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10 Eagles predictions heading into the 2023 NFL season


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10 Eagles predictions heading into the 2023 NFL season

You can take these 10 Eagles-related prophecies to the bank.

PhillyVoice Staff
090423JalenHurtsNickSirianniMARK J. REBILAS/USA TODAY SPORTS

Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni

With the start of the Philadelphia Eagles' regular season just five days away, let's make predictions about how things will go in 2023. Spoiler: I'm bullish on the 2023 Eagles.

1) Jalen Hurts will continue to grow as a quarterback

After a season in which he was the MVP runner-up, Hurts had the best training camp of his career, by far, as he continued to make improvements to his accuracy and decisiveness. His extreme desire to be great is real. Are there any sane doubters left?

2) The defense will be just as good as 2022, even if the numbers say otherwise

Here are the starting quarterbacks the Eagles have beaten the last two seasons:

  1. Washed Matt Ryan
  2. Sam Darnold
  3. Pre-resurgence Jared Goff
  4. Teddy Bridgewater
  5. Trevor Siemian
  6. Zach Wilson
  7. Garrett Gilbert
  8. Mike Glennon / Jake Fromm
  9. Taylor Heinicke
  10. Jared Goff
  11. Kirk Cousins in primetime
  12. Carson Wentz
  13. Trevor Lawrence before he became good last season
  14. Kyler Murray
  15. Cooper Rush
  16. Kenny Pickett
  17. Davis Mills
  18. Even more washed Matt Ryan
  19. Aaron Rodgers with a broken thumb
  20. Ryan Tannehill
  21. Daniel Jones
  22. Justin Fields
  23. Davis Webb
  24. Daniel Jones
  25. Brock Purdy / Josh Johnson

The 2022 Eagles had the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL, and they racked up an absurd 70 sacks on the season.

In 2023, the Eagles are scheduled to face Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, a presumably healthy Aaron Rodgers, Tua Tagovailoa, Matthew Stafford, and Dak Prescott twice. That's seven games against top 12 quarterbacks. Add in teams like the Vikings, 49ers, and Seahawks, who all have premium weapons in the passing game, and, well, I'll save you the suspense... the Eagles won't have the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL in 2023, nor will they sack opposing quarterbacks 70 times.

A recent trend in NFL defensive strategy is to not give up "the big play." The side effect of that strategy, as Philadelphians have seen the last two seasons, is watching as good quarterbacks carve up those defenses in the short to intermediate parts of the field, often leading to long, frustrating TD drives. Good offenses around the league know how play against the Jonathan Gannons and the Brandon Staleys of the NFL by now, and by the time these "no big plays" defenses have to play in games of real consequence — the playoffs — they're a lot more likely to have to try to win games against top tier quarterbacks. The Eagles were lucky to avoid good quarterbacks in their first two playoff games before running into a great one in the Super Bowl.

The Eagles wanted to retain Gannon. They're way better off that he left for Arizona. This defense can be better than it was in 2022, and still not look as impressive in the stat sheet, because in my opinion it should be better equipped make it at least a little bit harder on quality quarterbacks. Teams with championship aspirations should have defenses designed to slow down good quarterbacks, not just feast on the crappy ones.

3) D'Andre Swift + Rashaad Penny will be an upgrade over Miles Sanders

Miles Sanders had a good regular season for the Eagles in 2022, rushing for 1269 yards and 11 TDs on his way to the Pro Bowl. He left in free agency for the Carolina Panthers this offseason, and was replaced by a combination of Rashaad Penny and D'Andre Swift.

Penny is closer to Sanders stylistically than Swift, in that Penny is not a threat out of the backfield as a receiver, and is an "early down back" only. However, he is bigger than Sanders, arguably faster once he reaches his top gear, and has been more a more efficient runner behind a worse offensive line, (big caveat here)... when healthy. 

Swift, on the other hand, does a lot of things that Sanders has not for the Eagles over the last three seasons, as he is dangerous as a receiver, and in my opinion, more elusive as a runner.

Can Swift and Penny collectively stay healthier than Sanders, who has had some durability issues in his own right? If so, then the Eagles' running back rotation should be more talented and diverse than it has been the last few seasons.

4) A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert will be an uncoverable trio

This trio combined for 238 catches for 3,394 yards and 21 TDs in 2022, and after dominating in camp this summer it's not hard to envision that they can be even better in 2023.

5) Jalen Carter will be good immediately, and Nakobe Dean will be fine

It'll be interesting to see how Carter handles the mental side of playing through a 17-game regular season (and very likely beyond) from a mental standpoint, but what was clear throughout training camp and his brief showings in the preseason games is that physically he has a chance to become an elite player in the NFL.

It often takes time for interior defensive linemen to become productive players, but Carter is so gifted with pure talent that it's hard to imagine that we won't see him play well as a rookie.

As for Dean, it took a while for him to start standing out and making plays this summer, but it seemed like his recognition/anticipation skills started firing near the end of camp.

