2011 NFL Predictions: Predicting the Regular Season of the Philadelphia Eagles
Everyone is talking about the Philadelphia Eagles.
Turn on ESPN and they're talking about the Eagles. Pick up a newspaper and there's a headline about the Eagles. Talk to someone about the stock market, Eagles. Ask a family member about their day, Eagles.
Soak it up Philadelphia, because we may never have this kind of offseason again. Eventually the fun will go away in exchange for the nerve-wracking experiences of the regular season.
The Eagles have the necessary players and coaches to win when the season opens on September 11th. Unfortunately, things may not go as smoothly as we anticipate.
While the Eagles are loaded, they will go through some growing pains with first-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, their linebackers may get exposed at times against physical teams that run the ball and their star cornerbacks will have to learn the new defensive system.
But if you stay patient, things will pay off. Remember, the NFL has become a league where the Super Bowl champs may not be the best team, but the team who gets hot at the right time.
Before you click the "Begin Slideshow" button down there, let me give you a quick heads-up about what's going on.
The title has who the Eagles play and the point spread for the game. The point spread is there to give you an idea of how online books view the Eagles' chances in a given game. I will offer a score and then keep a running record of their straight-up record and their performance against the spread.
Last year I thought they would finish 8-8 straight-up and 7-9 against the number, but like everyone else, I didn't know Mike Vick would have an MVP-caliber year.
Hopefully this year is not filled with as much drama.
Philadelphia -4.5 @ St. Louis
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Teams like the Rams have me worried.
I'm not concerned about St. Louis because I think they're more talented. I'm getting myself worked up because I don't know if our defense is built to stop the run.
The defensive line and linebackers can be categorized as undersized and that does not bode well for them in this game.
Steven Jackson is one of the most physical runners in the league and he can easily wear down the Eagles defense. And if the Rams run the ball well enough, it will keep the Eagles offense off the field.
Here's the solution to the problem: score early.
If the Eagles get an early lead it will force the Rams to throw the ball and they will play right into the Eagles' hands.
Ultimately this game comes down to the Eagles offense being able to score early against the Rams defense.
I'll take our offense more often than not.
Philadelphia 30, St. Louis 14
Philadelphia +3.5 @ Atlanta
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I don't know why Matt Ryan plays so well at home, but he does.
I also can't believe the Eagles are more than a field-goal dog, but they are.
It's one thing to go against the line set by the books, but it's another thing to go against Ryan in the Georgia Dome.
I know Vick is going to be pumped to return there as a starter, but all of that hype dies off after the first snap.
The new secondary is going to get tested against Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones. Both players can stretch the Eagles defense and leave the linebackers exposed to Tony Gonzalez.
It's not a matchup I like even a little bit. Michael Turner puts the fear of God in me too, as he can have a field day against our defensive line, about which I've already stated my concerns.
Two road games at the start of the year is too tough for the Eagles.
Atlanta 31, Philadelphia 24
Philadelphia -3.5 vs. New York Giants
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The Giants could be playing their best football, running the ball right down our throats, throwing the ball all over the place and they would still lose.
The Eagles are officially in their heads.
Forget about the Miracle at the Meadowlands, Part Whatever It Is. This game is going to be a celebration of Eli Manning airmailing receivers and getting picked off at least three times.
The Giants will come into the Linc at 2-0 and there will be some Eagles fans hitting the panic button. Relax if that happens. Show some patience and let this team take care of business.
And even if the Giants somehow win and open up the year 3-0 and the Eagles drop to 1-2, all is not lost. The schedule falls in out favor as the year progresses.
Does anyone know Alex Henery's number? You will learn it quickly when he wins a couple games.
Philadelphia 24, New York Giants 23
Philadelphia -7.5 vs. San Francisco
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San Francisco has a new head coach and the same pathetic collection of players.
If I doubted the Eagles against the Falcons because it was their second consecutive road game, I had better call for a blowout with the 49ers coming into town after playing on the road against the Bengals.
