It’s that time once again. The Eagles are in the midst of preparing for what promises to be one of their toughest challenges of the season, hosting the Denver Broncos. This game has the potential to validate the Eagles red-hot start to the season, but will the Birds’ be flying even higher after Sunday? In terms of our bold predictions series, we’re now 14.5/35 with the target as always being 50%. After 2.5 correct predictions last week, here are the five bold selections for this week’s matchup.
Dethroning the Wizard of Os
Brock Osweiler hasn’t earned a tremendous amount of praise since he decided to take his talent to Houston for an extortionate contract, and rightly so. But now, John Elway has his starter back in the building for a fraction of the price Osweiler originally demanded prior to leaving. In this Denver scheme, Osweiler has the potential to carve open defenses…but whether he will have any success against the Eagles or not depends on one thing; the pass-rush.
Denver has allowed 25 sacks this season already and the Eagles have been running through defenses with ease this season. Their defensive line is the healthiest it’s been all season and with Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry really heating up in recent weeks, that doesn’t bode well for an offensive line that gave up 3 sacks against the Chiefs in their last matchup. This will mark Osweiler’s first start since
My first bold prediction is for the Eagles to bring down the Broncos quarterback 5 times.
This Denver secondary has been playing on a different level this season. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib continue to grow (which is frightening in itself), while the development of Bradley Roby has been exciting to watch. Denver play fast, physical, and confident coverage and aren’t afraid to mix it up in man-coverage looks. If it’s tight coverage that Denver want, this is a game where Nelson Agholor could really make a statement and show how far he’s come.
Agholor’s problem has never been separation or route-running. In fact, those traits were on display from the moment he first stepped on an NFL field. With 392 yards and 5 touchdowns to his name, the rest of the package seems to be coming together quickly for the USC product. He will face-off against Bradley Roby, a cornerback who has been just as impressive this season. It will be an exciting matchup to watch, but one where Agholor has an unheralded advantage…and we’ll get to that in an article later.
My second bold prediction is for Agholor to lead the team in receiving with at least 75 yards and a touchdown.
Doug Pederson hasn’t yet committed to playing newly signed running back Jay Ajayi, but if he’s even so much as comfortable in pass-protection, we could see a few glimpses of the Miami Dolphin. Denver may not be accounting for Ajayi, knowing that he’s only just arrived in Philadelphia…this alone could play into the favor of an Eagles team who have a newly found focus on the ground.
Denver completely stuffed the Kansas City rushing attack (something nobody has been able to do), which could prove to be problematic for an Eagles team with a similar offensive style. They need a difference maker if they are to remain balanced…and the young pro-bowler is just that.
My third bold prediction is for Ajayi to carry the ball five times for 20+ yards and score a touchdown in his Eagles debut.
There’s no doubting that the Eagles will miss Jordan Hicks. The ball-hawking linebacker has been sensational when healthy during his short career with the Eagles and even though Kendricks and Bradham can carry the load, this linebacker corps will not be the same. One player who did go underrated last week was Oregon’s Joe Walker. Despite a couple of early errors, Walker was very quick and decisive in coverage and has 7 tackles to his name so far.
The Eagles originally took a chance on Walker due to just how lethal he was in coverage when it came to keeping bigger tight ends locked down and securely wrapping up ball carriers. Walker only has one interception to his name…and our penultimate bold prediction is for the young linebacker to pick off a wayward Osweiler pass for his first ever NFL interception.
Wentz emerges as lead MVP candidate
Alex Smith was held to 202 yards and 14/31 completions against Denver last week, throwing just one touchdown. Carson Wentz seemed a little less dangerous than he has in every other game so far against the Niners, but I don’t think that’s the problem. Wentz has been extraordinary this year and anything less than mind-blowing casts the shadow of an “off-day”. Wentz was still surgical against San Francisco and did plenty to put the offense on his back and make things happen…and he will be expected to do the same against Denver.
If Wentz can carve open one of the best defenses in the NFL, put up 300 yards and 2+ touchdowns, then there is no doubting that the NDSU star is the lead MVP candidate. This defense is the toughest challenge Wentz will have faced this season, with a group of corners and Safeties who have seen and done It all. Week 9 will show the true character and potential of Carson Wentz, and my final bold prediction is for his MVP legitimacy to be realized.