Here is our weekly staff predictions and key matchups, and let's make this an open score thread this season, so leave your predictions in the comments section:
Les Bowen: If the Eagles can protect Michael Vick, with an offensive line that ought to be wearing nametags, in a loud dome, they will win. Probably pretty handily. Everybody out there who has 100 percent confidence in that happening, raise your hand.
Don't know much about the Rams other than that Sam Bradford is probably going to be really good, Steve Spagnuolo gave the Eagles a lot of trouble when he was with the Giants, and the Birds really should've just taken the cap hit and gotten rid of Reggie Brown instead of gifting the Rams with Danny Amendola a few years back. Oh, and Todd Herremans is going to have to block Chris Long in Herremans' first start at right tackle. Hope Brent Celek didn't have plans for the afternoon that involved running lotsa pass routes.
I'm assuming that even if the Rams are going to win the NFC West, as some people predict, they aren't ready to shock the world right out of the gate. And I'm assuming that the Eagles are less of a mess than they very well might actually turn out to be entering this season.
Eagles 28, Rams 27.
Vegas Vic: Double V does not normally put too much stock in the preseason, but with a 4-0 mark, St. Louis did open my eyes very wide. The Rams also opened a bunch of eyes around the NFL in Steve Spagnuolo's second year, improving from 1-15 to 7-9. Guess those 8 years looking over Jim Johnson's shoulder really helped. St. Loo made a dramatic improvement on the home front after eating an 0-8 bagel in 2009, to a solid 5-3 mark in 2010. On the spread charts, the Rams improved from 7-9 to 10-6. And it all started with super rookie Sam Bradford, who set the first-year record for completions (354), attempts (590) and passing yards (3,512). Michael Vick and the "Dream Team" have some work to do, especially on the offensive line, but should squeeze out a win against St. Louis. Eagles, 22-20.
Paul Domowitch: Eagles, 24-23
Ed Barkowitz: Eagles, 31-17
Bill Conlin: Eagles, 27-17
Marcus Hayes: Eagles, 23-20
John Smallwood: Eagles, 27-13
KEY MATCHUPS FROM PAUL DOMOWITCH
1. Eagles MLB Clay Matthews vs. Rams RB Steven Jackson: Matthews, an undersized rookie, will have his work cut out for him trying to stop Jackson and the run game. Advantage: Rams
2. Eagles CB Asante Samuel vs. Rams QB Sam Bradford: Rams don't have a lot of outside speed, so Samuel, the game's best ballhawk, will be looking to get the jump on the second-year quarterback and add to his interception total. Advantage: Eagles
3. Eagles RT Todd Herremans vs. Rams LDE Chris Long: Herremans is just 2 weeks into the switch from LG to RT and has to face one of the game's better young pass rushers, in the noisy Edward Jones Dome. Advantage: Even
BE HEARD ON THE BIRDS
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