When we take a look at the NFC East, a division at the onset of the season that many touted as being one of the better and most interesting in the NFL, it is nothing more than complete slop. Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are now out for some time. That’s a team that’s looking to be average at best. The Giants are mediocre, and Washington, as usual, has been playing in a subpar fashion. Lastly, the Eagles hype from preseason is dead. At this point, it’s anyone’s division to win with a likely 9-7 record – well, maybe not for Washington. It’s amazing what two weeks in the NFL can do and how the fortune of a team can alter and falter in a heartbeat.
Turning around the fate of the Eagles this week won’t be an easy task, but they need to move the arrow. This summer, when we looked at the schedule, there was no way I thought week 3 against the Jets would be competitive. However, it’s shaped up that way just after a couple weeks of play.
Here are my five expectations for the Eagles heading into week three.
1. The banged up defense will play well. DE Cedric Thornton will not play this week, nor will ILB Kilo Alonso due to their injuries. There’s still plenty of talent on this team to penetrate the Jets offensive line, make key stops and hurry Ryan Fitzpatrick into making some bad throws. An interception or two is very likely this week. Inevitably, will the offense then be able to convert a turnover into points on the board?
2. The run game will see improvement. It’s not like I’m going out on a limb here or making some kind of bold prediction because the running game, based on blocking up front, can’t get any worse. That’s why we’ll see improvement moving forward this week. I expect Eagles running backs to rush for at least 80 total yards. I do wonder if I may be expecting too much with a number that high considering they’re averaging 35 yards per game.
3. More run-of-the-mill play from Sam Bradford. We’re not privy to the training and extra activity that goes on with players behind the scenes at the NovaCare Complex. My hope is that Bradford has been looking at video constantly since playing Atlanta and Dallas to where he’s needing to order take out. He’s still shaking the rust off and needs to get back to true football form. This will take time and patience – on his part and with us fans. I expect to see some terrible passes this week, and some really nice throws as well. The Eagles are ranked 7th in passing amazingly enough. But most of these numbers are junk yards.
4. The special teams will continue to be ordinary. Unless special teams coach Dave Fipp gives his crew some superior blocking potion that’ll help them open up some holes on punt coverage, I’m expecting to see more of the same from the special teams unit. Eagles special teams were No. 1 in the league last season. Football Outsiders have the Eagles currently ranked 28th in the NFL.
5. Expect improvements – but this week, expect a loss. I’m predicting the Eagles lose this game to the Jets 17-13. Of course, I hope I’m wrong. The defense will play well enough, but the offense will still struggle and be inconsistent against a top-10, swarming defense in the Jets. While I do believe this offense can turn things around, it seems nearly impossible to think that could happen during the course of a few training days. I expect to see improvements on offense, but I still think this game is a loss and the team will head to Washington in week 4 at 0-3. Now, can the Eagles still potentially win the division and make it to the playoffs? Yes, it’s possible as the schedule “eases” up a bit – Washington, New Orleans, the Giants, Carolina. As I said, it’s still anyone’s division.
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