-early" OTA version for comparison.
Week 1: At Cleveland Browns
As mentioned in version 1.0, Weeden was brought in to be the starter, and every road sign in Ohio points to that being the case. He will be the starter against the Eagles on September 9.
He may not be your average rookie quarterback, but I think he's in for a real struggle against Philadelphia's new-look defense.
It doesn't help that fellow rookie Trent Richardson will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a supposed "hang-nail particle," whatever that means. I expect him to be on the field to face the Birds, but even if he is 100 percent, and I doubt it, the minimum two weeks away from the field will hurt enough.
This should be a great start to a new season.
Week 2: Vs. Baltimore Ravens
One of my big questions during the OTA's was what affect would a holdout have on Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens. Turns out there wasn't a situation to be had after Ravens management locked up their stud running back.
Now, the same questions turn to Joe Flacco. He has a lot to prove this season.
For the Eagles, they should have good vibes coming off an impressive win, and they will be amped to show the home fans that this year will not be like the last.
The Ravens will pose a good early season test, but I'll take the Birds at home.
Week 3: At Arizona Cardinals
Seriously, who will be throwing footballs to Larry Fitzgerald?
I always liked Kevin Kolb from his days in Eagle green, but his line is as good as Tim Tebow's throwing motion, and this not only rattled him last season, but it kept him on the sidelines in a T-shirt far too often.
It didn't take him too long to find the doctors this season.
I'm not sure this means that John Skelton will be under center come Week 3, but I am sure that whoever takes the ball from their center will be on their back a handful of times.
I don't think this game will be as easy as it looks on paper, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be a good 'ol smackdown if the Eagles get off to a fast start.
Week 4: Vs. New York Giants
Things are different in Giants camp this season. Despite being the reigning champions, they're not the popular story in New York these days. I wonder why...
I'm sure that's perfectly fine with them, though.
But despite what the media is talking about, opposing players will be thinking about knocking off the champs when they get their shot.
This is undoubtedly a tough game to predict, as are all rivalry games. You can count on LeSean McCoy having a big game, as he always does against Osi Umenyiora and New York. That will go a long way in winning this game.
The biggest matchup(s) however, reside on the line. New York's D-line versus Philly's O-line, and vice versa, should be as thrilling as any two-way matchup up front in the league. These are two of the best pass-rushing corps in the NFL.
At the end of the day, the Eagles are at home and have more to prove.
Week 5: At Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Big Ben will be three official games into their new offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
They're still going to have kinks to work out at this point, and who knows if Mike Wallace will be on the field to stretch the defense.
The Steelers are coming off a bye, so perhaps they will be far more polished in their new system. Head coach Mike Tomlin will have his team ready, and they will be playing own their own turf.
I think the Birds have more than a just a good shot at winning this game, but I'll make them prove me wrong.
Week 6: Vs. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions will be coming off of a convenient week off and will have plenty of time to prepare for the Eagles' new defense.
Philadelphia is the better team in my opinion, but Reid and Mornhinweg may get too pass-happy with another offense with an explosive passing attack in their building.
The defense's secondary will be far better than it was last year, but you could put two more defenders on the field with the sole objective of stopping Calvin "Megatron" Johnson; it's not going to happen.
Still, Philly's defensive front will be all over Matthew Stafford, and it may be a game of who can come up with more stops.
I'll take the Eagles D over the Lions.
Week 8: Vs. Atlanta Falcons
They haven't proven it to date, so there isn't much reason to think that will be different this year.
Atlanta might get a road win against the new-look Washington Redskins, but I don't see it against these Philadelphia Eagles.
Week 9: At New Orleans Saints
They're without their head coach and their defensive captain, but they have a coach on the field. His name?
A Monday night game at the Superdome, Philadelphia is in for a tough one against New Orleans. I fully expect the Eagles to play a good game, but it's hard to pick against a refocused Saints team at home.
Week 10: Vs. Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys/Eagles. I'm already licking my chops!
The first meeting of the season between these NFC East rivals is hosted by the Birds at the Linc.
This will be the Cowboys' third tough matchup in a row. They play the Giants and Falcons in the two weeks leading up to this game, and it will also be their fourth road game in five weeks.
Week 11: At Washington Redskins
Welcome to the Big Show, RG3!
You will likely need to use a lot of your speed and athleticism today. Though you will be getting more and more comfortable in the league, you will also be pretty worn by this point.
You have a bye week to help rest up and prepare, but there's nothing like seeing fresh defensive linemen charge at you down after down.
I had a bad feeling back in OTA's about this game, but I seemed to have quelled those fears.
Week 12: Vs. Carolina Panthers
The Eagles play a Monday night game against Sir Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers under the lights on Broad Street.
The sophomore quarterback may be just as good or better this season, and he was made for prime-time.
Carolina will be a solid team this year in my estimation, and I have an odd feeling that Philadelphia may play down to the Panthers' level.
Week 13: At Dallas Cowboys
The more I think about Dallas, the more confident I am in concluding that it's just not that great of a football team.
Don't get me wrong, it is a solid group. But what scares you about it?
It should be a better defense with a second season under Rob Ryan, but I don't fear it slowing down Philly's offense too much.
It has some talent on the offensive side of the ball too, but I'm not scared that Tony Romo and company will make it a track meet.
Anything goes in a game like this, but I still like the Eagles.
Week 14: At Tampa Bay
Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a better football team than I first thought. They're likely somewhere in between their surprisingly successful season in 2010 and their miserable season in 2011.
I have the Eagles rolling in this game. I just don't see any reason why this shouldn't be won handily.
Week 15: Vs. Cincinnati Bengals
I recently watched a few episodes of Hard Knocks when the Bengals were under the spotlight, and my biggest takeaway was how much respect I have for Marvin Lewis.
He's done a great job for years in a city that doesn't seem to find much success on the gridiron. He may not have a lot of playoff success to show for it, but he is one hell of a leader.
In large part because of him, I don't see the Bengals taking any steps back this season.
This team will be ready to play, and it will be a tough contest. It may be in large part due to the horrible showing the Eagles had last season against Seattle on a Thursday night, but I don't like this game.
Philadelphia is a more explosive football team, but I just have a bad feeling.
Week 16: Vs. Washington Redskins
Philadelphians will get their first live look of Robert Griffin III in the second-to-last week in the 2012 season.
I mentioned him being a bit worn by Week 11, so the same train of thought leads me to hypothesize that he will be dreaming of the offseason by Week 16 (but not really).
I don't see the Baylor product having a Cam Newtwon-esque season, but he will likely have a good start under his belt.
That being said, he won't find much success against this division rival in year one.
Week 17: At New York Giants
Based on my predictions to this point, the Eagles should have the division and possibly a first-round bye locked up.
We may not see a number of regulars in this game.
The Giants will likely still have something to play for, and it's at the Meadowlands.
That brings us to a much-improved 11-5 season for the Eagles. But we Philadelphians know it's not about what happens in the regular season...
Here's to hoping for good health and good luck!