Grayson’s Predictions: Eagles Fly High in 2014
The Philadelphia Eagles kickoff the 2014 regular season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Expectations are high in Philadelphia. Will the Eagles take a step forward and get past the wild card playoff round?
I typically issue Grayson’s Grades following each game. Now it is time for Grayson’s Predictions. After the season we’ll see how I grade out against my predictions.
The Eagles have a very difficult schedule. The NFC is clearly deeper and tougher than the AFC. The Eagles will have to play the NFC West which is arguably the toughest division in the NFL. However, the other three NFC East teams will also have to play that division throughout the season.
I predict the Eagles will win the division. I see them going 5-1 against the NFC East with their only loss coming at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
The rest of the regular season will have its share of difficult opponents. The Eagles have to play games at San Francisco, Arizona, Green Bay and Indianapolis. I predict the Eagles will go 7-3 outside of the NFC East. I see them losing at home against the Seattle Seahawks and on the road at Green Bay and Indianapolis. I previously thought they would lose at San Francisco, but the 49’ers have done nothing offensively this preseason that scares me.
Overall, I believe the Eagles will likely finish with the second best record in the NFC and earn a first-round bye. That is a clear step forward from a year ago. I see the New Orleans Saints as the team earning the top seed. They play in a weak division with a weaker overall schedule than the Eagles.
The Eagles have the pieces in place to make a run deep in the playoffs and possibly earn a trip to the Super Bowl if everything breaks just right. The offense will be explosive again. The defense has improved its personnel and depth. With that, Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis will be able to open up more of the playbook and dial up more blitzes with different coverages schemes.
Of course, the biggest key to any successful season is limiting injuries. So far, the Eagles have managed to do just that.
Individually, it is hard to expect Nick Foles to put up the 29 touchdowns to just two interceptions ratio he did a year ago. However, he does take very good care of the ball and I expect Foles to be in the neighborhood of a 30 touchdown to 7 interception ratio this season.
LeSean McCoy is challenging himself to have a 2,000 yard rushing season. That is an extremely lofty goal. I see McCoy finishing with around 1,800 yards rushing and around 600 yards receiving. To reach 2,000 yards, McCoy would need to average 125 yards per game.
Jeremy Maclin has not played in a regular season game since the 2012 season. He tore the ACL in his knee last preseason and missed all of 2013. That knee was tested throughout the preseason and even gave Maclin, his teammates, his coaches and Eagles fans everywhere a scare when he went down after that knee buckled in a game. It turned out to be just a scare and he finished his snaps in the game. It may have even done him some good mentally to know the knee can take that kind of a beating and remain intact. I predict Maclin will have a 1,000 yard receiving season and catch 12 touchdowns.
It should be a fun season to watch. Will it live up to expectations?