NFC East Preview: Philadelphia Eagles
After a tumultuous 2012, one that saw the team win just four games, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to turn things around in 2013.
It may take more than a fresh organizational makeover to see the team make amends for a disappointing season, a viewpoint that is certainly shared by bookmakers across the spectrum. But, the Eagles may very well have what it takes to surprise more than a few of us.
Now, BettingSports.com continues its look at the NFC East with a focused look at the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles, charting the expectations being placed on the team as well as the odds bettors will be looking to beat.
Week 1 and 2 saw the Eagles pick-up a pair of one-point wins, first over the Cleveland Browns (ugly) and then over the Baltimore Ravens (impressive). Week 3 followed with a 27-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but at that stage the Cardinals were in the midst of a 4-0 start to the season and looked like they might be a threat. Week 4 followed with a two-point win over the New York Giants, leaving the Eagles with a respectable 3-1 record. It was here where luck ran out.
The next two weeks saw the Eagles lose close games to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, with the Steelers using a fourth quarter comeback while the Lions scored an overtime victory. From there the wheels seemed to fall off the bus. The team would lose the next six before finally securing a fourth win of the year in Week 14, taking a two-point decision over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Eagles closed out the season with three more losses, two of which were blowouts.
Amidst locker room unrest, the Eagles’ front office fired Reid after 14 years at the helm, 14 years that had seen the side reach the playoffs on nine occasions, including a trip to Super Bowl XXXIX.
Reid’s departure was undeniably the highest profile of the offseason, but the Eagles were plenty busy elsewhere. After finishing 29th in the league in points allowed, it was the defense that saw most change. Free agents DT Cullen Jenkins, DT Mike Patterson (both to NY Giants), CB Nnandi Asomugha (San Francisco), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver), and LB Akeem Jordan (Kansas City) were amongst those departing the City of Brotherly Love.
Chip Kelly replaces Reid in the head coaching role. Kelly’s success at the University of Oregon is undeniable, but can he replicate it in the pros? Not many college coaches have proven successful so he’ll certainly face a stern test.
As well as Kelly, the Eagles’ front office also filled some of the holes left in the defense, adding the LB Connor Barwin (from Houston), S Kenny Phillips (NY Giants), DT Isaac Sopoaga (San Francisco), S Patrick Chung (New England), and CB Cary Williams (Baltimore).
LB Emmanuel Acho (from Cleveland), WR Arrelious Benn (Tampa Bay), DE Clifton Geathers (Indianapolis), and WR Jeff Maehl (Houston) all arrived via trade. Benn subsequently tore and ACL and will miss the year. The Eagles also acquired OLB Adrian Robinson this past Friday, sending RB Felix Jones – picked up as a free agent from Dallas this offseason – to the Pittsburgh Steelers to spell an injured Le’Veon Bell.
Philadelphia selected OT Lane Johnson with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, before adding TE Zach Ertz, DT Bennie Logan, and QB Matt Barkley (see below) in the subsequent rounds.
News & Notes
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Eagles is how will Kelly cope in the NFL? Can he adapt to what is a bigger, stronger form of the game, one that doesn’t take too kindly to the high-octane offense that he is used to fielding in Eugene?
After this, the ongoing battle at quarterback is one to watch for sure. Veteran Michael Vick found himself on the bench towards the end of last season, firstly as a result of injury and then after Nick Foles became the preferred quarterback. The two look to be in contention for the starter role again this season. The Eagles have also added Matt Barkley to the mix, and while his stock may have slipped as a result of USC’s poor season and injury, he’ll be in the back of Kelly’s mind as the year progresses.
The Eagles received more attention than they wanted when WR Riley Cooper was filmed using a racial slur at a concert last month. The team will hope for production before headlines this season.
The offseason got a lot tougher for the Eagles though, with four players suffering ACL tears. In addition to Benn (see above), last year’s leading receiver Jeremy Maclin also went down, as did the linebacker pair of Phillip Hunt and Jason Phillips. The Eagles, already hoping for fewer injuries than a year ago, will be hoping the medical table stays quiet for the rest of the year.
A return to respectability (if not a postseason berth) will be aided by a more than manageable schedule. Like the rest of the NFC East, just how far the Eagles can turn things around will depend on how well that fair against the rest of the division. As always, the NFC East will be a tight battle, and while the Eagles are expected to finish last, the chance to pick-off a rival is always there. Divisional games on the road to open and close the season are a bit harsh, but the remainder of Philadelphia’s intra-division schedule falls between Week 5 and 11, meaning that a run of good form could see an unlikely result.
Outside of the division, things don’t look too menacing. Road trips to the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers rate high on the tough-o-meter, but visits to Tampa Bay and the Minnesota Vikings may provide the opportunity for victory if those two teams don’t live up to expectations, which is a possibility. A visit to the Oakland Raiders already looks winnable.
Back home, the Eagles will face a tough test against the Chicago Bears and an easy (in theory) challenge from the Cardinals. The San Diego Chargers visit, as does Detroit, while the Week 3 return of Andy Reid and his Kansas City Chiefs looks like it will be a huge litmus test for both sides.
Here is a selection of the odds currently available from Bovada.
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVIII: 50/1 (Rank: Tied 21)
Odds to Win NFC: 28/1 (Rank: Tied 14)
Odds to Win NFC East: 4/1 (Rank: 4)
Regular Season Win Total: 7.5 Over (+105) Under (-135)
Will the Philadelphia Eagles Make the Playoffs: Yes (+225) No (-285)
Little is expected of Philadelphia this season as it looks to rebuild. The team has the longest odds when it comes to winning the NFC East and whilst it’s unlikely the team will fend-off its three main rivals, you have the sense there are games to be won here.
Only Arizona (66/1) has shorter odds to win the NFC, but the Eagles may well surprise some and finish with a better record than the likes of the improving St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay.
The real interest here lies in whether the Eagles can beat the 7 ½ game win total. Most bettors are taking the under here, but the Eagles’ schedule could see the team win eight, if it can pick up some divisional victories.
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You can read the BettingSports.com preview of the Dallas Cowboys here and the New York Giants here. We will conclude our preview of the NFC East next Thursday when we take a look at the Washington Redskins.
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