Here we are, heading into the fourth week of the NFL season. That was quick, wasn’t it?
Did anyone have the Eagles at 3-0 right now?
Did anyone *not* have the Eagles at 3-0?
Did anyone have the Jaguars at 2-1?
Interesting game Sunday. It could have been the typical trap game — a good Eagles team looking past a poor Jacksonville team. Instead, we have two first-place teams facing off with weather — the forecast for 1 p.m. is light rain and a 16-mph wind out of the northeast.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WILL LIKE:
1. EAGLES DEFENSE
After being burned by the Lions for 35 points, the Eagles’ defense has been outstanding. The numbers back it up — fifth in total defense; sixth against the pass; 17th against the run; seventh in points allowed (16.7).
They will be without nickel back Avonte Maddox, out with an ankle injury. Maddox was expected to help cover Jags slot Christian Kirk, their top receiver.
The Eagles’ pass rush has become formidable — helped in part by Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz. Last year, the Eagles had 29 sacks, ranked 31st in the league.
This year, thanks to the nine sacks they imposed on Wentz, they have 12 sacks in three games. Those sacks, and the pressure they are putting on quarterbacks, has improved the pass defense.
We’ll see how Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence, still relatively inexperienced, handles a bull-rushing Eagles defensive line. We’ll see how he handles a crowd that promises to be more hostile than what he faced in Los Angeles last Sunday.
Expect the Eagles defense, fortified by the taste of a fallen quarterback, to excel.
2. EAGLES OFFENSE
This phase of the game is what everyone wants to brag about. Jalen Hurts throwing the ball to A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, pushing the Eagles’ passing game to third ranked in the NFL.
The running attack, fueled by Hurts’ effective ground game, is ranked seventh. Running back Boston Scott is out with a rib injury, which means we’ll likely see Trey Sermon.
Overall, the Eagles’ offense is the best in the NFL. They will face a challenge in the seventh-ranked Jags defense. Right now, Hurts is better than Lawrence. Who would have said that a year ago? Expect Hurts and the offense to continue to roll up the points.
3. EAGLES WIN
The Eagles are the only NFL team to be favored in *every* game the remainder of the season. If that isn’t impressive enough, try this — they deserve to be the favorites.
No team has been as impressive on both sides of the ball as the Eagles. They are the NFL’s only undefeated team.
Against the Jags, the Eagles simply look superior on offense and defense. In dicey weather, Hurts’ running ability could be an enormous factor.
Give it to the Eagles, 24-13.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WILL NOT LIKE:
1. DOUGIE P.
You better believe Jags coach Doug Pederson circled this game the night the schedule was released on May 12.
Not many coaches win a Super Bowl without some version of run-through-the-wall motivational skills. Gotta believe the Jags will play their best game of the season — and they crushed the host Chargers, 38-10, last Sunday.
Pederson will have his team ready.
2. TREVOR LAWRENCE
The No. 1 overall pick has started all 20 games since the 2021 draft. The 2-1 Jags only need one more win to match their 2021 total.
Lawrence was drafted No. 1 to be a winning, franchise quarterback, as he was at Clemson. Last year, he completed 59.6 percent of his passes. This year he is completing 69.4. Hmmmm. Maybe working with renowned quarterback guru Pederson is beneficial.
Maybe, in his second season, everything he sees on the field makes sense. Last year, he had a league-leading 17 interceptions in 17 games. This year: one interception.
- “He’s playing fast,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “We watched some games last year, he may not have played as fast.
- “I think he’s processing at a high level. He’s very accurate, has a big arm, he’s athletic. He’s tall. He can see.”
The Jags rank second in point differential through three weeks at plus-46. Yep, the Jaguars, who have celebrated one winning season since 2007.
Lawrence isn’t the only reason for the turnaround — the Jacksonville defense is ranked seventh — but you can’t imagine the Jags on such an upward path without him. He might be ready for another huge step Sunday.
The Jaguars rank No. 1 in turnover differential with a plus-seven. You know the team that wins the turnover battle (almost always) wins the game.
So far, the Eagles have one turnover in three games and the play-call was at fault rather than the execution. The pick came on a screen pass toward the middle of the field, which was heavily populated by Vikings.
Hurts has thrown one interception in 98 pass attempts. The Eagles have fumbled twice but recovered both.
Expect a tough, down-and-dirty game. A turnover at the wrong time could be the difference. If the Jaguars get such charity from the Eagles, they could win, 24-21.