By, Faux John Madden (Special to OddsUSA.com)
Prior to winning Super Bowl LII, the ‘Philly Special’ was the term given to Eagles fans that were able to lob a battery at Santa Claus while evading spending the day in the prison underneath Veteran’s Stadium.
Now some two and a half years later, the ‘Philly Special’ would describe the onslaught of injuries the team has had ever since they slayed the Evil Empire (aka the New England Patriots) to capture their first-ever Lombardi Trophy.
Last season was once again spoiled by the Eagles’ inability to stay healthy on the field, and following the season-ending injury to OT Andre Dillard just a few weeks before the 2020 NFL Season is set to kick-off, Eagles’ fans natural reaction is, “Here we go again.”
Of all the injuries the Eagles have had to endure over the past two seasons, the injuries to their franchise quarterback Carson Wentz have been the most costly.
Wentz finally got to start in his first playoff game after injuries forced him to miss the entire 2017 and 2018 postseasons.
He was done after eight minutes of action and a lone completion of 3 yards after Seahawks’ DE Jadeveon Clowney knocked Wentz out of the game with a concussion after he dove into Wentz like a Bills fan leaping into a folding table off the roof of their Winnebago.
That hit probably at the least should have merited a fine or 15 yard penalty during the game. It did neither.
It was the latest rash of bad luck to hit the young quarterback and the fifth consecutive season in which Wentz would miss time with an injury dating all the way back to his last season at North Dakota State in 2015.
The Eagles enter the new year hoping to finally get a reprieve from an injury bug that had the team one phone call away from signing Mark Wahlberg to play wide receiver for the team, but even if they don’t get that reprieve, the other three lovable losers in the NFC East can still fuel the Eagles to another division title.
Eagles 2019 Season Review
Doug Pederson and the Eagles entered 2019 with a reloaded roster and big expectations to return to the top of the NFC after a disappointing 2018 season where they finished 9-7 on the season and lost to New Orleans in the NFC Divisional Round despite building an early 14-0 lead and having Alshon Jeffrey drop a pass right into the waiting arms of Saints’ CB Marshon Lattimore on a potential game-winning drive.
The Eagles would chalk that loss up to bad luck and just not having the horses to hang with the Saints that day, however, the same thing that would derail their 2018 campaign would haunt them all throughout the 2019 season.
Philly’s 2019 season began in the typical wonky form you expect to find out of many Week 1 contests, as they would fall into a 17-0 hole against the Washington Football Team, only to rally for a 32-27 win.
Their season opener would be the perfect looking glass mirror for how the rest of their season was about to unfold, as the Eagles would constantly bounce back and forth with an interchanging of wins and losses as injuries would begin to ravage the entire roster — most notably at wide receiver where the Eagles would be obliterated by the injury bug.
After a Week 11 loss to the New England Patriots in a rematch of the only time Eagles’ fans have ever experienced happiness that didn’t come at the expense of others, Philadelphia would sit at 5-5 on the season ahead of a big NFC showdown against the Seahawks.
Wentz would enter that game with just two healthy wide receivers, and a desperate Philly team would sign former Houston Cougars quarterback Greg Ward Jr. off the practice squad to come be the teams #1 wide receiver.
The outmanned Philly team would go on to lose that game and the following week against the Dolphins to drop to 5-7 on the season and put their hopes at another NFC East crown on very thin ice.
Fortunately for the Eagles, however, the Dallas Cowboys were absolutely determined to do whatever it took to lose the division, and thanks to four straight division games to close out their season, Philadelphia would win out, finish 9-7 and become bowl eligible out of the NFC East!
So the Eagles did at least match their preseason expectations of winning the NFC East, they just fell ‘bass-ackwards’ into said playoff spot.
Their season would eventually end in probably the most fitting fashion possible with the aforementioned concussion suffered by Wentz, and the injury-ravaged Eagles would finally endure too many key guys playing hurt on their way to their second 17-9 loss at the hands of Seattle that season.
Will Love Philadelphia Until They Mess Something Up
CB Darius Slay (Lions/Trade)
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (Rams)
DT Jason Hargrave (Steelers)
S Will Parks (Broncos)
WR Marquise Goodwin (49ers/COVID-19 Opt-Out)
Dropped Quicker Than a Pass Headed Towards Nelson Algohor’s Hands
RB Jordan Howard (Dolphins)
S Malcolm Jenkins (Saints)
WR Nelson Algohor (Raiders)
OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Lions)
DT Timmy Jernigan (Jaguars)
CB Ronald Darby (Washington)
TE Richard Rodgers (Washington)
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (Dolphins)
Eagles 2020 Offensive Preview
It should be no surprise that after the Eagles wide receiver depth chart was basically obliterated a season ago (and that doesn’t include the 10 games they had to use Nelson Algohor, which was almost worse than the injuries themselves), that getting weapons for Carson Wentz was one of GM Howie Roseman’s biggest goals entering the 2020 offseason.
Philadelphia began that process by drafting the speedy Jalen Reagor out of TCU, and hopes that getting a healthy Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson back into the lineup will allow for the Eagles’ passing game to come back to life, and in the case of Jackson, maybe spend a little less time on Instagram.
For all the grief Wentz has received from Eagles fans and non-fans alike about his durability, Wentz did play all 16 games a season ago and managed to become the first quarterback in NFL history to top 4,000 yards passing without a single wide receiver eclipsing 500 yards. So it’s a pretty safe assumption that most of the Eagles’ issues are not on the shoulders of Wentz.
After the Jordan Howard experiment was an abject failure, the Eagles managed to stumble into the realization than 2019 2nd round pick Miles Sanders is pretty good, and Doug Pederson would also tap into the team’s practice squad for an additional spark with the diminutive Boston Scott, who would give Philly fans shades of a young Darren Sproles.
