In less than four days, the NFL regular season will officially kick off.
For Eagles fans, it can't come soon enough. The Birds added an unbelievable six Pro Bowlers during the offseason, including free agent prizes Nnamdi Asomugha and Cullen Jenkins.
Needless to say, the entire city of Philadelphia is eagerly awaiting Sunday afternoon, when the so-called "dream team" will take the field for the first time.
But what can Eagles fans expect from the new-look team? Here are five bold predictions for the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.
The Philadelphia Eagles believe they have finally found an acceptable compliment to Trent Cole on the defensive line in Jason Babin—an athletic, high-motor player who knows how to get to the quarterback.
Babin posted his first excellent season as a professional in 2010, recording 12 sacks and 58 tackles while playing for new Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn in Tennessee. Many around the NFL have said Babin is a one-hit wonder, a mediocre player who just got lucky for a season.
I don't believe that. I'm betting that Babin, under the tutelage of Washburn for another year, will have another career year. He'll be playing alongside one of the best DEs in the NFL in Trent Cole and alongside fellow Pro-Bowler Cullen Jenkins.
The bottom line: Babin is going to be matched up one-on-one with opposing tackles. And he's going to win those battles more often than opposing coaches would like.
Nate Allen was on his way to a fantastic rookie season before he was sidelined with a knee injury.
He managed 48 tackles in just 13 games, to go along with a pair of sacks and three interceptions—excellent production for any player in a new system, let alone a rookie.
Now that Allen has fully recovered from knee surgery, expect him to continue his ascent into the ranks of the NFL's best safeties. He's a tremendous athlete with superb instincts and a great football IQ. He's excellent at diagnosing plays, knows how to get to the action and has above-average ball skills in pass coverage. In short: he's the ideal free safety in Juan Castilo's scheme.
By the end of the 2011 season, don't be surprised if Nate Allen is mentioned as one of the best free safeties in the NFL. And don't be surprised to see him in Hawaii.
Its no secret that the Eagles have one of the most explosive (if not the most explosive) offense in the NFL.
The unit, led by superstar QB Michael Vick, is expected by many to be among the best in the league again in 2011, as few teams have the sheer volume of weapons at skill positions.
Despite the offseason makeover, the Eagles on the other side of the ball still are not receiving that sort of love from fans and analysts alike. But they should be.
The Eagles defense will be better than the offense in 2011. With new acquisitions Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Casey Matthews joining returning stalwarts Asante Samuel,Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Nate Allen, the Birds should have one of the most dynamic defensive units in the game.
The Eagles' secondary might be the best in the NFL. Combine that with a stellar pass rush and a high-octane offense, and you have a recipe for defensive dominance.
In just 12 games during the 2010 season, Michael Vick managed to gain 3,696 total yards (3,018 passing, 676 running). With a full offseason under his belt, even more offensive weapons and a shiny new contract, expect the Eagles' offensive playmaker to be back and better than ever.
I expect Vick to be the first QB in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 4,000 in the same season. Had he been healthy for all of last season, it was certainly possible.
Any time a team is dubbed "the Dream Team", plenty of hype and expectations follow. It happened to the Miami Heat. It happened to the Yankees. It happened to the Rams. And now it's happening to the Eagles.
The difference is this Eagles team will actually live up to the "Super Bowl or Bust" hype. The Eagles will make it to Indianapolis in February and they will take home the prize.
This team is simply too talented, too well-managed and too driven to fail. They are as complete as a team as there is in the NFL, and while they may have a few lingering questions (offensive line, linebackers), there is no question they are one of the elite teams in the league. They'll prove that to the football world and bring the City of Brotherly Love an early Valentine's day present.