Throughout the offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have been projected to finish anywhere from worst record in the NFL to NFC East division champions.
After Nick Sirianni’s first full training camp and pre-season as head coach, we’re ready to map out the Birds 2021 season.
Week 1: At Falcons (Sunday, Sept. 12th – 1pm)
This is quite possibly the best case scenario for a rookie head coach. Going against another rookie head coach and a roster that is quite bare from a talent perspective. Outside of the 2 main weapons on offense, in Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts, there isn’t much for Arthur Smith to hang his hat on offensively. Also, the Falcons have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL (and Arthur Smith reportedly said this about his starting RT)
Defensively, Atlanta’s defensive line ranked 31st in the league in PFF’s Defensive line rankings entering the 2021 NFL season by Ben Linsey. Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley are gone. The most notable names are Grady Jarrett and Dante Fowler. The latter of which recorded a 49.9 PFF grade for the 2020 season. The Eagles start off the Nick Sirianni era with a comfortable win.
Week 2: Vs. 49ers (Sunday, Sept. 19th – 1pm)
Although the Niners are coming off a disappointing 6-10 campaign from a year ago, I think things will be a bit different this season. They were one of the most injury stricken teams last year (as were the Eagles). They still sport one of the top defenses in the league when fully healthy and Kyle Shanahan is still one of the top offensive minds in the NFL.
Shanahan outduels Nick Sirianni and the Eagles lose a close one in their home opener.
Week 3: At Cowboys (Monday, Sept. 27th – 8:15pm)
The first primetime game of the Nick Sirianni-Jalen Hurts era comes on Monday night football. The Eagles have lost their last 3 games at AT&T stadium. Dak Prescott will be back in the lineup and the weapons on the outside are still present.
However, outside of last year’s matchup in Dallas, the games have been fairly close when the Eagles were the road team in this division rivalry. The Eagles will likely be healthier than last time around and Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith will shine under the bright lights of Monday Night Football in a close win for the birds.
Week 4: Vs. Chiefs (Sunday, Oct. 3rd – 1pm)
There isn’t much to say here. The Chiefs have been to the Super Bowl the last two seasons and possess the best HC-QB combo in the league. Also, the Chiefs have gone 20-4 on the road the last 3 seasons. The Eagles lose and lose big in this one.
Week 5: At Panthers (Sunday, Oct. 10th – 1pm)
Are the Panthers improved? On paper, with the additions of Sam Darnold and Jaycee Horn, improved health of Christian McCaffrey, and year of experience for Matt Rhule, yes. However, the roster is still pretty barren from a true talent perspective outside of the aforementioned McCaffrey, Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn (it still stings a little) on defense.
If healthy, the Eagles offensive line should be able to contain a defense that ranked 24th in the NFL in sacks. The Eagles win in a fairly close win.
Week 6: Vs. Buccaneers (Thursday, Oct 14 – 8:20pm)
Tampa Bay are the defending Super Bowl champions. They have one of the top rosters in the league. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time and teams quarterbacked by him are 12-3 on Thursday night football. Tampa Bay is tough. Their high powered offense sports Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and Ronald Jones among others.
BUT, this game feels like the one miraculous win the Eagles find a way to win. Think back to the last few seasons where, no matter the coach or QB, they find a way to win a game they’re not supposed to win: 2015 – at the Patriots, 2018 – vs. the Rams, 2019 – at the Packers (on Thursday night football).
The Eagles find a way to win on a last second field goal from Jake Elliot.
Week 7: At Raiders (Sunday, Oct. 24 – 4:05pm)
The Eagles have 10 days rest going into this game. That’s 10 days to game-plan and hone in on the Raiders, offensively and defensively. Nick Sirianni will have his team well prepared. DeVonta Smith puts the NFL world on notice and the Eagles come into Las Vegas and win big.
Week 8: At Lions (Sunday, Oct. 31 – 1pm)
This is the first real ‘trap’ game for Nick Sirianni and co. The Eagles have struggled over the last few years when in Detroit. In fact, the Eagles last win as the away team in this matchup came in 2010. Jared Goff has a big day as Dan Campbell’s Lions come out of this game with a W.
Week 9: Vs. Chargers (Sunday, Nov. 7 – 4:05 pm)
The Eagles come back to the Linc off a two game road trip and take on the 2020 NFL rookie of the year, Justin Herbert and another rookie head coach in Brandon Staley.
Shane Steichen was the offensive coordinator in Herbert’s impressive rookie year and he was the offensive play caller for Herbert. This is a factor that may give the Eagles a leg up in this one.
