Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com predicts a 38-28 Eagles victory:
I can’t wait for Robert Griffin III to start Week 1 just so I don’t ever have to hear about Robert Griffin III starting Week 1 again. I’m more excited for Michael Vick running the Chip Kelly offense. The Eagles’ wisely kept Vick running the up-tempo scheme under wraps throughout the preseason, but I woudn’t be surprised if we see some nifty, no-huddle come Monday night. Philly’s not winning the Super Bowl this year, but they’re going to be an awfully entertaining team to watch each week. I’m just not sure about the defense. That’s kind of a big deal.
Taking a +600 bet for the Eagles to win the NFC East isn’t a bad idea, writes Grantland’s Bill Barnwell:
One of a number of long-shot bets on divisional winners. I think each team in the NFC East has a minimum 20 percent chance of winning the division, and this line prices the Eagles in at a 14.3 percent chance of claiming the trophy. I won’t pretend it’s likely, but the 5-11 Redskins weren’t exactly favorites to win this division last year, either.
Barnwell also names the Eagles as one of his teams that will be better in 2013. His best-case scenario:
The Eagles are Redskins North. Vick is a borderline MVP candidate, the Eagles average six yards per carry on the ground, and the defense is passable enough for Philly to win 11 games.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com predicts a 29-26 Redskins victory:
I’m so looking forward to this Monday Nighter. It should be informative. We’ll learn together just what new Eagles coach Chip Kelly has in store for Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and the rest of the NFL. Will Philly run 82 plays from scrimmage? That would be hard to do against a team that can run the football as effectively as Washington, with a 1,600-yard back in Alfred Morris. The Redskins will need Morris as much as they’ll need Robert Griffin III; if those two falter, Washington’s defense will be doing more panting than tackling.
Harrison has the Eagles 26th in his power rankings:
“Our defense is pretty terrible,” said one of our top researchers at NFL Media — and an ardent Eagles fan. “We’re gonna lose games 31-27.” Typical negative Philly follower, still upset about the ’93 World Series. There is a lot to be excited about regarding this Eagles offense, however, starting with LeSean McCoy. The guess here is that Chip Kelly really scaled it back in the preseason. The new head coach has to hope his secondary can hold ’em.
SI.com’s Peter King on Cary Williams:
Cary Williams doesn’t lead the league in aggression and ticking off teammates and foes; Miami guard Richie Incognito does. But Williams would be in a battle for No. 2 on that list.
King predicts a 31-23 Redskins victory:
Robert Griffin III and Mike Vick set a land-speed record for number of plays (2,349) in a 60-minute game. I don’t trust the Eagles defense.
The Eagles are 25th in ESPN.com’s power rankings:
The Chip Kelly experiment begins with Michael Vick under center. Kelly’s Oregon team averaged 20.9 seconds per play last season, four seconds faster than the NFL’s fastest team (Patriots).
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com likes the Redskins to cover the 3.5-point spread:
I want to see the Eagles stop a team on defense before I believe they can with any regularity. I don’t see why Washington’s zone running scheme won’t be even more productive this season. Robert Griffin III’s health is a minor concern I suppose, but with a healthy Pierre Garcon and with Brian Orakpo back to help the pass rush, I like their chances here. DeSean Jackson might exploit the Redskins’ secondary a time or two, but if the Eagles go super hurry-up, and that offense has some 3-and-outs, and Mike Shanahan concocts the kind of run-based methodical drives I think he will, then Philly’s defense might be gassed before halftime.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com offers 10 things to watch in Week 1:
Chip Kelly’s offense. How fast can the Eagles go? Kelly loves to go as fast as any offense has gone before, but can he play at the pace he wants?
Grantland’s Bill Simmons offers preseason thoughts on the Eagles:
Ottawa reader Neil Varan wonders, “Who’s the leading candidate for your 2013 Man-Crush?” The answer: Eagles coach Chip Kelly. I love his brain, love his system, love the rapid-fire play thing … I mean, I would have picked the Eagles as my 2013 sleeper if Michael Vick weren’t so prominently involved. Last year, we decided that (a) his decision-making just wasn’t good enough, (b) it was too hard for him to stay healthy, and (c) if he were an NBA star, he’d be nearing the “I’m gonna play in China” stage of his career. Now he’s going to spearhead an offense that runs 85 plays a game and relies on him to make MORE decisions? If Kelly makes this one work in Year 1, he’s even better than I thought. And I think he’s gonna be great. Eventually. Either way, the 2013 Eagles will be a pain in the ass to play, even if they end up going only 6-10 or 7-9.