101 Bold Predictions for the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles

By Bryn Swartz

1. The Philadelphia Eagles’ first defensive play of the 2011 season was a 47-yard touchdown scamper by St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. The Eagles’ first defensive play of the 2012 season is a 36-yard interception touchdown by rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

2. Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden’s next two dropbacks are sacks, giving him arguably the worst first three plays any QB has ever had.

3. Weeden’s pro debut turns into a nightmare. The 28-year old throws two interceptions, loses a fumble, and is sacked seven times in a 31-9 loss to the Eagles.

4. DeMeco Ryans’ first game with the Eagles is his worst game of the season, as he collects just two tackles and struggles in pass coverage. He improves over the rest of the season and finishes the year with 74 tackles, two interceptions, and a sack–solid numbers, but not quite what the Eagles were hoping for when they traded for the former tackling machine from the Houston Texans.

5. Ryans also misses three games due to a broken hand early in the season. Casey Matthews is still struggling to recover from his ankle sprain from the preseason, so the Eagles call up practice squad linebacker Ryan Rau.

6. Rau plays about as well as your typical practice squad linebacker called up to the National Football League.

7. Jeremy Maclin enjoys a healthy 16-game season, a significant improvement over 2011 when he missed all of training camp with a mysterious illness and later missed three games due to hamstring and shoulder issues.

8. As many have expected, Maclin turns in his best season, catching 74 passes for 1112 yards and eight touchdowns.

9. Damaris Johnson doesn’t contribute much as a wide receiver, catching 18 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown.

10. But neither does Riley Cooper, who returns from his collarbone injury in week 3 and catches 16 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

11. Michael Vick is knocked out of the game three times: against the New York Giants in week four, against the Detroit Lions in week 6, and against the New Orleans Saints in week 8.

12. Although a total of 37 heart attacks are reported in the Philadelphia area, Vick misses just one play each time and plays the remainder of the game.

13. Vick misses games against the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers in weeks 11 and 12 due to–what else–cracked ribs. Nick Foles starts in his place.

14. Donovan McNabb announces on NFL Network that Foles is a good backup but the Eagles would be better off starting him in Vick’s place.

15. Foles throws two interceptions against the Redskins.

16. But he dominates the Panthers, throwing for 219 yards and three touchdowns.

17. Vick returns for a crucial Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys at what he estimates to be about 95 percent health.

18. Phillip Hunt emerges as one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in the NFL, collecting 11 sacks and 29 quarterback hurries while playing in about 40 percent of the snaps.

19. The Eagles bring back Antonio Dixon for the season’s final 12 games when Cedric Thornton goes down for the year with a torn triceps.

20. The injury could not be more ironic, as Dixon had torn his triceps in week 4 the previous season.

21. The Eagles attempt to quietly replace defensive coordinator Juan Castillo with secondary coach Todd Bowles following a 38-28 loss to the Detroit Lions in week six.

22. Castillo accidentally makes his demotion public, announcing to the media that he won’t have as much work to do over the bye week because his role as an Eagles coach has significantly changed.

23. Damaris Johnson isn’t at DeSean Jackson’s level, but he’s an above average punt returner, averaging 11.1 yards per return, including a touchdown. However, he also fumbles twice, losing one.

24. Mike Kafka is not signed by any team at any point throughout the season.

25. Neither is Mardy Gilyard.

26. The Eagles’ game against the Giants in week 4 turns into the must-see TV event of the season.

27. Nate Allen seals a win for the Eagles by intercepting Eli Manning in the end zone on the final play of the game to preserve a 38-34 victory.

28. It’s a fitting ending to a game in which the Eagles honored future Hall of Fame safety and the most popular player in team history, Brian Dawkins.

29. McNabb attempts to take credit for the Eagles’ victory, informing his NFL Network audience that Allen was selected with a pick the Eagles acquired when he was traded to the Redskins.

30. The Eagles collect three sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers, six fewer than their 2008 matchup.

31. But they win the Pennsylvania Super Bowl when Evan Mathis falls on a fumble in the end zone with under a minute remaining to give the Eagles a 23-20 victory.

32. An injury-plagued season for Jason Babin results in just 11 games. But the 32-year old still collects 11 sacks. That gives him 29 sacks in the previous two seasons.

33. The Akeem Jordan experiment at weakside linebacker lasts for three games, until a fully healthy Jamar Chaney replaces Jordan as the starter.

34. Robert Griffin III has a memorable debut against a hobbled Eagles defense. Griffin throws for 183 yards and two scores, rushes for 83 yards and a score, and leads the Redskins to a 31-28 victory.

35. Mathis does not finish the season as the best guard in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. But he does rank in the top ten and is an alternate to the Pro Bowl. He also extends his streak of not allowing a sack to 2814 consecutive plays.

36. Danny Watkins is a hero when he enters a burning building in his street clothes and saves a single mother, her two children, and their pet parakeet. That week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he turns in the best game by an Eagles lineman all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

37. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd calls Watkins into his office and informs Watkins that he will practice in a burning building each day for the remainder of the season.

38. Watkins believes him without hesitation.

39. The entire conversation is videotaped by Mathis, who quickly uploads it onto Youtube. The video goes viral.

40. Mathis becomes the first offensive lineman in the NFL to top 100,000 Twitter followers.

41. Brandon Boykin finishes the season with 17 tackles, 0 interceptions, and a passer rating allowed of 96.7 as the nickel cornerback. But he averages 24.1 yards per kick return, including a touchdown, with no fumbles.

42. With the Oakland Raiders, Joselio Hanson finishes the season with 21 tackles, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating allowed of 78.4 as the nickel cornerback. He doesn’t return any kicks.

43. Kurt Coleman’s lone interception of the season comes against the Redskins. That means that six of his seven career interceptions have come against Washington.

