The Philadelphia Eagles are a trendy Super Bowl pick as they prepare to open their 2014 regular season on Sunday, but how will they fare in their Week 1 encounter against the Jacksonville Jaguars? The Birds shouldn’t run into many problems, according to experts.
Prognosticators are nearly universal in their forecast for an Eagles victory, which is not altogether surprising. The reigning NFC East champions opened as 11.5-point home favorites, according to Odds Shark—the largest spread of kickoff weekend—as the Jaguars visit Lincoln Financial Field coming off a 4-12 campaign.
As you can see, only a few brave souls were willing to go the upset route in this matchup.
|Media Outlet||JAC Wins||PHI Wins|
Elliot Harrison for NFL.com encapsulated my own feelings on the matchup best. While Jacksonville is clearly still in rebuilding mode, second-year head coach Gus Bradley does have the team on the right track. Harrison has the Eagles scratching out a 34-21 W but says the Jags won’t go without a fight.
Fully expecting this one to be close through three quarters, with Philly pulling away in the fourth. LeSean McCoy, who will consistently test the Jaguars' run defense, should put up 125 rushing yards for the host Eagles.
Pete Prisco for CBSSports.com thinks Jacksonville’s defense in particular will be improved. He’s not wrong, but if a Chad Henne-led offense only manages to post 13 points, there’s no way the Jaguars are holding Philly’s offense to 27.
The Eagles can score, but the Jaguars will be better on defense. They've had a lot of time to get ready for Chip Kelly's offense. But Jacksonville's offense has issues and won't be able to keep up.
A few experts feel so strongly about Philadelphia in this matchup, they were willing to call this game their “Lock of the Week.” Sporting News’ David Steele correctly observes the Jaguars are an ascending team, but this was a really tough opening draw for a franchise that picked third overall at May’s draft.
The Jaguars are getting better, but not so much better that they can go into the Linc and beat an Eagles team that’s smoking-hot on offense and no longer a pushover on defense. This game provides a good argument for not starting Blake Bortles right out of the box : who needs a showdown with Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and Co. on the road for his first game? Eagles 38, Jaguars 21 .
Nate Davis and Gary Mihoces for USA Today also named the Eagles their lock in part of the paper's clean sweep for Philly.
With that being said, a few people have been willing to go out on a limb. Of the sampled panels, only ESPN.com had anybody take Jacksonville—Mark Schlereth and Mike Ditka. I’d like to hear their reasoning for that.
On second thought, no I wouldn’t. Even Bleacher Report's panel of 15, the largest group we looked at, was unanimous—not to mention incredulous at the idea of anybody picking the Jags.
Anything can happen on any given week in the NFL, but Jacksonville is a heavy, heavy underdog here. If the Eagles offense produces even a modest output, the offensively challenged Jaguars will have trouble keeping up as long as Henne is in the game.
Chalk up another person who thinks the Eagles win this one.