Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots: Super Bowl 52 Highlights

The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions at last! With a backup quarterback at the helm, the gritty team pulled off three consecutive upset victories. Relive all the highlights with this video.

The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions at last

With a backup quarterback at the helm, the gritty team pulled off three consecutive upset victories. Relive all the highlights:

Continue reading “Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots: Super Bowl 52 Highlights”

Report: Eagles QB Carson Wentz 'hasn't been ruled out for Week 2'

Appearing on Sunday NFL Countdown, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz “hasn’t been ruled out” for a Week 2 return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though he still has not yet been cleared by doctors.

“There is much more optimism that prevails than pessimism,” said Mortensen. “He hasn’t been ruled out for Week 2, (but) he hasn’t been cleared. I think that the organizational sources I’ve spoken with say they wouldn’t be surprised if he’s ready for Week 3.

“Now Wentz gave the Eagles’ aggressive defense a great scout team look, playing (the role of) Matt Ryan on the scout team. He got bumped around, he got stepped on. His GPS data is trending toward playing sooner than later. The key final piece of data is, can he protect himself?

“He has reached that threshold in being able to protect himself. So, sooner than later on Carson Wentz.”

A Week 2 return feels unlikely, especially against an already bad team in the Buccaneers who will also be missing their starting quarterback. The Eagles don’t need Wentz to beat that team. But certainly, this report is an optimistic one, and good news for Wentz’s recovery.

Live updates/open thread: Non-Eagles Sunday, Week 1

After winning their their Week 1 game against a Super Bowl contender in the Atlanta Falcons in sloppy-but-impressive style Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles sit atop the NFC standings while the rest of the league will play their games on Sunday.

NFC  Record  Conf record  Div record  GB 
Eagles  1-0  1-0  0-0  – 
14 teams  0-0  0-0  0-0  0.5 
Falcons  0-1  0-1  0-0 

In case you missed our Week 1 picks, you can see them here.

Here is today’s slate of games, with our handy non-Eagles rooting guide here:

Early games:

  1. Steelers at Browns
  2. Bengals at Colts
  3. Titans at Dolphins
  4. 49ers at Vikings
  5. Texans at Patriots
  6. Buccaneers at Saints
  7. Jaguars at Giants
  8. Bills at Ravens

Later games:

  1. Chiefs at Chargers
  2. Seahawks at Broncos
  3. Redskins at Cardinals
  4. Cowboys at Panthers

Sunday Night Football

  1. Bears at Packers

Monday Night Football

  1. Jets at Lions
  2. Rams at Raiders

The biggest game of interest to the Eagles is, I don’t know, the Buccaneers vs. Saints, because the Eagles face the Bucs next week and the Saints are likely to be a Super Bowl contender this year?

Feel free to discuss the Sunday games below.

Week 1 non-Eagles Sunday rooting guide

In past seasons, Philadelphia Eagles fans generally rooted for their own team, and kept an eye on the rest of the NFC East. In 2018, with the Birds being favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, it’s perhaps worth keeping tabs on the conference, as opposed to just the division.

And so, each week we’ll lay out a rooting guide for non-Eagles games on the NFL schedule, and yes, I’m aware that most of the below is obvious. 

49ers at Vikings: The Eagles drubbed the Vikings 38-7 in the
NFC Championship Game, but if you’ll recall, both teams had 13-3 records to
close the regular season, with the Eagles earning the No. 1 seed on a
tiebreaker. The Vikings are a good team, despite what we all saw in that game.
It’s probably better if the Niners are able to hand Kirk Cousins an L in his Minny debut.

Buccaneers at Saints: Clearly, it’s better if the Buccaneers
win this game, for two reasons. First, it gives a Super Bowl contender in the
Saints an early loss, and two, it perhaps serves notice to the Eagles not to
take the Bucs lightly Week 2.

Unless of course you took the Saints in your survivor pool, in which case it’s OK to selfishly not want to be bounced in embarrassment Week 1.

Jaguars at Giants: Obviously, an NFC East loss against an
AFC team is ideal.

Bills at Ravens: The Eagles own the Ravens’ second-round
pick, so the worse the Ravens’ record, the better the Eagles’ draft pick in 2019. #Analysis.

