Last season the Eagles triumphed in the NFC East winning the division before exiting the playoffs in the wildcard round with the narrowest of defeats to the New Orleans Saints.
Can they make the playoffs again and go even deeper in 2014?
Key Man: Darren Sproles
Is there a player more suited for the Chip Kelly spread offense then Darren Sproles? It is hard to imagine that such a player exists. Sproles' ability to make receptions from
running back makes him tricky to scheme for at the best of times.
Put him in the Eagles offense and this will become exponentially more difficult as Chip Kelly will no doubt find all sorts of inventive ways to utilize the ex-Saint.
It is likely that Sproles' stats won't be amazing. They will be solid. He probably won't rush for more than 500 yards and he probably won't receive for more than 800 yards. What Sproles will do though is open up spaces on defense for star running back LeSean McCoy as he makes it impossible for teams to focus their attention on Shady.
With Sproules distracting defenses expect to see McCoy have a massive year.
Biggest Strength: Offensive Line
So many teams in the NFL have question marks over the offensive line but the Eagles aren't one of them. The five man unit that Pro Football Focus ranked as the best offensive line in 2013 will be back for the 2014 season.
Center Jason Kelce is one of the best in his position. Left tackle Jason Peters is coming off a dominant 2013 where he only allowed four sacks all season. Left Guard Evan Mathis was, as he has been in the last three seasons, consistently fantastic. Todd Herremans is a solid if unspectacular. Whilst last year's weakest line member was rookie right tackle Lane Johnson, he should improve in his second season.
Already in preseason the Eagles offensive line has been machine-like in its efficiency and there is no reason to think this won't continue into the regular season. It may not be glamorous but the offensive line is the Eagle's biggest strength. It is what will set them apart from the competition this season.
Biggest Weaknesses: Pass rush
The Eagles pass rush wasn't great last season and it doesn't look like much has been done to change it this season. First round draft pick Marcus Smith needs time to develop and will likely play little in his rookie year whilst little else seems to have changed.
Perhaps though, this is understandable. The Eagles are in the second year of the transition from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 base defense and many of the linebackers on the roster aren't ideally suited to the system.
Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans is a case in point. Ryans played more snaps than any Eagles linebacker last season. He is a strong run stuffer and a good fit for a 4-3 system but in the Eagles new 3-4 defense he just doesn't bring enough pressure in the pass rush.
By this time next season the situation should have improved but at the moment the
Eagles pass rush looks to be fairly blunt.
The Eagles are going to win the NFC East comfortably. Match ups against the Seahawks, 49ers and Packers are the only ones on the list that the Eagles aren't going to be strong favourites for. To be conservative I have put them down as losing those matches on weeks 4, 11 and 14 respectively. Even if this happens though the Eagles will still notch up enough wins to win the NFC East at a canter for the second year in a row.
Prediction : 13-3
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