“Reigning NFC Champions” might be a nice title, but it certainly isn’t the one that the Eagles want. Philly — fans, players and coaches alike — have one goal for 2023, and it’s a clear one: Super Bowl or bust.
With a roster dripping with talent that features plenty of continuity from 2022, expect the Eagles to come out of the gates on fire.
The first victim will be the New England Patriots, who Philadelphia should have no trouble blowing out.
Here’s how we see this game playing out.
Eagles vs. Patriots Week 1 Predictions: Quarter by Quarter
It’s not going to take long for this game to get out of control.
Most of the key pieces of this Eagles offense are in at least their second year playing together, and the unit is fully healthy. There’s going to be no feeling-out process. There’s not going to be any rust to shake off. No time required to build chemistry.
The same can’t be said for New England. That weak defensive backfield is going to be counting on a rookie to step up. Mac Jones is trying to adapt to a new offensive coordinator and a change at the WR1 spot.
The Pats’ o-line is also banged up, and the Eagles’ elite pass rush can fully exploit that. This means the Patriots aren’t going to want to open up the passing game early, which could lead to a bit of a plodding pace out of them.
Everyone except Eagles fans will be ready to turn off the game by the end of the first quarter.
First-quarter score: 14-3 Eagles
Score through one: 14-3 Eagles
With a little time to calm down, the Patriots’ defense will have a chance to show why they’re the team’s strength by the second quarter. Combining that with a continued run-heavy approach will bring the pace and scoring down a notch.
As Philly starts to key in on New England’s rushing attack, that will open up a bit more room for Mac Jones to work, too, and he’ll get the Pats on the board for their first touchdown of the season.
Hurts and company will be looking to make some adjustments at halftime after getting slowed down in the second quarter, and that’s going to pay off.
Second-quarter score: 7-3 Patriots
Halftime score: 17-10 Eagles
The third quarter will look a lot like the first.
Hurts and the offense will roll again with a nice scripted series to start the half, and this is going to show why the Eagles are one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Belichick is going to have to choose between taking away the rushing attack or the passing attack, and no matter which he focuses on, he’ll get burned.
Starting to fall behind in the second half will be really bad news for the Patriots. They’re not a team built to play from behind. Their run-first style of offense, especially without major deep threats in the passing game, is one that takes a ton of time off the clock. When a game is close or you’re winning that can be beneficial, but it starts to cause a spiral of issues when a game gets out of hand.
Philly will happily start conceding some rushing yards in the middle if New England wants to milk the clock, but none of the big plays that the Patriots will need to get back into the game.
Third-quarter score: 10-3 Eagles
Score through three: 27-13 Eagles
As things get even uglier late, New England will be allowed to close the gap a bit. The Eagles’ defense will take more of a prevent approach, happily giving up some longer, time-consuming drives.
Philly’s offense will also slow things down, and we won’t be taking as many chances with Hurts taking deep dropbacks or running with the ball.
A more traditional offense in the fourth quarter won’t move the ball all that well, but a turnover or two from Mac Jones trying to force plays means we’ll still salvage some points even on less explosive drives in the fourth.
It ends as a 10-point win, but the game will have felt a lot more lopsided than that score suggests.
Fourth-quarter score: 10-6 Patriots
Final score: 33-23 Eagles
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