Philadelphia Eagles 2008 Season Preview – Betting Odds
by Badger of Predictem.com
2007 Record 8-8 (8-8 ATS)
Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field
Head Coach: Andy Reid (9th Season 96-62)
Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 20-to-1
Training Camp Site: Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.
The Philadelphia Eagles struggled through a roller-coaster season in
2007. The team that was distracted from the start because of the off
the field issues with head coach Andy Reid and his sons still wound
up 8-8 on the season. I suppose you could call it a success, but most
still view it as a failure because the Eagles finished out of the
playoffs and winning is the bottom line.
The Eagles are already on that same roller coaster this year too, as they have a boatload of controversy going on at their camp and all of
it with big-name All-Pro players.
Running back Brain Westbrook is in camp, but hes made it known he is unhappy being underpaid and may walk out any day if his deal isnt
redone. Cornerback Lito Sheppard is unhappy as a backup, and he has
hired agent Drew Rosenhaus to try and get him traded. Finally, guard
Shawn Andrews is just not at camp, no one is really sure why, but
they are unexcused absences and hes getting fined $15,000 per day
while hes staying away.
Oh boy. Here we go againkeep your hands and feet inside the car at
Whos In/Whos Out
The Eagles made the biggest splash and the national headlines when they signed the NFLs premiere free agent last season, cornerback
Asante Samuel. Samuel (6 INT in 2007) was considered by many to be
the best available player, and the Eagles signed him to a six-year
deal and made the oft-injured Sheppard want out of Philly instantly.
But that wasnt their only free agency move, as they also went out and signed defensive depth with end Chris Clemons (Oakland), tackle
Dan Klecko and linebacker Rocky Boiman (both from Indy) and tight end
depth adding Kris Wilson (Kansas City).
Of course, the Eagles made early offseason news when they released Javon Kearse after four somewhat disappointing years. But they also
sent veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes packing in March. The Eagles
also traded for running back Lorenzo Booker (Miami) and fullback Luke
Lawton (Indy) to fill in some depth in the offensive backfield.
Eagles management must have felt good about the team because they traded down in the draft, making their 2008 draft class a little less
flashy. Both second-round picks will contribute, as DT Trevor Laws
(Notre Dame) goes right into the tackle rotation on defense, and
receiver/returner DeSean Jackson (Cal) could be the returner and deep-
threat weapon they need on offense.
For the first time in a few years, quarterback Donovan McNabb is not involved in offseason news. Two years ago it was all about moving on
without T.O., last year he was coming back from a season-ending knee
injury, so a clear focus in the offseason and in camp should help
McNabb improve on his numbers from last season (3,324 yds., 61.5 comp
%, 19 TD-7 INT). A.J. Feeley is still listed as the top backup at QB,
but hell have to hold off second-year guy Kevin Kolb if McNabb were
to go down for a long period of time.
As mentioned earlier, Westbrook could go AWOL if he doesnt get a raise. He is one of the premiere backs in the NFL as his numbers show
(over 2,000 total yards, 12 TD), but whether hes right or not, its
becoming a distraction that could sabotage the Eagles season. Correll
Buckhalter and Booker provide backup options, but clearly this team
needs a happy and productive Westbrook to get into the playoffs.
Reggie Brown (61 rec., 4 TD) and Kevin Curtis (1,110 yds., 6 TD) are McNabbs primary outside targets (Westbrook led the team with 90
receptions in 07), but both are possession-type guys who will
benefit if the rookie Jackson can stretch the field. The Eagles will
also enjoy the services of a healthy tight end L.J. Smith, as Smith
missed time last season with various injuries.
The offensive line features two bookend tackles in Tre Thomas and Jon Runyon, and both are as solid as they come. LG Todd Herremans and
center Jamaal Jackson really need the help of Andrews return to make
the middle of the line whole, but the only glimmer of light in the
Andrews saga is that offensive lineman dont lose much by holding out
and he can blend back in quickly if and when he decides he wants to
Philly will always have one of the best defenses in the NFL thanks to
the genius of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Johnson, the main
inventor of the were bringing more guys than you have to block
defensive scheme is always finding new ways and new wrinkles to get
after the quarterback.
With Kearse long gone, the Eagles will likely start Juqua Parker and
Trent Cole at defensive end, with Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson
joining Laws and Klecko to form a nice tackle rotation.
The Eagles also committed to linebacker Stewart Bradley in the middle. Bradley had only 18 tackles in 07, but hes so fast and
athletic (i.e. Brian Urlacher) that the Eagles moved Omar Gaither to
weak side and cut Takeo Spikes to get him in the lineup. Expect teams
to try and run at Bradley if they can.
In its current state, the Eagles have perhaps the best secondary in the game. Corners Samuel and Sheldon Brown are joined together with
perennial Pro-Bowler Brian Dawkins and free safety Quintin Mikell and
youve got yourself a great crew. Plus, you bring Sheppard and rookie
Quintin Demps into the game in obvious passing downs and youre still
great. But it all depends on if Sheppard will be there when the
season starts or not. If not, the depth of the unit makes it just
solid instead of top notch.
The Eagles have fully committed to Jackson as their returner. Hes listed as the starter on both kickoffs and punts, and he returned
lots of them in college for touchdowns at California, so theres no
real reason why he cant do it in the NFL.
Kicker David Akers had what could be considered a down year last season. He only hit 75 percent of his kicks (24-of-32, long of 53),
his third-straight year under 80 percent, but hes still considered a
proven guy who is clutch with the game on the line late.
Punter Save Rocca had an average rookie season last year, as the Australian native finished with 42.0 yards per punt (just 34.5 net)
on a high number of attempts (73 punts in 07). Rocca does have nice
touch though, as he only had seven touchbacks all season.
Sept. 7 ST. LOUIS RAMS
Sept. 15 at Dallas Cowboys
Sept. 21 PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Sept. 28 at Chicago Bears
Oct. 5 WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Oct. 12 at San Francisco 49ers
Oct. 19 Bye
Oct. 26 ATLANTA FALCONS
Nov. 2 at Seattle Seahawks
Nov. 9 NEW YORK GIANTS
Nov. 16 at Cincinnati Bengals
Nov. 23 at Baltimore Ravens
Nov. 27 ARIZONA CARDINALS
Dec. 7 at New York Giants
Dec. 15 CLEVELAND BROWNS
Dec. 21 at Washington Redskins
Dec. 28 DALLAS COWBOYS
Betting Odds and Projections
Las Vegas and offshore oddsmakers really like the teams in the NFC
East, and the Philadelphia Eagles benefit from being in that division
as they are currently getting 20-to-1 odds to win the 2008 Super
Bowl. But those odds may be a bit inflated by the NFC East.
Again, with Westbrook happy and Andrews and Sheppard either in or out, the Eagles could mount a strong run at a title. But the teams
that win Super Bowls in January rarely are talking about holdouts and
contracts in August, so theres little doubt that the Eagles will
have a huge task ahead of them in 08.
I do look for them to improve on their 8-8 record against the spread in 2007, mostly because I think they have improved as a team overall.
Samuel will cause some turnovers and the Philly defense (and special
teams with Jackson) will score the extra points that helps cover the
spread. This could also make the Eagles a team that goes over the
total more often as well (7-9 over/under record in 07).
Looking at the Eagles schedule, there are two games that jump out at you. You just know their final two games of the season ( at
Washington, home finale vs. Dallas) will have all sorts of divisional
title and playoff positioning subplots involved. The Eagles have to
get off to a fast start so that in those final weeks of the season
are playing for the playoffs, and not playing the role of spoiler.