Thursday, September 10, 2009

Your 2009 Eagles Season Breakdown

We are just hours away from the NFL season officially kicking off! While the Eagles still don't play for a few more days, it's time to start taking a closer look at their prospects for the 2009 season. After an extremely eventful offseason that saw the Eagles pull off arguably the best draft of any team, re-tool their offensive line and bring in some guy name Michael Vick, excitement has definitely been building for the upcoming campaign. With a lackluster regular season that was followed by a surprising playoff run last year, what is in store for the Birds in '09?

Most media outlets agree that the Eagles will be making the playoffs (except SI's Peter King), but what they do from there is up in the air. On paper, the Birds are one of the best teams in the league but will they overcome the rash of preseason injuries and gel together to become a cohesive unit? The weapons around Donovan McNabb are scary good, with defenses being forced to deal with a slew of speedy backs and wideouts. Defensively, with the loss of Jim Johnson, Brian Dawkins and Stewart Bradley, the Eagles appear without leaders but still have talent and depth all across the board. The linebackers appear to be the only weakness on the team but there is enough talent at the surrounding positions to mask it. This Eagles team has the right combination of elite players, depth and a few wildcard players that they should be amongst the best teams in the league. How far they end up going will once again rest on the shoulders of #5.

Here is my week by week projection of how I think the Eagles season will play out.

Week 1: @ Panthers: W (1-0)
-This game could be a cakewalk or a battle depending on which Jake Delhomme shows up. If Delhomme's performance in the playoffs last season means he is washed up, expect the Birds to roll. Otherwise, don't forget how good the Panthers were in the regular season last year. I still like the Eagles either way.

Week 2: Saints: L (1-1)
-They are going to lose one of these early games and this one looks the most likely. This game will be a major test for the Eagles defense; if they slow down the Saints attack, they will be truly elite. Unfortunately, I expect a shootout here between McNabb and Drew Brees with the Saints winning the game on a late touchdown.
Week 3: Chiefs: W (2-1)
-I don't see anything the Chiefs have that should scare the Eagles. If this game was played in Arrowhead, I might think it would be close. Too bad it's in Philly; the Birds will roll.

Week 4: BYE

Week 5: Bucs: W (3-1)
-By Week 5, we'll have a better idea of just who the Bucs are. With a new coach and plenty of turnover, it's hard to tell if Tampa Bay has much of a team. At this point, I don't see how the Bucs are going to score any points against the Eagles.

Week 6: @ Raiders: W (4-1)
-I really don't feel like I have to justify my pick here. Next.

Week 7: @ Redskins: L (4-2)
-The 'Skins always play the Eagles tough so I think the two teams will split this year with each team winning at home.

Week 8: Giants: W (5-2)
-Same as against the Redskins, the Giants and Eagles will split this year with each team winning at home. Without any wideout threats on offense, the Giants aren't quite as good as the last few seasons but they still have the best line play, both offensive and defensive, in the league.

Week 9: Cowboys: W (6-2)
-This game ends a rough three week stretch where the Eagles have to play all of their division rivals. Unlike the other two teams, however, I see the Cowboys as not even close to being in the Eagles class. Therefore, the Eagles will take both against the Cowboys this year, starting with this one in Philly.

Week 10: @ Chargers: L (6-3)
-Just because the Eagles are done with the divisional opponents doesn't mean the schedule gets any easier. The Chargers are easily the class of the AFC West so I see them as the one team from the West that will actually beat the Birds.

Week 11: @ Bears: W (7-3)
-The Bears seem to always play the Eagles tough, regardless of who their quarterback is. Now that they have a legitimate one to go with their strong defense, they should be a top team in the NFC. Fortunately, so are the Eagles.

Week 12: Redskins: W (8-3)
-The Eagles finish the split by knocking off the Redskins at home. Expect it to be low-scoring.

Week 13: @ Falcons: W (9-3)
-The Falcons of 2009 aren't going to be the same as the Falcons from 2008. I think Atlanta takes a step back this season and wins 8 games so I don't see them threatening the Eagles here.

Week 14: @ Giants: L (9-4)
-The Giants beat the Eagles in the Meadowlands to complete the season split.
Week 15: Niners: W (10-4)
-I like the Niners as a surprise team this year, they could win 9 games if everything goes right. They could be playing for a chance at winning their division, but I still don't think the Niners have what it takes to slow the Eagles offense down.

Week 16: Broncos: W (11-4)
-Denver could be a total trainwreck at this point of the season so this could be a cakewalk for the Birds. No matter what, the Eagles aren't losing this one at home, no matter how many crazy plays Brian Dawkins makes in his return.

Week 17: @ Cowboys: W (12-4)
-The Eagles always beat the Cowboys at the end of the regular season. Unless the scoreboard falls on Donovan McNabb, this one is a W.

So, there you have it. Your Eagles will finish 12-4 and win the NFC East. From there, as we all saw last season, the playoffs are a whole new game where anyone can win. I see the Eagles getting to at least the NFC Championship Game (again) but I'm not sure if they can get over the hump and back into the Super Bowl.

Those are my picks for the Eagles this season. If you agree or disagree or have picks of your own, feel free to leave comments! Enjoy the first weekend of football!


Liam said...

I see a 11-5 season or a 10-6 season, unless our D steps it up, and our O-line can hold someone.

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