This Eagles season, more than many in recent history, is chock full of questions. So many, in fact, that I decided to do my entire Eagles preview in question format. I could make a slew of blanket claims, hoping I got some of them right, guys don’t get injured, etc. Instead, I’m going to focus on the aspects of this team that are huge question marks. I’ll put the answer that would benefit the Eagles, but not necessarily my opinion, after the question. At the end, I’ll give my prediction based upon how many questions I think the Eagles will answer to their benefit. Everybody have their number two pencils ready? And…go!
1. Will Donovan McNabb stay healthy? (Huge Yes)
2. Will Brian Westbrook continue to be one of the best best weapons in football – for 16 games? (The Biggest Yes)
3. Can Tony Hunt become a reliable fullback? (Yes)
4. Will Lorenzo Booker and Correll Buckhalter be able to spell Westbrook? (Yes)
5. Will the receiving corps hold water until Kevin Curtis comes back? (Yes)
6. Will they drop too many passes again this year? (No)
7. Will DeSean Jackson be a big-play threat? (Yes)
8. Will L.J. Smith reestablish himself as a quality TE? (Yes)
9. Will the offensive line stay healthy? (Yes)
10. Will the offensive line protect McNabb? (Yes)
11. Will our offense be more productive in the red zone? (Yes)
12. Will Andy Reid commit more to the running game? (Yes)
13. Will the DT’s get a surge up the middle, stuffing the opposing team’s running game? (Yes)
14. Will one of the DE’s other then Trent Cole become a consistent pass rusher? (Yes)
15. Will we get a bit more production from Darren Howard? (Yes)
16. Will the young linebacking corps swarm to the ball, wreaking havoc on the opposing team’s running game? (Yes)
17. Will the young linebacking corps make too many mental mistakes? (No)
18. Will the three corner circus be effective? (Yes)
19. Will Asante Samuel live up to his huge contract? (Yes)
20. Will The Agent Fatale turn Lito Sheppard into a media whore, convincing him to go by an alternate moniker such as LS or Lito Dos Seis? (Nooooooooooooooooooooooo)
21. Is Brian Dawkins past his prime? (No)
22. Will Quentin Mikell be a liability? (No)
23. Will Jim Johnson draw up a wild array of blitz schemes that work? (Yes)
24. Will David Akers return to form? (Yes)
25. Can DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps consistently be dangerous return men? (Yes)
Quick note: A couple of these are huge, much more drastic than the others – namely, number 1 and 2. If McNabb or Westbrook get hurt, they won’t make the playoffs. So, the following scores are assuming that McNabb and Westbrook will stay healthy.
If the answers to 23-25 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they represent the NFC in the Superbowl.
If the answers to 20-22 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they win the NFC East
If the answers to 15-19 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they make the wildcard.
Any less and they miss the playoffs.
The Pundit’s Take: I have the Eagles positively answering 18 of these questions, putting them solidly in the wildcard. Questions I think they fail on: 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 14, 17. Again, if either McNabb or Westbrook gets hurt, all bets are off. And now, your full NFL season prediction.
NFC Playoff Teams
1. Dallas (Wins NFC East, and yes, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate writing this)
2. Green Bay (Wins NFC North)
3. New Orleans (Wins NFC South)
4. Seattle (Wins NFC West)
(Eagles beat Seahawks in first wildcard, and Minnesota beats New Orleans in a wild weekend. Dallas beats Minnesota, and the Eagles shock the Packers, at Lambeau, behind a classic performance from Mr. McNabb. And then, in the most tragic moment in Eagles history, the Cowboys beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, causing the city of Philadelphia to be the first area ever in American History to be put into a “State of Depression.” Nobody shows up to work for a week, mass looting ensues, and broken beer bottles littered on the street make it impossible to drive anywhere. God, I really, really hope that I’m wrong.)
AFC Playoff Teams
1. New England (AFC East champions, losing three in the regular season)
2. San Diego (AFC West champions)
3. Jacksonville (AFC South Champions)
4. Pittsburgh (AFC North Champions)
(Jacksonville crushes the Browns, and the Colts beat the Steelers in a competitive game. Jacksonville’s defense and running game are just enough to propel them past the now Merriman-less Chargers, and the Colts squeak by the Patriots in another classic between the two, this one ending in overtime. Jacksonville relishes its opportunity to play at home, exorcising their Colts demons and winning to go to the Superbowl)
Superbowl prediction: Every year, I want to put the Eagles here. I really, really do. And every year, I pray the Cowboys don’t make it here. But this year, they will. And I think that they will beat the Jaguars. (Editor’s note: Feel free to find The Pundit and to kick the shit out of him). I’m sorry, I feel like a traitor, but I think Adam Jones is going to be a clutch addition, I think Tony Romo will be a more focused force, I think Marion Barber will have a big year. I just don’t see a ton of weaknesses on this team. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit in a cold shower with my clothes on (Editor’s note: YES HE DESERVES TO DIE, AND I HOPE HE BURNS IN HELL!)
Oh, and please read this in case you’re not sure what just happened above. Focus on paragraph four. And ignore Sports Illustrated from now on, please.