44. Manning, Romo, and Griffin all play in all 16 games, making Vick (shockingly) the quarterback in the division who plays in the least number of games.

45. Vick throws for 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

46. Vick throws for 3512 yards. The Eagles’ streak of never having had a 4000-yard passer continues.

47. Chad Hall signs with the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad and is promoted to the active roster after Austin Collie suffers a concussion in week 6.

48. Hall ends the season with 17 catches for 184 yards and a touchdown.

49. King Dunlap is replaced six games into the season.

50. Demetress Bell starts two games at left tackle but plays very poorly.

51. Howard Mudd decides to finish the season at left tackle.

52. Andy Reid says no.

53. Rookie Dennis Kelly starts the final eight games of the season.

54. He doesn’t allow a sack.

55. He allows just nine quarterback hurries and rates as the team’s fourth best offensive lineman, according to PFF.

56. Herremans, Mathis, and Jason Kelce are the top rated offensive lineman.

57. Kelce shaves his beard and sells it to Locks of Love.

58. Brandon Graham continues to be overshadowed by Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants, who collects 13 sacks and forces four fumbles.

59. But Graham turns into a reliable backup, collecting seven sacks.

60. He also returns an interception for a touchdown against the Redskins in week 11, the first interception touchdown by an Eagles’ defensive end since Juqua Parker took one back 55 yards against the San Francisco 49ers in 2008.

61. BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumbles for the first time in his career against the Eagles in week 15.

62. Derek Landri forces the fumble. Mychal Kendricks scoops it up and runs 53 yards for his second touchdown of the season.

63. LeSean McCoy misses two games with an ankle sprain.

64. Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, and Chris Polk split the carries during McCoy’s absence.

65. Polk emerges as the most reliable of the three, carrying 14 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

66. Polk also emerges as the Eagles’ goal-line back this season, scoring five touchdowns on carries inside the two-yard line.

67. Vick rushes for 474 yards and four touchdowns. He turns in the longest run of his career against the Buccaneers, a 68-yard gallop down the left sideline.

68. Mathis is voted funniest Philadelphia athlete on Twitter by an online poll on philly.com.

69. Herremans scores his third career touchdown, on a one-yard reception in the second quarter of a week 13 matchup against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Mathis pulls out a sharpie from his sock and signs the ball.

70. Nnamdi Asomugha rebounds to have a year like the many he had in Oakland. He collects two interceptions, records 43 tackles, and allows just two passing touchdowns all season.

71. Peyton Manning is named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year but Asomugha is the NFL Man of the Year, becoming the first player to win the award twice.

72. Kendricks finishes fourth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

73. He collects 112 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and two touchdowns.

74. Fletcher Cox finishes fifth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, collecting 46 tackles, six sacks, and three forced fumbles.

75. Cox’s biggest moment of his rookie season is a week 10 hit on Romo that ranks as number one on SportsCenter top 10. (You can only imagine the innuendos on Twitter.)

76. The Eagles will finish the year with 57 sacks, the most by an NFL team since the Cowboys collected 59 in 2008.

77. Trent Cole leads the team with 14. He also rates as the team’s best defender against the run.

78. In fact, Cole’s season is so dominant that he finishes third in voting for the Defensive Player of the Year.

79. It goes without saying that he earns his third Pro Bowl selection.

80. Other Pro Bowl selections for the Eagles include wide receiver DeSean Jackson, center Jason Kelce, right tackle Todd Herremans, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, safety Nate Allen, and kicker Alex Henery.

81. Kelce, Cole, Asomugha, and Henery are Pro Bowl starters.

82. The Eagles’ season finale against the Giants is switched to a night game, the sixth of the year for the Eagles.

83. The Eagles enter the game with a record of 11-4, with losses to the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, and Washington Redskins.

84. The Giants enter the game with a record of 10-5.

85. The winner of the game will be crowned the division champion.

86. The loser limps into the playoffs as a wild-card team.

87. The Giants defeat the Eagles 27-20, behind a classic two-minute drive by Manning at the end of the game.

88. Justin Tuck records three sacks in the game.

89. The fith-seeded Eagles travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the wild-card round.

90. The Eagles win 23-14, behind 91 rushing yards from McCoy and two sacks by Hunt.

91. The third-seeded Giants crush the sixth-seeded Seattle Seahawks 27-3.

92. The Eagles travel to Atlanta to take on the top-seeded Falcons in the divisional round.

93. The Eagles win 31-24, behind Vick’s 233 passing yards and two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

94. The Green Bay Packers end the Giants’ season and a chance at back-to-back Super Bowl titles with a 28-24 victory in Lambeau Field in the divisional round. Aaron Rodgers leads a classic 87-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes, culminating in a walkoff touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.

95. The Eagles defeat the Packers 21-17 in the conference championship game.

96. Vick plays through two badly bruised ribs, throwing for 181 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for 57 yards and another score.

97. Boykin scores the game’s final touchdown on a 92-yard kick return with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

98. Two sacks by Cole stop Rodgers and the Pack from completing a last-minute drive. The game ends with the Packers’ ball on the eight-yard line. Chuck Bednarik comments that neither player in the game played both ways.

99. Vick’s bruised ribs are the talk of the country for the two weeks. The New England Patriots, AFC champions, are completely healthy (although Tom Brady is listed at probable with a right shoulder injury).

100. Vick plays at 80 percent. Bill Belichick takes advantage and blitzes Vick repeatedly. The Eagles’ quarterback is hit 12 times throughout the game. He gets up from all of them, some more slowly than others.

101. The Patriots defeat the Eagles 24-20. There will not be a parade in Philadelphia for the 52nd consecutive season.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. You can follow Bryn on Twitter by clicking here and here. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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