The Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl defense season didn’t go quite as they may have hoped, but the 2018 campaign was still a strong one. Philly was once again forced to shuffle its quarterback rotation with Carson Wentz struggling to return to form after tearing his ACL at the tail end of the 2017 season. The plan was to have Wentz return as the starter, but it was once again Nick Foles that wound up leading the Eagles to the postseason.
The Eagles got off to an underwhelming 4-6 start before rallying in the second half of the season. Philly went 5-1 over their last six games, and their 9-7 record was just good enough to nab a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Philly went on to beat the Bears in the Wild Card Round thanks to a last-second field goal miss from Chicago’s Cody Parkey. But the Philadelphia Eagles’ run came to an end in New Orleans in the Divisional Round.
Advancing to the second round of the playoffs is still a pretty decent accomplishment for a team that didn’t really look like a contender for most of last season. Now that Wentz is over a year-and-a-half removed from his injury, though, expectations are high once again heading into 2019. This time, the Eagles won’t have Foles to come in and save the day if the starter falters. The NFL is known for its parity, but it would be a surprise if we didn’t see the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys ultimately duking it out for NFC East supremacy this season. Can Philadelphia make another Super Bowl run?
As mentioned, Nick Foles left for greener pastures. The former Super Bowl MVP is now the unquestioned starter in Jacksonville after accepting a four-year, $88 million deal to become the Jaguars’ QB1 this offseason. The Eagles were never going to choose Foles over the younger Wentz, especially considering Wentz was likely the frontrunner to win league MVP before his aforementioned ACL tear two seasons ago.
Philly has far less proven commodities backing Wentz up in Nick Sudfeld and Clayton Thorson. So, if something were to happen to Wentz again this season, it’s fair to say things could get pretty dire pretty quickly for this team.
Philly did make a couple of splashy moves in an attempt to upgrade Wentz’ weaponry, though. The team acquired old friend DeSean Jackson from Tampa Bay in exchange for a couple of late-round draft picks, while Jordan Howard was brought over from Chicago. Jackson, of course, spent the first six seasons of his pro career with the Eagles, where he became one of the league’s preeminent deep threats. He may not be what he once was now that he’s 32, but Jackson has still shown the ability to stretch the field. Jackson averaged nearly 19 yards per catch last season in Tampa Bay.
The Philadelphia Eagles took advantage of a buy-low opportunity when it came to Howard. He topped 1,100 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons with the Bears, but he struggled last year. He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry on 250 attempts, and he lost some touches at the expense of an up-and-comer in Tarik Cohen last season. Howard became expendable, so the Eagles took advantage. Getting a proven every-down back in exchange for a future pick given this team’s question marks in the backfield looks like a smart move.
One of the most noteworthy losses is defensive end Michael Bennett, who was traded to the Patriots. Bennett is 33, but he has still been one of the game’s best pass-rushers over the last several years. However, the team’s decision to sign Malik Jackson as a free agent to pair with Fletcher Cox on the inside of the line means Brandon Graham can shift to the outside to try and replace Bennett. We’ll see how that works out, but trading a player that may decline sooner rather than later isn’t a bad idea.
The Philadelphia Eagles also kept Jason Peters. Peters isn’t what he once was, but if he can stay healthy, he still gives the team some stability on the left side of the offensive line. Jason Kelce is one of the best centers in the game, so re-signing him to a new contract was a no-brainer. The Eagles also extended guard Isaac Seumalo, so continuity along the O-line shouldn’t be a problem.
