Win-Loss Predictions for the Philadelphia Eagles' Remaining Schedule
With six weeks of the 2017 NFL regular season in the books, the Philadelphia Eagles have answered serious question marks and suddenly become one of the primary contenders in the NFC.
At 5-1, the Eagles enter Week 7 with a 1.5 game lead in the NFC East. Perhaps most notable is the distance between them and the 2-3 Dallas Cowboys, who are having to prepare for life without running back Ezekiel Elliott for their next six games.
From diehard fans to national media, many expected Philly to take a step forward after last year's 7-9 campaign. Big free-agency moves and another strong draft gave plenty of reason for optimism, but a few holes across the roster indicated some caution.
Even amid huge injury problems in the opening weeks, the Eagles have gone on a tear, recording four straight wins. I'm looking foolish after a 9-7 prediction ahead of the season, which accounted for a seemingly woeful secondary and expected growing pains from infusing a number of veterans on offense. On the contrary, the cornerbacks have performed well beyond any expectation, and the offense is looking like a well-oiled machine behind the direction of quarterback Carson Wentz.
Many Eagles fans are rightfully looking forward to football in February after a scorching start, but head coach Doug Pederson and company will continue to take it one game at a time. We'll do the same and take a close look at each of Philly's remaining 10 games to see where the Eagles will finish.
Week 7: Vs. Washington Redskins on MNF
The Eagles ended the Washington Redskins' five-game winning streak against them in an impressive Week 1 road win. Under the lights on Monday Night Football, Philly takes aim at starting its own win streak against the divisional rival.
In their season-opening 30-17 win, the Eagles were decisively the better team. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins got the ball late with a chance to march down the field for a game-winning score before Fletcher Cox returned a fumble to the house. Washington was only within striking distance because of a costly second-quarter pick-six thrown by Wentz.
Philadelphia has since gotten rid of the turnover-prone nature that plagued the team throughout 2016. After two turnovers in each of their opening two games, the Eagles have turned it over less than once per game on average in the following four outings.
The pass rush got going against the Redskins' beleaguered offensive line in Week 1, and that unit will continue to make Cousins uncomfortable in the pocket. Just like he did in the opening matchup, Wentz will have his way with a Washington secondary that could still be without Josh Norman. The Eagles will improve to 6-1.
Prediction: Eagles win 23-16
Week 8: @ San Francisco 49ers
The Eagles have already faced two teams from the league's cellar when they toppled the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers in consecutive weeks. They get another favor from the schedule-makers with a trip to face the hapless 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers are a paltry 0-6 entering Week 7, and their recent move to make C.J. Beathard the starting quarterback reeks of desperation from a team that has been in some close games but can't break through. Beathard appeared to give the Niners a jolt on offense in Week 6, but that came against a Redskins defense that isn't nearly as powerful as Philadelphia's.
After six weeks, the 49ers have already lost to three teams (the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and Washington) that the Eagles have beaten this season. Even if their front seven plays like it is capable of against Philadelphia's run game, their 27th-rated pass defense won't be able to slow down Wentz and his bevy of receiving targets.
Prediction: Eagles win 27-14
Week 9: Vs. Denver Broncos
A team that looked like it could put it all together early in the season, the Denver Broncos have fallen back into mediocrity and appear to be facing a tough stretch.
When the Broncos come to Lincoln Financial Field in Week 9, they will be embarking on their third straight road contest following tough AFC West clashes with the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. If neither of those games breaks their way, they will be 3-4 entering an affair with the red-hot Eagles.
Denver still has one of the nastiest defenses in pro football, ranking second against the run and sixth against the pass after six weeks. But the offense has fallen on hard times. The Broncos put up just 16 points in both games against the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders before being shut down against the previously winless Giants coming off a bye week.
The Eagles defense can more than hang with all of those units, and holding quarterback Trevor Siemian and his crew to a maximum of 16 points would seemingly be enough to allow Wentz to lead Philly to seventh straight victory.
Prediction: Eagles win 17-13
Week 11: @ Dallas Cowboys
As things stand, Elliott will be serving a suspension during the Eagles' prime-time road trip to Dallas in Week 11. Chalk up another Philly win, right?
With the Cowboys already 2-3 with matchups against Washington, Kansas City and the Atlanta Falcons preceding the Eagles' visit, it's easy to envision a scenario wherein Dallas will be playing desperate football with the team's season on the line week in and week out. By this point, the Cowboys will have adjusted to life without Elliott and will have an idea of how to devise a winning game plan in his absence.
The Eagles front seven could wreak havoc against Dallas, but quarterback Dak Prescott will be intent on getting rid of the ball quickly, and his mobility will come in handy to avoid sacks. The Cowboys are struggling defensively, but when they have the most passionate bunch on the field, they are a tough beat.
This isn't to say Philadelphia won't be ready to play, but Dallas will have a lot more to play for. The huge cushion the Eagles will have built to this point will come in handy as they drop their first game in more than two months.
Prediction: Cowboys win 28-24
Week 12: Vs. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have found their young star quarterback in the 23-year-old Mitchell Trubisky, possess an explosive one-two punch in the backfield and are getting their act together defensively.
It's not hard to see the parallels between these Bears and the Eagles from a season ago, when Wentz dazzled with little help across his offense. Just like those 2016 Eagles, though, Trubisky simply doesn't have the vertical weapons at his disposal to beat true contenders.
