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My Flippity-Floppity Eagles Season Prediction

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Where I try the positivity thing.

Al Bello

I went into training camp thinking the Eagles would take a step back, with regression and injuries being the main culprits. I had 8-8 pegged as this team's 2014 destiny. After the preseason, I'm rethinking my natural inclination towards pessimism and negativity. The first two games had me feeling my 8-8 premonition was pretty on target. Then I saw the Eagles, in the third preseason game, the most "real" game of them all with the starters getting extended time, obliterate the Steelers. Whether the Steelers go on to have a poor season isn't so much of a concern of mine. I just liked the way the Eagles looked on both sides of the ball. The offense was in sync and moving, while the defense was fast, swarming and physical. I had this... hmmm... weirdly confident feeling about the defense.

I hadn't experienced this phenomenon in a while. It's like I could see and understand how things were starting to come together. I'm excited to see what kind of step the defense takes this season. I expect them be hovering around the 15-20 range in the NFL in yards allowed per play and the top half in turnovers forced, which is fine with me since the offense should still be in the top 5-10. I'm still worried about the pass rush, as it's going to have to be pressure by committee and Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry must finally step up in their last chances as Eagles. As Jimmy Kempski noted recently, Mychal Kendricks is a nice dark horse candidate to lead the team in sacks.

All the good vibes from the Steelers game extended over to the finale against the Jets, which didn't matter, but I was there in person and liked watching it so I'm going to choose to believe it might matter even a little bit. The Eagles reserves easily put up nearly 600 yards of total offense, essentially evenly distributed between passing and rushing. It was a well-oiled machine that mercilessly sliced and diced its opponent. Resistance was minimal, resistance was futile. This team's depth is so much better than last season, by a wide margin.

I'm not going to do a super detailed examination of the roster because we've had plenty of that already and you know how I feel about certain players. I'm also not going to indulge in too much rah-rah shit, I just very much believe in what Chip Kelly is doing and the kind of culture he's cultivating. I got to see his vision at work first-hand every day for a year and respect the science, process and meticulousness by which he ascribes. Given what Kelly's training and recovery methods do for players, and what the veterans said last season, you have to be a fucking moron not to do whatever the hell he demands of you. I firmly believe in him as the head coach who can lead this franchise to its first Super Bowl championship. I just don't think it'll be this season. But that's okay, we're getting there.

To make a long story short, I'm bumping the Eagles up at least one win from my original prediction and will give them two after doing another run through the schedule. Give me 10-6 and NFC East champs. I'll still pick the Giants to finish second at 8-8, and I would really prefer for the last game of the season in the Meadowlands not to matter or be a default championship game of any kind.

Honestly, it's not even worth making player predictions because I always do all the number projections then go back and add them all up to make sure the math is correct and it never is and that is annoying. I guess, however, given my more ambivalent attitude towards Nick Foles overall, I should at least show what I have in mind for him:

14 games played (yes, that's right, two Mark Sanchez starts -- due to an injury!)

260/420 passing attempts (61.9% completion)

3,370 yards passing (8.0 yards per attempt)

27 touchdowns

14 interceptions

94.6 rating

That's a damn good season, and yet I feel like it would disappoint the majority of fans who were so spoiled by Foles in 2013 and expect a season-long performance of that ilk once again. Holding onto the ball too long has to come back to bite him, turnovers are going to go up, and I have a feeling we'll see a handful of ugly multi-interception games.

*Edit/Update: In light of Anders in the comments pointing out that the Eagles had 508 passing attempts last season, I should probably do some amending. Now, 420 pass attempts averages out to 30 per game for 14 games, which seems reasonable and is why I went with the number, but I can't see the Eagles' pass attempts lowering significantly -- even though I expect there to be more rushing plays than last season (with a healthy number of carries for both Chris Polk and Darren Sproles; think about 10 per game between the two) -- since we'd all imagine that, in Year Two of Chip, the offense will be expected to run even more plays than last season. I'll tack on another 30 pass attempts and adjust the other stats accordingly.

275/450 pass attempts (61.1% completion)

3,620 yards passing (8.0 yards per attempt)

28 touchdowns

14 interceptions

94.3 rating

Anywho, happy game day, go Birds, everyone have a great time and let's get 2014 off to a good start by taking care of business against the Jaguars.