PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-8)
New faces: CB Darius Slay, DT Javon Hargrave, WR Jalen Reagor, S Will Parks, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, QB Jalen Hurts, S K’Von Wallace, LB Davion Taylor, WR John Hightower, WR Quez Watkins.
Key losses: S Malcolm Jenkins, RB Jordan Howard, CB Ronald Darby, OT T Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, DT Tim Jernigan, WR Nelson Agholor, RB Darren Sproles.
Strengths: Offense added more speed, giving quarterback Carson Wentz better options. He already has excellent pair of tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and a versatile lead running back in Miles Sanders. A healthy WR DeSean Jackson will stretch the defence and first-round pick Reagor gets an opportunity to make an immediate impact though he's injured to start the season. Reshuffled offensive line features three-time All-Pro centre Jason Kelce, three-time Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson and nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters going back to his orginal position after playing right guard in camp. On defence , line and secondary are deep.
Weaknesses: Offensive line lost three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks and left tackle Andre Dillard to injury. Offence relying on inexperienced receivers and oft-injured veterans. There’s uncertainty at linebacker and secondary will miss Jenkins’ leadership in locker room and presence on field.
Pandemic Development: Coach Doug Pederson missed time in training camp after testing positive for COVID-19, and lack of off-season practices limits expectations for rookies.
Fantasy Player To Watch: Sanders had 818 yards rushing, 50 catches, 509 yards receiving and six touchdowns combined while sharing backfield duties with Howard. Now he’s featured back and could push 2,000 scrimmage yards.
Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl: 20-1. Over/under wins: 9 1/2.
Expectations: Despite three straight playoff appearances, including franchise’s first Super Bowl championship and two division titles, Wentz hasn’t won post-season game. He was injured in 2017 and 2018 when Nick Foles led Eagles to four playoff wins. Wentz suffered concussion in first quarter of wild-card loss to Seattle last season, so pressure is on him to stay healthy, lead team back to post-season — and win. It’s two-team race with Dallas in NFC East. Eagles are only team in division with returning coaching staff, so that’s clear advantage in pandemic-altered season.
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The Associated Press