Sunday, April 12, 2015

Eagles' 2015 Preseason Breakdown

The NFL recently released the 2015 four-game preseason schedule. While most fans may not pay all that much attention to these exhibition matches, they could be extremely important this year for an Eagles' team that will have to gel quickly on both sides of the ball given all the new faces that have been added through blockbuster trades, free-agent signings and the upcoming college draft. The one constant under third-year head coach Chip Kelly is change.

The Birds will open-up play in Week 1 at home against Indianapolis, which is favored by many to win the AFC this season. This could be a good early test for a rebuilt defensive secondary against one of the best passing teams in the league. Most draft experts still expect Kelly to use the 20th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft on either a cornerback or safety and, if that is the case, the spotlight will shine heavy on whomever that player may be.

Week 2 brings Baltimore to Lincoln Financial Field in what has become a fairly annual preseason matchup between these two inter-conference teams. This game should present a solid test for Sam Bradford; assuming he will still be the Eagles' starting quarterback come this August. I never bought into the conspiracy theory that Kelly traded for Bradford only to use him as a trading pawn to move up the board to get a shot at former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. In light of an injury-plagued career, people tend to forget that Bradford was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft.

The Eagles will head on the road to face Green Bay for that all-important third preseason game, which is often used as one final dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season. Given the fact that the Packers are one of the top two favorites to win the NFC in 2015, this game should provide an excellent gauge of how well all of Kelly's new acquisitions actually fit together to form what every Eagles' fan is hoping will be a championship-caliber team.

The final exhibition game pits the Birds on the road against the New York Jets, in what has become another annual preseason tradition. This will be Kelly's final chance to evaluate the players that will fill those last few roster spots. There could be some key battles still raging in the defensive secondary or with the Birds' suddenly crowded receiving corps on offense. The truth of the matter is that this final game is for the type of fans that have nothing better to do on a late-summer Thursday or Friday night.

Friday, April 3, 2015

NFL Offseason Betting Report: Handicapping Some Early Futures Odds

In a previous post on Eagles Lincs, I took a closer look at the Eagles' most up to date futures odds to win Super Bowl 50 on Sportsbook.ag. Following an unprecedented offseason of change in the team's roster, it was determined that the betting public appears to be somewhat bullish on head coach Chip Kelly's complete makeover. Philadelphia's overall numbers have moved in the right direction, but it is still just seventh on the list to win the Super Bowl at +1800 and it is a +900 fourth-favorite to win the NFC.

This past week in an NFL offseason betting report for Doc's Sports, I took a closer look at all the futures odds to make a few bold predictions for the 2015 season. Being the homer that I am, I determined that the best value on the board was taking the Eagles to win the NFC. It did come with one major caveat concerning the health of just about everyone of the new players that Kelly just acquired.

The Birds have put themselves in the ultimate "if everything goes right" scenario as far as winning anything next season. If Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray can both stay healthy for every game on the schedule then I honestly believe that the Eagles' offense will be one of the top two or three in the NFL as far as putting points on the board. Another big "if" as far as health can basically be applied to almost every new addition to the Eagles' roster. Kelly has really decided to roll the dice with a ton of new talent that has had a history of missing quite a bit of time with major injuries in their NFL careers.

The following is a link to my article as previously posted on Doc's Sports.


NFL Offseason Betting Report: Handicapping Some Early Futures Odds

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sportsbook boosts the Eagles' chances to win Super Bowl 50

The New England Patriots had barely put the finishing touches on their impressive run to last season's Super Bowl title and Sportsbook.ag had already posted its future betting odds to win Super Bowl 50 in February of 2016. At that time, the Eagles were seventh on the list at 25/1. The Seattle Seahawks opened as 6/1 favorites and New England was listed as a 7/1 second-favorite to repeat. Right below the Eagles on this initial list were the Dallas Cowboys at 15/1 betting odds.

Quite a bit has changed since then given some of Philly's dramatic offseason moves, so the burning question is did head coach Chip Kelly help or hinder his team's chances to win a Super Bowl title next season by swapping-out his starting quarterback and running back for supposedly new and improved versions while parting ways with his top wide receiver from a year ago?

Sportsbook.ag has updated its NFL futures board since the start of free agency and while Philadelphia is still seventh on the latest list, its odds to win Super Bowl 50 have improved to 18/1. The Seahawks remain the top favorite at 6/1, but the Green Bay Packers are now second-favorites at 15/2 with New England sliding down to third at 8/1 odds to successfully defend their title.

Kelly may have stole the Cowboys' top player on offense from last season when he signed free agent running back DeMarco Murray, but Dallas is still ahead of the Birds on the latest list at the same 15/1 betting odds.

