Week 2 is almost upon us and with that comes the return of our ‘Bold predictions’ series! We went 1-5 in the season opener due to a spluttering first half offensively for the Eagles, but could we see an explosion in Tampa Bay? Here are my five bold predictions ahead of tomorrow’s game.
Bradham breaks the mold:
Nigel Bradham is back from his one-game suspension, which will undoubtedly lift some pressure from the linebacking corps. Bradham, in my opinion, was one of the best linebackers in the league last year, not to mention the heartbeat of the Eagles defense. The one ‘knock’ on him however (if you can even call it that), has been his struggles with turning batted passes into interceptions.
We’re going to kick things off by predicting that Bradham picks off his first pass of the 2018 season in his first game back, jumping a route and breaking the mold.
You’re now arriving at breakout central:
It took a while for Jay Train to get going last week, but with Darren Sproles sidelined, he’s going to need to make an impact right out of the gate. Sure, some of last week’s prolonged explosions as due to nursing an injury, but the Eagles can’t afford to let their offense stagnate on the road in Tampa.
My second bold prediction is for Ajayi to punish the Bucs on the ground. It’s simply a case of reverse psychology. The Bucs are hurting on the backend so will naturally do all they can to space out their defensive backs and give as much support outside and downfield as possible. Naturally, this opens up the middle of the field for a barreling Ajayi to pick up his first 100-yard game of the year.
Goedert’s first score:
It was a quiet NFL debut for Dallas Goedert against a Falcons linebacking corps who stayed glued to him all night long. While the Bucs linebackers carry a similar reputation, their performance against the Saints was, well, less than inspiring.
My third bold prediction is for Dallas Goedert to record his first ever NFL touchdown and pick up 50 receiving yards, with all attention being paid to stopping Zach Ertz, it will allow Goedert to slip under the radar and strike at the right time.
A date with Destiny:
The Eagles pass-rush didn’t look like it missed a step in week one, despite the fact Timmy Jernigan will be absent for the foreseeable future. One of the more underrated names in that rotation is former UDFA, Destiny Vaeao. A QB hit against the Falcons doesn’t really show his impact as a strong run defender, but his snap counts usually do. Against the Bucs, marginalizing the offense will be key and it would be unsurprising to see #97 hampering the offensive line and allowing the defensive ends to feast.
However, my fourth bold prediction will be for Vaeao to record 2 QB hits and a tackle for a loss proving that he can be the ‘next man up’ and validating his firm place in the rotation.
Gibson’s got the gears
There’s a lack of depth at wide receiver, but due to the matchups presented, it was undrafted hero DeAndre Carter, who saw more action against the Falcons. Gibson is fresh off of a preseason breakout where he showed the world exactly why he was drafted in the heart of the 2017 NFL Draft. Gibson took the top off defenses throughout that four week span, scoring two touchdowns in the process. The Bucs secondary is licking its wounds heading into week 2 with no Hargreaves and a questionable Brent Grimes, leaving Gibson contrastingly licking his lips.
Closing the bold predictions this week, I’m looking for Shelton Gibson to receive for 65 yards and his first ever NFL touchdown, exposing and punishing an already battered and bruised secondary.
What are your predictions for tomorrow’s game? Let us know in the comments!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports