It is question and answer time as another Eagles season is upon us.
All I ask is please no wagering on my answers, which are predictions, really. If you do wager and win some money, then be honest, and send me 10 percent. I take checks, but cash is preferred.
Let’s get started.
The question I am asked most:
What will be the Eagles’ final record?
Without going through the meaningless exercise of going game-by-game, I will just put it out there: 11-5.
It is reasonable, to me, anyway, that the Eagles will go 4-2 within the NFC East. I don’t know where those two losses will come from, but know that one will be from the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe even both. Dallas has a very talented roster, one that is underplayed in Philly, but one that, nonetheless, will do some damage this year.
I know Eagles fans don’t want to hear that, but to borrow a popular phrase said by NFL players everywhere: it is what it is.
More on the season record: I don’t like the Eagles’ three-game road trip that runs through the first week of October until the end of the month. They are the only NFL team to have to play three straight road games. And it’s against teams that are very good: Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo (yes, I’m riding the Bills as one of my surprise playoff teams).
On the flip side, I do like that they don’t have to go anywhere in November, with three straight home games and a bye after the first one. I also like that they don’t have to get on airplane except once – Miami on Dec. 1 – over the final eight games of the season.
VIDEO: Jason Kelce talks about the offensive line
Who will lead the Eagles in rushing?
This could be considered a curse, since last year’s leading rusher was Josh Adams, who was cut and now toils on the practice squad of the New York Jets. Then there was Wendell Smallwood, who, for the previous three seasons combined totaled more rushing yards than anyone else on the roster. He’s now hoping to be active on game days with the Washington Redskins.
The future is now, so I’m going with Miles Sanders. I think Sanders’ role will grow as the season unfolds. I also think that he will be in the mix to earn the NFC’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Who will lead the Eagles in touchdowns?
Tight end Zach Ertz is always in the mix here. Last year, it was him with eight. Two years ago, it was Alshon Jeffery with nine, but Ertz and Nelson Agholor (pictured above) had eight each. You’ll never guess who it was in 2016, so I’ll tell you it was Ryan Mathews with eight. Ertz had four that year, which was second most on the team.
So it makes sense to pick Ertz to do it this year, right?
You’re darn right. I’ll say he catches 10, but will be challenged by DeSean Jackson, who will get come close to 10.
How many touchdown passes and yards will Carson Wentz throw?
I’m going to go ahead and assume the quarterback will stay healthy for all 16. In 2017, he broke the franchise record for most touchdowns thrown in a single season, which had been 32 set in 1961 by Sonny Jurgensen. Wentz threw 33 despite missing the final three games. I think he shatters that record this year, and hits 40.
As for total yards, mark me down for 4,000 minimum. If he hits that, he will break the franchise’s single season record, which currently sits at 3,916 and is held by Donovan McNabb who did it in 2008. McNabb also holds the second highest total of 3,875 done in 2004. Randall Cunning ham is third at 3,808 in 1988 and Wentz is fourth on the list at 3,782 set in his rookie season of 2016.
Who will lead the Eagles in sacks?
Struggled with this one, because the Eagles lost three of their top five sackers from last year in Michael Bennett (second with 9), Chris Long (third with 6.5), and Jordan Hicks (fifth with 3).
The leader, though, is back and that’s Fletcher Cox, who made 10.5 Cox didn’t have any preseason while rehabbing from a foot injury, but is ready to start the season. It may be a slow start. Same with Derek Barnett.
So I’ll go with a surprise here and say Malik Jackson. He had a career-high eight just two years ago and has talked a lot about how much defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s defense fits him. I think he’ll get nine this season, which may not sound like a lot, but I believe the Eagles will have a balanced sack attack, with solid sack numbers spread out among several players.
Who will lead the Eagles in interceptions?
Rasul Douglas led the team last year with three. That is a very low number, as getting turnovers were an issue last year when the team had just 16. Douglas is always around the ball and has five in his two-year career. He’s the easy choice, but I’m going to swerve from easy and take Ronald Darby here. Darby had a career-high three two years ago in his first season in Philly and did it in just eight games.
Of course, he needs to stay healthy, something that has been a problem the past two years.
Who wins the NFC East?
You may need to find a seat for this answer. I’m going with the Dallas Cowboys. Wait…no, I can’t do that. It’s tempting, though; very, very tempting. I'm telling you, their roster is very good.
So I really don’t have a good reason why I am going to pick the Eagles over the Cowboys except maybe one – history. There hasn’t been a repeat winner of the NFC East since the Eagles did it in 2003 and 2004. The Cowboys are the defending division champs, so history is against them going back-to-back.
Which teams make the playoffs in the NFC?
Division winners Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, and Rams. Wild cards will be Seahawks and Cowboys.
Which teams make the playoffs in the AFC?
Division winners will be Patriots, Ravens, Titans, and Chiefs. Wild cards will be Steelers and Bills.
What is my Super Bowl matchup?
Call me a homer if you like, but I’m going Eagles-Chiefs. I know this is what national broadcaster Dan Patrick picked, as well as some others, but I think it could happen. And how great would that be: Andy Reid trying to cement his coaching legacy with his first Super Bowl win over the team where he got his start and spent 14 years, coming up short of winning on some of the biggest stages each year.