Consider this post as an excuse to say a bunch of outlandish stuff, hope that some of it sticks to the wall, and when it doesn’t, be able to shrug my shoulders in dismissal. That’s the beauty of “bold” predictions.
The very fact they’re bold means they probably won’t happen. But if they do, then I look like a genius.
Every year I do a column like this before the Phillies season for our sister SB Nation blog The Good Phight, and generally speaking, I get maybe one somewhat in the neighborhood. The other nine are generally laughable. Still, it’s the pursuit of a perfect 10-for-10 that keeps me going every year. And now, I’d like to take a crack at it with the Birds.
BLG and I did a few of these on Episode 63 of BGN Radio, and Brandon’s are money as well, so make sure you give that ep. a listen. Here are all of my bold predictions, 10 of them, for the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles.
Carson Wentz leads the NFL in TD passes
While Wentz is not Vegas’ favorite to win the MVP award this year (Patrick Mahomes is at +600), Carson, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers are right behind him at +900. Given those numbers, it’s not a bold prediction to claim Wentz will win MVP, so I won’t do that here. However, given the talented offenses and quarterbacks around the league, it is rather bold to claim Wentz will throw more touchdowns than any other signal-caller in the NFL. FantasyPros has set Wentz’ TD total at 29.3, which seems very low to me, and I think Wentz will throw 35-40 TDs this season.
Nate Sudfeld will not start a game of consequence
That is another way of saying Carson Wentz is not going to miss a game this year. Look, Wentz played all 16 games of his rookie season and played the first 13 at an MVP level before a bad luck injury torpedoed everything. Then, last year, he was still recovering from that initial knee injury and missed the first couple games and then later went out with a back injury that may or may not have had something to do with the knee issues (we don’t know because that back injury is still shrouded in secrecy). Either way, Wentz is not a fragile piece of dry spaghetti. He’s simply been unlucky, and this year, his luck will turn around.
Derek Barnett earns a Pro Bowl selection
It is not lost on me that Brandon Graham has never made a Pro Bowl, but this year, I think Barnett beats him to the punch. The former first round pick looked good before he got hurt last year, and I think this is going to be his breakout season. Look for 10 sacks and a Pro Bowl berth for Barnett in 2019.
Andre Dillard makes at least 4 starts
Jason Peters played every game last season. This much is true. But he didn’t finish most of those games and now, at age 37, how likely is it he makes it through the season unscathed? Therefore, Peters is likely to miss some starts. So, who takes his place? There’s a possibility it’s Big V, but what if the team trades him this summer or early in the season? Or, what if Brandon Brooks suffers a setback and the Eagles need Vaitai at right guard? And what if Dillard looks to be well ahead of the game and prepared in training camp? Any or all of these things could happen, which is why Dillard could see some significant action this year.
The Eagles go undefeated in the NFC East
We’re all assuming the Eagles are going to de-pants Washington and New York twice a piece this season, right? The real key here is Dallas. The Cowboys’ defense had the Eagles’ number last year, but this is a different, more dynamic offense. The Eagles will also be looking for some measure of revenge, and if the Cowboys don’t get their contract situations straightened out, it could be a weird season for them. This is more of a hopeful bold prediction, because I know how hard it is for an NFC East team to sweep the division, but I say it happens this year.
Josh Sweat records at least 6 sacks
I’m being a little overly optimistic about the production that is to come from the Eagles’ edge rushers, but the fact the team will hopefully generate more push inside leads me to believe their defensive ends could benefit with some easier sacks. And as the team’s likely DE4, the Eagles’ former fourth-round pick could be a below-the-radar guy to pile up some cheapies.
Jake Elliot is perfect in extra points
Elliot earned a reputation in his rookie season for missing extra points after he missed three during the regular season and another in the Super Bowl. Last year, however, he missed just two and, if you do the progression correctly, that means he won’t miss a single one in 2019! Elliot is an underrated member of this team, clutch in the big moments, but I say he has a perfect season doing the little things this year, too.
Nelson Agholor AND LJ Fort are traded
On Episode 63 of BGN Radio, BLG spelled out the reasons why both of these guys could be traded and, while it’s not bold to predict one of them will, it is a bit of a stretch to think both will go. That said, there are financial and on-field reasons to move both.
Agholor is on the final year of his rookie deal and he wants to have a solid year in order to score big on his next deal. He’d likely be motivated to agree to a deal, especially as WR3 on a team that wants to play more 12 personnel. Not only that, he’s expensive and trading him would get that money off the Eagles’ books. As for Fort, even though the Eagles targeted him early in free agency, trading him would give the Eagles a projected 4th-round compensatory draft pick back (plus whatever draft pick the receiving team would give Roseman in the deal), and would save them over $1.11 million in cap space, too. It would also free up a roster spot at a position where the Eagles have a lot of depth and Jim Schwartz generally only plays one or two linebackers at a time anyway.
The Eagles will be a top five rushing team
Did you realize that, in 2017, the Eagles finished 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards (2,115), trailing only the Jaguars and Cowboys? They didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, but Jay Ajayi, LeGarrett Blount and Corey Clement were extremely effective runners, and Carson Wentz added a few yards here and there running for the occasional first down, too. Last year, with a motley crew standing behind Wentz/Foles, the Eagles were 28th in rushing (1,570 yards). Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and some combination of Clement/Boston Scott/Wendell Smallwood will certainly be a better combination than last year, and should make this team a top-five rushing unit with a healthy and mobile Wentz once again.
The Eagles will beat the Patriots TWICE in 2019
I mean, if you want bold, it doesn’t get any bolder than this.
Yes, the Eagles will beat the Patriots when New England comes to Philadelphia in Week 11. Philadelphia will be coming off its bye week and, while the Patriots will certainly want some revenge for their Super Bowl 52 loss, the Eagles will win that home game.
Not only that, the Eagles will win the NFC East and finish as one of the top two seeds in the conference. They will advance to the Super Bowl in Miami where they will once again play the Patriots. And yes, they will beat the Patriots again.
My brain just broke writing that, so perhaps it’s best we end there.