Seahawks at Broncos: The Seahawks are less of a threat than they’ve
been over the last half-decade or so, but an AFC win over an NFC team with a
top-five QB would be ideal.

Redskins at Cardinals: In my view, call me crazy, but the Redskins are the
biggest threat to the Eagles in the division. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are
garbage. A Cards win is preferable.

Cowboys at Panthers: If you can put your Cowboys-hating bias
aside, this is sort of a tough call. The Panthers are a bigger threat to the
top of the NFC than the Cowboys, and winning the NFC should be the Eagles’
goal, not just the NFC East. Then again, a Cowboys win on the road over a good
Panthers team could signal that they’re legit. So maybe it’s just better if the
better team wins this one.

Chicago at Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers is dangerous, obviously,
and not a player you want to face in the playoffs. The Eagles would probably
prefer not having to face Green Bay in January. A Bears upset would be ideal.

Jets at Lions: The Lions are one of those semi-harmless
teams that you want in the playoffs. I’m going to say that a Lions win is the
better result, even against an AFC team.

Rams at Raiders: Obviously, a Raiders win here is the better
outcome.

Irrelevant to the Eagles… 

  1. Steelers at Browns
  2. Bengals at Colts
  3. Titans at Dolphins
  4. Texans at Patriots
  5. Chiefs at Chargers

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Source: Eagles signing WR Braxton Miller, pending a physical

The Philadelphia Eagles are signing former Houston Texans wide receiver Braxton Miller to the practice squad, pending a physical, a source has confirmed to PhillyVoice. Alex Gleiman of CBS Sports was the first to report it. 

The Eagles’ release of Greg Ward and Rashard Davis from the practice squad on Friday paved the way for Miller to sign with the team.

Miller was drafted by the Texans in the third round (85th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has not been much of a factor in his two-year professional career, and was released at 53-man cutdowns.

 Braxton Miller Rec  Yards  YPC  TD 
 2016 15  99  6.6 
 2017 19  162  8.5 
 TOTAL 34  261  7.7 

Miller was a high-profile quarterback with extraordinary athleticism in college at Ohio State, who moved to wide receiver. His spin move in 2015 against Virginia Tech remains one of the standout highlights in recent memory: 

The Eagles are currently thin at wide receiver, with Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins out.


MORE: Grocery shopping: Five college players to watch who could interest the Eagles in the 2019 NFL Draft | Tom Brady gives fantasy pivot to question about Eagles’ ‘Philly Philly’ play | Eagles snap count analysis: Week 1 vs. Falcons


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Tom Brady gives fantasy pivot to question about Eagles' 'Philly Philly' play

The Philadelphia Eagles showed grit and determination on Thursday night to eek out a tone-setting 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Anybody watching could tell you there was one play in the third quarter that seemed to give the Eagles offense just enough spark to take control of the game.

Head coach Doug Pederson called a variation of the immortal Philly Special that closely resembled the gadget play run by the Patriots in Super Bowl LII—you know, the one Tom Brady couldn’t catch. 

Here are the two plays together, for reference and for laughs.

Nick Foles didn’t have anywhere near a good game against Atlanta, but he proved again that he can step up in big moments and swing momentum for his team.

In advance of the New England Patriots’ week one matchup with the Houston Texans on Sunday, Brady was asked by a reporter whether he took note of the play the Eagles ran on Thursday night. The quarterback, always gracious unless asked about his personal trainer, swung the conversation away from “Philly Philly” with a personal anecdote about fantasy football.

“I mean, good execution wins games,” Brady said. 

“So I think that’s ultimately what we’ve got to do. When you make the plays, you either make them or you don’t.”

That would have been a decent enough answer if he’d left it at that, but then Brady brought up his son’s fantasy football squad.

“He’s looking at his projections for this week and goes, ‘Dad, I’m supposed to lose,'” said Brady, whose son was starting Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in his fantasy league. 

“I said, ‘Well, none of that matters, because, you know, you’ve actually gotta’ go play the game.'”

This was actually a pretty decent deflection by Brady. In lieu of another Lombardi Trophy, the world presents him with this:



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Malcolm Jenkins: 'Kaepernick will be looked at as somebody who not only changed the direction this sport but the dynamic of athletes in general'

Malcolm Jenkins protested with a raised fist during the preseason and also stayed in the locker room during the National Anthem.