|Points per Game||Passing Yards per Game||Rushing Yards per Game|
|22.9 (18th)||267.2 (7th)||98.1 (28th)|
|Points Allowed per Game||Passing Yards Allowed per Game||Rushing Yards Allowed per Game|
|21.8 (12th)||269.2 (30th)||96.9 (7th)|
|1||Sun, Sep. 8||vs. Washington Redskins||1:00pm||FOX|
|2||Sun, Sep. 15||at Atlanta Falcons||8:20pm||NBC|
|3||Sun, Sep. 22||vs. Detroit Lions||1:00pm||FOX|
|4||Thu, Sep. 26||at Green Bay Packers||8:20pm||FOX/NFL Net.|
|5||Sun, Oct. 6||vs. New York Jets||1:00pm||CBS|
|6||Sun, Oct. 13||at Minnesota Vikings||1:00pm||FOX|
|7||Sun, Oct. 20||at Dallas Cowboys||8:20pm||NBC|
|8||Sun, Oct. 27||at Buffalo Bills||1:00pm||FOX|
|9||Sun, Nov. 3||vs. Chicago Bears||1:00pm||FOX|
|11||Sun, Nov. 17||vs. New England Patriots||4:25pm||CBS|
|12||Sun, Nov. 24||vs. Seattle Seahawks||8:20pm||NBC|
|13||Sun, Dec. 1||at Miami Dolphins||1:00pm||FOX|
|14||Mon, Dec. 9||vs. New York Giants||8:15pm||ESPN|
|15||Sun, Dec. 15||at Washington Redskins||1:00pm||FOX|
|16||Sun, Dec. 22||vs. Dallas Cowboys||4:25pm||FOX|
|17||Sun, Dec. 29||at New York Giants||1:00pm||FOX|
Each of the Philadelphia Eagles’ final four games of the season will come against NFC East rivals. They’ll get the toughest opponent (Dallas) at home, while three games against the Giants and Redskins must sound pretty appealing if you’re an Eagles fan. Those teams are expected to be bringing up the rear in the NFC. It also shouldn’t hurt to be facing the Dolphins in Week 13. While that game is in Miami, the argument can easily be made that four of the Eagles’ final five games of the season will come against teams unlikely to be challenging for the playoffs.
The first half of the schedule looks considerably more daunting. Road games in Atlanta, Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo all before Week 9 won’t be an easy task. Nor will a home game against the Bears in Week 9 right before the Eagles head into their bye. Home games with the Redskins (Week 1), Lions (Week 3), and Jets (Week 5) look a bit easier on paper, but we know nothing is guaranteed in this league.
The Philadelphia Eagles will face every team from the AFC East and NFC North, with one-off conference games against the Falcons and Seahawks. Divisional games can never be chalked up as automatic wins, but 4-2 (at worst) feels like a reasonable expectation for this team considering the talent gap between the top-2 teams (Philly and Dallas) and the bottom-2 teams (Washington and New York). If they can take care of business against the three weaker-looking AFC East teams (Miami, Buffalo, New York Jets) while picking up that win over the Lions at home, the Eagles are looking at roughly 8 wins right there, without taking into account the tougher matchups on the schedule.
It all comes down to Carson Wentz. The former No. 2 overall pick was in fine form when healthy, as he finished with 21 touchdowns to 7 interceptions while also upping his completion percentage by a whopping 9% over the 2017 campaign. The team wasn’t as aggressive in letting Wentz run the football as they had been prior to his injury, but I would expect that facet of his game to return now that he’s likely back to full strength, physically.
Wentz did fumble nine times in 11 games last year, but if he can protect the football there is no reason to believe this offense can’t be among the most prolific in the NFC. Doug Pederson has proven himself to be one of the more creative offensive minds in the game, and having a legitimate deep threat in Jackson in the fold should help open up more room for the likes of Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz underneath.
Howard should also provide stability to the running game that was missing a season ago. The Philadelphia Eagles averaged under 100 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked 28th in the league. Josh Adams was this team’s leading rusher with just 511 yards on the year. Philadelphia does have decent depth behind Howard with Corey Clement still on the roster, but I’d be surprised if the ex-Bear didn’t take the reins of this rushing attack.
If Graham and company can pick up the slack left by Bennett, the defense should do its job. The Philadelphia Eagles were quietly one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season (30th in passing yards allowed), so whether they can get consistent pressure on QBs likely determines whether they improve in that department this time around. Other than Malcolm Jenkins, there isn’t a ton of name value in any of the team’s defensive backfield, which is a pretty clear weakness once again in ‘19.
Oddsmakers are bullish on Philadelphia heading into 2019. In fact, the Eagles have the highest projected win total in the NFC East:
Odds via MyBookie
On paper, there is no reason to believe the Philadelphia Eagles can’t be among the NFC’s best. If Wentz can recapture his MVP form, this team looks like the best in their division, and they proved two years ago that they’re capable of beating anybody.
One stretch of schedule will be key for Philadelphia when it comes to capitalizing on their potential. Philly has a daunting three-game road trip that will take them to Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo. After that, they get three straight home games with playoff hopefuls in Chicago, New England, and Seattle (with the bye week mixed in). That’s about as tough a six-game stretch as you can have, and how they fare will likely determine whether they go over or under their win prop.
This is a very close call. Given the relative difficulty of the schedule, I am liking the value that comes with taking the under on the Philadelphia Eagles getting to 10 wins at +115. Wentz hasn’t been immune to injuries over the past couple of seasons, and if he goes down again, I’m not sure the backups will be able to save them this time around. There isn’t much value that comes with taking the over on 10 at -145. Philadelphia will be in the mix for a playoff spot again, but taking the under looks like the safer bet at this point.
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