Some people say five wins. Some think it could be as many as eight. An Australian sports blog that monitors the NFL even predicted a 9-7, win-the-division scenario for the Eagles, a default position that may rely a little too heavily on scheduling, Jim Schwartz and Doug Pederson’s ability to do with Zach Ertz what he did with Travis Kelce in Kansas City.
Me? I can get you to eight, but it won’t be easy. It requires as many bad things to happen to the other guys as it does good things to happen for the Birds.
Dark clouds for them. Silver linings for you.
Lining No. 1: Dez Bryant has already suffered a potentially season-affecting injury.
While Bryant has assured Cowboys fans he will be fine after suffering a concussion Monday, he is not expected to play in a game again until the Sept. 11 opener against the Giants. And as anyone in these parts can tell you, those concussions tend to hang around and affect play and even recur, particularly as this one has occurred before the season even has started.
By all accounts, Bryant was having a good camp and seemed fully recovered from the knee and ankle injuries incurred last season. He will turn 28 this November.
Any version of Bryant that is less than his old self puts added pressure on quarterback Tony Romo, who gets hit enough as it is, even with one of the league’s best offensive lines, and Alfred Morris now in his backfield. The Cowboys also have Ezekiel Elliott, the explosive Ohio State runner. Still, Romo is 36, and not exactly Tom Brady in terms of durability.
Lining No. 2: The Redskins were a playoff team last year. This means, of course, that they get the toughest schedule in the division. And unless you believe that Kirk Cousins has not peaked or that DeSean Jackson improves with age, there is a great likelihood Washington will come back to the pack. Remember, their 9-7 had much to do with the Cowboys epidemic of injuries and the significant ones here that greased the departure of Chip Kelly. And Morris is a Cowboy now.
Lining No. 3: With former offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in his first season as head coach, the Giants have looked woefully inept in the preseason.
Yes, yes, so have the Eagles. But it can be argued that New York is in greater need of its offense performing at high efficiency. The Giants spent almost $200 million to improve their defense over the offseason with the free-agent additions of Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins. But as any Eagles fan will tell you, that often doesn’t do the trick.
The Giants didn’t do much with their offense, particularly their offensive line, banking instead that the return of Victor Cruz, after two major leg injuries, would provide a lethal one-two punch with Odell Beckham. But Cruz has been hampered and limited by a balky groin during training camp, and those injuries can be as recurring or problematic as concussions are.
Not so worried about Jordan Matthews’ knee or Carson Wentz’s rib now, are we?
Just goes to show you: For every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud somewhere.