One week from today everyone in the Delaware Valley, and beyond, will be waking up on an Eagles game day.
While many things with the Eagles are pretty cut and dry, I thought it would be fun to throw out some “bold” predictions for the season.
1. DeVonta Smith Will Have More Receiving Yards Than A.J. Brown
In the 2022 season A.J. Brown caught 88 passes for a franchise record 1,496 yards. When the Eagles traded for Brown last offseason they were hoping they were trading for a top tier receiver, and they got just that. His counterpart DeVonta Smith also set a franchise record with 95 catches, while racking up 1,196 yards. Many people are predicting another leap for Smith this season, but I think he can lead the team in receiving yards. In the last 6 games of last season Smith recorded 4 games of over 100 yards. Smith also had 100 yards receiving in the Super Bowl, which lead the team. While I believe Brown will have another amazing year, I would not be surprised if Smith lead the team in yards. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of Sports Radio 94.1 WIP Smith had 34 catches, 7 Touchdowns, and 0 drops in training camp. While yes it is training camp, Smith has proved he can be a top receiver in the league, and I think he is poised for a massive season.
2. Kenny Gainwell Will Lead the Team in Rushing
When the Eagles traded for Running back D’Andre Swift during the 2023 draft it was widely assumed that he would be the teams number 1 back. But, after the preseason and training camp I am having some doubts on whether or not that will be the case. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks, Kenny Gainwell led all backs in total carries with 40, while also leading in 1st team carries with 32. Swift only had 20 total carries, with 11 being with the first team. It is worth noting Shorr-Parks only keeps stats during the 7v7 or 11v11 periods of practice. Down the stretch of last season the Eagles leaned on Gainwell to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the running game. I expect Gainwell to carry that momentum over to this season. The Eagles will surely use a committee of running backs this season, but I think Gainwell may be the lead.
3. Jalen Hurts Will Set The Eagles Franchise Record For Passing Yards in a Season
In the history of the Philadelphia Eagles only one player has thrown for 4,000 or more yards in a single season. That player was Carson Wentz in the 2019 season where he threw for 4,039. I believe that Jalen Hurts will join that short list this season, and will take the crown for most yards in a single season. Last year Hurts ended with 3,701 yards passing, while also missing two games. It is safe to assume that Hurts would have thrown for at least 350 yards over those 2 games. If he stays healthy for all 17 games he should be able to get it, but even if he misses a few games I think the use of the running backs in the passing game will get him the record. The Eagles top two running backs in Gainwell and Swift are both known for their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. While Miles Sanders had a great year last season, he struggled in the passing game. Gainwell and Swift will be able to make the short passing game more dynamic, and help get Hurts’ passing numbers up from last year. Oh and of course, Brown and Smith will help too.
4. The Defense Will Start Slow
With former defensive coordinator Johnathan Gannon taking the Cardinals head coaching job many fans are just assuming the defense will be better. A addition by subtraction. But one of the things fans are not talking about is all the new starters that will be on this defense. Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Zach Cunningham, Reed Blankenship, and Terrell Edmunds are all projected to be new starters on the Eagles defense. The Eagles will also have a new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai. While the defense is still ultra talented, it is going to take a while for all of these players to gel. Luckily for the Eagles the beginning of their schedule is light, but the offense may need to carry the load to start.
5. The Eagles Will Win The NFC East
The Eagles winning the NFC East does not fall under the “bold” category of predictions, but it does when you look at history. No team has won the NFC East two years in a row since the Eagles did it in 2004. Most will say this is just a coincidence, but for whatever reason it has been hard for teams to sustain success in the NFC east over the last 19 years. I think the Eagles will break the streak this year and will win the NFC East again. This will not be a easy year to win the division by any means, but the Eagles have the best Quarterback, and roster in the division.