The Eagles pass rush will have to be disruptive all day in order for the Eagles to have a chance. I think they do and that gives the Eagles a win.
Week 10: At Broncos (Sunday, Nov. 14th – 4:25 pm)
Games in Denver have always been tough for the Eagles. Whether it’s the altitude, the skill and talent of the Broncos roster, or loudness of the Broncos Country, the Eagles have not won in Denver in a while. In fact, they haven’t won in Denver since 1989. That, combined with the talent the Broncos possess on the defensive side of the ball, gives them the edge over Philadelphia in this game.
Week 11: Vs. Saints (Sunday, Nov. 21st – 1pm)
A year ago, Jalen Hurts made his first career start against the New Orleans Saints number 1 ranked defense. He came out with a victory and had over 100 yards rushing and passing. Drew Brees is no longer the quarterback of the Saints and no one knows if WR Michael Thomas will be playing at this point in the season. The Eagles get back to the Linc after a tough loss the week before and blow off some steam in a victory over New Orleans.
Week 12: At Giants (Sunday, November 28th – 1pm)
The Giants got their first win in 5 years over the Eagles last year at MetLife stadium. I doubt this is the start of a new trend. The Eagles come into the Giants home and come away with a victory as the defensive line has its best performance of the season against a Giants offensive line that may very well be the worst in the NFL.
Week 13: At Jets (Sunday, Dec 5 – 1pm)
The Jets have NEVER beaten the Eagles. That streak stays intact as Jalen Hurts torches the New York defense for over 300 yards passing in a huge win.
Week 14: Bye Week – (9-4)
Week 15: Vs. Washington (TBD)
This will be one of the toughest games of the Eagles season. The Washington defensive line is arguably the best in the league and this game will be a major one in terms of playoff seeding.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s ‘Fitzmagic’ comes alive as the Washington Football Team sacks Jalen Hurts 6 times, leading to a huge win for Washington.
Week 16: Vs. Giants (Sunday Dec. 26th – 1pm)
The Eagles once again beat up on the Giants, this time at home. Philadelphia has swept New York in 7 of the last 12 seasons. As previously stated, the Giants have what may be one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Also, Jalen Hurts is a better quarterback than Daniel Jones.
Week 17: At Washington (Sunday Jan. 2nd – 1pm)
The Eagles come into this game and remember what happened just two weeks ago. They are angry and that manifests itself in a tough defensive battle that sees Ryan Fitzpatrick throw a late interception to Steve Nelson which seals a victory for the Eagles.
Week 18: Vs. Cowboys (Jan. 9 – 1pm)
This game is for the division as both the Eagles and Cowboys come into this game 11-5. This game will be a tough back and forth battle but Dak Prescott and the Cowboys ultimately outgun Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. But, the Eagles still qualify for the playoffs.
The Eagles will play a playoff game in Nick Sirianni’s first season.
Sure, the Eagles went 4-11-1 a year ago but, when most people talk about that, it’s done without context.
The Eagles struggled last season predominantly because of two elements: 1) Offensive Line Injuries and 2) Bad QB Play and by extension, turnovers (more specifically, interceptions).
The game of football is decided in the trenches. The Eagles have improved along the defensive line and the offensive line.
Along the defensive line the Eagles added Ryan Kerrigan and drafted the versatile Milton Williams.
Javon Hargrave, by most accounts, had the best training camp of any player on the Eagles roster. Fletcher Cox is still Fletcher Cox. And despite having one of the worst records in the league a season ago, the Eagles still finished 3rd in the league in sacks and had a 38.4% pressure rate per PFF (and that’s with an 18.1% blitz rate – 29th in the NFL).
Brandon Brooks is healthy. Lane Johnson is healthy. Jordan Mailata as he currently stands, is better than what Jason Peters gave the Eagles the last 2 years at left tackle. And the depth the franchise possesses now is head and shoulders better than what they had last season (do I need to remind you of Jamon Brown?)
These factors alone will offset a lot of what plagued the team last season.
A year after literally EVERYTHING went wrong for the Eagles, to me, it’s highly unlikely things go that wrong again.
Will the Eagles trot out 14 different starting offensive line combos again?
Will Jalen Hurts play like the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this season?
Will Jonathan Gannon captain a defense that doesn’t disguise it’s pressures and plays a very predictable brand of defensive football?
Will Nick Sirianni pilot one of the least balanced, unimaginative offenses in the NFL?
I have a hard time believing the answer to any of those questions are yes.
Cover Image Credit: David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer