Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns
1:00 pm EDT at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Spread: Eagles -3.5
When the Eagles traded their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, to the Minnesota Vikings just eight days before their first regular season game, expectations and excitement for this Eagles teams shifted dramatically. Second-overall draft pick Carson Wentz will now lead the Eagles at quarterback immediately, rather than being eased into action later (if at all) in the season. While Bradford gave the Eagles some hope of winning the NFC East (especially after it was announced that Cowboys QB Tony Romo would miss six to ten weeks with another back injury), the likelihood of a rookie QB mounting a similar campaign seems optimistic. Nonetheless, the change has energized fans who will no longer have to wait to get a look at the future of the franchise in Wentz.
On the other side, Cleveland traded the number two draft pick that the Eagles used on Wentz to Philadelphia after determining that the QB was “not a top-20 quarterback,” according to Browns coach Hue Jackson. The Browns instead will go to war with the embattled Robert Griffin III who recently lost his job in Washington to Kirk Cousins. With weaknesses at skill positions and first-year quarterbacks on both offensives, this matchup may come down to which defense is able to capitalize on the inevitable offensive miscues.
As we await kickoff, here are the predictions from the football minds here at Pattison Avenue and what we’ll be watching throughout the game:
Carson Wentz will give us at least three “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God” moments, but this isn’t a strong defense and I’m expecting him to spend 90% of the game looking competent. Still, he’ll likely need a half to shake off the rust and the Browns are still an NFL team with NFL players. Cleveland spoils the day and watch for Browns WR/RB/QB/Freak-of-Nature Terrelle Pryor to have a big game. Browns, 20- 17
I’m going to try something new for Philadelphia: positivity. The Eagles are going to win this game, and I’m not sure it’s even going to be that close. Quarterback of the future/present will have a nice debut, but nothing spectacular. I’m thinking under 50% completion, but he’ll throw for a couple of touchdowns (and a couple of picks). Birds win this game with stellar defense. Gimme the Eagles, 24-10.
I know the general consensus here is to doubt the Eagles because they are starting a rookie quarterback in Week 1, but I love the Eagles this week. So much so that I made them my survival pick to start off the season. They are at home against a team with a brand new coaching staff, a quarterback who hasn’t done anything significant in this league since 2012, and a roster filled with drafted and undrafted rookies. The only way I see the Eagles dropping this one is with a complete collapse from the offensive line. Eagles, 27-16
Zach Bates ()
Like my colleagues have stated, all eyes will be on Wentz. I am looking to see how he does, having just one preseason start under his belt. I am a die-hard fan who is excited to see this new regime and the new head coach at home on the first game of the season. If the offensive line stays strong, I see the Eagles taking the crown and going 1-0 to start the season. I am also excited to see the stellar defense come out strong. Eagles, 14-7
The obvious “what to watch” will be Carson Wentz. I’ll be looking at how he responds to the inevitable setbacks, especially those that aren’t his fault (read: drops and/or tipped-ball INTs). I’ll also be watching to see how the offensive line holds up, and particularly rookie guard Isaac Seumalo. It might not be pretty, but I like the Eagles to pull this one out on the backs of their defense and special teams. Eagles, 20-17