The Philadelphia Eagles will open up the 2012 season on the road against the Cleveland Browns. Philadelphia is trying to put 2011’s disappointing campaign to rest, and get off to a strong start in what appears to be a big mismatch. The Browns lost the final six games of last season to finish up with a 4-12 record, which was the eighth time in the last nine years they have finished with double-digits in the loss column. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST at Cleveland Browns Stadium and will be televised locally on FOX.
For those of you looking to place a wager on this matchup, oddsmakers have the Eagles currently listed as 8.5-point favorites over Cleveland with the total sitting at 43 points.
It might not be the “Dream Team” that everyone was talking about coming into the 2011 season, but expectations are extremely high in Philadelphia. The Eagles believe they have put together a roster to not only contend for an NFC East title, but win a Super Bowl. Another 8-8 finish is simply unacceptable given the talent the Eagles have on both sides of the ball.
The big question coming into 2012, is whether or not starting quarterback Michael Vick will be able to stay healthy for the entire season. Vick played in just 13 games a year ago, and has already suffered two injuries in the Eagles first two preseason games.
Vick has all kinds of weapons at his disposal. Most notably, running back LeSean McCoy and wide outs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. McCoy is coming off a breakout season in 2011. Not only did he rush for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns, but he also caught 48 passes for another 315 yards and three scores.
Defensively, the Eagles feature one of the deepest and most talented defensive lines in the NFL. Philadelphia tied the Vikings with an NFL-best 50 sacks last year, and are expected to put even more pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2012. Philadelphia used their first-round pick on Mississippi St defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. While the Eagles traded away starting corner Asante Samuel, they believe their secondary won’t miss a beat with corners Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominigue Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside. The biggest improvements the Eagles made came at linebacker, where they traded for middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and drafted talented outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who really looked impressive in the preseason.
This is going to be an interesting season in Cleveland, as the Browns have decided to go out and try and fix their offensive struggles by selecting Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Oklahoma St quarterback Brandon Weedon with their two first-round picks. Both Richardson and Weeden are expected to start right away. Richardson injured his knee during the offseason, but is expected to be 100% against the Eagles.
Whether or not Weeden and Richardson are able to live up to the hype, will have a direct result on the overall success of this team. There’s certainly reason to believe the rookie duo can turn this team around, just look at what A.J. Green and Andy Dalton did in Cincinnati a year ago.
The Browns are hoping that with teams having to pay more attention to the run and improved play at quarterback, it will open the door for wide outs Mohamed Massaquoi and Greg Little to both emerge as big time playmakers in the receiving game.
If the offense is able to get things figured out, Cleveland is going to be a team to watch out for this season. Defensively the Browns were pretty solid a season ago. They were especially strong against the pass, holding opposing quarterbacks to just 185 ypg through the air.
Needless to say there are a lot of question marks surrounding the Browns. More than likely this team is going to struggle to win games.
Browns are 1-11-1 ATS in their last 13 games in Week 1.
Browns are 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 games in September.
Over is 7-3 in Eagles last 10 games in September.
Under is 5-2 in Eagles last 7 games in Week 1.
Under is 5-0 in Browns last 5 home games.
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