The Philadelphia Eagles 2023 NFL season is set to begin Sunday afternoon when they travel to Gillette Stadium to face the Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots.
This will be the Eagles’ first of many true tests this season. Last year the Eagles were fortunate enough to face the NFL’s second easiest schedule. The team only had five games against teams that wound up in the playoffs last season. This year the Eagles are going to be facing a 2022 playoff team in eleven of their seventeen games. When you take that into account, this game has far more importance than the shoot-out we saw last season during week one against the Detroit Lions.
The matchup against the Patriots is a matchup they should win. The Eagles have a positional advantage at almost every position on the field. The biggest problem the Eagles will face Sunday isn’t going to be a player; it will be coach Bill Belichick. Belichick has a 16-7 record in his week one matchups throughout his career as the Patriots head coach. Along with that, he isn’t trying to schematically plan within a week’s time.
Week one allows him to plan for multiple weeks of the offseason, hoping to start the season on the right foot. As a team that has missed the playoffs two of the last three years, the Patriots know what type of confidence boost a win this week would bring.
Preparation is key for the Eagles to come out victorious in week one.
These are some of the other keys for the Eagles to head into week two undefeated.
1) Jordan Davis Has to Dominate the Run Stop
The New England Patriots do not have the offensive firepower to enter into a shoot-out with the Eagles. They will try to establish a run game that keeps the ball out of Jalen Hurts hand and the score within reach. The Patriots will look to have Rhamondre Stevenson lead the rushing attack behind an offensive line that finished in the top half of the league last season.
Stevenson had a breakout season last year and will look to continue his impressive 5.0 yards per carry average. That is where second-year player Jordan Davis will have to step up and stop the run. His ability to run stop was the highlight of his rookie season, and the Eagles will need it to be on full display Sunday. The Eagles forced the Patriots to throw into a secondary consisting of All-Pro duo Darius Slay and James Bradberry in best best-case scenario. The Eagles cannot afford to let the Patriots run the ball down the field and eat up the game clock.
2) The Eagles Need to Score Early and Often
The Eagles have the ability to beat teams in multiple different ways. Last year the passing game took a step forward not many could imagine. The passing game will need to be in midseason form on Sunday. The Patriots had the sixth-best rushing defense last season and only allowed 105.5 yards on the ground per game.
The Eagles will need to heavily rely on their star receivers, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, to pick up where they left off last season. If the Eagles are able to get a two-score lead early, it’ll force the Patriots to throw the ball on offense. This is where the dominant defensive front could take over the game. Last year when teams fell behind, it was nearly impossible to get back into games. Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles getting off to a hot start will put the Patriots’ weaknesses on display.
3) Nakobe Dean
This year Nakobe Dean has the opportunity to showcase the hype that surrounded him throughout his college career at Georgia. With only 34 defensive snaps in his NFL career, week one will be the biggest test he has faced in his pro career. The linebacking core is the Eagles’ weakest point on defense heading into the season.
Dean has shown flashes of his high IQ and ball-hawking ability, but this will be his first time being a 3-down player for the Eagles. Sunday, a lot of eyes will be on Nakobe Dean, ensuring he is competent enough to play in the middle of a defense with Super Bowl aspirations.
4) The Eagles Have a Positional Advantage at Almost Every Position
With the exception of coaching and the linebacking core of the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles have a positional advantage at every other position. The only other argument that could be made is at running back.
The bottom line is that the Eagles are a much better all-around football team than the New England Patriots.
If they come out playing at their speed and remain aggressive on defense, the game should not be that close.
Getting off to a good start is huge for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Go Birds.