The final 53-man roster has been confirmed, Wentz is now the starting quarterback and Eric Rowe is no longer an Eagle. It’s been a manic couple of weeks for the Philadelphia Eagles..but the storm is only just starting as the Eagles kick off their year with a home game against the Browns this Sunday. With the stage finally being set, here are game-by-game predictions for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Week one vs Cleveland Browns:
As noted in my recent article on the Browns Defense, I think starting quarterback Carson Wentz could face more than his fair share of problems in week one. However, it’s not like the Browns are incredible Offensively.
Last year they rushed the ball for 1,529 yards..ranking them 22nd in the league. With the Eagles dominant run Defense, forcing RGIII into passing, it’s down to the Eagles cornerbacks to stop Corey Coleman and company..a task that while difficult, shouldn’t be too hard for a Defense that has proven capable of stopping the dual threat quarterback in the past when a capable secondary is in place.
I think the Defnese will steal the show on both teams, meaning it becomes a case of who can run the ball if the pass game isn’t consistent enough. In that aspect, the Eagles have a bigger and more versatile assembly of running backs than the Browns, giving Wentz the help he needs and potentially being the difference here. The Eagles should win here, but expect a closely fought contest.
Week two @ Chicago Bears:
Jay Cutler had a nice year in 2015, throwing 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but with Matt Forte now out of the picture and the pressure falling on Jeremy Langford who averaged 3.6 yards per carry last year, the Bears could be forced into trusting Cutler’s arm..which could either mean a flurry of touchdowns or a flurry of interceptions.
The Bears Defense hardly screams elite and for the Eagles who head into their first Monday Night game, this will be an opportunity for Carson Wentz to try and avoid a fairly impressive pass rush and attack deep down the field to a secondary that picked off just 8 passes last year..which is also what he does best.
If the Defense can force the “Dark side” of Jay Cutler into play, this is a win for the Eagles.
Week three vs Pittsburgh Steelers:
The Eagles have not lost to the Steelers at home for 51 years..that’s a very long time. The streak could come to an end..but the Steelers will still be without some key players including Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, Ladarius Green. This could be a saving grace for the Eagles who under Doug Pederson can manage the clock, slow the tempo of the game down and allow the Defense to wreak havoc on a depleted Offense.
It’s the toughest game of the opening three..but still an extremely winnable one if the Defense can take control.
Week five vs Detroit Lions:
Fresh of a Bye week, the Eagles face a Lions team looking to establish momentum after the passing of the torch. Left Tackle Taylor Decker will be placed heavily in the spotlight here to try and give Matthew Stafford some kind of cushion against a ruthless Defense.
As a former Head Coach of this team, Jim Schwartz will know the strengths and weaknesses of many Lions cornerstones..giving Wentz the perfect opportunity to find some composure in the bye-week before looking to exploit every weakness possible.
Week six @ Washington Redskins:
The Redskins Offense is stacked with weapons for Kirk Cousins to utilize and I think that this will be the first game where the lack of depth and weaknesses in the Secondary will be exploited. The Eagles linebackers struggle in coverage and if it becomes a shootout, Cousins has way more at his disposal than Wentz.
Week seven vs Minnesota Vikings:
This game could sting for Eagles fans as former quarterback Sam Bradford hosts the team who mistreated him in every way but financially throughout his short tenure. With Adrian Peterson by his side, Bradford will seek revenge on the Eagles, testing the Jim Schwartz Defense to the core.
The Vikings are a team looking to run with the talent they have across the board and send it deep into a playoff berth..the Eagles won’t be able to stop that train from running by the time Bradford has familiarized himself with the Offense and found a rhythm.
Week eight: @ Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys Defense has been significantly weakened, but with Elliot behind whoever the starting quarterback will be..the Cowboys do have enough to pose an Offensive threat. This game comes down to who’s calling the shots at quarterback. If Tony Romo returns for this game, it’s a nightmare for Jerry Jones as the rampant Eagles Defense will feast..but depending on the success of whoever is playing backup, that feast could either be even bigger or have slightly less on the table.