It’s obvious that one of the civic leaders in modern sports is being thoughtful about how best to proceed, as was made even more clear as he stood at attention and did not demonstrate prior to kickoff in the Eagles season opener against the Falcons Thursday.

“At this point, I think it’s important for us as a movement to continue to change and adapt to the context of the situation and I think there’s a huge need for us to turn the attention to the issues and what players are doing in their communities to effect change,” Jenkins said after the 18-12 win. “We are focused on the systemic issues in our communities.

“At this point now, the focus hopefully will turn more to the work.”

This doesn’t mean Jenkins isn’t whole-heartedly supporting those who do speak out. 

When asked about the recent Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers former quarterback who was the first to demonstrate by taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner a few seasons ago, Jenkins grinned with delight.

“I loved it,” he said. “Nike did a good job of taking the context of what happening right now and taking someone who has been demonized and vilified by the media and holding him up on a pedestal. Long after this is all done, Kaepernick will be looked at as somebody who not only changed the direction this sport but the dynamic of athletes in general and quite frankly our country.”

Kaepernick is still unemployed despite many in the sport claiming he is more talented than a bevy of current NFL quarterbacks on rosters. He is suing the NFL and his lawsuit is proceeding.

Will Jenkins keep quite (with his actions) on the sidelines all season?

“We’ll see. I will continue to focus on changing our community.”


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Eagles snap count analysis: Week 1 vs. Falcons

We won’t do snap count analysis for the Philadelphia Eagles throughout the season, because it’s not exactly compelling content from week to week, but I do think there were some noteworthy takeaways from the Birds’ Week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

Let’s go position-by-position.

Quarterback and offensive line

• 72 snaps each: Nick Foles, Stefen Wisniewski, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson

• 71 snaps each: Jason Kelce, Jason Peters

• 5 snaps: Isaac Seumalo

• 1 snap: Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Analysis: We’ll just note briefly here that Jason Peters went to the locker room after the Eagles’ final touchdown. He was not on the field for the ensuing two-point conversion, and the Eagles’ offense never got the ball back. To be determined what happened to him.

Running back

• 29 snaps each: Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi

• 13 snaps: Corey Clement

• 1 snap: Wendell Smallwood

Analysis: I was surprised by the number of snaps Sproles got, especially early. If the game plan was for Ajayi to get the bulk of the carries in the second half against a tired defense in the hot weather conditions, then I can see the strategy in that. However, I figured Clement would be used more than he was.

Wide receiver

• 68 snaps: Nelson Agholor

• 66 snaps: Mike Wallace

• 53 snaps: DeAndre Carter

• 4 snaps: Shelton Gibson

• 2 snaps: Markus Wheaton

Analysis: I did not see Carter getting 53 snaps. The offense is going to improve significantly when Alshon Jeffery can return to the outside and Agholor can go back to full-time duty in the slot.

Tight end

• 70 snaps: Zach Ertz

• 17 snaps: Dallas Goedert

• 4 snaps: Josh Perkins

Analysis: While he did have a drop that led to an interception after a big hit, you can see the potential Goedert possesses on the catch he made in the end zone in which he landed out of bounds. It was surprising that the Eagles stuck with 11 personnel as much as they did, giving 53 snaps to Carter and only 17 to Goedert.

Defensive line

• 65 snaps: Fletcher Cox

• 46 snaps: Brandon Graham

• 45 snaps: Michael Bennett

• 40 snaps: Derek Barnett

• 39 snaps: Chris Long

• 27 snaps: Destiny Vaeao

• 17 snaps: Haloti Ngata

• 7 snaps: Bruce Hector

Analysis: Fletcher Cox is a beast, and his conditioning is at a new level this year. He missed just five snaps on the night, and was still a major force on the final drive of the game. That is highly impressive at the defensive tackle position in the weather conditions that existed last night.

During the telecast, it is my understanding from fan tweets that Cris Collinsworth said that Michael Bennett is unhappy that he’s not starting. To be determined if that’s true or not, but he played 64 percent of the snaps, the third-most among the Eagles’ defensive linemen.

