Philadelphia Eagles 2009 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2008 Record 9-6-1 (10-6 ATS)
Lost in NFC Championship Game to Arizona, 32-25
Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field
Head Coach: Andy Reid (9th Season 107-69)
Current 2009-2010 Super Bowl Odds 10-to-1
Training Camp Site: Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.
The Philadelphia Eagles started out 2008 at 5-5 and suffered a truly
embarrassing tie to the Cincinnati Bengals in week 11, but they
closed out the year by winning four of their last six to sneak into
the NFC Wild Card playoffs.
Once they got into the playoffs they turned into the team nobody wanted to play, as they rolled Minnesota and the New York Giants on
the road before falling one game short of the Super Bowl in a 32-25
loss to Arizona.
Although the Eagles made it look like they can flip the switch on at any point of the season, you can bet Andy Reid and the Eagles will
strive for a more consistent effort in 2009 as they try and get back
into the NFC title game yet again.
Whos In/Whos Out
The Eagles made some excellent moves in the offseason to release,
replace and improve a few of the teams biggest weaknesses.
BET ON PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMES USING YOUR VISA CARD AT INTERTOPS
In February they let a considerable amount of talent walk out the
door in free agency, with safety Brian Dawkins, running back Correll
Buckhalter, tight end L.J. Smith and tackle Tra Thomas all moving on
to different addresses. The Eagles other starting tackle Jon Runyan
also finished his contract and is still unsigned and likely retired.
But the Eagles did a top-notch job filling those holes on the line,
first by signing guard Stacy Andrews (yes, Shawn Andrews brother)
from Cincinnati in free agency and then by trading for All-Pro tackle
Jason Peters from Buffalo just before the draft.
They also brought in safety Sean Jones from Cleveland in free agency
to try and fill the huge void created by Dawkins departure.
Draft Class 2009
The Eagles addressed their lack of dynamic playmakers on offense in
the draft, getting two potential game-breakers with their first two
picks of receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy.
Maclin, the 19th pick overall, is expected to be used in the return
game as well, and McCoy is a hometown kid having played his college
ball up the road at Pitt.
The rest of the Eagles draft came on day 2 (3 picks in 5th, 1 in 6th,
2 in 7th), but with the exception of tight end Cornelius Ingram, most
of them are long shots at best to make the final 53.
The Philly offense started out the first few weeks of 2008 as one of
the top scoring offenses in the league, but tailed off and finished
6th overall at 26.0 points per game and 9th in total yards at 350.5
yards per game. Top-10 none the less, and with the additions of
Maclin and McCoy (as well as the two big uglies up front) the Eagles
are poised to stay in the top-10 again this season.
Maclin gives the Eagles another deep threat to go along with DeSean
Jackson, who led the Eagles with 62 catches and 912 yards in 08.
Kevin Curtis, Westbrook and tight ends Brent Celek (11.8 ave, 1 TD)
and Matt Schobel will all serve as checkdown options for McNabb. Last
year the Eagles finished 6th in the league in passing yards per game
(244.4), a number that should go up if Maclin has an immediate impact.
But the key for the Eagles is for someone to take some of the burden
off of Westbrook to do everything. He combined for 1,339 yards and 14
touchdowns both rushing and receiving last year, but he had a low 4.0
yard per carry average and the Eagles as a whole finished as the 22nd-
ranked run offense (106.1)in the NFL, numbers that will have to go up
if the Eagles want to win two more games this season.
The entire key to the Eagles Super Bowl run in 2009-2010 depends on
how well the players and new coordinator Sean McDermott adjust to
each other. McDermott, who served as an assistant the past eight
seasons, takes over for longtime defensive coach Jim Johnson who
recently lost his battle with cancer. McDermott has pledged to
continue Johnsons blitz-happy schemes, but only time will tell if he
can call as good a game as Johnson did in his 10 seasons ending with
a 3rd-overall ranking in 08 (274.3 ypg).
The unit has already suffered a huge loss when middle linebacker
Stewart Bradley tore up his knee in the first week of training camp.
Joe Mays and Omar Gaither will try and replace the Eagles leading
tackler, but the run defense that finished 08 ranked 4th (92.2 ypg)
could be compromised without Bradley in there.
Jones will compete with Quintin Mikell to replace Dawkins in the
secondary. Whomever wins the job will team up with incumbents Quintin
Demps, Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel to form a solid secondary
capable of repeating their numbers from last year (3rd 182.1 ypg).
Kicker David Akers continues to have one of the stronger legs in the
league, but his accuracy continues to be a little too hit-n-miss as
he was 33-of-40 on field goals in 08 including a disappointing 2-
of-5 from 50-plus. Hes still a worthy kicker with plenty of clutch
kicks to his credit over the years.
Punter Saverio Rocca improved his net average up to 37.9 (34.5 net in
07) in his second season in the league, but theres still plenty of
room for more and the Eagles will need him to change field position
if they expect to contend for a ring.
But with Maclin added to the return game, the Eagles could have one
of the best special teams units in the NFL and worthy of a high-round
pick in most fantasy drafts. Jackson was already one of the games
best punt returners (8.8 ave., TD), and Quintin Demps had a 25.3 yard
average and a touchdown on kickoff returns for the Eagles last
season, so the Eagles dont NEED to rush Maclin on the field but
instead have the luxury of using him as depth.
Sept. 13 at Carolina Panthers
Sept. 20 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Sept. 27 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Oct. 4 Bye
Oct. 11 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Oct. 18 at Oakland Raiders
Oct. 26 at Washington Redskins
Nov. 1 NEW YORK GIANTS
Nov. 8 DALLAS COWBOYS
Nov. 15 at San Diego Chargers
Nov. 22 at Chicago Bears
Nov. 29 WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Dec. 6 at Atlanta Falcons
Dec. 13 at New York Giants
Dec. 20 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Dec. 27 DENVER BRONCOS
Jan. 3 at Dallas Cowboys
Betting Odds and Projections
The Eagles were a money-making 10-6 against the spread in 2008, a
nice improvement from their 8-8 ATS record in 2007. Philly trended
toward the under in most games though, finishing with a 7-8-1 over/
under record last season.
Oddsmakers took note of their strong finish to last season and their solid offseason moves and have installed them as 10-to-1 odds to win
Super Bowl 2009-2010, the lowest odds of any team in the NFC. With a
few lucky breaks this team is certainly capable of cashing in on
those odds for bettors.
But in order for them to do it they will have to be perfect out of
the gate, not down the stretch like last season. If the Eagles can be
6-0 by the time they reach week 8, which isnt too far fetched, they
can really take a stranglehold on the NFC East with back-to-back home
games against the rival Giants and Cowboys in early November. With
three tough road games in December (Atlanta, NY Giants and Dallas) it
will be important for the Eagles to be sitting in the drivers seat
down the stretch.