You would think games like this are great, but I honestly don't like them. It gives everyone a false sense of how good this team can be. The offense may score a touchdown on their first five possessions and the defense may force either Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick into early retirement.
Maybe the Eagles should be worried about Frank Gore or maybe they should be worried about when Vince Young gets to come in for mop-up duty.
Philadelphia 45, San Francisco 24
Philadelphia -4 @ Buffalo
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I don't like this line at all.
What do the books know that I don't? What am I missing here?
I usually listen to point spreads that catch my attention, but I can't do it.
Unless there is a massive blizzard early in the year and Ryan Fitzpatrick-to-Steve Johnson is the new Montana-to-Rice I will take my chances with the Eagles and feel confident about it.
The Eagles actually have some great moments in Buffalo.
Westbrook's run prevented the Eagles from starting 0-3 and I'm pretty sure it came on the final game at the Vet.
Instead of worrying about the Bills, let's try to think about what memorable moment will come from this game.
How about Nnamdi Asomugha picking up his first pick-six as an Eagle? It would only be his second career touchdown.
Philadelphia 21, Buffalo 9
Philadelphia -3 @ Washington
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Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest.
You can hand out the labels, but I think you get the point.
Oh, in case you don't know, that's Rex Grossman, Kyle Shanahan and John Beck.
One of them will be starting and Shanahan will be giving them plays they are incapable of running. This game could mark the moment when Shanahan loses the team.
Philadelphia 42, Washington 17
Philadelphia -5 vs. Dallas
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Fresh off the bye week, the Eagles get to face a revamped Dallas team more than capable of beating the Eagles.
If there was ever a game where the Eagles offensive line could get exposed, this would be the one. DeMarcus Ware, who picked up three sacks against the Eagles backups in the final game of the regular season last year, could be licking his chops if the line has not come together by this point.
Ware is good enough to single-handedly disrupt the offense and rush Vick.
I don't think the Eagles will lose, but I think this game goes down to the final possession.
Philadelphia 27, Dallas 23
Philadelphia -5 vs. Chicago
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This game will provide entertainment on multiple levels.
First, the Eagles get to avenge their 31-26 loss from a year ago.
Jay Cutler gave us his best Johnny U impersonation by throwing four touchdowns on 21 attempts to go along with 247 yards. And that brings us to the second thing Philadelphia fans will find amusing.
Cutler will be in the midst of an epic downfall and on the verge of losing his job to Caleb Hanie.
If anyone thought Cutler mailed it in during the NFC Championship, they eat some crow in this game. Because when he plays as bad as he does in Philly, you will assume he had to try to do some of the things he did.
Cutler has 50 touchdowns and 42 picks in his career. He has to make up for last year's performance, right? Let's call for a modest three picks.
Philadelphia 30, Chicago 13
Philadelphia -10.5 vs Arizona
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The Eagles have to capitalize on this three-game homestand.
If the Eagles do indeed lose to the Atlanta Falcons, they cannot afford to drop games like this one.
It'll be cute to play up the Kevin Kolb angle, but who really cares?
Much better players who have contributed much more have returned to Philadelphia and it was not a distraction or enough motivation to hand the Eagles a loss.
You would think Kolb would have an advantage since he worked against the Eagles' first-team offense in practice, but the Eagles will have a new defensive philosophy in place under coordinator Juan Castillo.
Fans will see how well the Eagles made out in the trade that sent Kolb to Arizona in exchange for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick.
The Cardinals offense will not be able to overcome their weaknesses in the secondary created by DRC's departure.
Here's the best thing about the game: If Arizona loses they will move up in the draft, which ultimately gives the Eagles a higher pick in the second round.
Philadelphia 27, Arizona 17
Philadelphia -2.5 @ New York Giants
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The Eagles have to lose at some point and the Giants have to end their losing streak against their division rival, right?
That's the beauty of sports. Things don't have to happen because you simply think a team is due. I mention that because it is the ultimate downfall when people try to figure out who will win a game.
How many times do people say, "A team can't beat another team three times in a season," only to witness it happen? And how many people say, "They can't lose X games in a row," before it unfolds before their very eyes?
