October 26, 2018
On Sunday, the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will play their first-ever regular season game in London when they take on Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars — the team they almost faced instead of the Patriots back in February — at Wembley Stadium.
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: All five of us (again) picked the Eagles to come away with a win on Sunday. Here's what sports editor Evan Macy had to say:
Why is picking Eagles games so freaking hard? Last week I was sure the Eagles' offense was enough to overcome their lackluster defense. This week, it might need to be the defense that has to bail out the offense. The Jaguars are pretty bad with the ball, which is a nice respite for the Birds as they lick their wounds after blowing a 17-0 fourth quarter lead, but Jacksonville's D is still one of the better units in football.
I think the trip abroad, like last year's long stay in Los Angeles, could help bring the team together. I also think the Eagles, despite their shortcomings, are at worst a .500 team. So I am picking them to get to 4-4 before their bye week, 24-10.
• ESPN staff: Seven of their 10 national experts are picking the Eagles to return to the States victorious.
• Tim McManus, ESPN.com Eagles writer: Eagles 23, Jaguars 13
The Eagles had a lighter air about them as the week went on, shaking off the sting of a fourth-quarter collapse against the Panthers. Coach Doug Pederson's message? Play for four quarters. That will be the mindset as they fight to get on track against a Jaguars team that has been dealing with its own issues.
• Mike DiRocco, ESPN.com Jaguars writer: Eagles 21, Jaguars 13
Mike DiRocco's pick: The Jaguars have been outscored 90-28 over the past three weeks, so there's no reason to pick the Jaguars to win Sunday. Three of their top four cornerbacks are out because of injury (including A.J. Bouye), and they will have three undrafted rookies behind Jalen Ramsey. That is less than ideal against Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, and it negates any advantage the Jaguars had from their familiarity with the logistics of the trip to London.
• Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Eagles 23, Jaguars 13
How disappointing would a 7-9 follow-up act to an exhilarating Super Bowl win be? That's where Philadelphia is headed if the offense doesn't turn it around quick. You can't play the Giants every week. The Eagles' main struggles on that side of the ball start with turnovers, where they're tied for the league lead with eight fumbles lost. They can't stay on the field, either, going three-and-out 24.1 percent of the time -- fifth-worst in the league. Thus, the opposing offense gets the ball back quickly while the Eagles' vaunted front four tires out. (Witness what happened against the Panthers last week.) Luckily, they face a Jaguars outfit playing musical chairs at quarterback (although they're sticking with Blake Bortles as the starter) in an offense in far more disarray than Doug Pederson's. Philadelphia evens its record this week.
This looked like it might be a big game when the schedule came out. It is -- for survival. Both teams have disappointed so far, and the loser is in big trouble. The Jaguars have so many offensive issues that show up weekly and they will again here. Eagles take a close one. Pick: Eagles 23, Jaguars 17
• OddsShark: Their computer models have the Eagles winning in a close one.
• Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 24, Jaguars 16
It was a Super Bowl preview when it was scheduled. It’s now a potential elimination game. The Eagles have shown more recently than the home-away-from-home team.
• Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 24, Jaguars 10
London gets a game that looked good on paper when the schedule came out, but doesn’t look so good right now. I think the Eagles are closer to righting the ship than the Jaguars are.
• Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Eagles 24, Jaguars 20
London is essentially a second home for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it shows. They've looked comfortable there of late, with three consecutive 30-plus-point performances during their current three-game London winning streak.
That might be enough to convince [Bleacher report writer Brad] Gagnon that Jacksonville can at least keep it within a field goal when it "hosts" the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday morning at Wembley Stadium, but the majority of our panelists aren't as confident in a slumping, tumult-plagued Jaguars squad that has lost three straight games by a combined 62 points.
The Eagles are also struggling, having lost three of their past four, but at least there's no evidence of in-fighting there. Philadelphia also proved in 2017 to be a resilient team.
• SBNation staff: Just three of their seven experts are taking the Eagles over the Jaguars, marking the first time we've seen an outlet lean toward the "home" underdogs in this one.
• Bleeding Green Nation staff: All seven of their writers are picking the Birds over Jacksonville.
• NJ.com staff: Six of their seven writers see an Eagles' victory over the Jaguars, but not Birds beat writer Zack Rosenblatt, who predicts a 21-14 loss in London.
The Eagles are bruised, battered and reeling after a fourth-quarter collapse against the Panthers. Carson Wentz has been stellar, but with key members of the defense falling like flies, that hasn’t mattered all that much. The Jaguars are in similarly perilous shape, and the loser of this game could be in a lot of trouble. The Eagles have struggled away from home and until they prove otherwise, that’ll continue to take place across the pond in London.
• Philly Influencer staff: Five of their six writers are picking the Birds. The lone exception? PhillyVoice contributor Nick Piccone, who has had enough of the Eagles...
What I learned today:— Nick Piccone (@nickpiccone) October 22, 2018
I’m not predicting an Eagles win the rest of the season
These guys are really picking the Birds… There’s literally nothing to point to that would make me think they’ll beat the Jaguars. Bortles will throw for 300+. The Eagles’ offense comes on strong at the end, but to no avail. There’s nothing more I want than to be wrong. Jaguars 34-27.
• David Steele, Sporting News: Eagles 27, Jaguars 21
The moment of reckoning for both teams takes place overseas, in what seemed like such an attractive matchup when it was scheduled. The absence of Leonard Fournette has proven the Jaguars were smart in drafting him to take pressure off Blake Bortles … or that they weren't smart in taking him instead of a QB to replace Bortles. The Eagles have blown late leads twice in the last four weeks and are digging a deep hole that will make repeating as champs harder by the week.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 23, Jaguars 20
Both teams are 3-4 with their high Super Bowl hopes on the ropes. Doug Pederson vs. Doug Marrone is a drama worthy of Shakespeare, as the heat is on both coaches to get the best out of their players before a midseason bye and the stretch run. Pederson is the better coach and has the much better QB in Carson Wentz. Offense won’t come easy for the Eagles, but Bortles will be forced into more critical mistakes.
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