Foles could certainly get busted up early, be lost for the season, and exit the 2014 calendar with only a pick or two. I'll go bolder and say he plays 15 games (possibly with Mark Sanchez starting Week 17 in his old stadium, more on why later), and throws nine interceptions.
As for touchdowns, he'll hover around the 40-mark in a full year, but the temptation will be too great to not let LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles muck up some dimes for scores. I think 38 touchdowns and nine picks is a good estimate.
Vinny Curry will reach ten sacks
The Steelers game is the catalyst for my optimism. Finding a way to use the lightning-quick Curry in a 3-4 has provided a challenge for Chip Kelly and Bill Davis, but the 4-1-6 dime package (Mychal Kendricks as the lone linebacker) kept Ben Roethlisberger's head spinning in that third preseason outing.
Four down linemen with a deep secondary stirs flashbacks of Jim Johnson's gung-ho pass rush, with Kendricks' suddenly-focused angles taking elements of a modern day Jeremiah Trotter or Carlos Emmons. Creating mismatches for Curry (who doesn't really need help creating his own) will allow him more opportunity to do what he does best, and that's cause backfield mayhem.
Count this one under what some would call a 'bold' prediction. The day after the Eagles/Steelers preseason game, my friends and I partook in our eighth annual fantasy football league draft, with printed PPR-based listings from ESPN.com for everyone to use as checklists (you know, cross em off so you don't pick someone that's been picked, etc).
With the expectation that Ertz is going to be a red zone demon in 2014, ESPN ranked the second-year tight-end 14th at his position, and 134th overall. Celek barely made the top 300 list, checking at at 285 on the whole, and 37th in tight-ends.
Those rankings were as of August 22, one day after Celek made two downfield grabs that each jarred his helmet loose. While Ertz's athleticism is to be coveted, Celek's far from chopped liver, and he remains the official starter on the team. Ertz will probably overtake Celek one day, but it won't be so swift this year.
The Eagles will record their first shut-out win in 18 years
They're overdue. On December 1, 1996, the Eagles broke a three-game losing streak by pasting the hapless Giants 24-0 at Veterans Stadium. Since then, the Eagles have had some games where they held the opponent to three points, or even a measly touchdown, but never the goose-egg. On November 17 last year, the Eagles managed to shut the Redskins out for the first 47 minutes, before Patrick Chung's whiff on Darrel Young broke up the fun.
This year, the Eagles have four games against teams that ranked among the bottom five in points scored last season: the Giants (twice), Jaguars, and Texans. Call it a reaching hunch, but it's about time the Eagles blanked somebody.
The Eagles will win the East by three games
The Giants seem to be in a transitional mode with a new offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo, and uncertainty on defense with aging veterans and a number of injury-risks (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's presence doesn't bode well either).
The Cowboys are a mess on defense with too many injuries, and that was their undoing last year, giving up record amounts of yards and points. Bill Callahan calling the offensive plays instead of coach Jason Garrett isn't going to solve the puzzle.
The Redskins are riding on Robert Griffin III returning to rookie form, and the hopes that he can still compensate for a defense that has issues of its own. No NFC East defense is particularly powerful, but the Eagles proved in 2013 that they make up for it with surging offense the best. Until another team of the four rises up and proves they can do the same, it's the Eagles division to win, and likely convincingly.
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