The Official 2010 Eagles' Record Prediction Thread

The Official 2010 Eagles' Record Prediction Thread

As has become tradition around here, I asked The700Level staff to provide brief summaries on their predictions on the Eagles' upcoming season. As always, everybody went well over their word limits. In light of this travesty, I tried to limit my own thoughts, but admit I failed as well. Anyway, we're on the record with our guesstimates, and we'd like you to join in and do the same in the comments. Thanks to the team for contributing.

Kulp

Last year, I went with a breakdown of the schedule to arrive at my won-loss prediction, and since I correctly reached 11-5, I'm going back to the well for a second season. The first thing that jumps out at me are fewer gimmes. As our presumptions about the league stand today, only the Lions and Jaguars in Weeks 2 and 3 look like easy pickins. Even with all the changes, the Eagles appear to be more complete right now than either, so two wins.

The middle tier of teams features the 49ers, Falcons, Titans, Bears, and Texans. The Eagles have had Atlanta's number in recent years (granted decimated by injuries in last season's meeting), and Chicago's situation may only get worse with Mike Martz running the offense. The Titans in Tennessee before the bye is tough though, and I have little confidence in their ability to beat darkhorse contender Houston on a short week—particularly with Andy Reid teams historically struggling against AFC teams—or win their cross-country trip to San Fran. Three wins if the defense can keep Chris Johnson in check.

The Eagles face an unfortunate slate of Super Bowl contenders, including the Packers, Colts, and Vikings. Indy has roughed up the Birds twice under Reid, a trend that will continue. The Vikings, on the other hand, I expect to be much worse than anticipated, especially later in the season as injuries catch up with their age. The Packers are a winnable game, but with so much unknown, I'm handing out a loss to open the season. They escape with one win from this bunch.

Which brings us to the NFC East. A lot of people predict splits in these contests, but I just don't have a ton of respect for New York or Washington. The Eagles posted 85 points in two meetings against the Giants in '09, and I don't see a great deal of improvement on that defense. And while Donovan will have extra motivation, especially the first time out, the offense is lacking weapons. Maybe Washington sneaks a win, but I could see a sweep. Three wins to err on the side of caution.

That puts the Eagles at nine wins with two to play against the Cowboys. With much of the off-season spent seemingly focused on defeating Dallas, who own a questionable offensive line of their own, it's hard to imagine another devastating series anything like what we witnessed last season. The Cowboys have the upper-hand in Week 14, but when they return to the Linc for the annual Week 17 showdown, I like the Birds to secure their playoff spot, and perhaps even a Division Championship. 10-6

Rev

If NFL Films approached me today, more than a full week before the Eagles open their regular season (Ed note: good hustle), and asked me to give them a title for their Eagles year in review film I'd go with "Out from the Shadows". Kevin Kolb is stepping out from Donovan McNabb's shadow to take the reins of an offense many believe he's better suited to operate. The skill position players (Shady McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek) no longer need to show deference to a guy who was rightfully the face of franchise long before they arrived in town. The offensive line? Well, aside from having question marks at right guard and center (at least until and if Jamaal Jackson is healthy) they'd go a long way towards establishing themselves if Jason Peters could simply line-up correctly and stop false starting every time he sees his own shadow.

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has another opportunity to step out from Jim Johnson's shadow. To me, one of the most interesting stories of the offseason centered around comments Sheldon Brown made with respect to the defense not buying into what McDermott was preaching last season. With a full offseason of OTA's, training camp, and preseason games under his belt, has McDermott done enough to forge his own identity and gain the trust of his players?

Can Brandon Graham finally be the guy to provide a pass rush threat opposite Trent Cole, which they'll absolutely need if they have any hope of generating a pass rush from their front four? The return of a healthy three down linebacker like Stewart Bradley will also help. The secondary remains a big concern as rookie Nate Allen will be thrust into a starting role next to Quintin Mikell at safety. Asante Samuel's aversion to tackling and willingness to freelance will likely be McDermott's biggest challenge. The defense will be quick, but after seeing them get pushed around in consecutive weeks by Dallas last season I have reservations as to whether they're stout enough to handle physical teams.

