Philadelphia Eagles' Season Preview

C KSenior Analyst IAugust 22, 2008

In recent years, the hype for the Philadelphia Eagles has always been high in the mind of an Eagles fan.

I was never one of them. Until now.

The Eagles have only had one offseason as notable as this past offseason: the 2004 Super Bowl season.

I'm not saying the Birds will go all the way, but they could get pretty close.

First of all, the defense is looking better than I expected. I thought that Lito Shepperd would be long gone by now, but the fact that he is still in the nest is a great sign. Keeping him gives the Eagles great depth at cornerback. It also takes some of the pressure off of the aging Brian Dawkins and the question marks of Quintin Mikell and Sean Considine.

Plus, bringing Asante Samuel to a defense that has lost their knack for interceptions could revamp this secondary for a standout year.

Now, the defensive line isn't too great, but isn't too bad. Trent Cole should have another double-digit sack season, and I like the talents of Mike Patterson. I am especially intrigued by Broderick Bunkley this preseason. He seems to really be progressing well, and this could be his breakout year.

And don't forget about Chris Clemens. Clemens was a decent lineman in the past few years, and I think he could make a nice impact on this defensive line.

On to the offense.

First of all, Eagles fans can take a deep breath...for now. Donovan McNabb looks fantastic so far in training camp and looked great tonight in his preseason game against the Patriots. If Donovan can stay healthy, he could have a great year (deja vu?).

Second, Brian Westbrook is a happy man with his new contract and should have another tremendous year. Besides LaDanian Tomlinson, Westbrook is the most exciting back in the NFL. With his mix of carrying the ball and catching abilities, Westbrook can be the most elite dual-threat back in the league.

Also, many people look at Westbrook and ask some questions about his injuries. Well, I say that you shouldn't worry about that. He doesn't miss many games at all. He misses around one game per year, which isn't too bad for a player that is "always injured."

The only time he missed more than two games due to injury was in 2005, which he actually only sat out all four games because the team went 6-10.

Finally, the WR corps could be getting some help very soon.

Before Kevin Curtis went down for about two months, the Eagles' WR corps was already looking dull.

With Reggie Brown as their No. 2 WR, it looked like Westbrook and McNabb were going to have to carry the offense again. And now it looks like Brown could be bothered by his hamstring for a little bit. He will probably play in the opener, but he may not be the No. 1.

Hank Baskett has impressed Andy Reid this training camp and in recent years. Personally, I would rather see Baskett than Brown as the No. 1 receiver at the beginning of the year.

Now, having Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett—who are, at best, No. 2 and No. 3 receivers on most teams—as your starting receiving is not good. Even with Curtis, the receivers looked pretty bad. But now they are in deep trouble.

So where do they turn?

Well first of all, you can turn to the veteran Joe Horn. Sure, he may not be the WR he used to be, but he would be an improvement over Greg Lewis, Baskett, or even Brown as the No. 2 or No. 3 WR.

And then you have the possibility of bringing in Anquan Boldin. The Cardinals won't trade Boldin, you say? Well, there is always a way to get a player from a team. You just need to keep trying and maybe get a little luck from the player (hold out, not play, etc.).

The Eagles do have Lito Shepperd, who wants a new contract or wants out, so that could be good trade bait (plus a draft pick, it's what they offered for Fitzgerald).

Bringing in Horn and/or Boldin would be big for the offense and could bring back some stability to the Eagles' receiving game.

But then let's not forget about the rookie, DeSean Jackson. Sure, he will make the biggest impact on special teams, but he could see quite a few long balls from McNabb and catch three or four TDs.

Finally, we move on to the special-teams game.

Let's rewind to the Eagles' season opener against the Packers last season. As I sat in the bleachers at Lambaeu Field that day, I was dumbfounded to see the Eagles special teams fumble the ball twice and pretty much lose the game for the Birds. And then in steps DeSean Jackson.

Once again, Eagles fans need to take a deep breath.

DeSean Jackson is just what we needed.

He may not be the same as Brian Mitchell, but he will be pretty darn close.

He has showed off so far in camp and in the preseason, both on special teams and on offense, proving he could be a factor in both parts of the team. Just call him a better receiving version of Devin Hester.

How many kicks or punts could Jackson take back for a TD? He may not take six or even five, but he could take four. His speed and agility will make him an elite returner in the NFL for years to come.

