The waiting is finally over. We are officially through the NFL preseason and only a few days away from the first Sunday of the professional football season. Expectations are extremely high for the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a surprising NFC East division title; and anything less than another division crown will not sit well within the City of Brotherly Love. Luckily for Eagles fans, the team has the pieces in place to put together a dynamic season, and after finishing 2013 at 10-6, a record of 11-5 is very realistic in 2014.
Let’s start with the schedule. The biggest advantage the Eagles have going for them is the division they compete in. With six combined matchups against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, a record of 5-1 against these teams is not only realistic, but also necessary, if Philadelphia wants to finish at 11-5. These three teams have glaring weaknesses up and down their respective rosters, putting the Eagles in prime position to take care of business within their own division.
Continuing with their schedule, Philadelphia has drawn the NFC West and AFC South in 2014. Facing off against the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, a record of 2-2 facing the NFC West is a realistic prediction. A 3-1 record against the AFC South’s Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars seems reasonable as well.
Now, after going through the three divisions the Eagles face this season and predicting four total losses within those matchups, that leaves two additional games on the schedule. With Philadelphia finishing atop their division in 2013, they will have to play the two remaining first-place teams within the NFC from a year ago in the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. With both the Packers and Panthers hoping for big years, it is accurate to assume that the Eagles will go 1-1 against these two teams, completing their record at 11-5.
Predicting a record cannot solely be determined on schedule, because there are always surprise teams that overachieve as well as underachieve. So it is important to look at other variables and intangibles that the team provides. The fact that Chip Kelly had a substantial amount of success in his rookie year is somewhat surprising. However, it will not be surprising if he continues to improve as a head coach, and it is only right to assume that he will.
Not only will Kelly improve from a coaching standpoint, but he will also have a more suitable roster geared to what he wants in player personnel in 2014. Part of that personnel is Nick Foles. Nobody can expect him to have another 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but it is not unrealistic to think he will improve as a quarterback. With Foles improving and Kelly at the helm, the offense should be even more dynamic than it was in 2013.
The biggest question mark on this Eagles team continues to be the defense. However, this aspect of the team dramatically improved during the second half of last season, and that trend should continue this year. Philadelphia is desperate for playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, and they may have found two of them in Mychal Kendricks and Malcolm Jenkins. If these two guys are able to reach their full potential, Philadelphia will have a much more than adequate defense.
The combination of schedule layout, Kelly, an improved offense, as well as an improved defense simply signifies improvement in record from a year ago. The NFC East is the weakest it’s been in the last 10 years, and the Eagles are in prime position to take advantage. Philadelphia is a young team on the rise and has all the potential to take a dramatic step forward in 2014.
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