Linebacker

• 70 snaps: Jordan Hicks

• 28 snaps: Kamu Grugier-Hill

• 26 snaps: Nate Gerry

• 1 snap: LaRoy Reynolds

Analysis: Gerry officially got the start, but Grugier-Hill played two more snaps. The Eagles were rotating them. More importantly, Hicks was able to play the entire game, which had to have been a mental hurdle for him to overcome after returning from a ruptured Achilles.

Cornerback

67 snaps: Jalen Mills

65 snaps: Ronald Darby

45 snaps: Sidney Jones

2 snaps: Rasul Douglas

Analysis: No surprises here, although we’ll note that Douglas made the most of his two snaps by picking off Matt Ryan.

Safety

70 snaps each: Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod

40 snaps: Corey Graham

Analysis: Graham played a big chunk of the game, as expected.


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You can't stop Julio Jones, but Eagles finally seem able to contain him

The Falcons came into Thursday night’s game thinking the Eagles didn’t have a defensive back who could stop Julio Jones.

Well in a 18-12 win to start the 2018 season, Ronald Darby did as good a job as any Eagles cornerback ever has. And Jones still burned the Eagles for his most yards ever against them, one of his 10 most productive receiving games ever.

Jones made an immediate impact out of the tunnel, with an end-around run for 11 yards, a 10-yard reception and a big 33-yard catch to set up the Falcons at the goal line. Luckily, a Philly defensive stand held them to a turnover on downs (we’ve seen that one before).

Quiet for much of the first half after that, an incredible juggling catch on a Matt Ryan heave could have been a highlight reel play for Jones, but was ruled incomplete and upheld after a review.

In the second half there was less coverage from Jalen Mills (who got destroyed in the aforementioned play) and more coverage from Darby, who on several key plays kept Jones in check — well, as much as one can. Jones was targeted by Ryan 19 times and hauled in catches just 10 times.

His eighth catch went for 36 yards and ninth for 22, setting up yet another dramatic defensive stand for the Birds ‘D’ inside the two-minute mark (he would add a tenth as the clock ticked down).

Ironically — because it had to end this way — Jones ran out of space in the end zone as time expired on a last second throw to assure an Eagles win.

Heading into Thursday’s game, Jones had 549 yards and three touchdowns on 35 receptions in five career games (including the playoffs) against the Eagles to which he added 169. And one of those games, the second of his career, he had just two catches for 29 yards.

Here’s a look at his history against Philly:

Date   Catches Yards   TD
 9/18/2011 2 29  0
 10/28/2012 5 123  1
9/14/2015 9 141  2
 11/13/2016 10 135  0
1/13/2018  9 121 0*
9/6/2018  10 169 0

The asterisk, of course, was for the potential game-winning touchdown pass that slipped through Jones’ hands in the end zone during the divisional playoff round this past winter — and perhaps another asterisk needs to be added for Thursday night’s win, when Jones was again targeted on the final play with a chance to win, only this time he landed out of bounds.

In the six games, Philly is 3-3 — with all three coming during the Doug Pederson era (including the 15-10 win last January).

So sure, Jones can beef up his fantasy stats against the Eagles. It doesn’t matter if he collects 300 yards receiving, Philly will always feel like they have the upper-hand on one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Most importantly, the Birds were able to keep Jones out fo the end zone for the third straight game. 

Also, they shouldn’t trade Ronald Darby.


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Live updates/open thread: Eagles vs. Falcons, Week 1

The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will host the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL’s opening game to kick off the season in a huge, early-season NFC showdown on Thursday night. You excited?

The Eagles come into this game handicapped by absences, as they are missing starting quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins, and linebacker Nigel Bradham. The Falcons, meanwhile, are very healthy. You can find the final injury report here.

As we noted in our five matchups to watch, the run game will play a major role in the outcome of this contest. The Eagles, just generally speaking, want to stop the run first and foremost, which will be a difficult task against the Falcons’ talented duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Conversely, the Eagles will want to take pressure off of Nick Foles by getting their own run game going.

This game opened in Vegas with the Eagles listed as four-point favorites. That line has since moved drastically in the Falcons’ favor, as Atlanta is now favored by 1 in some places. Here are our staff writer picks.

For the gambling degenerates looking ahead to Sunday’s slate of games, you can find my Week 1 picks here.

Feel free to discuss the game below.

