The Eagles will look to improve to 3-1 and earn their first road victory of the season when they play the Tennessee Titans at 1 p.m. Sunday in Nashville. Here's what our four beat writers are expecting.
I'm going to have to see a team with a run-based offense beat the Eagles to believe it.
That said, I don't expect the Eagles offense to click miraculously into high gear in Week 2 of the Wentzissance. Too many moving parts to pull together, including the rust factor with Alshon Jeffery and even Darren Sproles, who did not distinguish himself in the opener before injuring his hamstring in practice the next week.
Marcus Mariota can take advantage of the Eagles' aggressiveness by bootlegging on run fakes, and just by escaping pressure and taking off. And the Eagles defense seems much more vulnerable on the road. The Titans have a stout defense and a run-based offense that hasn't shown much in the passing game at all. If Carson Wentz and all his weapons were firing in sync, I would take the Eagles in a rout, even though they are 0-2 all-time in Nashville. Since the Eagles offense isn't quite there yet, I'm going to do what I did last week and predict they win, but fail to cover.
Prediction: Eagles 19, Titans 17
When we made our game-by-game predictions before the season, I had this one marked down as an Eagles loss.
A road game against an unfamiliar opponent, looking ahead to next week's rematch with the Vikings, an elusive quarterback able to frustrate their pass rush, and a few other reasons I can't recall at the moment.
But that elusive quarterback, Marcus Mariota, is playing with a sore elbow that probably is going to limit the distance and velocity of his throws. Which means the Titans are going to run the ball a lot. And that could be a problem for them since the Eagles just might have the league's top run defense.
The one concern I have is whether the Eagles are going to be able to score enough points against the Titans defense, which held Jacksonville to six points last week. If Alshon Jeffery plays, that certainly will help. But with or without Jeffery, Carson Wentz should be even better this week than he was last week, and the Eagles are getting Jay Ajayi back, and their two-tight-end packages with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are going to cause problems for the Titans. So …
Prediction: Eagles 20, Titans 9
Carson Wentz showed last week in his 2018 debut that he won't be hindered after knee surgery. He wasn't at his best, but the quarterback had a solid first game and should only gain confidence with each week. He needs some bodies to return, though, especially if the offense continues to struggle in stretching the field.
Receiver Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) was cleared for contact this week, but he was missing from practice Thursday. Running back Jay Ajayi (back), sat out Wednesday, but he was back the following day and looks ready. If Jeffery is held off another week, the Eagles might lean on two- and three-tight-end personnel again. The packages worked well against the Colts, and Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert present matchup problems for any defense.
The Titans have won two of three mostly behind the strength of their defense. They employ a 3-4 front on base downs and have one of the best pass-rushing interior linemen (Jurrell Casey) this side of Fletcher Cox. Tennessee also has the league's top-ranked red-zone defense. The Eagles converted just 2 of 4 possessions inside the 20 last week. The Titans will try to establish the run behind Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been dealing with a hand injury, and throwing the ball has been an issue. He's always a threat to take off.
The Eagles have the top-ranked run defense in the NFL. They will try to force the Titans, who lack game-breaking receivers, into third and long. Tennessee has a stout offensive line with two of the better cornerstone tackles in the league (Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin), but I think there will be enough passing situations for Cox and the Eagles front to pressure the shaky Mariota.
Prediction: Eagles 26, Titans 20
Neither the Eagles nor the Titans have started the season playing to their capabilities, particularly on offense, yet both teams are 2-1. The Titans have a talented roster, and I've thought highly of Marcus Mariota since his college days. So I don't see this as an easy matchup, especially if Mariota is getting healthier.
But the bottom line is that the Titans rely on the running game, and the Eagles have the NFL's top-ranked run defense. They led the NFL in run defense last year, too. The Titans will need to try to beat the Eagles through the air, which is not their strength. They lost tight end Delanie Walker, who was a key part of the passing game. The Eagles must watch out for Corey Davis, last year's No. 5 overall pick.
The Eagles offense should be better in Carson Wentz's second week back. The injury report will be notable this week, but the Eagles should win the battle on the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey will be the player to watch in Tennessee's front seven. The Titans have spent a lot of money trying to improve their back end, and they have a top-10 pass defense. Cornerback Malcolm Butler, who did not play in the Super Bowl, finally will get his shot against the Eagles.
Pay attention to special teams. The Eagles have struggled in the third phase of the game. The Titans have two special-teams touchdowns this season.
I don't expect a high-scoring game — the over-under is 41.5 — and both teams can win ugly. But I think the Eagles have more on offense and will escape with a road win before next week's matchup against Minnesota.