With all of that being said the largest shadow being cast on this team is Andy Reid's (both literally and figuratively). He's helped to rebuild this team on the fly. The average age of the projected starting offense is 24-years-old. His fingerprints are all over the roster. By now he's been here long enough that we know he's going to make some curious decisions with play calling and clock management. He's going to infuriate you when he says less than zero at press conferences. Putting all of that aside, and in light of the schedule, how many wins can Reid coax out of this young group? Rev's Prediction: 9-7

Andrew

Maybe it's just residual bitterness over the Eagles letting go of so many of the players that have come to define the franchise the last few years, seemingly without much of a second thought, but my confidence in the Birds this season is not great. The house-cleaning moves on offense were probably the right decisions for the long term, but a smooth transition to the Kevin Kolb era just doesn't seem particularly likely to me. I'm still not sure DeSean Jackson is gonna be half the weapon with Kolb that he was with McNabb, or that LeSean McCoy can be the multi-dimensional threat that Westbrook was in his prime—at least not just yet. The rocky pre-season offensively just kind of confirms what I've long suspected, that good as the new offensive weapons may be, they're not gonna walk in and replace the missing multiple Pro Bowlers right off the bat without anyone noticing the switch.

That said, it seems equally likely that the defense, buoyed by rookies, new acquisitions and players returning from injuries, is gonna be miles better than the one that gave up a combined 58 points to the Cowboys the last two games of the season. It'll keep them competitive the whole season, but in the eternally-tough NFC East, I'm not sure it'll be enough to keep 'em ahead of the Cowboys and possibly resurgent Giants, or to get 'em into the playoffs for the third straight year. (On the plus side, though, I think the Redskins are still gonna be worse.) Prediction: 8-8, 3rd Place in Division

Matt

Like just about everyone else, I really don't know what to expect from the upcoming Eagles season. They've essentially hit the reset button on the personnel while keeping the system intact, and there's no certainty that they've improved as a result. Not for this season, or beyond. This is the case whenever a new starting quarterback takes over for a team. The good news is that Kevin Kolb was handpicked out of college for this role and has had three seasons to get a handle on a challenging pass-first offense. Aside from a debacle of a half against the Ravens in 2008, the only real time experience Kolb has shown us has been favorable, setting an NFL record for passing yards by a QB in his first two starts. One of those games was against the eventual Super Bowl champs. 

A mildly shaky preseason has people dialing back their earlier warm expectations, but I think that's reading too much into live practice. The same people are probably finding ways to discount his two starts last season, which to me are far more telling than what he did with a limited script in August. Beyond the QB position though, there are two great receivers, a confident and capable tight end, and a talented running back who fits the system well. The offensive line is still a major question mark, but fans have a tendency to see that and forget that it's true of most teams in the league, and particularly the current NFC East. Last year the line had very little experience together; at the very least, the majority of the unit has spent more time together within the system and under line guru Juan Castillo. 

Defensively, again, it's hard to predict. I thought they looked pretty good in the preseason, and Brandon Graham has only solidified the notion that he'll be an immediate difference maker. When the regular season starts, we'll see just how true that is, but also what it will mean for Trent Cole. A capable pass rush solves a lot of other problems. Meanwhile, the linebackers are looking stronger than last season, which should also help take some pressure off of the secondary, which has its issues. We're not used to seeing our defense be scored on, but we could be more familiar with it as the season wears on. 

I'm always excited for the start of an Eagles season. This year, it's a different kind of excitement than it's been in almost a decade, since the Reid Era moved from rebuild to contend. 2010 has the unique feeling that it could include both elements. However, of the two, we can be certain that there will be some rebuilding elements, which include growing pains. Whether they'll be managed enough to also contend remains to be seen. It doesn't appear we'll have to endure the usual pains of rebuilding though. Few teams do so with continuity of front office, coaching and system, and some in Philly wouldn't mind if that were true here too. But I'm not one of them, at least not so far. After seeing several very good and highly touted teams come up short, it's a relief to enter a season unsure of what to expect and not be overly encumbered by a preset set of expectations. That's not to say I don't have expectations though. I expect a winning season. 9-7

Enrico

I'm ready to embrace this new Eagles team. It's not the same team we grew to love throughout the aughts. Gone are the franchise QB, the amazingly versatile running back out of Villanova, and the beloved safety who made us 100% proud to cheer for our Birds. But it's not just the franchise guys that are no longer with us: Lito, Sheldon, Trot, Freddie, Jim Johnson, etc. etc. The memories of that Super Bowl team, and those personalities, are now long gone.

The memories are irreplaceable, but it's time to create some new ones, with the new guys.