It takes a wide range of offensive weapons to put Philly's susceptible secondary on its heels, and even that hasn't guaranteed victory for opponents in 2017. With Kendall Wright looking to be Trubisky's most trusted target, Chicago will have to run the ball to compete, which plays into the Eagles defense's biggest strength.
Wentz may not be able to move the ball with ease against a resurgent Bears defense, but he won't need a lot of points to lead Philly to victory here.
Prediction: Eagles win 20-7
Week 13: @ Seattle Seahawks
At the beginning of the season, the Eagles' three-game stretch of road contests, which begins at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 3, looked like one that would make or break the season. Now it's more likely to be a tune-up ahead of the playoffs.
In a matchup between two of the strongest teams in the NFC, the Eagles have a clear-cut identity on offense, while the Seattle Seahawks' situation is murky at best. Quarterback Russell Wilson is finding ways to win games, but the previously unstoppable run game has lost its luster, and the signal-caller is being reduced to playing hero ball in tight contests.
Seattle does have a talented crop of backs to get things going on the ground, but it may face its toughest test of the season against the Eagles. Philly has given up just 65 yards per game on the ground through six gameweeks, the lowest average in the league, and it has the speed and ferocity on the edge to limit Wilson.
The Eagles traveled to Seattle last season and matched up well despite losing 26-15. Philly has taken considerable steps forward in the year that has passed, while the Seahawks are treading water. That will show as LeGarrette Blount and the run game take advantage of Seattle's vulnerable defense.
Prediction: Eagles win 30-24
Week 14: @ Los Angeles Rams
What once appeared to be a walkover game for Philly in Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams may instead be a late-season matchup between teams at the top of their respective divisions.
Head coach Sean McVay has ushered in a new era of Rams football in L.A., helping to elevate the game of second-year quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams enter Week 7 with a 4-2 record, winning games behind a head-turning offense and a stalwart defense.
This will be one that Goff has circled on his calendar. He will have listened to the chirping throughout last season, when pundits dubbed him a bust and Wentz the far better NFL quarterback. While the 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick has undoubtedly proved the bust label wrong in 2017, he will have something to prove against a Wentz-led Eagles team.
McVay will orchestrate a strong game plan to expose Philly's limitations in the secondary, which will open things up for Todd Gurley to show he's one of the NFL's best running backs against that vaunted Eagles rush defense. As for the Rams defense, its strength up front will complicate the Eagles offense and result in Wentz forcing things down the field.
This one promises to go down to the wire, but the Rams will pull it out and hand Philly just its third loss of the campaign.
Prediction: Rams win 23-20
Week 15: @ New York Giants
The New York Giants got in the win column with a 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but the fact that it took until Week 6 is a sobering reminder of where the Giants organization is in 2017.
The treacherous week that saw Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall go down with season-ending injuries may have been stymied by an upset win, but that doesn't change the reality for the rest of the season. Quarterback Eli Manning may be talented enough to do more with less for a few weeks, but once teams adjust to a new-look Giants offense, they will be in trouble again.
The Eagles handed it to New York in Philly for three quarters in Week 4 before Beckham almost single-handedly brought New York back, but they won't have that luxury in Week 15. A Giants defense that is giving up 123 yards on the ground per game will get gashed again by Blount and the committee at running back, opening things up for Wentz to hit Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor for some big plays.
It's not hard to envision that the Giants will be somewhat checked out at this point in the season, while the Eagles will not shy away from the opportunity to run it up on their rivals on the road.
Prediction: Eagles win 40-17
Week 16: Vs. Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders hung up 71 points on their opponents in two season-opening wins. In the four games that have followed, they have averaged 13.25 points per game and quarterback Derek Carr has suffered a back injury.
Carr may have returned in Week 6, but the Raiders still fell in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers. Oakland's offensive woes appear to reach well beyond the health of its star signal-caller. A seemingly dynamic weaponry on the perimeter has fallen flat, and Marshawn Lynch is no longer capable of carrying a team.
The Raiders defense is strong enough to give Wentz some problems. Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. should provide one of the toughest tests the Eagles' star-studded crop of tackles has all season. They have playmakers in the secondary. But there's simply not enough going for Oakland on the other side of the ball to compete with Philly.
Before the season, this appeared to be a matchup nightmare for the Eagles secondary. Now, the unit has gotten its confidence, and the Raiders have seemingly lost theirs.
Prediction: Eagles win 23-13
Week 17: Vs. Dallas Cowboys
If you told an average NFL fan before the season that one team would be resting its starters in the Week 17 clash between the Eagles and Cowboys, they would envision Prescott and Elliott in street clothes on the sideline.
There won't be a repeat of last year, when Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played his final NFL game and the Eagles notched a season-ending victory against Dallas' B-team. In fact, it will be Wentz and his fellow star players sporting the hats and hoodies.
As much as those players may clamor for a chance to rectify the Week 11 loss they will have suffered to Dallas, there will be bigger fish to fry. Philadelphia will be 12-3 going into this game. The Green Bay Packers are no longer a threat without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, while it's hard to expect that the Panthers or Falcons will be finishing with more than 12 wins. That will pave the way for home-field advantage regardless of the Week 17 result.
Regardless of whether the Cowboys have something to play for in the regular season's final game, the Eagles will not. They will happily eat a loss as they look ahead to a hopeful Super Bowl run.
Prediction: Cowboys win 31-13
The Philadelphia Eagles finish 2017 with a 12-4 record and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.