NFL Predictions for 2010 Season: Philadelphia Eagles Preview, Part Three

Carl RagsdaleCorrespondent IIIAugust 20, 2010

NFL Predictions for 2010 Season: Philadelphia Eagles Preview, Part Three

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    The Philadelphia Eagles enter this season with many new and younger faces, and Kevin Kolb is now running the show.

    This is the last of a three-part look at the 2010 Eagles schedule, focusing on weeks 13 through 17 and looking at the Eagles' strengths and concerns for each game.

    On the final slide, I give my game-by-game prediction on how the Eagles will finish.

    While it is still preseason, and things will no doubt change during the course of the season, we can still get an idea of what teams do well and what teams struggle with.

    If you would like to read the first two parts, you can find them here:

    Part One

    Part Two

Week 13: vs. Houston Texans, December 2, 2010

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    2009 Record: 9-7 (missed playoffs)

    The Texans posted their first winning season in franchise history last season, and they are looking to build on that. Led by Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, the Texans finished first in the NFL in passing yards last season.


    Eagles' Strengths


    The Texans lost their best defensive back this past season in Dunta Robinson. Fred Bennett is a capable starter, but with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant, among others, the Eagles definitely have the advantage over the Texans' pass defense.


    Stopping the run

    In 2009, the Texans were 30th in the NFL in rushing offense. They added rookie Ben Tate, but he suffered a season-ending injury. The Eagles should be able to take the Texans' running game away.


    Eagles' Concerns

    Andre Johnson

    The Eagles have struggled in recent years covering big, athletic receivers. Andre Johnson definitely fits that mold, so the Eagles must prevent Johnson from taking over the game.


    Protecting Kolb

    Mario Williams is one of the best pass rushers in the league. If the quarterback is constantly under pressure, then he can't take advantage of the mismatches in the secondary, which makes it important for Jason Peters to have a good game.

Week 14: at Dallas Cowboys, December 12, 2010

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    2009 Record: 11-5 (lost in NFC Divisional Playoffs to Vikings)

    The Cowboys embarrassed the Eagles at the end of last season while winning their first playoff game, but then turned right around and got embarrassed themselves by the Vikings.

    The Cowboys are preseason favorites to make a Super Bowl run and have a very good roster.


    Eagles' Strengths

    Trent Cole

    The Cowboys have a new starter at left tackle in Doug Free. Free has the challenge of going up against the Eagles' best pass rusher, Trent Cole. If the inexperienced left tackle falters, Cole has the potential to take over the game.


    Cowboys' safeties

    On an otherwise excellent defense, safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Alan Ball are a glaring weakness. The Eagles can go after these two using post routes by Jackson and Maclin, as well as using Brent Celek.


    Eagles' Concerns

    Stopping Cowboys screens

    In the week 17 game last year, the Cowboys used wide receiver screens to counter the Eagles' "double barrel" blitz and did so very effectively. The Eagles corners have to tackle better. Otherwise, Sean McDermott will have to stop blitzing, which is the last thing the Eagles want.


    Running the football

    The Cowboys had the fourth best run defense in the league last year, and pretty much shut down the Eagles' running game in the season finale/Wild Card game last year. The Eagles have to run the ball better so that they can slow the Cowboys' pass rush and open up play action.

Week 15: at New York Giants, December 19, 2010

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    2009 Record: 8-8 (missed playoffs)

    The Eagles have beaten the Giants four times in a row prior to 2010. The Giants' defense had some serious problems in 2009 stopping opponents' passing games.

    Eli Manning had a big year, but his performance was overshadowed by the woes that the rest of the team had.


    Eagles' Strengths

    Matchups in the secondary

    The Giants have added defensive backs Antrel Rolle and Deion Grant to help their pass defense. Aaron Ross is also returning from injury. However, the Eagles still have favorable matchups due to the plethora of receivers they have.


    The pass defense

    Although Eli Manning did have a good game in his last matchup against the Eagles, the three he had before that ranged from average to awful. I won't call that performance a fluke just yet, but the Eagles have gotten the better of Eli over the past two years.


    Eagles' Concerns

    Protecting Kolb

    The Giants' pass rush last year was a story of big names not playing the way we would expect them to. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora still have the potential to return to a premier pass-rushing duo, and I'm not counting them out yet.

    The Eagles have to keep Kolb on his feet; otherwise it won't matter that the Giants can't cover the Eagles' receivers.


    Stopping the run

    The Giants still have most of the components from their dominant running game from 2008, and they have recently added former Eagle and dominant run blocker Shawn Andrews.

    The Eagles can't fall asleep on the Giants' running game unless it's obvious by this point in the season that the Giants have gotten away from running the football (by Week 15 we should have a pretty good idea).

Week 16: vs. Minnesota Vikings, December 26, 2010

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    2009 Record: 12-4 (lost in NFC Championship Game to Saints)

    With the return of Brett Favre, the Vikings are now Super Bowl contenders. They have a very explosive offense along with one of the best defensive lines in football. This will be a very tough game for the Eagles late in the season.


    Eagles' Strengths

    Throwing the football

    The Vikings gave up the sixth highest quarterback rating in the league, as well as the eighth most passing plays of 20 or more yards. Kolb could have a big day if the Eagles can keep him upright.


    Quarterback pressure

    Despite two Pro Bowl linemen, the Vikings gave up 34 sacks in 2009. The Eagles need to get pressure on Favre early and often to keep the Vikings' passing game from taking over.


    Eagles' Concerns

    Running the football

    The Vikings have had one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL for several years now. Pat and Kevin Williams will make it very difficult for the Eagles to run the ball.


    Protecting Kolb

    The Vikings are also very good at getting pressure on the quarterback (led the NFL in sacks in 2009). The Eagles can't let Jared Allen and company disrupt the passing game. The problem is that's much easier said than done.


    Adrian Peterson

    Obviously, a player of AP's caliber is going to cause problems for defenses. He is the type of runner that can break off 60-plus-yard runs at any time. The Eagles' front seven has to prevent that from happening.


    Stopping the pass

    Brett Favre is coming back for yet another season, and he showed in 2009 that he can still play like one of the best. The Eagles need to get pressure and hits on Favre to keep him from taking over the game.

Week 17: vs. Dallas Cowboys, January 2, 2011

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    2009 Record: 11-5 (lost in NFC Divisional Playoffs to Vikings)

    For the third season in a row, the Eagles and Cowboys are playing each other in week 17. This game could be the deciding factor for a playoff berth for either team.

    See week 14 slide for strengths/concerns.

My Predictions

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    I know that I'm slightly biased because I'm an Eagles fan, but here is my final prediction:

    Week One: Lose vs. Packers

    Week Two: Win at Lions

    Week Three: Win at Jaguars

    Week Four: Win vs. Redskins

    Week Five: Lose at 49ers

    Week Six: Win vs. Falcons

    Week Seven: Win at Titans

    Week Eight: Bye

    Week Nine: Lose vs. Colts

    Week 10: Lose at Redskins

    Week 11: Win vs. Giants

    Week 12: Win vs. Bears

    Week 13: Win vs. Texans

    Week 14: Lose at Cowboys

    Week 15: Win at Giants

    Week 16: Lose vs. Vikings

    Week 17: Win vs. Cowboys

    2010 Record: 10-6 (Wild card team)

Thanks for reading!

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    I hope you enjoyed the show.

    Any feedback and comments are always welcome.

    Go Eagles!