Last season was a dream come true for the Philadelphia Eagles. They put together a 13-3 regular season behind would-be MVP candidate Carson Wentz. They were then able to shake off a late-season injury to Wentz and rally behind backup Nick Foles, who played out of his mind in the playoffs to give the Eagles a long-awaited Super Bowl title.
Of course, that was last season, and now the goal for the Eagles is to do it all over again. Most of last year’s team remains in place, so the thought of a repeat is not an unrealistic one. In fact, the Eagles are still the team to beat in the NFC.
The Eagles are listed at +900 to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Those odds are the second-best in the NFL behind the Patriots. Philadelphia’s win projection is down to just 10.5 after winning 13 games a year ago. The incredible depth in the NFC is perhaps the biggest reason why the Eagles could fall short of expectations and struggle to repeat as Super Bowl champs. However, there’s a strong argument that on paper the Eagles are the best team in the NFC heading into 2018.
Wentz is still questionable for the start the season. But after the way Foles played in the playoffs last season, Philadelphia should be in good hands until Wentz has fully recovered from his knee injury. The Eagles also return most of their top playmakers. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholar will be the marquee receivers, with Philadelphia also taking a shot on deep threat Mike Wallace, who should help stretch the field. Also, don’t overlook the importance of tight end Zach Ertz.
At running back, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement are back. Darren Sproles may have a role to play too if he can recover from his own injury. Perhaps more importantly, the Philadelphia offensive line turned in a star performance last season, even after Jason Peters was lost to injury. If that group can maintain its level of play from 2017, the Eagles shouldn’t worry too much about the state of their offense.
On the other side of the ball, the band is mostly back together. The Eagles were excellent a year ago at pressuring quarterbacks and forcing turnovers. Fletcher Cox will anchor the defensive line while the likes of Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and the newly-acquired Chris Long and Michael Bennett provide the pressure. The Eagles also return a stable group of linebackers and a talented secondary, as Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby start at cornerback with Malcolm Jenkins patrolling the field as a playmaking safety.
Things don’t always go according to plan, but looking at Philadelphia’s roster, it’s hard not to see one of the best teams in the NFL. There will be questions about complacency, and the Eagles will no doubt want to get Wentz back as soon as possible. But unless a lot of things go wrong, the Eagles figure to be one of the best teams in the league and a bonafide Super Bowl contender.
|Sep 6||Atlanta Falcons||8:20 PM|
|Sep 16||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 PM|
|Sep 23||Indianapolis Colts||1:00 PM|
|Sep 30||@ Tennessee Titans||1:00 PM|
|Oct 7||Minnesota Vikings||4:25 PM|
|Oct 11||@ New York Giants||8:20 PM|
|Oct 21||Carolina Panthers||1:00 PM|
|Oct 28||@ Jacksonville Jaguars||9:30 AM|
|Nov 11||Dallas Cowboys||8:20 PM|
|Nov 18||@ New Orleans Saints||1:00 PM|
|Nov 25||New York Giants||1:00 PM|
|Dec 3||Washington Redskins||8:15 PM|
|Dec 9||@ Dallas Cowboys||4:25 PM|
|Dec 16||@ Los Angeles Rams||8:20 PM|
|Dec 23||Houston Texans||1:00 PM|
|Dec 30||@ Washington Redskins||1:00 PM|
As expected, the NFL gave the defending Super Bowl champions a challenging schedule. They will play seven playoff teams from a season ago, including road games against the Titans, Jaguars, Saints, and Rams. There are also no easy games in the NFC East. The Cowboys will fancy themselves as contenders to win the division. The Giants should be much better than they were a year ago. Washington will also see itself as a potential contender.
With six contests within the division and seven playoff teams on the schedule, most of Philadelphia’s games will be toss-ups. But in terms of talent, the Eagles should compare favorably to nearly every team they play. That should be enough to claim 11 or 12 wins and another division title. It will also give the Eagles a chance to return to the postseason and defend their championship.