The NFC East: Will the Philadelphia Eagles be on Top?
By Joanne Kong
Last time I discussed last year’s NFC East champs, the Dallas Cowboys, and how I think they’ll end up in the 2019 season. So now, let’s turn to the second place team in the NFC East in 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles.
2018 Record: 9-7 (2nd in the NFC East/ Lost Divisional Round to the New Orleans Saints)
2019 Odds to Win the NFC East: 10/11
2019 Odds to Win the NFC: 7/1
2019 Odds to Win the Super Bowl: 14/1
The thing about the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles is that it’s just hard to have a winning season after winning the Super Bowl, unless you’re the New England Patriots, of course. In fact, the Super Bowl “hangover” is for real, as only 7 teams have ever won back-to-back Super Bowls and there’s been zero since 2005.
The mystery for the Eagles, though, is that they barely changed their team from their Super Bowl season. Carson Wentz played two less games, but they had backup (and Super Bowl MVP), Nick Foles. With that said, the Eagles ranked unremarkably in the middle of the league in offense and defense last season. Not good enough to win, but good enough to finish 2nd in the NFC East and sneak into the Wild Card game.
What will help the Eagles reach the Super Bowl this season?
- A healthy Carson Wentz
- A strong secondary
- A powerful backfield
- A reliable receiving core
Let’s take a look at the Eagles draft picks. There’s not much to criticize with only five picks. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t.
|EAGLES 2019 DRAFT|
|2||53||Miles Sanders||Running Back|
|2||57||JJ Arcega-Whiteside||Wide Receiver|
Picks I Liked –
- Andre Dillard was a necessary pick in the first round to help with veteran Jason Peters’ workload. Philadelphia was the 18th most sacked team in the league (40). Carson Wentz has suffered season ending injuries two out of the three years he’s been in the NFL, therefore, protecting Wentz is a priority if he’s going to stay healthy, particularly since the Eagles traded away Nick Foles.
- Jose Joaquin Whiteside-Arcega was another necessity for the Eagles. Although experts didn’t believe the wide receiver position was a priority in the 2019 NFL draft, I’d have to disagree. With a receiving core struggling to consistently produce dynamic plays, and with Alshon Jeffery the only significant wide receiver threat, it was surprising that the Eagles did as well as they did in 2018. The Eagles did add back DeSean Jackson, but they can definitely use some new blood in the mix. Whiteside-Arcega had his best performance during his senior year with 1,059 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. If he can grow into a fraction of that in the NFL, Whiteside-Arcega can potentially be that extra playmaker the Eagles desperately need in their receiving core.
- And don’t think that I’ve overlooked Zack Ertz. Clearly, he was their most consistent weapon in 2018 with 1,163 receiving yards (the 16th most TE receiving yards in the league) and 8 touchdowns. And although Jeffery was their best WR, he had only 843 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in just 13 games. The rest is even less inspiring, with Nelson Agholor having 736 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns and newly re-added DeSean Jackson having 774 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Pick I Didn’t Like –
- With Jordan Howard filling the running back slot, it’s hard to justify picking up a running back, and its even harder to justify two. With an unofficial depth chart of seven running backs, which include draft pick Tony Pollard (pick 128) and Mike Weber (pick 218), it’s tough to predict what type of backfield they’ll having coming into the 2019 season, particularly with the pass first Eagles having the 5th least rushing yards in the league in 2018.
- Instead of drafting running backs, the Eagles could have put an emphasis on the Eagles secondary since they allowed the third most passing yards in 2018.
“He’s going to bring stability. He’s a big, powerful back – he’s a downhill runner. I’m excited about his opportunity here in Philadelphia.”
Coach Pederson can’t wait to see Jordan Howard perform in 2019.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) July 12, 2019
Finally, looking at the strength of schedule for 2018, the Eagles should have had a better season with their toughest opponents being the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings. But we all know that betting odds in Las Vegas doesn’t always dictate which team will have a winning season.
In 2019, the Eagles toughest opponents will be against the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and two games against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. According to betting odds, the Eagles should win 12 games this season, although they face a more difficult schedule.
I think Philadelphia Eagles will make a run, but won’t make it to the Super Bowl, and will be surprised by a few of the lesser ranked teams on the schedule.
Predicted 2019 Record: 11-5