Eagles vs. Browns: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 1 Matchup
The NFL season (and, more importantly, fantasy football season) is finally here. With the defending champion already having been upset at the hands of their division rival, the Dallas Cowboys, the season has already started off with a surprise. Who predicted that Dallas' third option at wideout (Kevin Ogletree) would put up such eye-popping numbers (8 receptions, 114 yards and 2 TDs) in Week 1?
No one did.
And that's the beauty of the NFL—everyone makes bold predictions, but some things are beyond predicting. Last year, many predicted the Eagles were going to be a "Dream Team" of sorts.
They looked anything but that.
As the Eagles prepare to take on the young and inexperienced Cleveland Browns, expectations abound as the team enters Year 2 of their reclamation project.
Here are five bold predictions for their upcoming battle with the Cleveland Browns.
Michael Vick Will Throw for 300-Plus Yards and Run for an Additional 75
Michael Vick wants nothing more than to shut his critics up.
Ever since gaining the throne atop the Eagles' depth chart at QB, he has been under a constant microscope. Not only that, there's been a target put on his back by opposing players—not in the Bountygate sense (calm down, Roger Goodell—don't suspend me), but in the sense that players are simply tired of hearing his name.
Expect Vick to seek redemption this season. He will absolutely light it up numerically.
Many saw Vick's renaissance in the 2010 season when he ripped apart the Redskins in a Monday night game, throwing for 333 yards, rushing for 80 and accounting for six total TDs.
Expect similar stats Sunday.
He may not touch six touchdowns again, but four is definitely not out of his reach.
Vick has the better part of a full season under his belt in Philadelphia, and a few select receivers will reap the benefits. The Browns have some nice pieces on defense (which will be mentioned shortly), but they stand no chance at slowing down the electric Eagles offense.
DeSean Jackson Will Be Held Under 50 Yards
With the suspension decision on Browns superstar cornerback Joe Haden still up in the air, the Eagles will have to prepare as though he will play. Haden practiced all week after his appeal was submitted to the league office, and it looks as though he stands a chance at playing Sunday. Who will he conceivably be defending?
While Jackson, too, seeks redemption after a letdown season, his attitude has—and always will—hold him back professionally. Although he started last year off quite well in Week 1, racking up over 100 yards and a touchdown, it came against the St. Louis Rams and their porous defense.
Two years ago, Jackson failed to eclipse the 30-yard mark in Week 1.
And more bad news for fantasy owners: Jackson signed a new deal with Philadelphia during the offseason.
A content DeSean Jackson makes a bad DeSean Jackson.
Eagles D Will Allow Less Than 250 Yards
Yes, the Eagles have to travel to Cleveland and enter the Dawg Pound, a place known for rowdy fans and, well, rowdy fans.
That's basically the only worry the Eagles should have Sunday.
Trent Richardson, the Browns' electrifying rookie running back, is coming back from injury, but is expected to start Sunday. With the season still in its infancy, the Browns are unlikely to extend his playing time past 20 carries. He'll be wearing a brace and is sure to be limited in the passing/blocking game.
Then you have the oldest rookie quarterback in some time, Brandon Weeden.
Yes, he led Oklahoma State and its aerial attack in college. But that was college football. With virtually no depth at wide receiver, the Eagles D—specifically Jason Babin—will expose Weeden early on by pressuring him into mistakes.
Philadelphia is expected to have a top-five defense this season and this game will be its coming-out performance.
Jason Babin Will Have 3 Sacks
Jason Babin will spearhead the Eagles' rush off the edges, as he looks to continue his monumental success from last year. He leads a Philly defense that allowed 20-plus points in only three of its last 10 games.
The Eagles run a "wide-nine" scheme that allows their talented rushers to focus alone on the quarterback. At least, that is their primary goal, as they allow their teammates to stuff the run.
Babin was made for this scheme. With Joe Thomas being the Browns' only offensive line stalwart, the Cleveland line will have a tough time protecting the quarterback.
Another problem for the Browns offensive line? Brandon Weeden is terribly slow. Weeden rushed for negative-102 yards last season with the OK State Cowboys, and negative-150 in his career.
Playing next to the dangerous Trent Cole allows Babin to take on favorable matchups, this being one of them. There will be a guaranteed three sacks for Babin Sunday.
Eagles Will Win by 4 Touchdowns
I'm sorry, Cleveland, but the chips are stacked against you in this one. There's a new era in Cleveland, which means there will plenty of lumps along the way. The team is full of young future studs, but at this point in time, things are looking pretty glum for Sunday's game.
The Redemption Team is looking to prove everyone wrong, and the only advantage the Browns have is that they're playing in Cleveland. Any hope of a Browns win lies in the development and cohesiveness of Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson.
Unfortunately, cohesiveness and, more importantly, development, don't occur right off the bat.
The ugly truth is that the Browns are currently constituted of a mish-mash of talent spread unevenly throughout the team.
The real truth?
The Eagles are just like the picture above...scary.
One of the league's top pass rushes will be all over Weeden early and often Sunday, which doesn't bode well for Cleveland's chances.