Our Eagles at Patriots predictions for Week 1 of the NFL season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles are on the road in Week 1 to face the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
To the predictions:
Weird things happen on opening day. Everybody’s full of surprises, good teams don’t realize they’re good yet and bad teams don’t realize they’re bad. Every team thinks it's going to the Super Bowl. Opening day is full of upsets and shocks and it’s never easy to win on Week 1. Add to the equation that the losing team in the last 25 Super Bowls is 10-15 on opening day the next year, and the last 20 Super Bowl losers who opened on the road are 4-16 in Week 1 and you see how tricky this game is. The Eagles are clearly the better team. They have the better roster, the better quarterback, the better weapons, the better defense. Heck, they may even have the better coach now that Tom Brady is out of the equation. Week 1 can be scary. That said, I expect the Eagles will find a way Sunday in Foxboro. I don’t think it will be easy. I don’t think it will be pretty. I don’t think it will be a blowout. But the Eagles are an NFL-best 12-3 on opening day since 2008 and I’m confident that by 8 p.m. Sunday they’ll be 13-3.
Eagles 27, Patriots 20
It’s never easy facing a Bill Belichick defense and there are always some unknowns going into any season about what you’re going to see. But the Eagles should have enough answers. Jalen Hurts is coming off a tremendous training camp and if the Pats try to heat him up he has safety valves built into this offense. While Belichick might play a tad more zone this season, he’s known for man coverage and that’s a problem with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith outside with one corner out and another in his first NFL game. It could be a huge day for one or both of those guys on Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, I don’t think that Patriots’ offensive line is going to be good enough to slow down the Eagles’ pass rushers, especially because they’re pretty injured. The Pats’ OL has been banged up all summer and even with Haason Reddick’s thumb wrapped, the Eagles have a couple waves of dangerous pass rushers. So while there’s some concern about all the new pieces at linebacker and safety, it won’t matter if Mac Jones is on the seat of his pants. This game might be a little closer than you’d expect but the better team comes out on top.
Eagles 27, Patriots 17
I don't think Weeks 1-4 will be the best football the Eagles will play this season. With none of the starters getting reps in the preseason, there will be a fair amount of rust to shake off. At this point, Jalen Hurts has not taken a hit since February. He has been saved by the red jersey all of training camp.
Offensively, the Birds will face a good front seven. OLB Matthew Judon and DT Lawrence will test the Eagles OL. MLB Ja' Whaun Bentley can run well and plays very instinctually. Defensively, QB Mack Jones has better coaching this year and the expectation is that Jones should take a step forward in his development. The Pats’ offense will try to run the ball so that Jones will not have to deal with the Birds’ pass rush throughout the game.
Considering the talent level of the Eagles and the lack of talent in the Pats’ locker room, this should be a double digit win for the Eagles. Notice I didn't say easy. There is never an easy game in the NFL.
Eagles 27, Patriots 17
The mystique of Bill Belichick has lost just a little shine in the post-Tom Brady era and TB12’s presence will be looming large on opening day as he’s honored by the Patriots. It’s only natural to look at the fact that Belichick has two losing seasons and a one-and-done playoff exit on his own while Brady added a 7th ring without “The Hoodie” before retiring (again). However, Belichick still produced a defense last season that was top-three in both sacks and takeaways while giving up the eight fewest yards. The Patriots generally focus on taking away the opposing offense’s best option. Good luck figuring out what exactly that is for the Eagles and then stopping it. They have so many ways to beat you. My guess is Belichick will attempt to keep Jalen Hurts from running and force him to win from the pocket. Hurts will quickly prove he’s improved even more as a passer leading to big days for AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. The Pats will present some problems early but expect Hurts and the coaching staff to solve them all eventually.
On the other side of the ball, there is a ton of excitement surrounding a pair of young Georgia draft picks on the Eagles roster, Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith. But this matchup will be all about the two Bulldogs they selected a year prior, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean. They’ll be largely responsible for slowing down the Rhamondre Stevenson/Ezekiel Elliott combo on the ground. Once that happens, the pass rush will be able to get after Mac Jones and force a key turnover or two. Brady gets cheered. His successor gets booed. Jalen Hurts continues his rise.
Eagles 27, Patriots, 17