Five​ ​shamelessly​ ​bold​ ​​predictions for the Eagles in 2017

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Almost​ ​every​ ​offseason​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​overly and​ ​sometimes​ ​unrealistically optimistic​ ​about​ ​the​ ​Eagles​ ​as​ ​the​ ​season​ ​draws​ ​near.​ ​Sometimes​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​player​ ​I​ ​think will​ ​explode​ ​onto​ ​the​ ​scene​ ​and​ ​post​ ​huge​ ​numbers.​ ​Sometimes​ ​it’s​ ​something​ ​as simple​ ​as​ ​starting​ ​the​ ​season​ ​on​ ​a​ ​3-4​ ​game​ ​winning​ ​streak.​ ​Other times;​ ​however,​ ​it’s an​ ​off​ ​the​ ​wall​ ​crazy​ ​feeling​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Birds​ ​are​ ​going​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Super​ ​Bowl​ ​(damn​ ​you,​ ​2011 Dream​ ​Team).​ ​This​ ​season​ ​I’ve​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​no​ ​longer​ ​internalize​ ​my​ ​sky​ ​high expectations​ ​for​ ​the​ ​team​ ​and​ ​present​ ​you​ ​my​ ​five​ ​shamelessly​ ​bold​ ​predictions​ ​for​ ​the 2017​ ​Eagles:

 

1. Malcolm​ ​Jenkins​ ​and​ ​Rodney​ ​McLeod​ ​will​ ​rank​ ​as​ ​the​ ​top​ ​safety​ ​duo in​ ​the​ ​league

The​ ​safety​ ​tandem​ ​of​ ​Jenkins​ ​and​ ​McLeod​ ​was​ ​a​ ​success​ ​in​ ​Year​ ​1​ ​of​ ​their partnership.​ ​Both​ ​safeties​ ​graded​ ​as​ ​top​ ​20​ ​safeties,​ ​according​ ​to​ ​PFF,​ ​and​ ​for​ ​good reason.​ ​The​ ​two​ ​combined​ ​for​ ​112​ ​tackles​ ​and​ ​accounted​ ​for​ ​6​ ​of​ ​the​ ​team’s​ ​16 interceptions.​ ​Both​ ​safeties​ ​possess​ ​incredible​ ​instincts​ ​and​ ​range,​ ​and​ ​should dominate​ ​this​ ​season​ ​with​ ​one​ ​year​ ​of​ ​experience​ ​together​ ​under​ ​their​ ​belt.​ ​Expect​ ​this safety​ ​duo​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​and​ ​soul​ ​of​ ​#NoPhlyZone​ ​this​ ​season.

 

2.​ ​Zach​ ​Ertz​ ​will​ ​lead​ ​the​ ​team​ ​in​ ​receptions​ ​and​ ​crack​ ​1,000​ ​receiving yards

I​ ​know​ ​you’ve​ ​probably​ ​heard​ ​it​ ​all​ ​before-​ ​“Zach​ ​Ertz​ ​will​ ​breakout​ ​this​ ​year” “Ertz​ ​will​ ​make​ ​his​ ​mark​ ​this​ ​season”​ ​“Eagles​ ​TE​ ​will​ ​have​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​impact”-​ ​but​ ​Ertz​ ​is honestly​ ​primed​ ​to​ ​produce​ ​at​ ​a​ ​high​ ​level​ ​this​ ​season.​ ​When​ ​Jordan​ ​Matthews​ ​was shipped​ ​to​ ​Buffalo,​ ​117​ ​targets​ ​were​ ​shipped​ ​out​ ​as​ ​well.​ ​Although​ ​Alshon​ ​Jeffery​ ​will get​ ​the​ ​lion’s​ ​share​ ​of​ ​targets​ ​in​ ​the​ ​passing​ ​game,​ ​I’d​ ​expect​ ​Zach​ ​Ertz​ ​to​ ​be​ ​right behind​ ​him.​ ​

Ertz​ ​has​ ​been​ ​incredibly​ ​reliable​ ​throughout​ ​his​ ​career,​ ​ranking​ ​eighth amongst​ ​tight​ ​ends​ ​in​ ​receptions​ ​(247)​ ​and​ ​receiving​ ​yards​ ​(2,840),​ ​since​ ​entering​ ​the league​ ​in​ ​2013.​ ​Combine​ ​that​ ​with​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​he’s​ ​the​ ​number​ ​two​ ​option​ ​in​ ​an​ ​offense with​ ​a​ ​true​ ​number​ ​one​ ​receiver,​ ​and​ ​Ertz​ ​is​ ​a​ ​safe​ ​bet​ ​to​ ​produce​ ​at​ ​a​ ​high​ ​level​ ​in 2017.​ ​I’ll​ ​go​ ​on​ ​record​ ​and​ ​say​ ​that​ ​Ertz​ ​finishes​ ​with​ ​a​ ​stat​ ​line​ ​of​ ​85+​ ​receptions/1100+ yards/7​ ​TDs​ ​and​ ​whole​ ​lotta​ ​highlights:

 

