As we wrote in our Eagles season preview, predictions on the Eagles season range from missing the playoffs to making the Super Bowl.
The following are five things that could tip the scales in either direction.
5 THINGS THAT COULD GO RIGHT
1. Michael Vick stays healthy virtually the entire season. When he has to leave a game, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards prove to be valuable backups, continuing their fine play from the preseason.
2. King Dunlap isn’t Jason Peters, but he proves to be a reliable replacement at left tackle.
3. DeMeco Ryans regains some of his All-Pro form, giving the Eagles a presence at middle linebacker they haven’t had since Jeremiah Trotter’s glory days.
4. Alex Henery builds upon his excellent rookie season, when he made 24 of 27 field goal attempts.
5. The defense comes together, with all the parts working in synch. The frenetic pass rush of the defensive line makes all the other positions look better, with the safeties, cornerbacks and linebackers making numerous interceptions of hastily thrown passes.
5 THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG
1. Michael Vick struggles with injuries the entire season. When he can’t play, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards prove to be inadequate backups, proving that fine performances during preseason don’t necessarily translate into fine performances during the regular season.
2. King Dunlap turns out to be a sub-par left tackle, leading to a revolving door at that position involving Dunlap and Demetress Bell, who was signed to be Peters’ replacement but lost his job to Dunlap during preseason. Not only does the problem at left tackle expose Vick to more punishment, but it hurts the running game and requires tight ends Brent Celek and Clay Harbor to frequently be used in pass protection rather than as pass catchers.
3. DeMeco Ryans fails to make an impact at middle linebacker, which explains why the Eagles were able to get him from the Texans for a fourth-round draft selection and an exchange of third-round picks.
4. Alex Henery’s two misses during the final two preseason games turn out to be an omen, as he costs the Eagles two games by missing makeable field goals.
5. The Eagles’ defense continues to look out of synch. Opposing coordinators take advantage of the Eagles’ vulnerabilities, and second-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo isn’t able to adjust.