Not much has gone according to plan the first half of the Eagles’ season. If you looked back at my Eagles 2020 predictions from August (and I’m not telling you the link!) maybe I wasn’t quite so accurate. Although it’s not too late for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to catch those 33 passes!
Things have to get better in the second half, right? Right???
Here are five predictions for the second half of the Eagles season. For Dave Zangaro’s five second-half predictions, click here.
1. Carson Wentz bounces back. I don’t think he’ll be getting any calls from the Pro Bowl organizing committee (if there were one), but I do think Wentz improves significantly in the second half of the season. I’m thinking something like a 63 percent completion percentage, 14 touchdowns, five interceptions. Why am I so confident when Wentz has been so terrible so far? I guess just because he has a much longer history of being good to very good than being awful. Regression to the mean and all that. As his weapons and offensive linemen gradually come back from injury, I just think his comfort level will improve and he’ll get back to being the player we’re used to.
2. We’re going to keep seeing Travis Fulgham do all the things he’s done these last five weeks. This is who he is. I’ve got Fulgham finishing with 79 catches, 1,166 yards and eight touchdowns, which would be the 10th-best season in franchise history for a de facto rookie who spent the first three weeks of the season on the practice squad. As Wentz and Fulgham get more time together and he grows more comfortable in an offense he’s still new to, he’ll become even more dangerous than he has been.
3. There won’t be a Pro Bowl this year, but Brandon Graham will be a Pro Bowler for the first time. Even though the game won’t be played – and should never be played – there will be a 2020 Pro Bowl team, and Graham will join guys like Evan Mathis, Ike Reese and Stan Walters as first-time Pro Bowlers in their 30s. B.G. already has 7.0 sacks – 3rd-most in the NFL – and needs just 2 ½ to match his career high, set in 2017. But the way he’s playing, with tremendous effort and consistency, I expect at least another five or six to get him into that 12 to 13 range. A career year at 32. You gotta love it.
4. Miles Sanders has been limited to five games because of injuries, but he’s played at a very high level in those five games, averaging 87 yards per game – third-highest in the league - with a 6.1 average, best among all NFL running backs. Sanders has to stay healthy, but if he does he’s going to be the Eagles’ first running back over 1,000 yards since Shady in 2014. I’m giving him 1,074 rushing yards with a 5.4 average that would be the highest ever by an Eagles 1,000-yard rusher.
5. I still think 6-9-1 wins the division, which means the Eagles need to go 3-5 the second half to host a home playoff game. Doesn’t sound like much, but if the Eagles sweep their three remaining division games and lose the other five they still put themselves in a position where Washington would have to go 5-4 to get ahead of them, Dallas would have to go 5-3 and the Giants would have to go 6-2. And if they can also steal one in that stretch with the Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Saints and Cards it’ll be hard for them not to win the NFC East and be close to full strength hosting the No. 5 seed wild-card weekend. Strange but true.