Donnellon: Revised look at how Eagles' season will play out
TIME TO REVAMP. Revamp those dire preseason predictions, based on an unproven rookie quarterback, the impending suspension of your starting right tackle, and a suspect secondary.
TIME TO REVAMP.
Revamp those dire preseason predictions, based on an unproven rookie quarterback, the impending suspension of your starting right tackle, and a suspect secondary.
Revamp the pie-in-the sky expectations emanating from a 3-0 start, including a one-sided affair against a Pittsburgh team poised for a Super Bowl run.
I believe two things after the Eagles' two-game thud back to earth. I believe they will not be the mistake-prone team going forward that they have been since their ill-timed bye. And I believe they will, as Doug Pederson assures us, figure out a way to more effectively offset Lane Johnson's suspension in the weeks to come.
What does it mean? A 9-7 season is doable I think. A wild-card spot, if they're a little luckier, a just-miss building block of a season if they're not.
Anyway, on a day in which we all just take a deep breath, here's how I see the rest of the schedule playing out.
* Minnesota (loss, 3-3). Three of the Vikings' five wins were at home, including close ones over Green Bay and Houston. The Vikings have the league's best defense, limiting opponents to 12.6 points per game. The Birds' offense has been more effective at Lincoln Financial Field, where their rookie quarterback can more easily check in and out of plays, using words, not motions.
So expect a game more like the Vikings' opener in Tennessee, where two defensive touchdowns provided the difference in a 25-16 victory. Or like their other road victory in Carolina, a 22-10 win where they overcame an early 10-0 deficit and went into halftime outgained 205 yards to 34. A punt return for a touchdown, three interceptions, and eight sacks of Cam Newton overcame this.
If Lane Johnson was around or Bennie Logan was playing healthy, or even one Eagles receiver had emerged as a deep threat, this might even be a tempting upset pick. Not now.
* At Dallas (loss, 3-4). Your hope: Jerry Jones completely loses his mind and insists on re-inserting Tony Romo for this game. The reality: Dak Prescott will start and excel. This will be the second of three straight games the Eagles play against teams coming off a bye week, which means Dez Bryant should run all over the field all day and Ezekiel Elliott will make Eagles fans forget all about what Matt Jones did to their team.
* At NY Giants (victory, 4-4). They're never pretty, these games, no matter how either team is faring. But if you wake up early this Sunday, you should get a glimpse of how the Giants' matchup with the Eagles could play out. The Rams have a strong defensive line, and the Giants' offensive line has been the root of their troubles. It kept Eli Manning unsacked against the Ravens' tepid rush, but only jet lag can save him against the Rams' front four. Or the Eagles' rush a few weeks later.
* Atlanta (loss, 4-5). If the Vikings are not the NFC's best team, the Falcons may be. After a slow start in which they lost to Tampa Bay and nearly lost to the Raiders, the Falcons would have pulled off the unlikely feat of beating both Denver and Seattle on the road if not for a rare missed catch by Julio Jones and Richard Sherman's uncalled interference penalty late. If they scored 24 points in Seattle, they will do so here.
* At Seattle (loss, 4-6). It's not fair, that secondary against the Eagles' receivers. And if the noise in Detroit and Washington affected Carson Wentz's playcalling . . . This one could be ugly.
* Green Bay (win, 5-6). The Packers aren't very good right now, but this is Week 12 we're talking about and they still have weapons. Their trade this week with Kansas City to acquire running back Knile Davis may not be inconsequential. Especially by then. I think the Eagles have a 50-50 chance to win this one, and the one two weeks later against the Redskins.
* At Cincinnati (win, 6-6). The Bengals seem to be getting worse by the week. This will be a team in a mess by then. And a welcome sight for Eagles fans.
* Washington (loss, 6-7). That game Sunday could have easily been 27-6. Still, the Redskins have shown self-inflicting tendencies of their own in both their wins and losses, so 50-50. But I think they have a better chance of beating Green Bay at home.
* At Baltimore (win, 7-7). After watching the Giants become the latest team to pile up yardage against them, there's good reason to believe John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are headed for their second straight losing season. This could feel like a home game for well-traveled Eagles fans.
* Giants (win, 8-7). Bad team with a decent defense. At home, with all those tough, middle-of-the-season games under his belt, Carson Wentz should be fine. Eli Manning? Again, not so much.
* Dallas (win, 9-7). I'm banking on the Cowboys having sown up the division and their seed by this game. And on the Eagles desperately needing to win it to keep their playoff hopes alive, and it being here, not there.
This game, and those 50-50 games against Green Bay and Washington, could very well determine postseason fate. Win 'em all, you're in. Win two of three, maybe.
Win just one?
What date is the draft?