IT'S FINALLY here. Monday night, our beloved Eagles play a football game that counts. Though at times it felt as if it would never come, the Chip Kelly era officially begins with a trip to DC to face Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. How will we do this season? Can we contend? Can we actually make the playoffs? There's no way we can get to the Super Bowl, is there? The answers are: not too bad, maybe, probably not and "ain't happening, captain!"
Let me explain by doing something no expert analyst would ever be caught doing - predicting how the Birds' season will unfold, game by game. Before I do so, let me remind you that I do not claim to be an expert, just an avid fan who has had the benefit of listening to Ray Didinger after every game for 15 years. I also realize that by doing so I open myself up to derision, scorn and mocking, but, heck, I've been in politics for 34 years, so I'm used to all that and more.
So here goes! By the way, I'm not accounting for injuries. If RGIII goes down before we play the 'Skins at Lincoln Financial Field, it obviously would change my pick, but I can't know that, so all picks are made based on Opening Day rosters.
* Week 1 - Birds pull the upset and beat the 'Skins, 31-21. Our offense rolls, Michael Vick plays as if it's 2010 and RGIII, coming off a knee injury from last season, is understandably rusty.
* Week 2 - Philip Rivers ruins our home opener by feasting on our secondary and confused outside linebackers. Chargers, 38-27.
* Week 3 - Ah, Andy Reid's much anticipated return to Philly with an overhauled Kansas City team, led by his prized free-agent acquisition, quarterback Alex Smith. Vick outplays Smith and Chip outcoaches Andy. Eagles, 34-19.
* Week 4 - Tough game at Denver. Peyton Manning looks at our secondary and thinks he has died and gone to heaven. Broncos, 45-24.
* Week 5 - No Miracle at the Meadowlands this year. Giants' defense will be the toughest we have faced so far and QB Eli Manning does just enough to win. 24-20, Giants.
* Week 6 - at Tampa Bay. Vick's success has Bucs gearing up to stop the pass and Shady McCoy explodes for 200-plus yards and three TDs. Birds even their record at 3-3 with a 28-20 win.
* Week 7 - we play our best all-around game of the year against the hated Cowboys at the Linc. Our 'D' stifles QB Tony Romo, and the offense rolls. Birds win, 34-14.
* Week 8 - We get the Giants at home but lose to them again, as a late bomb to Victor Cruz burns us, and the G-Men win 28-27.
* Week 9 - We go to Oakland and face an offense that even the Birds' porous 'D' can trip up. Birds win in a 35-13 romp.
* Week 10 - Different story. We go to the legendary Lambeau Field and though our offense plays great and DeSean Jackson looks as if he's all-world, QB Aaron Rodgers makes it look as if he's playing "Madden Football" and we fall to the Packers, 44-34.
* Week 11 - The Redskins come to the Linc with RGIII hitting on all cylinders. Linebacker Brian Orakpo, et al., reek havoc in the backfield, and the 'Skins get their revenge as the we go down, 30-23.
* Week 12 - Bye week. We stand at 5-6 and need to win four of our last five to have a shot at the playoffs.
* Week 13 - Arizona at home. No contest. Larry Fitzgerald wishes he could play in Chip Kelly's offense. He doesn't, but we have enough weapons without him to win easily, 28-17.
* Week 14 - We go 7-6 and put the city in a frenzy by outscoring "Megatron" and the Lions at home 31-27. Tight end Zach Ertz has a breakout game.
* Week 15 - The frenzy is short lived as Adrian Peterson runs amok in Minnesota, racking up fantasy points galore and keeping our offense off the field. Vikings win, 27-17.
* Week 16 - Da Bears come to Philly and their 'D' puts an abrupt end to our playoff dreams as we lose, 20-16.
* Week 17 - We go to Big D and with both teams out of the playoff picture, it's a loosey-goosey affair with the Cowboys prevailing, 35-31.
So when it's all said and done, the Birds end up 7-9. Not too bad for Chip's first year. We will score a lot, and be as exciting to watch as any team in the NFL. I hope that I'm wrong, and that Chip's uptempo offense is enough to defy all of the experts and squeak into the playoffs. But either way, Eagles football is back at last!