Head Coach: Chip Kelly
2014 record: 10-6 overall, 4-2 NFC East
2014 Postseason results: None
Odds to win Super Bowl 50: 24/1
Odds to win NFC Championship: 11/1
Odds to win NFC East Division: +150
Regular season wins: under 9.5 -130 / over 9.5 Even
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Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles trounced the rival Dallas Cowboys 33-10 on the road on Thanksgiving. The Eagles were 9-3 at that point and looked to have control of the NFC East Division. However, the Eagles would lose three straight games while the Cowboys won their last four games. Dallas would win the rematch in Philadelphia 38-27 in that stretch. Dallas would win the division at 12-4 while Philadelphia missed the playoffs at 10-6.
Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly decided to shake things up be making numerous trades and signing some big name free agents. He traded quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford, who is coming off torn ACL’s in the last two seasons. Kelly also traded running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso and would sign running back DeMarco Murray from the Cowboys. Murray led the league in rushing last year.
Last year, Philadelphia was #5 in total offense at 397 yards per game including 272 passing and 125 rushing yards. The Eagles were in the top 10 in both passing and rushing. Philadelphia was third in scoring at 29.6 points per game. Pat Shurmur is the offensive coordinator.
Foles missed the last 8 games of the season with a broken collarbone. He threw for 2,163 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before the injury, and rushed for 68 yards. Mark Sanchez took over as the starter for the second half of the season. He threw for 2,418 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushed for 87 yards with a touchdown. Sanchez could challenge Bradford for the starting job. Bradford certainly has the talent to be a star quarterback and could thrive in Kelly’s up-tempo system. However, health is an obvious concern. Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow are also on the roster.
McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards on 312 carries with 5 touchdowns, and had 28 catches for 155 yards. Murray had 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with 57 catches for 416 yards last year for the Cowboys. The versatile Darren Sproles is also back for the Eagles. He had 57 carries for 329 yards with 6 touchdowns, and made 40 catches for 387 yards. Philadelphia also signed Ryan Mathews from the San Diego Chargers. He rushed for 330 yards last year with 3 touchdowns last year, despite missing most of the season with a broken foot. Chris Polk is now with the Houston Texans after rushing for 172 yards on 46 carries with 4 touchdowns.
Jeremy Maclin is now with the Kansas City Chiefs after making 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Eagles last year. Jordan Matthews is back after making 67 catches for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns. Philadelphia also drafted receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round out of USC. Riley Cooper had 55 catches for 577 yards with 3 touchdowns. The Eagles also signed free agent Miles Austin from the Cleveland Browns. Austin had 47 catches for 568 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Browns last year. Tight end Zach Ertz had 58 catches for 702 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ertz is battling a groin injury but is expected to be ready for the regular season. Tight end Brent Celek had 32 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line returns mostly intact. Left tackle Jason Peters is still at the top of his game. Center Jason Kelse could be among the best in the league at the position. Tackle Lane Johnson and guard Allen Barbre will man the right side of the line. Evan Mathis also returns at left guard.
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The Eagles allowed 376 yards per game on defense last year, including 265 passing and 111 rushing yards. The Eagles were #28 in total defense and #31 in pass defense. Philadelphia was #22 in points allowed at 25 points per game. Bill Davis returns as the defensive coordinator.
End Fletcher Cox had 61 tackles and 4 sacks last year. He is a always a pro bowl candidate. Cedric Thonton will start at the other end. Bennie Logan will start at nose guard.
Alonso had 87 tackles and 4 interceptions in 2013 for the Bills. However, he missed all of last year with a torn ACL. DeMeco Ryans tore his Achilles’ tendon last year and missed the last 8 games. He will likely back-up Alonso. Mychal Kendricks will start at the other inside linebacker alongside Alonso. He had 83 tackles and 4 sacks last year. Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham will start at the outside linebackers. Barwin had 14.5 sacks last year. Graham had 9 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last year.
The secondary was awful last year. Kelly and Davis overhauled the unit in hopes of seeing improvement. Cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are gone, with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks respectively. The Eagles signed Byron Maxwell from the Seahawks and Walter Thurmond from the rival New York Giants as the replacements. Brandon Boykin and second round pick Eric Rowe will also see time at cornerback. Malcolm Jenkins will start at free safety and Earl Wolff will start at strong safety. Jenkins had 80 tackles and 3 interceptions last year. Safety Nate Allen is now with the Oakland Raiders and had 4 interceptions last year for the Eagles.
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Kicker Cody Parkey made 32 of 36 field goals last year including 4/4 from beyond 50 yards. Punter Donnie Jones averaged 43.8 yards per punt and landed 34 inside the 20. Agholor and Josh Huff will return kicks. Huff averaged 29.6 yards per kick return and returned one for a touchdown last year. Sproles will return punts again after averaging 13 yards per return with 2 touchdowns.
In September, the Eagles travel to the Atlanta Falcons in the opening Monday night game and New York Jets. The two road games are sandwiched around a home game against the Cowboys. October brings home games against the New Orleans Saints and Giants, and road games at the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers. The Eagles have their bye in week eight. November brings road games at Dallas and Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Eagles host the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the month. In December and January, Philadelphia hosts the Bills, Arizona Cardinals, and Redskins, and travels to the Patriots and Giants.
Bradford and Murray are talented but have struggled to stay healthy in the NFL. There are some questions at wide receiver. The defense should improve, but with Kelly’s quick tempo offense, they will be on the field for long stretches of the game. I think this team wins 9 or 10 games and makes the playoffs as a wild card. I think they finish behind the Cowboys in the division race though.
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