The Eagles followed up a magical run to a Super Bowl title with a disappointing 9-7 record in 2018. Everyone in Philadelphia is hopeful that a healthy Carson Wentz can lead this team back to the Promised Land.
Oddsmakers aren’t convinced that head coach Doug Pederson has a big winner on his hands. The over/under for the Eagles is currently set at just 9.5 wins. In other words, the expectation is that the Eagles will be a fringe playoff team this year.
The health of Wentz is a bigger issue for this team than ever before. Nick Foles is no longer present in the City of Brotherly Love to serve as the team’s safety blanket. The Eagles are in real trouble if they’re forced to put their trust in Nate Sudfeld for any significant length of time. As such, how you bet on the Eagles largely depends on how many games you think Wentz can play.
Make no mistake about it, Wentz’s durability is an issue the quarterback himself can heavily influence. He simply has to get smarter about the risks he takes on the field. That doesn’t mean he can never scramble for a first down, but it does mean he can’t scratch and claw for every yard on every play. Discretion is definitely the better part of valor for Wentz moving forward.
If Wentz can stay healthy for a full season, this team has the high end talent to grow into a legitimate Super Bowl competitor. Pederson is a terrific offensive coach and he has plenty of weapons to work with. Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz are among the best players in the NFL at their respective positions. The running back tandem of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders also projects to be extremely productive.
The talent at the skill positions, coupled with one of the top offensive lines in the league, gives this offense a chance to be one of the best in the NFL. A top-five finish for the group isn’t out of the question. Scoring points shouldn’t be a challenge for this team.
The questions for the Eagles are largely on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary is probably the team’s biggest weakness. It was decimated by injury last season, but the group isn’t exactly full of Pro Bowlers when everyone is healthy. The good news for Eagles defenders is that this year’s defensive line is going to make it really difficult for quarterbacks to step into throws.
The tackle pairing of Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson might be the best inside pass rushing duo in the league. The ends are underrated as well. Derek Barnett missed most of 2018 due to injury, but the former first round pick has a ton of effective pass rushing moves at his disposal. Brandon Graham is a legitimate Pro Bowl presence on the other side. Every member of Philadelphia’s starting line has a legitimate chance to produce double-digit sacks. That doesn’t mean they all will hit that rarified mark, but the group is going to cause a lot of chaos in opposing backfields.
The linebacking corps is distinctly average. Nigel Bradham is the very definition of an adequate NFL starter. Kamu Grugler-Hill and Zach Brown are fringe starters at best. The front four is absolutely going to be forced to prop this group up on Sundays.
Add it all up and this is a very talented, but somewhat inconsistent roster. It’s not a perfectly constructed unit. The middle class for the Eagles is smaller than the organization’s higher-ups would like. The term “stars and scrubs” certainly comes to mind when you go over the Philadelphia roster.
Fortunately, they play in a relatively weak division. The Eagles and Cowboys both project to be in the playoff race, but neither the Redskins nor Giants should finish anywhere near the postseason. In other words, the Eagles should feast on both teams. 4-0 against Washington and New York is a distinct possibility.
Those four projected wins are the reason why we like the Eagles to hit their over. The odds are justifiably stacked against this group putting up 12 or 13 wins, but getting to double-digits should be very doable for a group with this much star power.
As long as Wentz stays relatively healthy, the Eagles should stay right in the thick of the race for the NFC East title. That translates to a 10 or 11 win season. 10-6 feels like the right number for this team. A significant injury to Wentz could wreck Philadelphia’s season, but the same can be said for almost every other team in the NFL when it comes to their starting quarterback.