Sanders and Scott will once again headline the stable of Philly running backs, with Corey Clement rounding out the depth chart and potentially being the Eagles kick returner once again in 2020 as he was a year ago.
Entering the 2020 season, the Eagles offensive line looked to be a unit poised for big growth this year after injuries once again caused Philly to have a lot of issues here in 2019.
As we mentioned at the intro, the team will now be without 2019 1st round pick Andre Dillard, who was set to take over as the team’s new left tackle, after Dillard suffered a season-ending biceps injury on August 27th. The Eagles also suffered another offseason injury to Pro Bowl RG Brandon Brooks, when he would suffer a ruptured Achilles tendon in June.
That leaves an Eagles team that dealt with injury after injury a season ago down two starters on their offensive line before the year has even kicked off. Philadelphia did bring back Jason Peters for one more stint, but they had planned on moving him to guard to take over for the injured Brooks. It remains to be seen if Doug Pederson will eventually kick Peters back out to left tackle while finding another solution at right guard, or if he will elect to bring on another left tackle and leave Peters where he is now. Either way, a tumultuous start to the depth of the Eagles offensive line is not exactly how Pederson was hoping to start the new season.
It’s not entirely doom and gloom for the Eagles’ offense just yet though, as the team is also returning the dynamic tight end duo of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, with the latter likely to be counted on for his blocking as much as his threat in the passing game. If Wentz and the other key cogs to this Eagles offense can simply stay healthy, the potential is there for Philadelphia to field one of the better offensive units in football.
Eagles 2020 Defensive Preview
The Eagles defense will once again have Jim Schwartz calling the shots, and they too are looking to improve off of a 2019 season where they would finish in the bottom half of the league in passing yards allowed and interceptions.
For Schwartz, he will rely heavily on the aggressive blitzing scheme that he has brought to Philadelphia ever since he was tabbed to coordinate the Eagles defense. All-world everything Fletcher Cox will once again anchor the Philadelphia defensive line, with free-agent acquisition Javon Hargrove sliding in next to him giving the Eagles a whole lot of beef in the interior of their line.
To alleviate the Eagles issues in the secondary, Schwartz will need to depend on his defensive line to generate pressure, and pass rushers Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Josh Sweat will be counted on to do just that.
The Eagles linebackers were not the best group in 2019, but they weren’t the worst either, and that’s likely to hold true in 2020 as well, with Nathan Gerry being the best of the Eagles trio.
To address the glaring need to repair the Eagles secondary, Philadelphia went out and traded for Detroit Lions Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, and also signed Nickell Robey-Coleman to lock down the nickel cornerback spot. 2019 Eagles starting cornerback Jalen Mills returns to the team in 2020, but Schwartz intends to move Mills to safety where he will be paired with veteran free safety Rodney McLeod, who will replace Malcolm Jenkins in the lineup.
The cornerback position opposite of Slay will be one worth monitoring all throughout camp and into the season as 2018 4th round pick Avonte Maddox is set to start for now, but 2017 2nd round pick Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas could also be in the mix for that spot.
Eagles 2020 Outlook & Prediction
Fortunately for the Eagles, as they undergo a small roster reset from the Super Bowl LII winning team, they will do so in arguably the weakest division in the entire league. As long as the Cowboys, Giants, and Washington Football Team With No Name exist, the Eagles figure to always have a great chance to come out of the division and represent the NFL’s version of Conference USA in the playoffs.
For whatever reason, the Philadelphia training staff have seen more people than a Geno’s Steaks restaurant over the last few years, and the team has still managed to go 9-7 in each season.
While Philadelphia’s talent isn’t what it once was just three years ago, they still have one of the best coaching staffs in football and a young quarterback who has been spectacular when he’s been able to stay on the field.
Once again the NFC East figures to come down to Philadelphia and Dallas, and once again we will trust the Eagles to come out on top and get back to the playoffs where they will likely be a one-and-done candidate once more.
Eagles 2020 Projection: 10-6, 1st NFC East
Eagles 2020 Betting Preview
We fancy these futures wagers on the Philadelphia Eagles that will have you belting out, “FLY EAGLES FLY!” all throughout the 2020 season.
- Philadelphia Eagles OVER 9 Wins — (-134) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Surely the Eagles can’t have another season destroyed by injury right? And as recent history has shown, even when the Eagles are re-enacting scenes from MASH, they still find a way to win 9 games on the season. We’re going to eat the juice here and hope that Carson Wentz can stay healthy behind an already weakened Philly offensive line.
- Philadelphia Eagles to Win NFC East — (+150) at DraftKings Sportsbook
If there’s anything we trust less than gas station sushi, it’s the Dallas Cowboys living up to preseason expectations. We understand why the Cowboys are favored to win the NFC East, as they do have the most talented roster in the division, we just don’t think they have the Coach/QB tandem that Philadelphia features. Give us the plus-money on the Eagles to repeat as NFC East champs.
- Carson Wentz OVER 3900.5 Yards Passing — (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
This is very clearly a bet on whether or not Carson Wentz will stay healthy all season again. We think he does, and we think he sails over this number for an easy winner.
- Carson Wentz to Win NFL MVP — (+2800) at DraftKings Sportsbook
We’re kind of a sucker for including at least one long shot futures play for each team. We’re enticed by the 28-to-1 value on Wentz who would already have one MVP under his belt if not for a late-season ACL tear back in 2017. And while Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Russell Wilson are clearly the top three horses in this race, why not take a shot at one of the most consistent quarterbacks in football when healthy?