THERE HAVE BEEN years in the past when I've picked the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl based on logical deduction. I can't do that with this team.
Considering the havoc injuries have wreaked, I'm not sure why I believe this is a year the Birds will get back to the Bowl.
I'm not sure whether having no faith in anybody else in the NFC is a good enough reason to pick the Eagles, but for now, I'll roll with it.
Once again, the schedule will play a large part in how the Eagles position themselves. This one is manageable, with a few spots for the Eagles to string together some wins.
Early games with Kansas City and Oakland plus late games with San Francisco and Denver make for a quick start and strong finish.
Even three straight NFC East games break down well for the Eagles, with the Giants and Cowboys visiting Lincoln Financial Field the first 2 weeks of November.
My normal warning about not betting any important money on these picks applies, but I see 11-5 and an NFC East crown for the Eagles.
Game 1: Eagles at Carolina, 1 p.m., Fox
Our take: The Eagles have been notoriously slow starters under Andy Reid, and the rash of preseason injuries, particularly on the offensive line, has hampered continuity. A road opener against a good team does not bode well. The Birds will do better in the playoff rematch.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Eagles 23.
Game 2: New Orleans at Eagles,
1 p.m., Fox
Our take: Not an easy home opener. The Saints are one of those teams that could be all over the place. The four-game suspensions of ends Will Smith and Charles Grant should slow an improved defense. Quarterback Drew Brees can put up numbers.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Saints 21.
Game 3: Kansas City at Eagles, 1 p.m., CBS
Our take: This is a bad team, even with the addition of high-priced quarterback Matt Cassel. A knee injury might keep him out of early games. Rookie coach Todd Haley already has fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Chiefs 10.
Game 4: Tampa Bay at Eagles,
1 p.m., Fox
Our take: Lots of questions, starting with rookie coach Raheem Morris naming journeyman Byron Leftwich the starting quarterback. The defense will have a new look without venerable coordinator Monte Kiffin. Not enough offense. Too little defense
Prediction: Eagles 23, Bucs 14.
Game 5: Eagles at Oakland,
4:05 p.m., Fox
Our take: As long as Andy Reid doesn't challenge rookie coach Tom Cable to a fight, things should be fine. The Raiders have completed their fall from storied franchise to joke. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell is on the hot seat.
Prediction: Eagles 33, Raiders 10.
Game 6: Eagles at Washington, 8:30 p.m. (Monday), ESPN, ABC
Our take: The first foray into the NFC East has the Eagles looking for revenge against a team that swept them last season. The Redskins made a big splash signing defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth. Quarterback Jason Campbell is still a question mark.
Prediction: Eagles 17, Redskins 14.
Game 7: New York Giants at
Eagles, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Our take: New York has something to prove and will want to make an early statement. Like everyone else in the NFC, they have issues. The wide-receiving corps is looking for a player. The defensive line will carry things for a while.
Prediction: Giants 21, Eagles 17.
Game 8: Cowboys at Eagles,
8:20 p.m. (Sunday), NBC
Our take: The Cowboys are not as bad as the team last seen kicking up all four legs against the Eagles. The pressure is on quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Roy Williams to replace Terrell Owens. Dallas will be in the mix late.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Cowboys 21.
Game 9: Eagles at San Diego, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Our take: Tough West Coast trip against a good team at a bad time for the Eagles. Playing the Chargers on the road after three straight NFC East games is a lot to ask, probably too much. Flat, flat, flat.
Prediction: Chargers 31, Eagles 14.
Game 10: Eagles at Chicago,
8:20 p.m. (Sunday), NBC
Our take: If the Bears had quality receivers, they would be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The defense is solid, and Jay Cutler is a significant upgrade at quarterback. The Eagles get the short yardage this time.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Bears 17.
Game 11: Washington at Eagles,
1 p.m., Fox
Our take: By this time, the Redskins will be entering desperation mode. If Jason Campbell is still the quarterback, it'll be by a razor's edge. Coach Jim Zorn will be trying to hang on to his job. The Eagles will be like vultures.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Redskins 14.
Game 12: Eagles at Atlanta, 1 p.m., Fox
Our take: If Matt Ryan is as good as he was as a rookie, the Falcons could be something special. Fortunately, the Michael Vick controversy will have likely died out by the time he returns to Atlanta. The game will be about football, and the Falcons will be fighting for a playoff spot.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Eagles 21.
Game 13: Eagles at New York
Giants, 8:20 p.m. (Sunday), NBC
Our take: I think the NFC East is about to be decided. Somebody will suffer a crushing defeat. The Eagles should have worked out all the kinks and be kicking into gear. The Birds aren't intimidated by the Meadowlands.
Prediction: Eagles 17, Giants 13.
Game 14: San Francisco at
Eagles, 1 p.m., Fox
Our take: If San Francisco were a decent team, this could be a trap game. The 49ers quarterback situation prevents them from being a good team. Expect the Eagles to be a little sloppy, but not sloppy enough to lose.
Prediction: Eagles 23, 49ers 14.
Game 15: Denver at
Eagles, 1 p.m., CBS
Our take: Fortunately, the Eagles will have the NFC East wrapped up by the time Brian Dawkins makes his emotional return to the Linc. Expect B-Dawk to receive a lot of love until he makes his first play. Oh, quarterback Kyle Orton can't play.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Broncos 17.
Game 16: Eagles at
Dallas, 1 p.m., Fox
Our take: The Cowboys won't repeat their high-stakes collapse of last season. A playoff spot will be on the line for the 'Boys, and this time the game will be at Dallas. The Eagles already will have solidified a playoff spot. Jerry Jones' billion-dollar mega-stadium hosts its first significant victory.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Eagles 17.
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