Star players, coaching, depth – Eagles has it all. Does it mean another NFC championship and trip to the Super Bowl in the 2023-2024 season? We think so
The Philadelphia Eagles weren’t challenged in reaching Super Bowl LVII at the start of 2023.
They ran over the NFC East to the tune of a 14-3 record and the NFC’s top seed in the regular season, setting a number of records in the process.
Once the playoffs started, the Eagles turned it up a notch, dismantling the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers by a combined score of 69-14 in their two playoff contests at Lincoln Financial Field.
Never fear, though – Philly is primed to be right back in the big game this coming February in Las Vegas. Why? We’re glad you asked.
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Reason 1: The Offensive Line
It all starts up front in the NFL, and both of the Eagles’ longtime anchors are back for another run at the big prize.
Center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson battled injuries throughout the 2022 campaign but played throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl LVII.
The nice thing about having a pair of potential Hall of Famers on your line is it allows the rest of the unit to develop at their own speed. For the Eagles, this means that massive left tackle Jordan Mailata has learned from one of the game’s best tackles in Johnson. It’s paying off as Mailata, once a 7th-round draft pick, enters his fourth year as the Eagles’ starting left tackle.
Mailata was a Pro Bowl selection last year (obviously not playing the game, due to the Eagles’ Super Bowl berth).
Landon Dickerson would’ve joined Mailata at the Pro Bowl, after an impressive second season at left guard. When Kelce does decide to hang it up, he’ll be ably replaced by 23-year-old Cam Jurgens. For this season, Jurgens figures to replace the departed Isaac Seumalo (now with the Pittsburgh Steelers) at right guard.
Injuries are always a concern, but the Eagles are prepared, because…
Reason 2: They Draft Better than Any Team
No, this won’t be another series of jokes about the “Philadelphia Bulldogs.”
Yes, they’ve drafted quite a few players from the University of Georgia. Who can blame them?
In this year’s first round, it was consensus All-American defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who fell to the ninth pick despite many experts calling him as high as the second-best player available.
Combined with former college teammate Jordan Davis, 2022’s first-round pick, rival teams will have their hands full up front.
The Eagles continue to stack the cupboard on the offensive line for the future, taking Alabama’s Tyler Steen with their third-round selection.
They stocked the secondary with the additions of Kelee Ringo as well as Sydney Brown. They also appear to have a find in Stanford’s Tanner McKee, a sixth-round quarterback.
But perhaps the best selection was Nolan Smith, an edge rusher at pick No. 30, which adds to Philadelphia’s…
Reason 3: Unrivaled Depth on the Defensive Line
Having a stud edge rusher like Myles Garrett or Nick Bosa is huge in the NFL. And the Eagles have Haason Reddick, who tied Garrett for second in the NFL with 16 sacks last season.
But even more importantly, Philly’s phenomenal drafts means they can rotate two full strings of defensive linemen, throwing fresh pass rushers and run stoppers at increasingly overwhelmed offensive lines.
We discussed the duo of first-round picks, Carter and Davis, but veteran and former All-Pro Fletcher Cox mixes into the defensive tackle rotation along with 2021 third-round pick Milton Williams.
In addition to Reddick coming off the edge, former Super Bowl hero Brandon Graham, rookie Smith, and Josh Sweat (eleven sacks last year) feature for the Eagles.
Imagine blocking these Carter, Davis, as well as Reddick for three quarters, just to see a fresh group including Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Nolan Smith coming at you. And this year, these guys have…
Reason 4: Something to Prove
Losing the Super Bowl is enough motivation but doing so in the final second after surrendering a 10-point halftime lead gives the Eagles some extra motivation.
Cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry return as one of the league’s best duos, but they had a rough second half in Glendale against Mahomes and the Chiefs. Both players had numerous chances to head elsewhere after last season but stayed in Philadelphia in hopes of finishing the job.
And those are the guys who were here last season. At running back, a pair of veterans come in on one-year deals – Rashaad Penny from Seattle; D’Andre Swift from Detroit – to run behind that aforementioned offensive line and also hopefully prove themselves for one more big-money contract.
Who else wants to prove it? Nakobe Dean, a third-round pick and ANOTHER All-American from Georgia, figures to see more time at linebacker. He’s joined by Myles Jack, in from a year with the Steelers, and former first-round pick Terrell Edmunds looks to supplant CJ Gardner-Johnson at safety.
But they’re all in line behind one guy…
Reason 5: Jalen Hurts
“Something to prove?” you’re asking. “Jalen Hurts?”
Believe it. Even after last year’s breakout season – a likely MVP campaign sidetracked by a Week 15 injury, and a Super Bowl performance so strong that some believed Hurts should’ve won MVP despite the Eagles’ loss – the 25-year-old QB comes into 2023 looking to show the season was just the start.
The numbers – 3,700 yards passing, 760 yards rushing, 35 total touchdowns – tell only part of the story. Hurt’s completion percentage reached 67% only two years after struggling to a 52% mark as a rookie, leading to questions about his long-term viability at the position.
Those questions are more than answered now. He threw only a half-dozen interceptions on 460 attempts, didn’t lose a single fumble on 165 carries, and took it to another level in the postseason (eight total TDs over three games).
Yet all offseason, Hurts sounded like a rookie who hadn’t done anything yet as he discussed his new contract extension designed to keep him in Philadelphia through the rest of the 2020s. The reserved leader dropped a couple of classic lines that speak to his own motivation and that of those around him.
“I had a purpose before everybody else had an opinion,” Hurts said of his journey through losing the starting job in college at Alabama before moving to Oklahoma and leading a second team to the College Football Playoff.
After the loss to Kansas City, a disappointed Hurts said the loss was “supposed to hurt.”
“It’s something I know will motivate me,” he added.
And it’s just one more reason Philadelphia will be back in the Super Bowl after the 2023 season.
Philadelphia Eagles Betting Odds
Backing the Eagles to return to the Super Bowl? Or trying to beat the favorite with a sleeper?
Here are the odds for Philadelphia to return to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, as well as a few other numbers related to the team from the City of Brotherly Love with one longshot pick we like for the season.
(All odds courtesy of DraftKings)
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NFC Championship 2023-2024
|San Francisco 49ers||+400|
|New Orleans Saints||+1200|
|New York Giants||+2500|
|Green Bay Packers||+3000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+4500|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+4500|
Super Bowl LVIII Champions: Philadelphia Eagles +650
NFL Most Valuable Player: Jalen Hurts +1100, AJ Brown +15000
Offensive Player of the Year: Jalen Hurts +3000, AJ Brown +4500, Devonta Smith +10000
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Haason Reddick +2500, Darius Slay +10000, James Bradberry +20000
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Jalen Carter +700
Longshot Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (+1500) to record 1+ rushing TD in every game
They did it in 15 of their 17 contests a year ago.
Hurts is the best red-zone rushing QB in the league. They have Penny and Swift as a thunder and lightning-type combo, as well as returning backs Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell to share carries.
An added bonus? Quez Watkins and Devonta Smith are adept on end arounds, and coach Nick Sirianni loves to also throw in a wrinkle or two near the goal line. Plus, Philadelphia’s QB sneak play, known as the “Tush Push” was so unstoppable last year the NFL considered outlawing it for this season. On a team with some short prices, this is a worthwhile longshot bet for the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles.