Head coach Chip Kelly has won 20 games in two seasons but has yet to have any playoff success. Last year, in fact, the Philadelphia Eagles regular season total of 10 wins weren’t even enough to get them into the postseason. Now, the architect of one of the league’s best offenses moves into year three with a host of new faces on offense. In the offseason, the Eagles were busy trading away quarterback Nick Foles to St. Louis for the Rams QB Sam Bradford. Gone too is perennial All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy who rushed for nearly 6,800 yards in his six seasons in Philadelphia. Leading receiver Jeremy Maclin is now a Kansas City Chief.
But, all is not lost for Kelly and the NFL’s fifth-best offense in 2014. The Eagles signed NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray from Dallas, picked up some insurance in RB Ryan Mathews, and grabbed veteran wide receiver Miles Austin. Don’t forget the Eagles also have the versatile Darren Sproles and drafted USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round of this year’s draft. Kelly should not have a problem working his up-tempo, run-first spread offense. Bookmakers in Vegas tend to agree cautiously listing the Philadelphia Eagles as 20/1 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, 11/1 to win the NFC Conference and +180 in NFL odds to win the NFC East division.
Because of the frenetic pace of the offense, the Philadelphia defense is asked to do a lot. The Eagles finished 28th in the NFL last season in total defense. Philadelphia attempted to address some of their problems when they traded McCoy to Buffalo for LB Kiko Alonso. Hopefully, Alonso will be healthy. He missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury. The Eagles also added corners Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond. Linebacker Connor Barwin (14.5 sacks) and defensive end Vinny Curry (9.0 sacks) return to give the Eagles a pretty solid pass rush. For the Eagles to win the 2015 NFC East, it will be necessary as Philadelphia must improve its pass defense. They were 31st in the league last year giving up 264.9 yards per game, though some of that has to do with being on the field more than most defenses.
There is no question that the Eagles can win 10 games again. In fact, NFL odds for the total number of regular season wins list Philadelphia at 9½ UNDER (-130). However for that to happen the Eagles cannot falter down the stretch as they did last year losing to Seattle, Dallas, and Washington in three of the final four weeks of the season. Bradford, who has been hurt the past two seasons in St. Louis, has to stay healthy or Kelly may find his offense in the hands of Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, or even Tim Tebow, who was signed in the offseason as a free agent.
Eagles Update (9/12/15): Philadelphia are now +900 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +500 to win the NFC Conference and +EV to win the NFC East.