So, now that I have broken down the entire Eagles squad, piece by piece, I suppose I will break down the only thing left: their schedule.

Week One vs. Rams: The St. Louis Rams are not the 3-13 team we saw last year. They were an injury-filled team that did not have a real identity. I expect them to be a better team this year, maybe going 8-8, and falling just short of the playoffs. But I still see the Eagles pulling out at 24-13 victory due to a nice debut by DeSean Jackson.

Week Two at Cowboys: The Dallas Cowboys are the clear favorites in the NFC East, and maybe the entire NFC, so this will be a very tough game. And even though the Eagles have had recent success versus Dallas in Dallas, I see the Cowboys coming away with a 14-10 victory, thanks to a late score from the Cowboys.

Week Three vs. Steelers: Another tough match up for the Birds, and I don't see them being able to come away with the victory. In fact, I don't even see it being close. The Steelers will come away with a 30-13 victory on a strong performance by Ben Roethlisberger, putting the Eagles at 1-2.

Week Four at Bears: The Eagles will bounce back from two tough losses with a huge win in Chicago, running away with it 42-21 on the back of Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb. And Samuel could really blossom in this game when he goes up against the very weak Bears passing game.

Week Five vs. Redskins: The Eagles should improve to 3-2 in Week Five against the Redskins. It should be a tough test, but I see the Eagles pulling away late to win by the score of 24-14. There shouldn't be a huge standout in this game, since both teams are pretty even in most parts of the game in my opinion.

Week Six at 49ers: Easy win. A real easy win. The 49ers shouldn't be a good team at all, and the Eagles should run away with another big win by the score of 31-13. All of the Eagles should have a good game, especially the defense.

Week Seven: Bye Week

Week Eight vs. Falcons: Another easy win for the Eagles, especially since it comes off a bye week, where Andy Reid is usually successful. I see the Birds coming out strong and then letting up a bit, but still winning by the count of 27-17 on the back of the Eagles' defense once again.

Week Nine at Seahawks: The Eagles will end their four-game winning streak with a loss to a better team. Seattle's defense will out play the Eagles and be the deciding factor in a 17-12 loss for the Eagles.

Week 10 vs. Giants: Eli Manning should be fearing this game. Manning does not have success against the Birds, and that should continue as the Eagles win easily here, 28-14 on the back of the Eagles' secondary.

Week 11 at Bengals: I have the Bengals pulling off the upset in this matchup. The Bengals may not be the better team, but I just have a feeling that the Eagles won't be able to beat the Bengals and their passing game. Bengals win 31-21.

Week 12 at Ravens: After an upset the week before, the Eagles will come out and destroy the Ravens by the score of 42-17. From the opening kick to the final whistle, the Eagles will be in control of the game on the back of McNabb and Westbrook on offense and Jackson on special teams.

Week 13 vs. Cardinals: This will be a very tough test against the passing game of the Cardinals, yet the improved secondary of the Eagles will be the deciding factor late in the game, with key interceptions giving the Eagles a 21-17 victory.

Week 14 at Giants: Off of two straight wins, the Eagles will take a close loss in New York. The Eagles won't be able to pull of two wins against the Giants this year, as the Giants will come away with a victory off of a late, game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

Week 15 vs. Browns: Cleveland won't be that good of a team this year, mocking what the Saints did a few seasons ago, and this game won't be much different. Eagles win easily, 24-10.

Week 16 at Redskins: Washington won't be able to grab a key win in this match up as the Eagles defense will eat Jason Campbell up. The Eagles win 31-17.

Week 17 vs. Cowboys: As much as I would love to say that the Eagles will win this game, I just can't. The Cowboys won't be sitting their key players because they will still be fighting for the top seed. The motivated Cowboys will beat the less-motivated Eagles 31-24 to finish of the year.

That leaves the Eagles with a 10-6 regular season, and a wild-card spot in the NFC playoffs.

In the wild-card round, I see the Eagles defeating their opponent easily, no matter who it is. And they could even win their divisional round game. But, once they play Seattle, Green Bay, or Dallas in the playoffs, it will be game over for the Birds.

There you have it. That is my preseason outlook for the 2008 Philadelphia Eagles. If you didn't quit reading this article halfway through it because of length, I thank you.

Hope you enjoyed the article!


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