I'm ready to get to know the new guys, with some real game action. To be fair, there are plenty of familiar faces. Andy and the brass certainly haven't changed. Bunk, Patterson, and Trent Cole are still rocks on the D-line, DeSean and Maclin were quick to make fans embrace them with their skill. We know this team a little bit, but not nearly enough.

This is a very young team that has yet to really form a distinct personality.

There's also something to be said about a team you have limited expectations around. There are always questions marks coming into a season, but this group seems to have even more than usual. Will the offensive line hold up? Will the revamped secondary with a pair of rookies be able to improve upon their predecessors, will the number one draft pick make an instant impact, is Stewart Bradley going to step up and lead, and, of course, how will Kevin Kolb perform as the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles?

Nobody really knows, but by piecing together anecdotes from the so called experts, we can try and come up with our best educated guesses. I was okay with the decision to give Kevin Kolb the reigns, but by no means am I confident he'll bring the city of Philadelphia a Super Bowl. As has been written on this site many times, he appears to have the pedigree, but does he have it? Only one way to find out.

The Birds went 11-5 in 2009 and this team, on paper, doesn't look a whole lot worse. That said, I think they caught a couple lucky breaks en route to those 11 wins.

My expectations aren't very high. I could see this new team going up or down. 10-6 seems reasonable. I'll go with that. If they find a way to make the playoffs, I'd call it a successful season.

Mostly, I'm just excited to really get to know them for the next 17 Sundays.

Time's theirs.

Sixers-Pelicans 5 things: Joel Embiid takes on dominating Anthony Davis

Sixers-Pelicans 5 things: Joel Embiid takes on dominating Anthony Davis

76ers (4-18) vs. Pelicans (7-15)
8 p.m. on TCN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live starts at 7:30

The Sixers will try to snap their eight-game losing skid when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on Thursday night.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Walking wounded, part II
After the Sixers were limited to nine available players in Tuesday's loss to the beat-up Memphis Grizzlies, things won't be much better in the health department in New Orleans.

Sure, Joel Embiid's expected return after sitting out the second half of a back-to-back set for rest will be a welcome boost. However, the Sixers are still dealing with a host of other ailments that will likely limit them to just 10 healthy bodies on Thursday night.

The Pelicans surely won't shed a tear for the Sixers because they have their own injury issues. New Orleans could have as many as five players sidelined, including former Sixer Jrue Holiday with turf toe.

2. The next big thing
All of the injuries won't decrease the game's intrigue, mainly because of the matchup at center between Embiid and Anthony Davis.

Embiid is coming off a subpar performance in his last outing against the Denver Nuggets, but the big man has still been as advertised this season. The rookie is putting up 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 23.3 minutes a game. Embiid is also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and an even 50.0 percent from three-point range.

On the other side, Davis has been an absolute monster for the Pelicans this season, even if it hasn't translated into many wins. 

The three-time All-Star leads the NBA in scoring with 31.6 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting. While carrying the scoring load, Davis has still been able to average a career-high 11.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals a night.

This should be the first of many meetings between two big men that look to dominate the future of the league.

3. Glass repair
With Embiid out on Tuesday, the Sixers were dominated 69-54 in the rebounding battle against the Grizzlies.

They should find things a little easier in that department against the Pelicans. Despite Davis' best efforts on the boards, New Orleans has allowed a league-high 48.9 rebounds to opponents this season. 

With Embiid back in the lineup, Ersan Ilyasova coming off a 17-rebound game and Richaun Holmes always active, the Sixers should be able to control the rebounding category.

4. Injuries
Jahlil Okafor (illness) is questionable. Robert Covington (knee/illness), Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Holiday (toe) and E'Twaun Moore (toe) are questionable. Tyreke Evans (knee), Dante Cunningham (knee) and Quincy Pondexter (knee) are out for the Pelicans.

5. This and that
•  The Sixers are trying to avoid a franchise-record 24th straight road loss.

•  The Sixers and Pelicans split the season series in 2015-16 with each team winning at home.

•  Ilyasova is averaging 16.2 points and 8.2 boards so far in December.

Eagles repeating pattern of digging first-quarter hole in defeats

Eagles repeating pattern of digging first-quarter hole in defeats

It’s a pattern that keeps repeating itself. And it’s not a winning pattern.

Week after week, the Eagles are digging themselves a first-quarter hole. And week after week, they’re too far behind to catch up.

