Oddsmakers have the Eagles’ over/under posted at 10 wins in 2019, behind only the Saints and Rams in the NFC. Seems legit. But you’re smarter than Vegas, right?
Here’s a better way to predict the Birds’ victory total. For each of these 16 questions, mark a “yes” answer as an Eagles victory, a “no” as a loss:
1. Let’s start with the obvious. With Nick Foles departed, Carson Wentz mustn’t end up resembling that guy from the board game “Operation.” I think we agree if Wentz stays healthy, he’ll return to greatness. So I’ll predict this season Wentz plays into January. You with me?
2. Speaking of health, Doug Pederson vouched last week that the walking-wounded defensive players we barely saw through training camp will be ready for Sunday’s opener. This includes Fletcher Cox, Nigel Bradham, Derek Barnett, Ronald Darby, and Rodney McLeod. Do you trust the coach’s veracity on this one?
3. The Eagles have the second-oldest roster in the NFL (behind the Patriots). But that’s okay because 37-year-old future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters has one more solid season left in him, doesn’t he?
4. Will the Eagles go 4-2 (minimum) in the NFC East against the mercurial Cowboys, the dysfunctional Redskins, and the pathetic Giants?
5. Much as defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz discounts linebackers, it still helps to have capable LBs on the field. One is newcomer Zach Brown. Two is Bradham if he’s healthy. Three has to come from Nate Gerry, T.J. Edward or L.J. Fort. Does that sound like a winning unit?
6. You’re still a full-fledged believer in the awesomeness of Pederson and GM Howie Roseman, right?
7. Scoring dipped nearly five points per game last year after the departure of offensive coordinator Frank Reich. His replacement, Mike Groh, took a lot of the heat for that regression. With new weapons and a season under his belt, will Groh, uh, grow into the job?
8. Beyond Old Man Peters, the offensive line boasts Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo; with the rookie, Andre Dillardready to step in. That’s a damned good unit, isn’t it?
9. Led by Zach Ertz’s record-breaking performance, Eagles tight ends combined for 155 catches and 12 TDs last season. Can Ertz and second-year Dallas Goedert combine to hit that lofty number again?
10. Are you feeling confident in kicker Jake Elliott now?
11. Last season’s leading rusher — Josh Adams — is now on the Jets practice squad, which tells you how 2019 went. The new RB committee comprises free agent Jordan Howard, rookie Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles. Will this trio evoke memories of the old “three-headed monster” crew of Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, and Correll Buckhalter?
12. Competing for time at cornerback are Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas. That’s a lot of names — but are they any good?
13. The NFL Network recently ranked Fletcher Cox its 28th-best player, to which Cox responded, “You’re not going to tell me there’s 27 people in the league better than me.” He’s correct, of course, isn’t he?
14. Is this the season DE Derek Barnett validates his first-rounder status with double-digit sacks?
15. Have you recovered enough from Alshon Jeffrey’s playoff drop to have faith that he, Nelson Agholor, and prodigal son DeSean Jackson give Wentz a versatile, dangerous crew of receivers?
16. There are murmurs from loudmouth critics that team leader and three-time Pro Bowler Malcolm Jenkins has lost a step. I say that’s blasphemy. Are you with me?
Okay, pencils down. What’s your count? I’ve got “no” on 2, 5, 7, 10 and 14. That means I’m predicting 11 wins — above the Vegas line, and enough to win the division. Maybe even enough to get back to the Super Bowl.