Thirteen Eagles Predictions Despite the Unknown

From touchdowns to Jalen Hurts to sacks and interceptions, it's all right here
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PHILADELPHIA - The season of the unknown is upon the Eagles.

Not even the players know what this team will look like.

That won't deter your SI.com Eagle Mavens from making some predictions.

Here are 13:

Who scores the first TD?

Let’s go with Jalen Hurts. From the looks of things in joint practices the Eagles are going to be RPO heavy on offense so Hurts taking it himself after a long drive would be no surprise.

If the first TD is of the explosive variety, however, that’s likely to be over the top to DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders' swinging for the fences, or Quez Watkins taking a bubble screen to the house.

Who leads the team in receiving yards?

After two long seasons of failing to have a WR go over 600 yards, Smith can do that in his sleep as long as his 166-pound frame holds up, admittedly a concern because the first-round pick was banged up on at least two occasions in camp. With an extra game to play with, Smith will likely break the Eagles’ rookie receiving record for yardage held by DeSean Jackson if the former Alabama star is on the field for the majority of the time.

Does Miles Sanders top 1,000 yards?

Most of these cumulative numbers are about staying healthy and one of the reasons the Eagles will be going with a committee approach in the backfield is to keep Sanders healthy and in the mix as much as possible.

He’s been over 800 during his first two seasons and only 60 yards-per-game over a 17-game season would do it so the guess here is Sanders cracks 1K for the first time due to the Hurts threat in the RPO game opening up some running lanes.

Leading receiver out of the backfield?

And a rookie shall lead them. When Miles Sanders says fifth-round pick Kenny Gainwell he has the best hands in the RB room, it’s hard to pick against him. To do it, though, he will need to play a lot, and the bet is he will.

How many total touchdowns, passing and rushing, will Jalen Hurts have?

The goal should be about 25 passing TDs in the first full year starting for Hurts and maybe another seven or so in the ground so a good over/under number here is 30 with the guess that Hurts isn’t quite ready to hit the number until he develops a little more accuracy throwing the football.

Does any QB not named Jalen hurts start this season?

The second-year QB has proven to be remarkably durable during his career. The Eagles will run him a lot this year, so the risk of injury is higher than most quarterbacks. There’s another factor that could lead to seeing Joe Flacco or Gardner Minshew start a game and that is Hurts’ effectiveness. It’s likely he will have a short leash and if he shows inconsistency on a consistent basis. 

That said, neither injury nor ineffectiveness will park him on the bench for a start, so, no, neither Flacco nor Minshew will start a game.

Who has more receiving yards, Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert?

Just a hunch here from watching practice every day but it sure seems to be like Nick Sirianni has developed a little bit of a sports crush on Zach Ertz and the veteran is healthy and ready to go for a bounce-back year.

Who leads the team in receiving touchdowns?

Zach Ertz has been all in this summer and he will continue to be one of the team's top red-zone threats. Eight or nine should put him at the top of the team TD list by the season's end.

Does Landon Dickerson start any games?

Right now, the rookie second-round pick is listed as the backup center behind Jason Kelce, who will make his 106th straight start and hasn’t missed one of those since 2104. So, it’s a long shot. However, there could be a chance he starts at one of the guard spots should something happen to Brandon Brooks and/or Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig doesn’t provide adequate relief. Long answer short – yes, Dickerson will start at least one game.

Who leads the team in tackles?

This is the easiest category to pick. Alex Singleton by a country mile. The tackling machine might even threaten the league lead in tackles as his truncated 11-game total from 2020 was enormous.

Who leads the team in sacks?

Many of the team’s players picked Josh Sweat as the player ready to have a monster year and it certainly seems like the new coaching staff is ready to up Sweat’s reps and give him the opportunity. The lanky Sweat looks straight out of central casting when it comes to edge rushers and double-digit sacks in a contract year should be on the menu.

Who leads the team in interceptions?

The ball-hawing Anthony Harris is one of the game’s best center fielders and Jonathan Gannon’s propensity for zone overage should hive Harris a number of opportunities to take the football away.

What will it take to make the playoffs?

A healthy season from the offensive and defensive lines. If you can block and rush the passer in the NFL, you have a chance to win a lot of games and the potential is there to have a top five-level line on both sides of scrimmage for the Eagles.

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-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.