By the time Monday, September 9th rolls around, Philly sports fans are gonna be pumped for Philadelphia Eagles football no matter what, just by virtue of it being something besides the Phillies, who by that point will probably be fielding a starting outfield of Roger Bernadina, Casper Wells and Jeff Francoeur and waving to the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. At the very least, there's a sense of newness to the Eagles in coach Chip Kelly's first season, an excitement that should persist even if the team struggles a bit out of the gate--as long as their struggles aren't of the historic variety, anyway.
Well. ESPN the Magazine recently released their NFL season predictions (courtesy of analytics site Pro Football Focus), and understandably for a team in transition coming off a 4-12 record, they're none too bullish on our Birds. They have the Eagles going 6-10 and finishing last in the East, with the team going a miserable 1-5 in Division play. (They also predict that Nick Foles' risk-averseness will eventually win him the starting job from Michael Vick, for whatever that's worth.)
That's all tough, but none too surprising, and none even all that discouraging. But there is one somewhat eye-popping prediction contained in their Eagles season mini-preview. See, in addition to the PFF dudes predicting the results of every game on the NFL schedule for the Mag, they also predict the final score. And not only do they predict the Birds will lose the season opener to the Redskins, they predict it's gonna be by a fairly sizable margin.
WHAT?? Well, the Mag doesn't provide per-game explanation for their scores--that'd be a lot for a preview issue--so we can't really know what the reasoning is behind their projected blowout. And they do predict the Redskins to win the East, though only with a 10-6 record, and not with scoring 40 or shutting out an opponent in any other game of theirs.
But geez, 41-0? Oddsshark.com currently only has the Redskins as 4.5-point favorites, and though that may change some, it's hard to see it going into the high double-digits. According to Pro Football Reference, the 41-0 loss would be the sixth-worst loss in Eagles history, and the worst since they were shut out 42-0 by the Seahawks in Decmeber 2005.
Such a loss would do about as effective as would be humanly possibly in quashing Eagles excitement before the season even really gets going, no matter how bad the Phillies are at that point. However, two minor silver linings to be found in this gloomiest of projected clouds. One is that ESPN does have the Eagles rebounding from the brutal opening loss to win their next two against the Chargers and the Chiefs, which might help get some sense of momentum back. (They lose the three after that, though.)
The other is that the loss isn't even the biggest blanking ESPN predicts for the 2013 season--that honor would go to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are predicted to lose 58-0 to the Seattle Seahawks in Week Three, just one point away from tying for the biggest blowout in NFL history. So there's that.