First half observations: Falcons 6, Eagles 3

Despite a pregame filled with spectacle and a crowd ready to lift the Eagles to greater heights, the reigning Super Bowl champions came out and had quite a boring half against the Atlanta Falcons. A sleepy half from the offense leaves the Eagles trailing their feathered foes from the south 6-3 after 30 minutes.

Here’s what I saw in the first half of Eagles football for the 2018-19 season:

The Good

• Let’s get one silver lining out of that weather delay — the city of Philadelphia would have had an effing meltdown if Carson Wentz returned to play in Week 1, only for him to have to get his first game reps in nearly a year on a slick Lincoln Financial Field. Forget whether he was physically ready to play, nobody was mentally ready for the anguish of watching him plant on soggy grass yet.

• The Eagles’ defense did not get off to the strongest start in the world, witth Julio Jones and DeVonta Freeman combining to push the Falcons deep into Philadelphia territory. Jim Schwartz’s boys can at least partially credit the opponent for what happened from there — how in the world do you not have Jones in for a single red-zone play?

Still, the defensive front tightened up when it really mattered, and credit to Kamu Grugier-Hill for shedding several Falcons blockers before ultimately making the tackle on Freeman that ended the drive.

• While a lot of his peers on both sides of the ball looked a little sluggish in the earlygoing, Ronald Darby looked excellent out of the gate. He made great reads in breaking up or disrupting several passing plays, and was one of the few members of the secondary to show any sort of proficiency as a tackler early on. 

His first season in Philadelphia kicked off with an ankle injury that kept him out of action until Week 11, so if Darby can simply stay on the field and show the talent the Eagles banked on when they acquired him, the week-to-week chemistry alone will help the Eagles secondary grow into more of a strength.

(We can look past Jones getting the better of him more than once, because look, its’s Julio Jones.)

• Fletcher Cox may be built and hit like a defensive linemen, but sometimes he moves and thinks in ways that make you forget exactly what his job responsibilities are. He was locked in a trenches battle on a third-down play early in the second quarter, but the All-Pro tackle was aware enough to see a screen play developing for Freeman.

Cox isolated Freeman, froze the running back, and the Falcons ended up losing a decent amount of yardage on the play. That’s why that man gets paid the big bucks, even if he had some help from his friends completing the play.

• There has never been any doubt about Jason Peters’ desire to get back into the form we all expect from him, but to see him come out and play at the level he did on opening night? Man. That’s not just Hall of Fame talent, that’s Hall of Fame work ethic and leadership. There should be no question why he has been one of the pillars of leadership in the locker room for his entire Eagles career.

• Cameron Johnston looked great in the first half, which is not the sort of thing you want to be writing about when you’re covering the hometown team. But good for him.

The Bad

• Eating a gnarly stiff arm from Julio Jones is probably not how Rodney McLeod wanted to start his season. The potential interception that bounced off his hands late in the first quarter was also a huge missed opportunity, and could have given the Eagles some needed life as their offense sleptwalk through the half.

(The worst part is, McLeod dropped another potential interception late in the half long after I’d written this blurb. Tough half for him.)

• The catch Doug Pederson challenged midway through the first quarter was debatable to some extent, I’ll give him that. But to use a precious challenge that early in the game on what would have at best saved the Eagles three or four yards — with no possibility for a first down anyway — is a mind-numbing decision.

Pederson has earned plenty of benefit of the doubt, but I’m sure he’d like to have that one back. That decision, frankly, almost looked smart compared to calling a timeout on fourth and one with :11 left in the half.

• The Eagles continue to have high hopes for Derek Barnett, but in year two some of the typical “rookie mistakes” are not going to fly if he wants to continue earning more reps. He was not all that effective as either a pass rusher or a run stopper, often getting into the backfield too late to make a difference.

So that made it worse when he forced the Eagles to get another stop in the redzone late in the first quarter because he lined up offsides. That’s an easily avoidable screw-up, and the sort of thing he’ll get grilled on in the film room next week.

• We’re going to have to deal with a career’s worth of chip shots that Jake Elliott makes the entire Philadelphia area sweat over, aren’t we? Because I imagine a lot of people watching at home thought he missed that 26-yard kick that snuck between the goalposts in the second quarter. You’re better tthan that, Jake, just pretend it’s from 50+ out.

