Five Predictions for Philly Sports Teams in 2018
After a interesting year in Philadelphia sports that featured the Eagles winning the NFC East and earning the top-seed in the conference, a Phillies’ last-place finish, and some up-and-down starts by both the Sixers and Flyers, the calendar has turned over to 2018.
With 2017 behind us and 2018 full of potential, here are five bold predictions for the Philly sports teams for the year ahead.
1. The Eagles don’t reach the Super Bowl
After wining a franchise tying best 13 games, winning the NFC East and capturing the NFC's top-seed and home-field advantage, the Eagles are a 15-1 shot to win their first ever Super Bowl. However, with a deep NFC field, and the loss of Carson Wentz, what looked like a super season, has the look of coming up short.
The NFC field has three teams that currently have betters odds then the Eagles to win the Lombardi trophy, Minnesota, New Orleans and Los Angles.
While the odds are clearly saying this isn't a bold prediction, they are still the NFC's top-seed and have home-field advantage, so not making the Super Bowl will still be a disappointing end to what was a magical season.
2. Carson Wentz misses 2018 season opener
Wentz suffered a ACL injury back in Dec 10 in Los Angles. The recovery time for that injury, per Dr. James Andrews, is 9-12 months. The nine month time-frame would be right around when the season is supposed to open in September, which means, Wentz might not be cleared for the start of training camp. If Wentz can't get cleared for the start of camp, he potentially won't play in any preseason games, meaning he might not be ready for the Eagles season opener.
Wentz is simply to important to rush back, so if there is any thought that he is not 100% ready to play, I wouldn't expect to see him out there to open the season.
3. Markelle Fultz lives up to expectations
The Sixers need a player like Fultz to help jump-start their offense. The Sixers moved up to the No. 1 pick in the draft to get the dynamic Fultz, a guy who can score in multiple ways, something they currently lack. Fultz was the No. 1 pick for a reason, and one of those reasons is his ability to put the ball-in-the-basket, averaging 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 2.1 triples, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks per game during his one-and-done season with Washington.
Playing in an offense with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington and Dario Saric, he will give the Sixers the type of player they are currently lacking, a creator, who can also shot the three (41% from three-point range in college).
4. Phillies make a Wild Card run
Many think the Phillies might be a year-or-two away from really making a playoff run, but there are some positive vibes around the organization for the first time in awhile.
The additions of some young talent, finally have given Phillies fans some reasons to pay attention to spring training, with guys like Rhys Hopkins, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and the free agent addition of Carlos Santana the Phillies have some exciting young players and a couple of solid veteran guys around.
If they can get some decent starting pitching from the batch of guys they have stockpiles over the past five years they could be a surprise team this season and make a legit run at one of the two NL Wild Card spots.
5. Derek Barnett leads the Eagles in sacks
The Eagles’ defensive line rotation was one of the reason they had a very good year this season. Fresh bodies, enabling the unit to pressure the QB, and stop the run gave the Eagles a very good defense this season. However, if Jim Schwartz moves on to be a head coach somewhere, they might have a different philosophy with a new coordinator.
Even if Schwartz stays, expect Derek Barnett to have a bigger role in 2018, in fact, I think he will lead the team in sacks next season. Even though the Eagles will have plenty of depth at defensive end, the cream rises to the top, and Barnett showed that he can be valuable pass rusher.
Barnett had five sacks this season, but expect his playing time to increase next season and with more experience under his belt, I expect him to lead the Eagles in sacks in 2018.