Eagles second-half predictions: Win total, draft pick forecast and more
The schedule lightens up in December, but the Eagles have struggled to show any consistency. Figure on six to eight wins by the end of the season.
Earlier in the week, we dished out midseason grades for each position group across the Eagles. Now it’s time for our predictions for the second half of the season.
Eagles finish with six wins
There are nine games remaining, which means the Eagles (3-6) would double their win total, and finish 6-11.
EJ Smith is sticking with his preseason prediction, in which he had the Eagles finishing 7-10. Jeff McLane predicted they would finish 8-9. Between The Inquirer’s beat reporters, we’re predicting a floor of six wins and ceiling of eight.
The schedule lightens up in December, but the Eagles have struggled to show any type of consistency. They’re winless at home with four remaining contests at Lincoln Financial Field:
Nov. 21 vs. Saints
Dec. 18 or 19 vs. Washington Football Team
Dec. 26 vs. Giants
Jan. 9 vs. Cowboys
The four teams listed above have a combined road record of 8-8. Meanwhile, the three teams (Falcons, Panthers, Lions) the Eagles defeated earlier in the year have a combined record of 8-17. General manager Howie Roseman has refused to label the current state of the franchise as a rebuild, instead favoring it as a transition phase. But if the Eagles finish 6-11, that could force Roseman to finally embrace the rebuild.
Two picks in the Top 10
If the first prediction holds, the Eagles would likely finish with a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Their own selection would be in addition to Miami’s top pick, which the Eagles posses thanks to a pre-draft swap. The Dolphins are 2-7 and on pace for the No. 3 pick.
Finally, the Eagles also possess a conditional second-round pick from the Colts, which originates from the Carson Wentz trade. Indianapolis’ selection will be a first-rounder if Wentz plays 75% of the offensive snaps, or 70% if the Colts make the playoffs.
The Colts are 4-5, but they still have a fighting chance to compete for one of the AFC’s playoff spots. That’s good news for the Eagles since Wentz needs to play only three more full games to reach 70% and four full games to reach the 75% threshold. Altogether, a realistic ceiling for the Eagles would be three picks in the top 15.
DeVonta Smith eclipses 1,000 receiving yards
It didn’t take long for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 10 pick from last April’s draft to make his mark. Smith, who turns 23 on Sunday, is the team’s leading receiver with 38 catches, 537 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.
Earlier in the season, Smith appeared on Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram II’s podcast, Truss Levelz, and said his goal was to reach 1,000 receiving yards. Not only is he on pace to accomplish that, he might even reach 1,100-plus yards if coach Nick Sirianni and quarterback Jalen Hurts show more consistency in getting their top playmaker involved.
Roseman might have missed on the Jalen Reagor pick in 2020, but Smith is a budding star.
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No more career bests from opposing quarterbacks
Besides Dak Prescott in the season finale, the Eagles won’t face any additional elite quarterbacks. That should be welcome news for Jonathan Gannon’s defense, which has allowed five opponents to complete more than 80% of their passes. Of those five, two quarterbacks — Derek Carr and Justin Herbert — set new career highs in completion percentage versus the Eagles.
Expected opposing starters over the last eight games: Broncos’ Teddy Bridgewater, Saints’ Trevor Siemian, Giants’ Daniel Jones, Jets’ Zach Wilson or Mike White, Washington’s Taylor Heinicke or Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Prescott. It’s possible the Cowboys sit Prescott in Week 18 if they already know their postseason fate.
The bet here is Gannon’s defense tightens up against weaker competition.
Javon Hargrave earns first pro bowl nod
Hargrave has surpassed Fletcher Cox as the team’s most dominant force on the defensive line. He has already registered a career-high 11 quarterback hits. Fletcher Cox’s lone sack pales in comparison to Hargrave’s six. If Hargrave can enter the double-digit sack category, he’ll make a strong case for the Pro Bowl. There haven’t been many bright spots during Gannon’s first year as coordinator, but Hargrave’s arrival up front is noticeable as soon as you flip on the tape.
Jalen Hurts finishes season as Eagles starter
It has been suggested the Eagles start backup Gardner Minshew over Hurts. That won’t be the case as long as the offense remains competitive under Hurts’ direction. Yes, the second-year quarterback has his flaws in the passing game and has shown some impatience with allowing routes to develop and trusting his pass protection, but Hurts has flashed several times throughout the season. His effort late in the game versus the Chargers, where Hurts dove headfirst and front-flipped to earn a first down showed Hurts’ grit and his keen ability to use his legs to extend plays.
It’s possible Roseman revisits the quarterback conversation in the offseason, but for now Hurts will remain QB1. Hurts is the team’s leading rusher with 494 yards on 83 carries. He has completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,981 yards, 11 touchdowns, and four interceptions.