• What to make of that half from Nick Foles? I wouldn’t say it was horrendous, but he looked closer to a backup quarterback than he did to his Super Bowl MVP form from earlier this year.

Frankly, that’s perfectly fine a lot of the time. Foles made some really nice throws in the first half, including a beautiful lob to rookie Dallas Goedert that the tight end failed to keep in play, and he’s always going to be a streaky player. The Eagles have the surrounding structure to win without Foles playing at “elite quarterback” level.

But the Eagles certainly need to do a better job of putting points on the board, and maybe this first half shows the struggles for the first-team in preseason might linger for a bit — at least until the reinforcements show up. The throws Foles made were extremely conservative in most cases, and that’s not going to get it done against the better teams around the league.

• Big fan of Darren Sproles, happy for him that he was able to make a comeback. The usage of him in the first half seemed like a lot for an aging running back returning from a major injury.

The Ugly

• NBC decided to introduce something called, “The Green Zone” which evidently shows the territory between the line of scrimmage and the first-down marker. What a stupid and unnecessary idea. There’s a yellow line for the first down that everyone knows and loves to have, there’s no need to add extra nonsense. This is worse than the glowing puck experiment in hockey.

Kill it with fire, now.

• Shelton Gibson got 15 yards for “unsportsmanlike conduct” on an Eagles punt, which was then explained as the reciever not returning to the field of play immediately after he was forced out of bounds on the coverage. That seems a bit excessive.

• You know what I really want to see more of in the second half? Penalty flags. Love when the officials are the most prominent part of a game.


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UPDATE: When will Eagles-Falcons game kick off after weather delay?

Many Eagles fans waited their entire lives to see a Super Bowl banner be raised in South Philly. They’ll have to wait at least 25 minutes longer.

Due to incoming storms, Lincoln Financial Field asked fans to exit their seats and head for shelter just around 8 p.m. Thursday night ahead of kickoff between the Birds and the Falcons to open the 2018 regular season.

According to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio and other sources, the game will (hopefully) kick off at 8:55 p.m. Lightning strikes were seen from the press box as the winds picked up. This was later pushed back to 9:05.

The suspense continues for the Eagles, who will make fans and players wait just a little longer to start the new chapter of history in their storied franchise. A Super Bowl ceremony was supposed to take place prior to kickoff, which was originally scheduled for 8:20.

Already sweaty fans who partied and waited all day long in 95 degree heat were soaked with rain as game time approached. 

The Eagles announced that the ceremony and game would each be pushed back a little bit more.


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Report: Carson Wentz won't be back for a few more weeks

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz isn’t expected to return to action “for several more weeks,” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, as the team intends on taking an overly cautious approach in his recovery from a torn ACL and LCL.

I’ll save you from looking up the Eagles’ schedule:

•Week 1: Falcons

•Week 2: At Buccaneers

•Week 3: Colts

•Week 4: At Titans

•Week 5: Vikings 

•Week 6: At Giants

The saga continues.


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NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 1 edition

In case you’re unfamiliar with our Hierarchy/Obituary series, it’s our version of the thousands of power rankings that are out there, with a few differences. To begin, we only cover the NFC, because really, as it pertains to the Eagles, who cares about the AFC? But also, I don’t know the AFC anywhere near as well as the NFC, so my already questionable opinions of the teams I do know are all the more worthless in an entire additional conference that I don’t get to see much of.

We also just stop including teams that no longer have a reasonable chance of contending for the playoffs. When they are all but eliminated, we write their obituary and stop including them in the hierarchy. Got it? Good.

For Week 1, because of the shortened week with the Eagles playing on a Thursday, we won’t have as in-depth of a hierarchy as usual, but since my OCD won’t allow me not to write one of these and have it on the record just prior to the start of the season, we’ll do a shortened version.

Obituaries

None, duh.

Hierarchy

090618BuccaneersLogo090618BuccaneersLogo

16) Buccaneers: This team is a mess, and they’re led by a crab leg-stealing, woman-harassing, W-eating quarterback who is suspended for the first three games of the season. In Jameis Winston’s absence, the Bucs have to face a trio of teams in the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers that had a combined record of 37-11 last season. Good luck with all that.

090618GiantsLogo090618GiantsLogo

15) Giants: The Giants have a few shiny things like Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, which is great. It’s certainly a nice advantage to have some playmakers on offense. 

