An argument can be made that the Philadelphia Eagles had the best 2016 season of any team that didn't make the playoffs. Why? Because it appears the Eagles have found their franchise quarterback for potentially the next decade.
History has shown that giving up a ton of picks to move to the top of the draft to select a quarterback doesn't work out all that often. Just look at what the Redskins gave up to draft Robert Griffin III. OK, that worked out for one season but turned out to be a heist by the Rams, who got all those Redskins picks.
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Those Rams gave up plenty to trade up to the No. 1 spot in the 2016 draft and select Cal quarterback Jared Goff. It's too early to make any definitive claims, but it sure looks like the Rams blew it by not taking North Dakota State's Carson Wentz there. The Eagles traded up to No. 2 to land Wentz despite his small-school background and coming off an injury-plagued final season.
Wentz looks like he will be a very good player after throwing for 3,782 yards and 16 scores, and rushing for 150 yards and two TDs as a rookie. Perhaps more important than his statistics, Wentz was a leader of that time by the end of the season and had earned all the veterans' trust and respect. That's invaluable.
So not only did the Eagles score big with Wentz, Philly GM Howie Roseman was able to get a 2017 first-round pick for a quarterback in Sam Bradford who was no longer in the team's plans. That selection from Minnesota proved to be No. 14 this year and the Eagles took University of Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. Defensive end was a big-time need for the Eagles and with 32 career sacks, Barnett broke former Eagles great Reggie White's Tennessee record.
If I were to make one criticism of Roseman, it was giving backup QB Chase Daniel a three-year, $21 million deal last offseason and then releasing him back in March. The team brought back Nick Foles on a much cheaper deal to serve as Wentz's backup so Daniel wasn't needed at that price. But, hey, it's just money. Roseman had a fine year or so overall.
The Eagles were a horrid 1-7 on the road last season as their defense was much, much worse away from home, 2-6 against the spread and 7-1 "over/under." Philadelphia travels to four playoff teams in 2017: Kansas City, Dallas, Seattle and the NY Giants. I'd say the road slate is tougher overall than at home. I project a 3-5 record. Odds listed for the home team .
Sept. 10 at Redskins (-3, 47): It's the first time that the Eagles will open the season against a division rival since 2013 (also at Washington) The Eagles have dropped their last five to Washington, including three straight on the road. It was 27-20 in Week 6 last year. Philly was gashed for 493 yards. Wentz threw for only 179 and was sacked five times. Key betting trend: Eagles are 5-5 ATS in past 10 as at least 3-point road dog in series.
Sept. 17 at Chiefs (-4): Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson makes his return to Kansas City to face his former boss and ex-Eagles head coach Andy Reid. It's Philly's first trip to K.C. since 2005. Key trend: Eagles 4-6 ATS in past 10 at AFC West teams.
Oct. 1 at Chargers (-1.5): Eagles come off a Week 3 game vs. the Giants. This starts the easiest stretch of the schedule and where this team is going to have to get hot as there are no playoff teams on the slate until after the Eagles' Week 10 bye.It's the first time the Eagles will play in the Los Angeles metropolitan area since a 1990 contest against the Rams in Anaheim. Key trend: Eagles 3-7 ATS in their past 10 as a road dog of 2 points or fewer.
Oct. 12 at Panthers (-4): Thursday night. Philly hosts Arizona the previous Sunday. This is one of those times where getting a last-place schedule isn't an advantage because Carolina is clearly better than a last-place team. The Eagles lost the last meeting 27-16 in Charlotte in October 2015. Key trend: Eagles 6-4 ATS in past 10 at NFC South teams.
Nov. 19 at Cowboys (-7): Sunday night, as Philadelphia comes out of its bye week. It's the third straight year and the fifth time since 2012 that these rivals have played on a Sunday night at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles lost there 29-23 in overtime in Week 8 last year. Philadelphia blew a 23-13 fourth-quarter lead and never got possession in overtime. Key trend: Eagles 7-3 ATS in past 10 as road dog of at least 7 points in series.
Dec. 3 at Seahawks (-7): Sunday night, with the Eagles coming off a Week 12 matchup vs. Chicago. No harder place to play in the league than Seattle, and Wentz got a taste of that in Week 11 last year, a 26-15 loss to start a five-game skid. Wentz was 23-for-25 for 218 yards, two TDs and two picks. He did almost nothing in the second and third quarters (but get picked off). Key trend: Eagles 4-4 ATS all-time at Seattle.
Dec. 10 at Rams (+1.5): I would think that the Eagles might stay somewhere on the West Coast following the trip to Seattle and ahead of this one. It's our first look at Wentz vs. Goff. The Eagles have won the past four in the series, most recently in 2014. Key trend: Eagles 3-7 ATS in past 10 as a road favorite.
Dec. 17 at Giants (-3.5): After this, Philly closes with incredibly tough home games vs. Oakland and Dallas. The Eagles lost 28-23 at the Giants in Week 9 a season ago. Wentz threw for 364 yards but no TDs and was picked off twice. The Eagles were stopped on fourth down three times in the game. Key trend: Eagles 7-3 ATS in past 10 as road dog of at least 3 points in series.
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