Josh Widman shares his Philadelphia Eagles season preview, predictions and best bets as we approach a brand new NFL season.
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It’s time for a football version of the Philadelphia process.
Eagles fans are hoping this rebuild isn’t as pain-staking or lengthy. The Super Bowl 52 champs have fallen far from their cruising altitude in just three seasons. Just seven of the starting 22 that took down the Patriots remain on the team.
Nick Sirianni takes over as Head Coach from Doug Pederson and Jalen Hurts replaces Carson Wentz as QB1 after Philly traded the latter to Indianapolis. Sirianni, Hurts and the rest of the team have their work cut out for them as the Eagles seem to be the only team trending in a negative direction in a poor division.
A lack of weapons has had a role in some less-than-desirable QB play so GM Howie Roseman traded up two spots in April’s draft to select reigning-Heisman Trophy-winner WR Devonta Smith with the tenth overall pick.
On offense, QB Jalen Hurts’ mobility adds an extra dimension to the offense and may be able to help account for some of the unit’s shortcomings. RB Miles Sanders is coming off a season in which he scored six TDs and averaged over five yards per carry. The TE position had been a strength for years with Zach Ertz but his role with the 2021 Eagles is unclear.
Dallas Goedert has proven he is a quality backup and fill-in option. He has 137 catches and 12 TDs over three seasons. He could emerge as a go-to target for Hurts, especially in the red zone.
Though the defense is a shell of what it was a few seasons ago, there are still some solid players on that side of the ball. DE Brandon Graham and DT Fletcher Cox combined for 14.5 sacks last season and CB Darius Slay is very capable in the secondary.
Outside of RB Miles Sanders, WR Devonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert, Jalen Hurts really doesn’t have much to work with. WR Travis Fulgham is a decent receiver with big-game potential but wouldn’t be a dependable second receiver on a good team. While the defense shouldn’t be clumped with the worst units in the league, it also isn’t close to the group of the best either. The Eagles committed the most defensive penalties in 2020 and rank in the bottom half of the league in nearly every major category.
Philadelphia Eagles Best Bets
In his four starts last season, Hurts accounted for eight total TDs. (five pass, three rush) That’s a pace of two TDs per game. With that pace, he’d finish at 34 total TDs over 17 games. It was clear he added some juice to a previously dull offense. Hurts showed he can make big plays through the air and on the ground.
In year two, I expect the Eagles to really let Hurts loose for two reasons. The first is that this is his second season, he’s had an entire offseason to prepare and get more comfortable with the playbook. The second is that Philly’s chances in 2021 are directly related to Hurts level of play. In essence, the Eagles’ offense depends on him.
It’s common for young QBs to lean on a TE and that goes for the red zone specifically. At 6’5, Goedert is a weapon in that part of the field. He has put up good numbers despite playing behind or sharing the field with TE Zach Ertz. With the lack of dependable WRs, even if Ertz makes it through the season in Philly, there should be plenty of opportunities for Goedert. The Eagles will face six of the 10 defenses that allowed the most TDs to opposing TEs in 2020.
Philadelphia Eagles Win Total Prediction & Pick
The final stage of my Philadelphia Eagles season preview is to predict their win total for the upcoming season.
The Eagles are probably the worst team in the NFL’s worst division. Jalen Hurts showed promising flashes last season but also struggled at times. He only completed 52% of his passes in 2020.
Philadelphia also has to face the AFC West. That division figures to be one of, if not the best division in the league. In its own division, Dallas has a potent offense, Washington has a lethal pass rush to go with an improved offense and New York will be getting RB Saquon Barkley back, signed WR Kenny Golladay and returns a stifling defense.
The Eagles finished 4-11-1 last season and didn’t really make any significant additions in the offseason. They will be competitive but it won’t result in too many wins this season.