Unfortunately, (takes deep breath) they have a garbage offensive line that has no continuity whatsoever, a GM who is stuck in 1965, an uninspiring head coach, a quarterback who was never really that good in the first place but is now clearly done, the 31st ranked defense of a season ago that can’t get to the quarterback and is undergoing a total scheme change, and the 32nd ranked special teams units in the league last year. (Exhales).

090818CardinalsLogo090818CardinalsLogo

14) Cardinals: This offseason, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford to an absolutely laughable one-year deal worth $20 million. Assuming Bradford pockets the $20 million in full, he will have earned $134,084,404 over his career, despite having only 34 career wins since he entered the league in 2010, and never winning more than 7 games in a season.

And the crazy part is that Bradford’s last contract was the one he signed with the Eagles, a two-year deal worth $36 million, or $18 million per season. In 2017, Bradford played in just two games because he was sidelined with some mysterious knee injury, which is concerning enough for any player with an otherwise normal injury history, but a red neon flag for a walking ACL tear like Bradford. And the Cardinals somehow thought is was a good idea to pay him MORE MONEY PER YEAR THAN HIS PREVIOUS CONTRACT.

And then they signed Glennon to a two-year, $8 million contract, because, um, they needed insurance for their mediocre-even-when-healthy starter?

And then they traded up for Josh Rosen, who many considered to be the most pro ready quarterback in a loaded draft, which was their first good idea at the quarterback position, but he’s now sitting on the bench in favor of Bradford, because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

090618LionsLogo090618LionsLogo

13) Lions: I really like Matthew Stafford. It’s just too bad that he plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. That’s a big problem playing in a division that has the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and an improved Chicago Bears defense.

090418Seahawks090418Seahawks

12) Seahawks: The Seahawks’ 2017 starting defense at the beginning of the season vs. the Seahawks’ starting defense to begin the 2018 season (via Ourlads):

 Seahawks D 2017  2018 
 DE Michael Bennett  Quinton Jefferson 
 DT Jarran Reed   Jarran Reed
 DT Sheldon Richardson   Tom Johnson
 DE Cliff Avril   Frank Clark
 OLB KJ Wright   Barkevious Mingo
 MLB Bobby Wagner   Bobby Wagner
 OLB Terence Garvin   Shaquem Griffin
 CB Richard Sherman   Shaquill Griffin
 S Earl Thomas   Bradley McDougald
 S Kam Chancellor   Tedric Thompson
 CB Jeremy Lane   Dontae Johnson

Their run is over.

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11) Cowboys: The Cowboys’ offense is in big trouble. They have Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, and Zack Martin, and then… What?

The Cowboys are going to waste a lot of Elliott’s tread, giving him 350 touches in a 7-9 season that goes nowhere. Honestly, the worst case scenario is if the Cowboys win 9 or 10 games and Jerry Jones talks himself into another season of Jason Garrett.

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10) Bears: The Bears were a fun team on the rise to kind of monitor in 2018, but now they really have everyone’s attention with their trade for Khalil Mack. In my view, they are still a few pieces away from contending with the big boys in the conference, but they may be right there in 2019.

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9) 49ers: Along with the Bears, the Niners are a team that many believe will make a big jump forward this season. Jimmy Garoppolo is more seasoned than Mitchell Trubisky, so I think the Niners will have more success in 2018, but I like the Bears long-term staying power more because of their intriguing defense.

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8) Redskins: The Redskins have some concern areas at their offensive skill positions, but in my view, they’re the second-best team in the NFC East because they’re strong in the trenches on both sides of the ball, which is what matters more. 

Dumping a lot of resources into Alex Smith for a team that isn’t a legitimate Super Bowl contender was a bad idea, but he’s an upgrade over Kirk Cousins in the short-term.

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7) Panthers: The Panthers just kind of remain what they’ve been. They’re a physical football team with a good defense, and an offense that tries to win with their running backs and tight end. In the AFC, they’d be a contender, but they’re a step behind the pack in a loaded NFC.

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6) Vikings: The Vikings appear to be a complete team, with their “No. 1 ranked defense” (I use quotes there purposely), as well as an offense with some nice skill players and an upgrade at quarterback.

They’re not.