I say all of that because I don't want you to use that logic after the Giants win this game.
The Giants will win because they actually do match up very well against the Eagles and I feel they are capable of beating the Eagles.
I don't know how many times I've stated my concern about the defensive line, but I think this is when we will see it break down and lose some games.
This game could serve as the blueprint to beat the Eagles.
New York Giants 24, Philadelphia 14
Philadelphia +1 vs. New England
This Eagles have set themselves up for a Super Bowl-or-bust season.
As big as this game is, it ends up being just another game in a long pursuit of the Vince Lombardi Trophy. If they treat this game like it's the biggest of the year, they set themselves up for a huge letdown the next week.
The question coming into this game is: Which defense will be able to make a stop?
I'll take the Eagles in this spot against a pass-heavy offense to come up with a key stop.
I'm not saying the New England defense is bad, but I don't trust them enough to think they can stop the Eagles headed into this year after they couldn't get off the field against the New York Jets in the playoffs last year.
Philadelphia 35, New England 31
Philadelphia -3 @ Seattle
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This is by far the toughest situation the Eagles will face all year.
They are coming off two difficult games against the Giants and Patriots. They catch Seattle on a Thursday night, which means a short week of preparation. They have to travel across the country.
This is why I said the Eagles can't treat the Patriots game like it's the most important of the season. If they put that much emotion into that game, it will be incredibly tough to rebound and play four days later.
The counter-argument to this is Seattle stinks.
I get that. But didn't the Minnesota Vikings and Joe Webb stink?
I constantly go back and forth on this game because I don't think this Eagles team will drop a game it should win. And then I remind myself the Eagles always find a way to do it regardless of how good they are.
I hate to do this.
Seattle 20, Philadelphia 17
Philadelphia (Pick 'Em) @ Dolphins
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It sucks to play on a Thursday night on the road, but at least you get some extra rest heading into the next game.
It's even better when Eagles fans get to travel down to Miami in December for a chance to watch the Eagles pick up a win.
The Dolphins will likely start Chad Henne or Matt Moore.
There's also an outside chance former Penn Stater Pat Devlin could get the start at this point in the season, but it's highly unlikely.
The Dolphins may be on the inside track to Andrew Luck and I'm sure the Eagles won't mind helping out.
Philadelphia 20, Miami 14
Philadelphia -2.5 vs. New York Jets
Mark Sanchez is going to look a lot like Eli Manning.
That may sound like a good thing to Eagles fans, but it's not.
Remember when Manning ducked and chucked it to Plaxico Burress? The same thing could be going on this year and it is incredibly difficult to stop.
I don't expect Burress to play well at the start, but by this point in the season he could be a major factor in helping Sanchez progress.
Shonn Greene could also be the next Arian Foster as L.T. has already stated he expects Greene to take on the feature-back role this year.
The defensive line will continue its decline and have fans a little worried.
New York Jets 20, Philadelphia 16
Philadelphia +2 @ Dallas
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This game will mean everything to Dallas.
I expect this game to give the Cowboys an outside shot to win the division and the opportunity to lock up a playoff berth.
I'm sure a lot of Eagles fans think it will be impossible for this team to lose back-to-back games.
It will happen, as the defense can't get off the field and the offense slows down.
I would start to panic at this point because it looks like the Eagles peaked way too early to put together a Super Bowl run.
Dallas 30, Philadelphia 17
Philadelphia -7.5 vs. Washington
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Thank goodness for the Washington Redskins and Mike Shanahan.
I can't believe that clown has two Super Bowls. Can we start to call this guy the Trent Dilfer of the coaching world?
I pray Daniel Snyder is dumb enough to bring this guy back for another year. It was nice having a guaranteed two wins this year.
This game will officially wrap up the division and it gives the Eagles an outside shot to have a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Hopefully the teams in the NFC South beat each other up and every team gives Green Bay their best shot.
If the Eagles are able to earn a bye, maybe they can rally the troops and put together a Super Bowl run. Those predictions come later this week.
Philadelphia 34, Washington 10