One of the biggest movers and shakers on the current betting board is the New York Jets. Their opening odds to win next season's Super Bowl were well down the list at 125/1 with only four other teams having longer odds. The betting public must be pretty high on some of the Jets' offseason moves under new head coach Todd Bowles. New York is still considered a longshot at best as the 23rd team on Sportsbook.ag' current list; however it betting odds to win Super Bowl 50 have improved to 50/1.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Eagles' Mock Draft 2.0 Update- March 22

It has been a month since I released my first update for this year's NFL Draft and in that post I had the Eagles taking cornerback Marcus Peters from Washington with the 20th overall pick in the first round. Since that point, head coach Chip Kelly has been the ultimate wheeler and dealer in reshaping this entire team and part of that process added both Byron Maxwell from Seattle and Walter Thurmond III to his defensive backfield so the need to take a cornerback in the first round is not as pressing.

Part of the reshaping process was parting ways with the Eagles' top receiver from last season Jeremy Maclin, who decided to rejoin is old coach Andy Reid in Kansas City as a free agent. Along with a pressing need at wide receiver, Kelly will also need to fill some holes in his offensive line as well as well as at the safety position with the departure of Nate Allen.

Reid had a long history of taking offensive linemen in the first round of the draft and I see Kelly following in that tradition by selecting offensive lineman Jake Fisher with the Philly's first overall pick. The need is there and Fisher has shown versatility throughout his college career by playing almost every position along the line. The biggest selling point for Kelly pulling the trigger is that Fisher played his college career at Oregon and we all know about his affinity for adding as many Ducks as possible to the roster.

I am going with Fisher as my official first round pick, but another name to watch is safety Landon Collins from Alabama. This is another position of need and Collins brings both size and speed to the table in a defense that is not known for being one of the more physical squads in the league when it comes to pass coverage.

Moving onto the second round pick, I have Kelly taking UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. He would probably be a bit of a project at first, but Hundley's overall skill set fits Kelly's offensive system to a tee. He is also a product of the Pac-12, which automatically puts him on Kelly's radar. I am not sure if this would be the best pick at this position given the need at wide receiver, but I think that Kelly is hell-bent at solving his issues at the quarterback in both the short term with Sam Bradford and Hundley down the road.

These are the only two draft picks I am releasing in this month's Eagles' mock draft, but I am working my way through the list of prospects to add picks for the later rounds for next month's 3.0 version.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Can the Eagles win a Super Bowl with Sam Bradford?

The new Monty Hall of the NFL when it comes to "Lets Make a Deal" is undoubtedly Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly. In just two short weeks, he has completely reshaped his team's offense with a new quarterback, two new running backs and a gaping hole in the receivers' corps.

Among a number of shocking moves, Kelly decided to trade Philly's starting quarterback Nick Foles, who had shown some tremendous promise in his first three seasons in the NFL for the St. Louis Ram's starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who was the first overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. At face value this trade appears to heavily favor the Eagles, but given the fact that Bradford has only started seven games in his last two seasons due to multiple ACL injuries, it would have to be considered a risky move at best.

The bigger question than can the Eagles win a title with Bradford at the helm would be can Bradford remain upright long enough to even have a chance to hoist the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy? He did start all 16 games in his rookie season while throwing for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed 60 percent of his 590 attempts while getting picked-off 15 times which is not all that bad for a first year quarterback in this league.

He only made it through 10 starts in 2011 before suffering a season-ending injury, but he did go the distance in 2012 with a full 16 starts. A season-ending knee injury limited Bradford to just seven games in 2013 and he never even made it to opening day last season after going down with another torn ACL in a preseason game.

If Bradford can stay healthy in 2015, he will have one of the best backfields in the NFL to take some pressure off the passing game with both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews now in the fold. The bigger issue could be who will Bradford be throwing the ball to when he drops back to pass. The Eagles failed to come to terms with Jeremy Maclin, so they are now without a true No. 1 wide receiver. Jordan Matthews showed some tremendous promise in his rookie season last year with 872 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches, but it remains to be seen if he can elevate his game into that No. 1 position in 2015. Riley Cooper is a decent possession receiver and both tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz have shown some excellent pass catching ability. Throw in Darren Sproules catching the ball out of the backfield and you have a decent receiving corps, but hardly one that would be considered a championship caliber one.

Getting back to my original question of can Bradford leads the Birds to the Promised Land, my answer right now would be a very non-committal maybe!

You would have to think that Kelly has a few more tricks up his sleeve to try and address a few serious holes on defense so it is hard to say what the final version of Philly's roster will look like come opening day.

One thing that I can say with a certain level of confidence is that if all of the new faces that have joined this team stay healthy for the entire 16-game regular season, the Eagles will be back in the playoffs in 2015. The problem is that this "IF" is the biggest two-letter word in the world for our beloved Birds' title hopes.