The Vikings’ offensive line remains among the league’s worst, and they’re really going struggle against teams that can get after the quarterback, as they have over the last few years. The OL still isn’t fixed, and the Vikings aren’t going to make any real postseason noise until it is.

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5) Packers: Their roster kinda sucks, but, you know, they have the best football player on the planet. Without Aaron Rodgers in 2017, the Packers were a borderline bottom five team. With Rodgers, the Packers won at least one playoff game in each of the three previous seasons.

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4) Rams: The additions of the many talented-but-troubled players to the Rams’ roster this offseason will be fascinating study in its aftermath, no matter how it goes. Even if the Rams don’t turn out to be a dominant team in 2018, they play in a division where two teams (the Seahawks and Cardinals) are in decline, and the other (the Niners) still have a ways to go.

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3) Saints: The Saints’ finishes in total yards since the start of the Drew Brees era in New Orleans:

 Year Offensive Rank 
 2017
 2016
 2015
 2014
 2013
 2012
 2011
 2010
 2009
 2008
 2007
 2006

They’re going to be top five again in 2018, except now they also have a competent defense. Scary team.

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2) Falcons: The Falcons are of course known for having 2016 MVP Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the RB duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. What is perhaps very underrated about them is a defense that includes a quick front four that creates disruption, speedy linebackers that play sideline-to-sideline, and a pair of very good corners. They also have a solid offensive line to protect Ryan and create space for the backs.

Unlike, say, the Vikings above, this is a complete team that is primed to compete for a Super Bowl this season.

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1) Eagles: They won a Super Bowl without their MVP QB, their Hall of Fame LT, their starting RB, their young emerging MLB, their kicker, their special teams captain, and others. 

They’ve faced severe adversity, and won anyway. For any other team to be in this spot before the start of the season would be absolutely asinine.  


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Week 1 NFL predictions roundup: What the experts think will happen in Eagles-Falcons

You saw what Jimmy Kempski, our Eagles writer, had to say about Week 1’s games, and how the PhillyVoice sports staff sees the Birds tilt against the Falcons playing out, as well as where The Philly Godfather thinks you should be laying your money.

Now lets go around the horn and take a brief look at what the experts at the big media outlets are saying about Philadelphia and Atlanta:

And here’s what a few had to say more in depth as they broke down the match up:

Zack Rosenblatt, NJ.com

1. Health. Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Tim Jernigan and Mack Hollins are all out. Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Nelson Agholor and Brandon Graham missed most of training camp. 

2. Preseason struggles. Nick Foles will start at quarterback after some troubling struggles in his the two preseason games he participated in. He’s a momentum quarterback, and doesn’t have the same momentum he did in the postseason. 

3. The Falcons are good. Atlanta returns most of its talented roster and even added another weapon (WR Calvin Ridley) on offense. Not an ideal Week 1 opponent for a team that hasn’t practiced with its full offense since February. Despite all of that … haven’t we learned our lesson? Despite all of those issues, and even without some of those players, this is still possibly the most talented roster in the NFL, Foles has bounced back from struggles before and the Eagles defense could be dominant out of the gate.  [nj.com]

David Steele, Sporting News

There’s no shortage of motivation for either team in the kickoff to the new season. The Eagles want to defend what they won and prove they’re no one-year wonder. The Falcons want to be the home team in Super Bowl 53. They also want to avenge their elimination in last year’s divisional round in Philly, sealed by a late goal-line stand punctuated by some questionable play-calling. Nick Foles starts this game, as he started that one and every postseason game last year. He did not have a good preseason, which may or may not mean anything. The Eagles defense, retooled (this is Michael Bennett’s debut), likely will make it all moot.  [sportingnews.com]

Tim McManus, ESPN

Wentz expects to make his return from a torn ACL and LCL against the Falcons. Whether that comes to fruition or not, there should be enough energy inside Lincoln Financial Field on the night they raise the championship banner to carry the Eagles past last season’s divisional opponent.  [espn.com]

Pete Prisco, CBS

Let’s be real: The Falcons should have won in the playoffs last year. And this team is better, while the Eagles are dealing with a ton of injuries, including quarterback, which is why Nick Foles will start. Winning on the road in a Thursday night opener won’t be easy, but Atlanta will take it.  [cbssports.com]


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