In less than 24-hours, the Eagles will host the Atlanta Falcons with the intention of regaining some of the ground lost against divisional opponents in recent weeks. It won’t be easy however and there will be an abundance of challenges..and it’s once again time to start predicting success in those challenges.
We’re now 12/30 this season after unfortunately missing out on last week’s game..which means for the first time all year, we are below .500. But could these five bold predictions see our success rate soar back over the 50% mark?
The emergence of Carson Wentz:
Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has been nothing short of astounding in his debut season, although he has come back down to Earth after a scintillating opening four games. However, with a weakened secondary missing its number one cornerback..Pederson may have one more ace up his sleeve to let the North Dakota State Star run free.
Accuracy has been one of Wentz’s greatest assets, but he has showed a great ability to complete passes deep down the field when needed..and now we’ve had a taste of what Bryce Treggs has to offer, the Eagles could well be looking to unleash the cannon Wentz has been cloaking for so long.
The birds will be looking to bring balance to the Offense in terms of pass/rush attempts, but also in the variety of passes, ensuring Atlanta are always on their toes.
My first bold prediction is that Wentz will run rampant against the Falcons Secondary, throwing for 300 yards, at least one touchdown and no interceptions..giving his team a fighting chance against such a high-powered Offense.
The undrafted rookie out of Cal finally made his debut last week..and did more than turn a few heads as he received for 69-yards and caught a huge pass from Carson Wentz. But now we’ve seen a flash of his potential..what will his role in the Offense look like in the long run?
If the idea is to get Treggs involved in the Offense more heavily, then we could see yet another big game from the man who was picked up off the waiver wire by the Eagles earlier this year.
This goes hand in hand with the first prediction, but if the Eagles decide to take the top off of the Defense as they did one week ago, then I’m predicting for Bryce Treggs to receive for another 50-yards and his first NFL touchdown.
The NFL’s leading receiver is arguably the stiffest challenge that a now hobbling Eagles secondary will face this year. With 970 yards and 5 TD receptions already, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan have been lighting the league up..and will sniff blood in the water when they arrive in Philadelphia.
However, when Julio is quiet (a rarity)..he is often invisible. Of the four times this season that Julio has been held to under 100-receiving yards, he’s been held for under 30 in three.
Jim Schwartz will be well aware of just how dangerous Jones can be and we could see a lot of double teaming as a result..but with the coverage linebackers finding their stride and McLeod having a career year, the cornerbacks may have just enough reinforcement to help silence Jones.
The Eagles pass rush will be called upon heavily this weekend..but if they can force Ryan to get the ball out quickly and turn to Freeman as a release valve, then it certainly limits the carnage Julio can cause.
The boldest prediction of the season so far..that through a combination of elite pass rushing and conservative coverage, the Eagles hold Julio Jones to under 70 receiving yards and keep him out of the endzone.
Jalen Mills has been thrust into the front-lines constantly this season and it could once again be the case on Sunday. Nagging injuries continue to hamper McKelvin and Carroll, meaning that the seventh round pick out of LSU could be tasked with stopping the likes of Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones.
His instincts, technique and confidence have all flourished as a result of his exposure to heavy snap counts..just as his leadership has. But the only thing Mills is yet to add to his resume is an interception, something I think can change against the Falcons.
Atlanta is often seen as a very streaky team..and if the Eagles can snatch momentum and force constant pressure then we may even see a few stray throws from the veteran who has already thrown 23 touchdowns this season.
Our penultimate bold prediction is that Jalen Mills will get record his first career interception against the Falcons and begin his journey toward the top of the depth chart.
The Eagles are largely being written off this game due to losing 4 of their last 5 and coming up against the most explosive Offense in the NFL. But without Desmond Trufant, the Falcons Secondary is beyond suspect in a game that will likely turn into a shootout.
If it does, we know how efficiently the Eagles can move the ball down the field, control the tempo and ensure they dominate time of possession..something that will be crucial in preventing Atlanta from simply ripping open the Eagles Secondary.
If the coaching decisions balance risk with reward and the Eagles are able to edge their way into keeping the game competitive, then this is a very winnable shootout for the Eagles, given the amount of athleticism and versatility at the skill positions that will cause more than a few problems for the Falcons Defense.
The Falcons may be the hottest Offense in the NFL..but the Eagles have a rookie quarterback playing far beyond his years, a receiving corps of great versatility and an Offense that has previously gone toe to toe with every opponent they’ve faced and kept things close.
For me, this is an easy prediction to make..but I can see why many would regard it as bold. The Eagles seal the win on Sunday and the playoff race begins.