Philadelphia Eagles: What to Watch for in the Season Opener


Our beloved Philadelphia Eagles are set to take the field against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday at the Lincoln Financial Field in a game that is still winnable despite rookie quarterback Carson Wentz starting after only taking 38 snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers third team defense.

The first and most obvious thing to watch for when the Philadelphia Eagles set up on offense is quarterback Carson Wentz. How will he fair with the speed of the game? Will he take unnecessary hits downfield? Who knows how he will look but he will be out there, getting those important game reps.

While the Philadelphia Eagles offense is far from elite, the Cleveland Browns defense is in a similar boat. While all eyes will be on Carson Wentz it is just as important to take note of Doug Pederson‘s game plan. It is a favorable matchup for the Eagles as they have a ton of potential on offense. Zach Ertz is a matchup nightmare, Jordan Matthews is as solid as they come, Dorial Green-Beckham is a freak athlete, and it’s hard to ignore what Nelson Agholor is capable of.

Ryan Mathews will receive the bulk of the carries, coupled with Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner, the Eagles ground game will be potent enough to relieve some of the pressure on Carson Wentz.

If Doug Pederson and Frank Reich set the game plan right, the Eagles will find themselves in a position to take advantage of a middling defense in Cleveland. The only people on the Browns worth noting on defense are defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Joe Haden. The birds should be able to put up enough points to secure a win at home.

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The thing I’m looking forward to most is the aggressive defense that Jim Schwartz implemented. It will be an amazing experience to see a defense ready to get after the offense instead of bending but not breaking. The starting front seven of this defense is the strength of the team. They will be able to get after Robert Griffin III and stuff whatever run game the Browns throw at them.

The only thing that is worrisome is our cornerbacks. I’m not sold on the combination of Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin looked incredibly average during the preseason, but he’s still the second best the Eagles have on the team. Jim Schwartz should still have enough strategy and talent to suppress the Browns offense and keep the birds in the game.

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Look out for the defensive line, especially Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox to have great games as they are both in positions that better fit their skill set. On the back end watch for Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod to lead the defensive backs. Jenkins and McLeod are in a great system and have the potential to be the best safety tandem in the league. Sunday would be a great place to start.

Finally, watch out for the Eagles special teams to suffocate the Browns. Everyone knows the Dave Fipp is a special teams mastermind and has the ability to change the momentum of the game with a single punt return. The specialists we have: Josh Huff, Darren Sproles, and Kenjon Barner, have the ability to take every punt or kick to the house on any given down. The Eagles special teams could be the game changer in this matchup.

The only question mark with the Eagles specialists, in my opinion, is Caleb Sturgis. I’m not sold on him yet. Despite out kicking Cody Parkey in the preseason and training camp, I still get nervous every time he takes the field. I sure hope this guy proves me wrong.

I know it’s a lot to take in, but I firmly believe that the Eagles will beat the Browns at home. At the end of the day, the Browns are still the Browns. While the Eagles are not world beaters, I have faith in the game plan that will be put in place on Sunday.

My prediction for the game, Eagles win 24-17, Carson Wentz throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns (one interception), Ryan Mathews rushes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Eagles allow two passing touchdowns (forced fumble, fumble recovery, two interceptions).

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Agree with my statements? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @antmazziotti. One o’clock Sunday can not come soon enough. Let’s go Eagles! #FlyEaglesFly