Most expected the Philadelphia Eagles to be improved in year two under head coach Doug Peterson and quarterback Carson Wentz. They didn’t disappoint. In fact, they were better than just about anyone could have imagined.
Wentz and the Eagles took the NFL by storm in 2017 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record. They backed it up in the postseason, as they took down the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
The most impressive thing about last year’s team, is how they were able to overcome injuries that typically derail teams. Everyone was well aware of the injury to Carson Wentz, which led to the unbelievable play of backup Nick Foles, who went on to win the Super Bowl MVP. They also lost one of the best left tackles in the game in Jason Peters.
It speaks volumes to the quality of depth that the Eagles have and what makes them such a huge threat to be the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Patriots did so back in 2004 and 2005.
While the Eagles lost several players in free agency, they were able to keep all their best players and did a nice job feeling the voids where others departed.
The offense will be headlined by Wentz, who likely would have won the regular-season MVP if he hadn’t got hurt. He was leading the league with 33 touchdowns before he went down. He might not be 100% for Week 1, so there is a chance Foles, who they decided not to trade, could open the season.
All the primary weapons on offense are back, with the exception of running back LeGarrett Blount, who led the team with 766 yards. Look for Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement to all see time. Also, keep an eye out for Donnell Pumphrey, who they took in the 4th round.
Tight end Zach Ertz and wide outs Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey are the top 3 pass catchers back. This trio were dynamite in 2017. All 3 had more than 50 catches, 750 yards and 8 scores. They did lose backup tight end Trey Burton, but quickly replaced him with their 2nd round pick of Dallas Goedert from South Dakota State. They also added veteran wide outs Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton.
Peters will return from injury to anchor one of the best offensive lines in the league. It’s no secret that when healthy, Peters plays a Pro Bowl level. Right tackle Lane Johnson, right guard Brandon Brooks and center Jason Kelce all made the pro bowl last year and left guard Steven Wisniewski could have easily got the nod.
While the offense gets a lot of the hype, the Eagles defense was the driving force in last year’s Super Bowl run. Philadelphia finished 4th in the NFL in both points allowed (18.4 ppg) and yards given up (306.5 ypg).
All of that stemmed from arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. The Eagles featured an abundance of depth up front and the unit was the best in the league against the run, giving up just 79.2 ypg (Vikings only other team that allowed fewer than 88.1 ypg).
The only signifiant loss was defensive end Vinny Curry, who tied for second on the team with 8 tackles for loss. They still have Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Tim Jernigan and Brandon Graham. They also added veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, traded for defensive end Michael Bennett and used a 4th round pick on FSU’s Josh Sweat (ran 4.53 at combine).
At linebacker the Eagles didn’t have one of their better players in Jordan Hicks for most of the season. Nigel Bradham and Michael Kendricks stepped up and played well. These three are solid, but there’s not a ton of depth at the position.
There’s plenty of talent in the secondary. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod form a potent safety tandem. Starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are both back, but the belief is Mills could lose his spot to Sidney Jones, last year’s second round pick that lost most of his rookie year to injury. That actually works, as the Eagles need a replacement for slot corner Patrick Robinson, who left in free agency.
As you can see, Philadelphia on paper has an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball. The big question is how will the team handle the success. A lot of players will give it everything they have to win that elusive Super Bowl title, but can they find motivation after accomplishing that goal. Anything but their best won’t be enough to repeat with the massive target they have on their back.
2018 Eagles Schedule & Projected Odds
Below you will find the early odds released by Vegas for Weeks 1-16, as well as my projected number for Week 17. Using the lines we are able to give a game-by-game win probability, which we used to come up an expected win total.
|6||at Giants TNF||-6||0.71|
|8||at Jaguars (London)||PK||0.50|
|15||at Rams SNF||+1||0.49|
Projected Wins: 10.26
Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER 10.5
This is one I struggled with. Defending a Super Bowl title is a monumental task that few have been able to deliver on. In the last 17 years, there have been 7 times where the defending champ didn’t even make the playoffs. A lot of that has to do with players getting content and all the sudden every game on the schedule is a war, as every other team wants to show what they can do against the champs.
The other thing is roster turnover. There’s a ton of player movement in the NFL year-to-year and a lot of players on Super Bowl winning teams are looking to get paid and end up signing with other teams.
Taking all of that into consideration, I just can’t get myself to bet against the Eagles, even knowing that the number here is probably at least a 1/2-win higher than it should be. This is the most talented roster I have seen for a defending champ since 2015, when Seattle was coming off that ass-kicking of the Broncos in Super Bowl 48. The Seahawks came within 1-yard of securing the repeat in that epic loss to the Patriots.
My lean here has to be on the OVER 10.5. It might only be a half-win, but I have a hard time seeing the Eagles finish worse than 11-5. With that said, this is not one I will personally be playing, as there’s just too much uncertainty with how the team will respond.
Odds to Win the Super Bowl: +850
To no surprise, the Eagles are one of the top favorites according to Vegas to win the title. Philadelphia is currently sitting at +850. Only the Patriots, who are at +650 have better odds to win it all.
I certainly wouldn’t blame you for wanting to bet the Eagles. If Wentz steps in and plays at a MVP level and the other guys play up to their potential, they are hands down one of the best teams in the league this year.
The thing you have to keep in mind, the best team doesn’t always win the title. A lot of people forget they had to make a goal-line stand in the final minutes of regulation in their 15-10 win over Atlanta in the Division Round.
The NFC is loaded with talented teams and while I like their chances of finishing with a strong record, I’m less optimistic all the breaks will go their way in the postseason.
Odds to Win the NFC: +400
Oddsmakers have the Eagles as the team to beat. They are the favorites in the NFC at +400, just ahead of the Vikings (+550), Rams (+600), Packers (+600), Saints (+900) and Falcons (+1000).
Again, there’s a lot worse bets out there than taking the Eagles to win the NFC, just know you are paying a pretty hefty price. Personally, I think the Vikings and Rams are every bit as talented as Philadelphia. I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Packers, Saints or Falcons won it all. I just feel there’s a lot more value with these other teams, as their chances of winning it all aren’t that much different than the Eagles.
Odds to Win the NFC East: -175
I’m 100% on board with the Eagles being the favorites to win the NFC East. However, I think they odds are horrible in terms of value. I believe the NFC East will be one of the top divisions in the NFL from top to bottom. I can assure that the other 3 teams (Cowboys, Giants and Redskins) are all going into this season believing they are the best team in the NFC East.
The Cowboys are just a season removed from winning 13 games and didn’t have their best player, Ezekiel Elliot for a good chunk of last year. The Giants won 11 games in 2016 and many believe they added the missing piece to their offense in rookie running back Saquon Barkley. Washington lost Kirk Cousins, but added Alex Smith, who has won 75.8% (69-31-1) of his regular-season starts over the last 7 years.
I’m not saying the Eagles won’t repeat at NFC East champs, I simply don’t agree that they should be priced at -175.