Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Eagles had an interesting spring with respect to future projections. First and foremost, the team aced the NFL Draft by virtually any measure. A round-up of “draft grades” at NBC Sports highlighted grades of A+ (from The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated), A (from NFL.com, The Washington Post, and ProFootballFocus), and A- (from USA Today Sports), with the consensus sentiment being that the Birds had significantly upgraded their roster. Then, on the heels of this clear improvement, a barrage of betting activity shrunk the Eagles’ Super Bowl odds to nearly 30/1 on some platforms.
The Philadelphia Eagles Preseason Projections
Those odds temporarily placed the Eagles just beneath the very top contenders, making for a surprising leap in offseason expectations. But where do projections for Philadelphia stand now that we’re actually on the cusp of the 2022 NFL season?
An Interesting Picture In The NFC East
Given the aforementioned spring activity, one might imagine that the Eagles would be favored in the NFC East. As it happens, however, that’s not the case heading into preseason activity. Per the latest division odds posted at Coral, the Cowboys have roughly a 23/20 shot to come out on top, with the Eagles trailing at 17/10 (and the Commanders and Giants at 5/1 and 8/1, respectively).
Curiously enough, however, this still isn’t stopping the actual betting optimism behind the Eagles. Citing similar oddsmaker outlooks from Caesars Sportsbook, a CBS Sports write-up noted that the Cowboys have “received the least amount of bets” to win the division. More people are actually betting on the Eagles, Commanders, and Giants –– perhaps speaking to the fact that even if the Cowboys are favorites, they’re not strong enough favorites to justify low-reward bets. This indicates expectations for a tight divisional fight (and some remaining faith in the Eagles).
A Little Love From The Experts
Oddsmaker and bettor projections aside, it’s also interesting to see the Birds getting some love from a few noteworthy NFL experts. Perhaps the most prominent prediction that the Eagles will top the NFC East came from Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd, who expects improvement and productivity from Jalen Hurt to lead to a division title.
Additionally, Bill Barnwell –– perhaps the most thorough mainstream NFL analyst writing today –– actually included the Eagles on a list of contenders for the 2023 Super Bowl. Granted, the list included a whopping 14 teams, but it’s still nice to be in the mix –– particularly with the same write-up noting that Philadelphia only has a 52.4% chance to make the playoffs (according to ESPN’s FPI). This would seem to indicate that Barnwell believes the Eagles can beat expectations, particularly (as he explained at length) if the linebackers and safeties show improvement and avoid injuries.
Still A Super Bowl Long Shot
Despite the optimism, we can discern from divisional odds, betting activity, and preseason punditry that the Eagles are still viewed as a long shot for the Super Bowl. Depending on where you look, there tend to be anywhere from 10 to 13 teams listed ahead of Philadelphia –– though it’s fair to say the Eagles are part of a sort of the third tier of contenders (with the likes of Dallas, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Indianapolis). It will likely take a fast start to the season –– imminently possible with early games against the Lions, Vikings, Commanders, and Jaguars –– for Philly to rise up the Super Bowl odds rankings.
More broadly speaking, though, it’s clear that there are avenues to a special season in Philadelphia. If as Barnwell touched on, the defense takes a step forward and avoids injury, the Eagles might just be the toughest NFC East team to score on. If the stellar draft class can step up quickly, there won’t be many more talented teams in the NFC. And suppose Jalen Hurts can take advantage of a bolstered receiving duo of AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. In that case, he might just begin to establish himself as one of the great players in recent Eagles history –– and propel the team toward true contention. Time will tell, but there’s a reason for cautious excitement heading into this season.