3.​ ​The​ ​Eagles​ ​will​ ​rank​ ​Top​ ​3​ ​in​ ​sacks

This​ ​past​ ​season​ ​was​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​of​ ​a​ ​let​ ​down​ ​for​ ​the​ ​defensive​ ​line.​ ​Many,​ ​including​ ​myself, expected​ ​the​ ​switch​ ​from​ ​a​ ​3-4​ ​to​ ​a​ ​4-3​ ​defense​ ​would​ ​unleash​ ​its​ ​pass​ ​rushing​ ​attack. Although​ ​the​ ​team​ ​still​ ​managed​ ​to​ ​notch​ ​34​ ​sacks​ ​(tied​ ​for​ ​16th),​ ​there​ ​is​ ​certainly​ ​room to​ ​improve.​ ​The​ ​Birds,​ ​to​ ​their​ ​credit,​ ​added​ ​pass​ ​rushing​ ​specialists​ ​Timmy​ ​Jernigan, Derek​ ​Barnett,​ ​and​ ​Chris​ ​Long​ ​this​ ​offseason.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​DC​ ​Jim​ ​Schwartz​ ​will​ ​dial​ ​up​ ​the blitz​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​more​ ​now​ ​that​ ​the​ ​cornerback​ ​situation​ ​is​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​more​ ​stable,​ ​and​ ​this​ ​change should​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​an​ ​uptick​ ​in​ ​sacks.​ ​Put​ ​me​ ​down​ ​for​ ​42+​ ​sacks​ ​for​ ​Philly.

 

4.​ ​Sproles​ ​goes​ ​out​ ​with​ ​a​ ​bang

This​ ​season​ ​marks​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​an​ ​incredible​ ​career​ ​for​ ​the​ ​dynamic​ ​Darren Sproles.​ ​The​ ​electric,​ ​pass-catching​ ​back​ ​has​ ​been​ ​nothing​ ​short​ ​of​ ​a​ ​swiss​ ​army​ ​knife throughout​ ​his​ ​NFL​ ​career.​ ​Sproles​ ​has​ ​made​ ​his​ ​presence​ ​felt​ ​as​ ​a​ ​running​ ​back, receiver,​ ​and​ ​kick/punt​ ​returner.​ ​Perhaps​ ​most​ ​impressively,​ ​Sproles​ ​has​ ​never recorded​ ​less​ ​than​ ​1,108​ ​all-purpose​ ​yards​ ​in​ ​a​ ​season,​ ​and​ ​is​ ​just​ ​a​ ​mere​ ​672 all-purpose​ ​yards​ ​away​ ​from​ ​ranking​ ​5th​ ​all-time​ ​in​ ​the​ ​category-​ ​which​ ​would​ ​surpass HOFers​ ​Marshall​ ​Faulk​ ​and​ ​Tim​ ​Brown.​ ​Sproles​ ​should​ ​should​ ​break​ ​the​ ​record​ ​with ease​ ​as​ ​he​ ​caps​ ​off​ ​his​ ​historic​ ​career.

 

5.​ ​The​ ​Eagles​ ​will​ ​have​ ​8​ ​Pro​ ​Bowlers

Clean​ ​up​ ​the​ ​coffee​ ​you​ ​just​ ​spit​ ​all​ ​over​ ​your​ ​screen​ ​and​ ​don’t​ ​bother​ ​rubbing your​ ​eyes​ ​to​ ​see​ ​if​ ​you​ ​read​ ​this​ ​prediction​ ​correctly.​ ​Eight​ ​Eagles-​ ​Malcolm​ ​Jenkins, Fletcher​ ​Cox,​ ​Jason​ ​Peters,​ ​Lane​ ​Johnson,​ ​Darren​ ​Sproles,​ ​Brandon​ ​Graham,​ ​Zach Ertz,​ ​and​ ​Brandon​ ​Brooks-​ ​will​ ​make​ ​the​ ​trip​ ​to​ ​Orlando​ ​to​ ​participate​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Pro​ ​Bowl.​ ​I really​ ​think​ ​the​ ​offensive​ ​line​ ​will​ ​rank​ ​as​ ​a​ ​top​ ​5​ ​unit​ ​in​ ​the​ ​league​ ​this​ ​season,​ ​as reflected​ ​in​ ​my​ ​Pro​ ​Bowl​ ​predictions.​ ​Sproles​ ​makes​ ​the​ ​squad​ ​as​ ​a​ ​return​ ​specialist.

Graham​ ​finally​ ​earns​ ​the​ ​respect​ ​he​ ​deserves.​ ​Jenkins​ ​and​ ​Cox​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​dominate. Ertz,​ ​according​ ​to​ ​my​ ​earlier​ ​prediction,​ ​will​ ​likely​ ​rank​ ​as​ ​the​ ​top​ ​tight​ ​end​ ​in​ ​the​ ​NFC, thus​ ​earning​ ​him​ ​his​ ​first​ ​Pro​ ​Bowl​ ​berth.

 

If​ ​my​ ​gutsy​ ​calls​ ​come​ ​true​ ​this​ ​season​ ​this​ ​will​ ​certainly​ ​be​ ​an​ ​entertaining season,​ ​and​ ​would​ ​that​ ​would​ ​likely​ ​result​ ​in​ ​a​ ​playoff​ ​berth.​ ​Or​ ​they​ ​could​ ​go​ ​against everything​ ​I​ ​predicted​ ​and​ ​make​ ​me​ ​look​ ​like​ ​a​ ​fool.​ ​Feel​ ​free​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​a​ ​comment​ ​on what​ ​you​ ​agree​ ​and​ ​disagree​ ​with,​ ​and​ ​share​ ​your​ ​own​ ​shamelessly​ ​bold​ ​predictions.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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