The Eagles should be comfortable against Dallas in their first meeting of the season as Wentz finds his stride and begins to learn the strengths of the receivers around him.
Week nine: @ New York Giants:
Back to back road trips for the Eagles around the division will take their toll and I think this is the game where the loss of Eric Rowe is really highlighted. The Eagles don’t have a cornerback who can shutdown Odell Beckham Jr (their best hope is now a Patriot and the next of kin is a former Bills special teamer..), let alone the combo of OBJ and Sterling Shepard. Defensively, the Giants have improved and even though they found themselves in the back pocket of Chip Kelly in the last few years, the G-Men have more than enough fire power to burn the Eagles Secondary like the days of yesteryear.
Week ten vs Atlanta Falcons:
Revenge will be on the mind of Eagles fans as they remember the tough week one loss suffered last season and given the Falcons inability to stay consistent as the season rolls on, the Eagles Defense will be licking their lips here.
Carson Wentz should have a strong outing against a Falcons Defense that allowed 242 passing yards per game last season as well as over 100 rushing yards. This Defensive imbalance works perfectly for Doug Pederson who can exercise his backfield in numerous facets to prove a point here.
Week eleven @ Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks are one of the best teams in the league, with one of the most balanced rosters and notorious Defenses. The Eagles simply don’t have the talent to compete with the Seahawks who will at this point be in “playoff mode” as well as having a homefield advantage.
Wentz will get his first taste of an elite Defense, and the Defense will have its first taste of a very strong Offense under Jim Schwartz..the Seahawks should ride this one out comfortably.
Week twelve vs Green Bay Packers:
The Packers are one of the best teams in the NFC without a doubt, but there’s always that one game where AN UPSET COMES OUT OF NOWHERE, HOPE IS RESTORED AND PLAYOFFS BECOME ALMOST REALISTIC….this in my opinion could be that game.
The Eagles will have lost two in a row, the Packers likely wanting to keep guys fresh for a deep playoff berth could take their foot off the gas..allowing for a locker room of “53 angry men” to enjoy their strongest performance of the year.
Week thirteen @ Cincinnati Bengals:
Traveling to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team who are often dominant in the regular season will be tough for an Eagles team who will at this point likely be suffering the consequences of such an early bye-week. Andy Dalton has the ability to pick apart a weak cornerback corps and while the pass rush is strong, it’s not strong enough to give Wentz enough leverage to shine against the seventh ranked defense against the run last year, leaving a lot of the Offensive success on his shoulders.
Week fourteen vs Washington Redskins:
The Redskins return to the Linc and fall subject to a game riddled in revenge. Wentz would have experienced what Washington are about Defensively while Jim Schwartz would have had enough time to learn how to deal with the numerous methods of attack, somewhat neutralizing the game.
With the race for a playoff berth underway, Wentz shows his leadership ability and guides the Eagles to a home win over the Redskins.
Week fifteen vs Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens are a team bidding to rekindle their Super Bowl fire after Joe Flacco’s torn ACL..and if both teams are in the hunt for the playoffs, the Ravens system has been implemented for much longer, Flacco is a vision of what Carson Wentz could become and their Defense is strong enough to hold up against what could be a damaged Offensive line.
The Ravens should be comfortable here due to how much more refined their team is, but the game could become a vision into what the Eagles could one day turn into.
Week sixteen vs New York Giants:
This could prove to be one of the most important games of the season for the Eagles, but the narrative will be similar to their first meeting. The Giants are more experienced when it’s all on the line in comparison to a very young Eagles team..something that could prove to be vital if the injury bug has bitten the Eagles by this point.
Week seventeen vs Dallas Cowboys:
The Eagles close their first season under Pederson against the Cowboys..at home. Romo may be back in the fold, but with a bitter rivalry game to end the year, the Eagles should enjoy one of their strongest performances of the season.
Mandatory photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports