Off a hugely disappointing 4-11-1 record last year and last-place finish in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles are somewhat starting over in 2021 with a new head coach and new starting quarterback. Oddsmakers don’t expect Philly to return to playoff contention quite yet.
Analysis NFL 2021 | Philadelphia Eagles
- Eagles regular-season wins: 6.5
- Odds to win NFC East: +600
- Odds to win NFC: +3300
- Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +6600
The Eagles originally planned to keep Coach Doug Pederson following last year’s terrible record but then meetings between the coach and owner Jeffrey Lurie left Lurie unconvinced that Pederson had a vision for how to address an offense that finished 26th in scoring (20.9 points per game) and 28th in passing yards (207.9 yards per game) in 2020.
Of course, it wasn’t all on Pederson as QB Carson Wentz hugely struggled. Wentz, whose struggles in 2020 were described as “very fixable” by Lurie, was benched for the final quarter of the season after consistently poor play. Wentz was at the bottom of the league statistically last season. He led the NFL in interceptions (15) and sacks (50) despite playing in just 12 games.
Wentz is now with the Colts, traded for a 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick that could turn into a first-rounder. Wentz needs to play at least 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps for the 2022 conditional pick to convey to a first-rounder. The pick also could become a first-rounder if Wentz plays at least 70% of the snaps and the Colts reach the playoffs. Wentz is reunited with Indy head coach and former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
Rather ironically, the Eagles also looked to the Colts for their new head coach, hiring Indy offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni. The Colts finished ninth in the NFL in scoring (28.2 PPG) and 10th in yards per game (378.1) in 2020.
Philly will open the season with 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts as the QB. He’s surrounded by a talented but inexperienced group of skill players, headlined by reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Hurts threw six TD passes and four interceptions in limited action as a rookie last season. The mobile Hurts — who completed 52 percent of his passes in 2020 — hardly fits the profile of signal callers Sirianni has coached, including Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers.
If Hurts struggles this year, the Eagles could take a QB early in the 2022 draft and they have been linked to a trade for Houston QB Deshaun Watson.
As for Smith, the 2020 Heisman winner at Alabama, he led the NCAA in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856) and receiving TDs (23). He was the 10th overall pick in the draft. Smith is teamed up once again with his former signal-caller at Alabama in Hurts. Smith had 12 career receptions, 207 receiving yards and two receiving TDs from Hurts during their two seasons together at Alabama.
Miles Sanders is a promising running back that has seen his usage rate underutilized over his first two seasons in the NFL, but Sirianni allowed an Indianapolis running back 20+ touches 7 times in 2020 so Sanders could be line for a big season. Sanders has had just five games in his career with at least 20 touches and he totaled at least 100 yards in all of them.
The defense also has a new coordinator in former Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon. Indy had the No. 8 defense in the NFL in 2020. The Eagles finished 20th in points per game allowed (26.1), 29th in interceptions (8) and 23rd in takeaways (19).
Philly opens the season as a 3.5-point underdog on Sept. 12 in Atlanta.Expert PredictionEagles finish 7-9 and miss playoffs
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