After the opening three weeks of the season, we’re 5/10 on our Philadelphia Eagles bold predictions series. Last week, I accurately predicted Corey Clement’s first rushing touchdown, as well as the first career interception for Rasul Douglas. The Birds’ are on the road to a slightly smaller venue than normal this week, so with less noise inside the stadium…it’s time to make some noise outside of it. Here are my five bold predictions for week four.
Picking apart the remains:
The loss of Jason Verrett is huge for the Chargers secondary. Alex Smith may have been held to 155 yards against this Defense last week, but he was also sacked five times. If the Eagles can keep Wentz upright against such a dominant DE duo, then the second year quarterback has every opportunity to take advantage of some severe mismatches involving Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, not to mention an overlooked Nelson Agholor.
My first bold prediction for the week is for Wentz to throw for 310 yards and 4 touchdowns, doubling what Alex Smith could do one week ago.
Running out of time:
The Eagles backfield has been anything but consistent this season, however a dominant display against the Giants last week stands out as what we remember most vividly and expect moving forward. The Chargers rushing Defense has been incredibly inefficient this year, giving up 440 yards through the opening three games on the ground. If Pederson sticks to the run regardless of its early success, there could be another big game in store.
Last week I predicted Corey Clement to score his first NFL touchdown, but that honor falls to someone else this week. If Blount struggles to get rolling, I predict Wendell Smallwood to rush for his first 100-yard game and a touchdown.
McLeod’s menacing return:
The Eagles Safety position was down to its bare bones last week, forcing special teams captain Chris Maragos into a starting role. The trip to L.A. sees the return of starting Safety Rodney McLeod, an impact which simply cannot be overlooked.
McLeod has once again been quietly having an extremely strong season, making big hits and being the blanket that such a young cornerback group craves. With six tackles this season so far, McLeod surpassed that total five times last year. Hungry to get back into the action, my third bold prediction is for that to happen again this weekend, with the former Rams Safety setting a new season-high in tackles, as well as picking off his first pass.
In the absence of the Man-Dog:
While the Eagles Defense will see the return of both Jordan Hicks and Rodney McLeod, it will be missing a vital cog in the way of Fletcher Cox. The man-dog has been rampant this season so far and it appears the addition of Timmy Jernigan has gone exactly how Schwartz and company had hoped for, drawing attention away from their franchise tackle and allowing him to harass quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
Without Cox or Destiny Vaeao, the Eagles will be rolling with an effort from Beau Allen and Elijah Qualls. The rookie has already proven his explosiveness and ability to play both inside and out, while Allen brings the consistency he always has since being drafted in the seventh round out of Wisconsin. Both players bring very different qualities to the table, meaning Schwartz may have a few aces up his sleeve when it comes to NASCAR packages and the like.
For my penultimate prediction, it’s all about sacks. Rivers has only been brought down 4 times this season, but the Eagles defensive line will bring that high motor mentality that’s reflected on their opponents defense. Despite Cox being sidelined, the Eagles will total four sacks against the stout Chargers O-Line on Sunday.
The breakout and sudden resurgence of Mychal Kendricks has simply been overwhelmingly exciting. With 14 tackles, a batted pass that was picked off, and a sack to his name, the former Cal linebacker is back to his old explosive ways. Even though Hicks is back, Kendricks has proven that he does indeed have a niche in this unit, and a niche that’s becoming extremely valuable.
Kendricks has seen a rise in tackles per game in every appearance this season, amassing seven last week against the Giants. My final bold prediction is for Kendricks to continue that trend and complete eight tackles on Sunday, as well as his first forced fumble of the year.
What are your bold predictions? Let us know in the comments!
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports