The NFL is a much more interesting place when Chip Kelly is in it -- much like college football is when Steve Spurrier is around. Kelly isn't witty publicly like Spurrier is, but Kelly is going to do things his way and suffer the consequences. Hence the "Mad Scientist" moniker. The Eagles had one of the NFL's best running backs in LeSean McCoy. So what does Kelly do? Trades him to Buffalo for one of his former Oregon Ducks, linebacker Kiko Alonso, even though Alonso missed all of last season with an injury. Then Kelly upgraded his tailback position by signing not only 2014 rushing king DeMarco Murray, weakening division-rival Dallas in the process, but also former Charger Ryan Mathews. Will we see the wishbone?
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Seriously, who trades a quarterback-for-quarterback straight up these days? Kelly does, sending Nick Foles, who was great in 2013 but mediocre and injured in 2014, to St. Louis for talented but injury-prone Sam Bradford. If any coach is going to take advantage of the NFL's new PAT rules, I'm guessing it's Kelly. Why else do you think he signed Tim Tebow? Can you think of a better goal-line quarterback to go for 2 points?
Philly is quite a different team from last year's 10-6 club that missed the playoffs, but I have no idea if it's better. The Eagles were 4-4 on the road last season, 4-4 against the spread and 5-3 "over/under." Their 2015 road schedule ranks as the 13th-easiest in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2014 winning percentage of .488. That's tied for the hardest in the NFC East with the Redskins.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 14 -- at Falcons (+1): First game of the opening Monday night doubleheader. In a way, this is the worst time for Philly to face Atlanta because the Falcons have an entirely new system and staff under Dan Quinn, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator. You would prefer a game's worth of tape to see what the Falcons might be doing. First meeting since 2012. Eagles win. Key trend: Eagles 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 at NFC South.
Sept. 27 -- at Jets (+2.5): Could be a trap game here as the Eagles are off hosting Dallas in Week 2. New York will be on a short week, however, hosting Indianapolis on Monday night previous. Here's a stat I didn't know until now: the Eagles have never lost to the Jets, going 9-0. Eagles make it 10. Key trend: Eagles 6-4 ATS in past 10 at AFC.
Oct. 4 -- at Redskins (+2.5): Washington will have extra time to prepare for this as it hosts the Giants on Thursday in Week 3. Of course, one of Kelly's big moves last offseason was dumping star receiver DeSean Jackson, and the Redskins picked him up. To no surprise, Jackson had two big games against Philly in 2014. The Eagles lost in Washington 27-24 in Week 16, which essentially cost them the playoffs. Mark Sanchez's interception with 1:31 remaining led to Washington's winning 26-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining. The Eagles had two turnovers, 13 penalties and missed two field goals. They didn't look ready to play. They will win this, however. Key trend: Eagles 7-3 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series.
Oct. 25 -- at Panthers (-1): Sunday night game. Short week for Philadelphia as its hosts the Giants on Monday night in Week 6, and this ahead of its bye week, while Carolina is off a trip to Seattle. Former No. 1 overall picks and Heisman winners in Bradford and Cam Newton meet -- wow, would Newton shine in Kelly's system or what? The Eagles beat the visiting Panthers 45-21 in Week 10 last season on a Monday. Sanchez made his first start and threw for 332 yards and two scores. Philly had a punt return TD and interception return TD. Eagles lose this one. Key trend: Eagles 5-5 ATS in past 10 before bye (any location).
Nov. 8 -- at Cowboys (-4): Also a Sunday night game. This is off the bye for Philadelphia, while Dallas is off a Week 8 home game against Seattle. Don't think Murray will get a great reception in his return. Eagles won 33-10 in Dallas on Thanksgiving last season to take temporary control of the NFC East. McCoy ran for 159 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles opened with drives of 80 and 88 yards for touchdowns and would lead 23-7 at the half. They forced three Dallas turnovers overall. Eagles lose this one. Key trend: Eagles 7-3 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Nov. 26 -- at Lions (-2): Thanksgiving game. As noted above, second straight Turkey Day game for the Eagles. Philly enters this off a Week 11 home game vs. Tampa Bay, while Detroit is home to Oakland the previous Sunday. Last meeting between clubs was the "Snow Bowl" game on Dec. 8, 2013, in Philadelphia. McCoy ran for a franchise-best 217 yards, including touchdowns of 57 and 40 yards, in the 34-20 win. Eagles lose this. Key trend: Eagles 4-6 ATS in past 10 as road dog of 2 points or fewer.
Dec. 6 -- at Patriots (-4): At least Philly gets a few extra days to prepare for the champs. New England is off a monster game in Denver in Week 12. Kelly and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are friends -- Belichick started using some of Kelly's offensive schemes will he was still at Oregon. Belichick gave Tebow a shot, too. Eagles have lost four straight in series, last in 2011. They lose this too. Key trend: Eagles 6-4 ATS in past 10 as a road dog of at least 3.5 points.
Jan. 3 -- at Giants (pick'em): Eagles off a three-game homestand here, which concludes on a Saturday in Week 16 vs. Washington, while New York is off a trip to Minnesota the previous Sunday. These teams closed last season at MetLife Stadium as well and Philadelphia won 34-26, but that result meant nothing. Sanchez threw for 292 yards and two scores and the Eagles scored their seventh special teams TD of the season, this time on a blocked punt. Eagles win this. Key trend: Eagles 7-3 ATS in past 10 at Giants.
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