They trailed the Lions 14-0 in the first quarter. They trailed the Redskins 14-0 a minute into the second quarter. They fell behind the Cowboys 10-3 early in the second. The Giants jumped up on them 14-0 just six minutes in. And on Sunday, the Bengals led 10-0 before the first quarter was over.

If football games began at the start of the second quarter? This would be a different season. The Eagles would be 7-4-1.

The Eagles has actually outscored their opponents in the second, third and fourth quarters.

But the first quarter has been fatal.

The Eagles have been outscored by 32 points in the first quarter – 65 to 33. That’s their fourth-worst first-quarter scoring margin in the last 25 years, behind only three other nightmarish seasons – 1998 (minus-52), 2005 (minus-51) and 2012 (minus-75).

It’s also fourth-worst of any NFL team this year, ahead of only the Jets (minus-36), Broncos (minus-37) and Dolphins (minus-56).

Some teams – like the Broncos and Dolphins – have enough firepower to fight from behind.

The Eagles don’t.

They’re 4-0 when leading after the first quarter, 1-1 when tied after the first quarter and 0-6 when trailing after the first quarter.

At 0-6, they share the second-worst record in the NFL when trailing after 15 minutes with the Jaguars and 49ers. The Browns are 0-8 when trailing after the first quarter.

Last time the Eagles didn’t win a game all year when trailing after the first quarter was 1998. Before that 1977.

“It’s tough, especially in this league, to dig yourself a hole,” Carson Wentz said. “Whether the defense is struggling or the offense giving them points with turnovers and different things, it’s been a variation of a lot of those things. 

“It’s tough to dig yourself a hole against anybody, especially against good teams. So we’ve got to avoid that and we’ve got to come out swinging a little better early in games.”

The last time the Eagles won after trailing following the first quarter was the Dallas game last year, when they trailed 7-0 and won 33-27 in overtime.

What does it say about a team when it’s allowed twice as many points as it’s scored in the first quarter?

It sure seems like the Eagles several times this year simply haven’t been ready to play.

“The start to games, it's a mindset,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “It's truly a mindset. It's one of those things where as a team you want to come out and you want to kind of make the first punch, so to speak, or swing first. 

“We did it against Green Bay. We went down and scored, we matched touchdown for touchdown there. And we've done it throughout the course of the season. We've got to be a little more consistent offensively, too. That can also help. And then defensively it's just a matter of working to get off the field.

“It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game if you can do that early in a football game.”

The Eagles have scored just three first-quarter touchdowns all year (only the Broncos have fewer) and haven’t scored more than seven points in any of their 12 first quarters.

They’ve allowed nine first-quarter touchdowns, and only one team has allowed more – the Dolphins with 10.

Wentz has completed 67 percent of his first-quarter passes but with just one TD pass and four interceptions.

Incredibly, the Eagles have only five plays all year of more than 20 yards in the first quarter – just one in the last four games. Only the Saints, Jaguars and Broncos have fewer.

Why are the Eagles so bad early in games?

“There is no other answer than to execute one play at a time,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “There's no magic formula. I think we've had good energy at practice. I like the way we practice. I feel like we are putting together good plans.

“We're showing flashes of being a good football team. We need to be more consistent. We need to make more big plays. It's hard to sustain 14-play drives. We've missed a few plays here and there. We just all – coaches, players together – need to make it work one play at a time.”

The only teams to outscore the Eagles in the second half are the Cowboys (13-10), Seahawks (10-8) and Packers (13-3).

When a team has outscored its opponents by 61 points in the second, third and fourth quarters combined and it’s 5-7, the focus has to be on the first quarter.

That means preparation. That means being mentally and physically ready. 

“Yeah, I do look at all of that, and that's part of my job is the (pregame) schedule and all,” Pederson said. “But these guys are in a great frame of mind on game day. They're loose; they're energetic; they're ready to go. They're focused. 

“You see it in pregame. It's been unfortunate, but it's something we've got to focus in on a little bit more … and try to strike first.”

The Eagles will try to end their three-game losing streak at 1 p.m. Sunday when they face the Redskins at the Linc.

The Redskins, 6-5-1 but with a two-game losing streak, beat the Eagles 27-20 in Landover, Md., in October.

“I think it just comes down to being focus and locking in,” Wentz said. “You’ve seen us. There’ve been games where we’ve come out and we’re rolling right away.

"We just have to find a way to maintain that and be consistent with that. The goal is to come out swinging right away.”