September 28, 2018
On Sunday, the Eagles will pay a visit to the Tennessee Titans for the first time in eight years. And, if all goes according to plan, the Eagles will have a (mostly) healthy offense taking the field for the first time in what feels like just as long.
With Alshon Jeffery and Jay Ajayi expected to return to the fold — and not to mention a less-rusty Carson Wentz after he returned a week earlier — the Birds offense could take a much-needed step forward in Week 4. Of course, they'll have to do so against a Titans defense that has been far from forgiving in the early stages of this season.
We've broken down the injuries, pointed out the key matchups to watch and offered our own predictions for this one. Now, as we do every Friday, it's time to take a look around the nation to see how the various experts, both local and national, think Sunday's matchup is going to play out.
• PhillyVoice staff: For the third week in a row all five of us picked the Eagles to win and sports editor Evan Macy thinks it'll be a easy W for the Birds, 31-13.
I think this is the game where the Eagles finally break free (and have their first touchdown celebration) and look like the defending champs. Potential Alshon Jeffery, and Jay Ajayi returns — both have practiced this week — means even greater things for Carson Wentz, who made more with less last week in his rusty debut. I expect there to be less rust, as well as a potent defense that stifles Tennessee's lackluster pass attack and forced Marcus Mariota to try to win the game himself. He won't, and Philly will move to 3-1.
• ESPN staff: Once again, all 10 of their experts picked the Birds, just like they did last week against the Colts.
• Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Eagles 23, Titans 17
The Eagles' defense yielded 25 points per game as the visitor last season compared to 12 points at home in 2017, and the trend has continued through three games this season. Fortunes could change some this week against a Titans team that is near the bottom of the league in scoring (16.3 PPG). Carson Wentz should get a weapon or two back Sunday, and the offense will do enough to get the job done.
• Turron Davenport, ESPN.com: Titans 24, Eagles 20
The Titans are looking to make a statement with a win over the defending Super Bowl champions. They have won 11 of the last 13 games at home. Tennessee's physical defense will keep the game close, while Marcus Mariota and the offense find a way to generate a couple of big gains against an overly aggressive Eagles secondary that is without safety Rodney McLeod.
• Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Eagles 17, Titans 14
This will be a tough assignment for the defending champions, even with Carson Wentz under center for the second straight week. The Titans' defense has been playing quite well the last two games, and it did a number on a hot Blake Bortles last week. Well, Bortles was on a hot streak; I don't know if the Tennessee players actually find him that attractive. Attractive to the Philadelphia offense will be the return of receiver Alshon Jeffery, if he is indeed ready to return from the bum shoulder that has kept him out of action this season. The Eagles have missed running backs Darren Sproles (who has been practicing) and Jay Ajayi a ton, too. The Titans miss passing the ball effectively.
• CBSSports.com staff: Five of their eight experts are picking the Eagles, the same number that picked the Birds to beat the Bucs back in Week 2. [Editor's note: Pete Prisco picked the Titans in his weekly picks column, but on the main CBS pick 'em page, he has the Eagles listed. Hmmm....]
• OddsShark: Their computer models are predicting the Titans in a tight one, which is interesting because they've been incredibly accurate this season when it comes to picking Eagles games. Like, scary accurate.
• Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Titans 20, Eagles 17
Malcolm Butler finally gets his chance to face the Eagles. And his new team has become the NFL’s new do-whatever-it-takes-to-score-more-points-than-the-opponent franchise.
• Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 28, Titans 14
Carson Wentz should shake off the rust and turn in a good game in his second start of the season.
• Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Eagles 24, Titans 18
The Philadelphia Eagles have failed to cover back-to-back spreads and were arguably lucky to win and cover in an ugly Week 1 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. But that didn't stop the majority of our experts from taking the defending Super Bowl champions as four-point road favorites against a 2017 playoff team that possesses a 2-1 record.
• SBNation staff: Six of their seven experts are taking the Eagles over the Titans.
• Philly.com staff: All four of their football writers are picking the Birds to win, including Zack Berman, who sees a 23-17 win for the Eagles.
Neither the Eagles nor the Titans have started the season playing to their capabilities, particularly on offense, yet both teams are 2-1. The Titans have a talented roster, and I've thought highly of Marcus Mariota since his college days. So I don't see this as an easy matchup, especially if Mariota is getting healthier.
But the bottom line is that the Titans rely on the running game, and the Eagles have the NFL's top-ranked run defense. They led the NFL in run defense last year, too. The Titans will need to try to beat the Eagles through the air, which is not their strength. ...
I don't expect a high-scoring game — the over-under is 41.5 — and both teams can win ugly. But I think the Eagles have more on offense and will escape with a road win before next week's matchup against Minnesota.
• Bleeding Green Nation staff: All seven of their writers are picking the Birds to improve to 3-1 this weekend.
• NJ.com staff: All seven of their football writers believe the Birds will win, including Eagles beat writer Zack Rosenblatt, who sees a 21-10 final:
Carson Wentz showed flashes of his old self in his return in Week 3, and he takes the next step forward in Week 4. The Titans are banged up at quarterback and the Eagles are more talented across the board, so this could turn into a blowout, the one stipulation being that the Eagles defense has struggled on the road a little bit recently.
• Philly Influencer staff: Five of their six writers are picking the Eagles, including PhillyVoice contributor Nick Piccone, who sees a big 30-13 win for the Birds:
The Titans beat the Jaguars last week. They also beat the Jags twice last season, 37-16 in Week 2 and 15-10 in Week 17. Maybe the Titans just have the Jags’ number? Maybe their wins against Jacksonville aren’t indicative of the actual team who finished 9-7 last season. I don’t fear them, but I didn’t fear the Bucs, either. The defense will need to show up on the road, and against Mariota, Gabbert, Davis or any other quarterback the team may sign for the week, that seems like a good bet to take.
Go Birds. ON THE ROAD.
• David Steele, Sporting News: Eagles 20, Titans 10
The difference between Carson Wentz and anyone else the Eagles might have at quarterback was evident in his return against the Colts. But it also was evident that the Eagles' offense misses Alshon Jeffery more than anyone else, and they won’t truly be right again until he’s back. Until then, though, they should be fine against a Titans team with an increasingly dangerous defense, but with real quarterback issues, as long as Marcus Mariota’s elbow remains sketchy.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 19, Titans 14
Carson Wentz needs more time to look like his 2017, pre-ACL injury, MVP-candidate self, especially with the offense around him dealing with injuries. The Titans’ defense has been sneaky-good for Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees, the reason they are 2-1. The Eagles’ defense has kept it together, and it will be the difference in an ugly road game.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports