We’re just a couple of hours away from the Philadelphia Eagles season opener, which means it’s time to bring back one of our most exciting series here at Philly Sports Network. Last season saw 24/60 of my predictions come to fruition, which isn’t bad…but we want to be hitting that 50% mark. So, without further ado, here are my five bold predictions for today’s game.
Barnett sends a warning:
He may not be a starter just yet, but the Jim Schwartz Defense is at its most dangerous when the pass rush has a rotation that’s deep and dangerous. Expect the team’s first round pick to see significant playing time today and if his preseason flashes were anything to go by, expect production.
The fact that Barnett will be lining up against one of the league’s most impressive tackle combinations only adds even more spice to his debut. Both Trent Williams and Morgan Moses have made life very difficult for the Eagles front four in the past, but my first prediction is for Barnett to send a very clear message by racking up his first career sack along with 3 tackles.
Wentz lights it up:
The stage is set. The talk has been talked, the articles have been written and training camp has played its part. Now it gets fun. With one of the best young offensive lines in the league and a flurry of playmakers around him, the Washington Defense will certainly be kept on edge.
If the progression from year one to year two is as we expect, then Wentz will be ready and willing to let it rip against a Defense that has some questions over the middle and shutdown talent outside. The Eagles led the league in time of possession last season and with a revamped backfield, that trend should continue after the first game. Wentz finally has support levers against a Defense that stripped him of such in the absence of Lane Johnson. It’s business time.
I’m predicting that Wentz will eclipse his greatest yards total against the Redskins, by passing for 320. Alongside that, the young quarterback will throw three touchdowns, while keeping the ball away from opposing defenders with zero interceptions.
Pumphrey makes a point:
It was a rocky preseason for Donnel Pumphrey, who saw his previously locked spot on the roster become completely unhinged. The Eagles kept five running backs in the end and it’s going to take a lot for Pumphrey to prove his worth at the next level despite a very impressive offseason.
The good news is that at this stage, the Redskins won’t exactly be preparing for how the Eagles will use their rookie. Pumphrey is listed as the fourth back on the depth chart, but as we all know can hurt an unsuspecting defense from anywhere.
My next prediction is that we see Pumphrey in both the slot and in the backfield, amassing a total of 50 yards and his first touchdown.
Oh, Mychal Kendricks. The 2012 second-round pick tallied an interception in each of the Eagles three preseason games he played in, while also notching four tackles and a sack. In those three preseason games, the former Cal Bear has matched his career regular season total for interceptions. The surge in production saw Kendricks secure a previously unseated roster spot, but what does it mean going forward?
Jim Schwartz loves to attack the quarterback, but a previously unreliable secondary meant his hands were tied for most of the season, forced into the nickel package. But things are slightly different now. If the Eagles do decide to blitz, expect to see a lot of number 95.
My penultimate bold prediction is that the resurgence of Mychal Kendricks continues. The linebacker will bring down Kirk Cousins twice and force one fumble in the opening game of the season.
Perhaps the biggest piece the Eagles added to their defense outside of the draft came right on the edge of the regular season. The team shockingly traded Jordan Matthews to Buffalo to acquire the services of young stud Ronald Darby, who will make his Eagles debut against Terrelle Pryor.
Teams like to give Pryor cushions. Lining up in press-coverage only opens the door for a lot of burns and plenty of embarrassing plays. What Darby brings to the table is an instinct to jump routes and an eye for the ball. It’s not often you see teams get aggressive with Pryor, or Crowder for that matter, but we can expect Darby to get up close and personal with one of last year’s biggest surprises.
My final bold prediction is for Darby to bat down three passes, pick off one, and amass five tackles.
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports