Afternoon Roundup: Super Bowl Predictions

Plus, Bradford on his return to game action.

Chip Kelly

Opinions about the Eagles’ chances this season are all over the place.  ESPN has them ninth in their power rankings. Pro Football Talk has them all the way down at 14. Other outlets slot them anywhere in-between.

And then there is Adam Schefter and Joe Banner, who have the Eagles at the very top.

“They are the team that I anointed. They are my Super Bowl pick in the NFC,” said Schefter during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic. “I don’t mean to make Philadelphia get their hopes up because predictions are usually the surest way to look silly. But I believe they’re good enough to have that kind of season. I really do.

“Now, there are a lot of questions. And the biggest question of course is the quarterback, and no one needs me to tell that. But I remember talking to the Eagles at the owners meetings and they were saying when Sam Bradford came out of college, the only other quarterback over the last 15, 20 years that the Eagles had a higher grade on when he was coming out of college was Peyton Manning. Sam Bradford was second.

“I just think the upside with Sam is there, with this line, with Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Andrew Gardner and Lane Johnson, if those guys can keep him healthy, that Sam Bradford has a chance to flourish much in the way that Drew Brees once flourished. And we’ll see if that can happen.”

Schefter says he has the Eagles defeating the Ravens in Super Bowl L.

Banner has them hoisting the Lombardi as well. That could be a good omen, as Banner was spot on in his predictions from a year ago.

Bradford ‘excited to get out there’

Bradford believes he’s already taken the last step in his return. Monday’s game against Atlanta is just a formality. He felt like himself, he said after practice Wednesday, when he stepped onto the NovaCare practice field during training camp.

“I was limited through OTAs, still kind of working to get some strength back in my legs and feel good, but once I got back to training camp and didn’t feel anything in my knee, and felt like I was my normal self out there, I felt like I was back and ready to go.”

His last step was playing in a couple of preseason games, “playing ball again, taking a few hits.” It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s apparently enough for Bradford to feel comfortable heading into Monday night. Now, he said, it’s mainly anticipation.

“Who wouldn’t be excited?” he asked reporters, flashing a grin. “Especially because, I don’t even know how long it’s been. A year and a half? A year and seven months? Nine months? I don’t even know how long it’s been. But opening day’s always exciting. When you haven’t played in that long, I’m that much more excited to get out there and play.”

Bradford’s last regular season appearance came on October 20, 2013, when he exited a game against the Panthers late in the fourth quarter.

Ryans reads Shanahan’s offense

During DeMeco Ryans’ first four years in the NFL, he shared the Houston Texans’ sideline with Kyle Shanahan. In 2006, Shanahan was the Texans’ wide receivers coach; in 2007, the quarterbacks coach; and in 2008 and 20009, the offensive coordinator. So Ryans, who told reporters Wednesday he expects to play in the season opener, has an inkling of what Shanahan likes to do when he’s put in charge of an offense.

Shanahan was hired as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator this offseason as a part of their coaching staff makeover. Though the Eagles’ defense only has a few games’ worth of tape to watch of the Shanahan era in Atlanta, Ryans said his time in Houston has helped him understand how he expects the Falcons’ offense to look Monday night in the Georgia Dome.

“When you check out a new team, you always look at the coordinator and where he’s been, and the type of play structures he likes to run,” Ryans said after practice Wednesday.

“You go back and try to watch the offensive coordinator, [Shanahan]. I spent some time with him in Houston, and he’s kind of still running similar plays. Nothing much has changed.”

Still, Atlanta’s offense is replete with weapons. Quarterback Matt Ryan, a talented player in his own right, has a pair of potent pass catchers in wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. For a defensive unit that was torpedoed by big plays just a year ago, a hard-to-read Falcons offense could cause problems.

“It will be a big test,” Ryans said. “Our main focus has been keeping the X-plays off of us, and that will be a main focus because of the great quarterback they have in Matt Ryan.

“We know he can get it downfield, and he has some receivers to get it to. So if we talk about stopping the X-plays, we have our match going up on Monday night.”

Adam Hermann and Tim McManus contributed to this post.