The Philadelphia Eagles are good. I think we can all pretty safely say that as we enter Week 4 of the NFL season. After the city was ready to crucify Jonathan Gannon following a shaky fourth quarter in Detroit, the Eagles beat the bricks out of both the Vikings and Commanders in the span of six days. Last week, the discussion was whether the Eagles were the best team in the NFC. This week, the discussion is whether they could be the best team in the entire league. I am not quite there yet, but one thing is for sure – this team is a legitimate contender.
The Eagles will look to keep it rolling on Sunday as they return home to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who of course are led by the only head coach to win a Super Bowl in Philadelphia in Doug Pederson. The end of Pederson’s Eagles tenure was certainly a little tumultuous, but I have to imagine he will be welcomed back graciously considering what he brought to the city.
What Pederson is bringing on Sunday, however, is a Jaguars team that has looked surprisingly good over their first three games. Being an improvement over previous head coach Urban Meyer was the lowest bar possible (both on and off the field), but Jacksonville’s offense has already taken major strides under Pederson. Trevor Lawrence is making much smarter and more confident decisions compared to his rookie season, James Robinson and Travis Etienne have been a very productive “thunder and lightning” style running back duo, and Christian Kirk, their big money free agent receiver, has been on fire to start the year. Kirk’s contract was widely scrutinized (self-included) when it happened, but so far he has very much lived up to it. Pederson has lined him up all over the field, even in the backfield on occasion. His usage reminds me of how the Commanders have been using Curtis Samuel, a player the Eagles faced last week. Kirk might be even better, so Jonathan Gannon is going to have to find a way to slow him down, because this offense is tough to stop when the Lawrence-Kirk connection heats up.
Defensively, the Jaguars have a pair of super athletic pass rushers in Josh Allen and Travon Walker. Allen is arguably on pace for the best season of his career. Walker, the first overall pick (and another controversial Jaguars acquisition from this offseason), is already good, especially in Week 1 when he had a sack and an extremely impressive interception against Carson Wentz. The Eagles’ elite offensive tackle duo of Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson contained another great pass rushing duo of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith in Week 2. They need to do it again on Sunday, especially since running the ball might be a little more difficult this week against Jacksonville’s top-ranked rush defense.
During the offseason, this was thought of as one of the easier games on the Eagles schedule. That is probably no longer the case, as this team has looked really good the past two games, beating the Colts and Chargers by a combined score of 62-10. However, in case you missed it, so have the Eagles, and they are at home in front of what will surely be another chaotic atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field. On paper, this looks like a tough game for the Eagles, but I would be remiss to pick them to lose at home after what we have seen out of this entire team so far. I am rolling with the juggernaut until they give me a reason not to, but I do not expect this to be the team’s third consecutive blowout.
Prediction: Eagles win, but do not cover the spread, 23-17.
Photo: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union