Vegas lists the Eagles over/under at 10.5 wins this season. Hey, what do those guys know? Those dopes predicted 8 wins last year and we recall how that turned out.
Here’s my better way to forecast how the Birds perform in 2018. For each of these 16 questions, count a “yes” answer as an Eagles victory, a “no” as a loss:
1. Start with the obvious. Carson Wentz was playing at an MVP caliber level (33 TDs, 7 INTs) until his knee got T-boned last December. There’s little doubt he’ll return – and soon. But are we certain kid Carson picks up where he left off without missing, ahem, a step?
2. For now, and perhaps down the road, it’s Nick Foles’ turn to drive. Nicky Six is forever a Philadelphia hero. He’s also incredibly streaky. Will we get the Good Nick over the Bad Nick?
3. Doug Pederson has been Coach Crabby through the preseason, and his offense was dreadful in those four nonsense games. Somewhere, Mike Lombardi is probably calling Doug a fluke – but you fully believe in the coach, right?
4. Gone are offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterback coach John DeFilippo, who helped develop Wentz. You probably couldn’t pick their replacements out of a police lineup. But are you confident Mike Groh and Press Taylor are up to the job?
5. One more solid season for future Hall of Fame tackle Jason Peters?
6. Beyond Peters, the offensive line boasts Steve Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson. Here’s the gimme question: Pretty damned great, eh?
7. With LeGarrette Blount departed to Detroit, we’re looking at a running back committee of Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles. Can this trio play up to the standards of the Andy Reid Era “three-headed monster” crew of Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter?
8. Eagles tight ends combined for 110 catches and 14 TDs in 2017. I’ve got Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert topping those totals. Are you with me?
9. Right now, the wide receiving corps seems spotty. Alshon Jeffery is hurt, Mike Wallace is invisible and Nelson Agholor barely played in the preseason. Nothing to worry about here, right?
10. The Cowboys have second-rate receivers and offensive line injuries. The Giants have flashy skill players, but concerns on both lines. Washington remains a soap opera (in football, as well as politics). Do we agree the Eagles gain a great edge playing in the NFC East?
11. Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, and newcomer Michael Bennett. Fair to call this one of the league’s elite groups of defensive ends?
12. Great as Fletcher Cox is, can he carry an underwhelming roster of defensive tackles (Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao and Bruce Hector)?
13. I’ll be honest in calling linebacker this team’s weakness. I question if Jordan Hicks can stay healthy. I know Nigel Bradham is suspended for the opener. I have doubts about Kamu Grugier-Hill. Do you disagree?
14. Remember when we lived through the likes of Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll and Ron Brooks? The Eagles corners now are Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones. Hell of a step-up in class, don’t you think?
15. Will kicker Jake Elliott win more games making 50-yard field goals than he’ll lose by missing extra-points?
16. Okay, Dr. Freud, assure me we don’t need to worry about a post-Super Bowl psychological letdown. Or do we?
Do the math. What’s your count? I’ve got “no” on 5, 9, 12, 13 and 16. That means I’m predicting 11 wins – over the Vegas line, which is easily enough to win the NFC East. If a few more things go right, they’re back in the Super Bowl.