Like Dean, T.J. Edwards relied on his smarts as a linebacker in the NFL, and he eventually developed into a quality starter. As a reminder, Edwards wasn't exactly gifted with impressive size or athletic measurables: 


Not shown there was Edwards' 40 time, which was 4.87 (!) at Wisconsin's pro day in 2019.

Dean is a tough, smart, instinctive player cut from the same cloth mentally as Edwards, but with better athleticism. He'll be fine.

6) Milton Williams and Reed Blankenship will have breakout seasons

Williams' 2022 season, his second in the NFL, got off to a slow start but during the back half of the season he seemed to make an impressive play or two in every game. He finished the season with 36 tackles (9 for loss), 4 sacks, and 2 batted passes on just 395 snaps. By comparison, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave were each up over 700 snaps apiece.

With Hargrave signing in San Francisco this offseason and Cox ready for a "pitch count" of sorts, Williams will almost certainly get more playing time in 2023 even if he doesn't start, assuming he stays healthy. That boost in playing time should lead to more impressive numbers.

Meanwhile, Blankenship was effective in relief of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson as an undrafted rookie in 2022, but entering 2023 camp it felt like his starting spot at safety was in question. Nope. He was the Eagles' top safety from Day 1, and his play on the field only bolstered the team's belief in him, as he always seemed to be in the right place, and he took the ball away from the offense more than any other player on the defense.

7) Special teams will cost the Eagles a game

On the one hand, I think that Nolan Smith, Sydney Brown, and a full season of Christian Elliss will be upgrades over some of the outgoing core special teamers. On the other hand, the Eagles had bad special teams gaffes in like half their games last season, and were lucky to avoid serious consequences from those mistakes until, you know, the Super Bowl.

I'll believe those units are fixed when I see it. (Also, there's still no new punter)

8 ) The "Super Bowl loser jinx" or whatever it's called isn't a real thing, and the Eagles will be just fine

There's a weird idea that teams that lose in the Super Bowl have poor seasons the next year. That is a myth. The last 15 years:

Season  Super Bowl loser  Next season 
2007  Patriots  11-5, no playoffs 
2008  Cardinals  10-6, lost in divisional round 
2009  Colts  10-6, lost in wildcard round 
2010  Steelers  12-4, lost in wildcard round 
2011  Patriots  12-4, lost in AFCCG 
2012  49ers  12-4, lost in NFCCG 
2013  Broncos  12-4, lost in divisional round 
2014  Seahawks  10-6, lost in divisional round 
2015  Panthers  6-10, no playoffs 
2016  Falcons  10-6, lost in divisional round 
2017  Patriots  11-5, won Super Bowl 
2018  Rams  9-7, no playoffs 
2019  49ers  6-10, no playoffs 
2020  Chiefs  12-5, lost in AFCCG 
2021  Bengals  12-4, lost in AFCCG 
2022  Eagles  ??? 

In the last 15 seasons, only four teams that lost the Super Bowl the previous year did not make the playoffs, and only two had losing records. Two of those four teams that did not make the playoffs would have gotten in as the 7 seed under the new playoff format. 

Five teams made it back to the conference championship game, and one won a Super Bowl.

The last time the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl their follow-up season had bad vibes from the start with all the Terrell Owens nonsense, and then it went completely sideways after they suffered a lot of injuries and had to play Mike McMahon at quarterback. I don't believe that the 2023 team has a T.O., and I like their chances of staying competitive for another Super Bowl trip even if there are significant injuries because the roster, for the most part, has good depth.

I've seen some say the Eagles could experience "Super Bowl hangover," and pass that off as legitimate analysis. It's not.

9) The NFC East "no repeat champions" streak will end

The last time a team repeated as NFC East division winners was when the Eagles did it in 2004. In each of the last 18 seasons, we've seen the previous year's division champion dethroned. 

 Year NFC East champion 
 2004 Eagles 
 2005 Giants 
 2006 Eagles 
 2007 Cowboys 
 2008 Giants 
 2009 Cowboys 
 2010 Eagles 
 2011 Giants 
 2012 Commanders 
 2013 Eagles 
 2014 Cowboys 
 2015 Commanders 
 2016 Cowboys 
 2017 Eagles 
 2018 Cowboys 
 2019 Eagles 
 2020 Commanders 
 2021 Cowboys 
 2022 Eagles 
 2023 Eagles??? 


The Cowboys are legitimate threats to the Eagles in the NFC East, but as long as the Eagles play to their potential — and it's hard to see at the moment why they won't — they should repeat as NFC East champs.

10) The Eagles will get back to the Super Bowl

In 2021, I predicted that the Eagles would go 7-10. They went 9-8 and were an unexpected playoff team.

In 2022, I predicted 11-6 with a second-round exit in the playoffs. They finished 14-3 in the regular season and went to the Super Bowl.

In 2023? Let's saayyyy... 13-4, and a trip back to the Super Bowl. They're the best team in the NFC, and it's not really close.


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