The Philadelphia Eagles begin their quest to return to the Super Bowl when they open their 2023 season with a visit to the New England Patriots. The Patriots will honor legendary quarterback Tom Brady during halftime of the game.
Betting odds have the Eagles as the favorites at -4 on the spread, while the over/under is set at 45 total points. Let’s dive into the odds, injuries and depth charts to know for this game, and make an Eagles vs. Patriots pick and prediction.
Eagles vs. Patriots Prediction
The Eagles went wire-to-wire as the best team in the NFC last season and capped it off with a trip to Super Bowl LVII and a narrow defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. They are the favorites to represent the NFC again in the Super Bowl this season.
There is some conventional wisdom that teams can experience a hangover effect after losing in the Super Bowl, but the evidence simply does not support that. In the last 15 seasons, only four teams missed the playoffs the year after losing in the Super Bowl, and two of them would have made it in the current 7-team format. Five of the 11 teams that made the playoffs made it back to the conference championship game, and one of those (the 2018 Patriots) won the Super Bowl.
The Eagles return 9 of their 11 starters on offense, but lost some key pieces on defense including defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (11 sacks last season), both starting linebackers and both starting safeties. They are expecting to replace that production with a combination of rookies (Jalen Carter and Sydney Brown), second-year players (Nakobe Dean and Reed Blankenship) and free agent additions (Terrell Edmunds and Zach Cunningham).
Between the roster turnover and a more difficult 2023 schedule (on paper), the Eagles’ defense is likely to regress statistically this season. But don’t expect anything like the mythical Super Bowl hangover. This team is still one of the strongest and deepest rosters in the NFL with a franchise quarterback in Jalen Hurts whom the Eagles gave the richest contract in NFL history (at the time) this offseason.
The #Eagles and Jalen Hurts agreed to terms on a five-year, $255 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history, sources tell me and @RapSheet.@AgentNicoleLynn negotiated the deal, which includes $179.304M in guarantees and a no-trade clause. pic.twitter.com/NsLzULcE1M
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 17, 2023
The Patriots enter the 2023 season hoping that Mac Jones can bounce back from a slumpy sophomore season and get back on track to earning a contract like the one Hurts got. They brought back a former Bill Belichick disciple and long-time Texans head coach Bill O’Brien to help Jones build on the promise he showed in his rookie season.
They also brought in a longtime nemesis of the Eagles, former Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, to replace Damien Harris in the backfield. As we discuss further below, stopping Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson in the running game will be a big focus in this game for the Eagles, who struggled against the run for most of last season.
The Eagles might look a bit different on defense this season under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai. He comes from the same Vic Fangio school of defense as former DC Jonathan Gannon, who left this offseason to become the Cardinals’ new head coach. Desai will bring some principles to the defense but expected to be more aggressive with blitzes and less zone-heavy than Gannon was.
What isn’t likely to change much is the Eagles’ offense, despite also losing offensive coordinator Shan Steichen to the Colts this offseason. The Eagles replaced him internally with former quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, who has a strong relationship with Hurts going back to childhood. Johnson should maintain some continuity schematically, and with so much roster continuity and the additions of running backs D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny, the Eagles could be even more explosive offensively.
This game could have some sneaky scoring potential if Jones looks better under O’Brien’s tutelage and if Desai’s defense takes some time to jell. The Patriots should be strong again defensively – they were 3rd in defensive EPA per play last year – but we expect Hurts to be able to move the ball offensively.
So we’re taking over on 45 points, and we’re also taking the Eagles -4. There is just too much of a talent gap to bet against them, even on Tom Brady day.
Game pick: Eagles 30, Patriots 20, Eagles cover -4 (-110), over 45 points (-110)
Eagles vs. Patriots Betting Odds
It’s no surprise that the Eagles are favored in this game at -4 on the spread and around -200 on the moneyline. Being on the road, with the usual 2-3 point adjustment for home field, that has the Eagles at around a touchdown favorite over the Patriots, and don’t be surprised if that line gets closer to -6 before kickoff.
With two good defenses in this game and the Patriots not expected to be very explosive offensively, the over/under is set at a modest 45 points.
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Eagles vs. Patriots below.
Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott vs. Eagles’ run defense
The Eagles were second-to-last in EPA per rush allowed through the first eight weeks of last season. They signed veteran defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, which helped shore things up, but those guys are gone along with the team’s leading tackler T.J. Edwards.
Philadelphia will be counting on second-year players Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean to replace those players. Davis was effective against the run as a rookie before getting hurt and then getting leapfrogged on the depth chart by Joseph. Dean played only 34 snaps as a rookie, but the Eagles trusted him enough to let Edwards go without any other replacements. He showed some flashes in the preseason, but there is still plenty of doubt about the Eagles’ run defense, especially early in the season.
Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for over 1,000 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in his second season last year. Elliott had the worst season of his career last year (876 yards on 3.8 ypc) but can still be effective, especially in short-yardage and goal line situations.
If the Eagles can shut down Stevenson and Elliott, the Patriots are going to struggle to do much offensively against the Eagles’ strong pass rush and secondary. But if those backs can get the ground game going, the Patriots could slow down the game and limit the Eagles’ offensive possessions enough to keep the game close and give themselves a chance.
Patriots’ offensive line vs. Eagles’ pass rush
The Eagles led the league with 70 sacks last season, just two shy of the NFL record. They did that with just a 22.1% blitz rate, getting most of their pressure from just their front seven. They also became the first team in NFL history with four players (Hargrave, Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham) reaching double digit sacks.
None of those things is going to happen again, but the Eagles’ pass rush is still going to be very strong this season. Three of those four double-digit sack artists return, with rookie Jalen Carter replacing Hargrave on the interior. They also added 1st round pick Nolan Smith on the edge, further bolstering their depth and the ability to rotate players and keep them fresh and fast.
New England faces some questions up front. Three of their starting offensive lineman – LG Cole Strange, RG Mike Onwenu and RT Riley Reiff – are starting the season with injuries. Strange and Onwenu are both officially questionable for this game, but it would be surprising if both of them played. Reiff is on IR, as is backup RT Conor McDermott.
A healthy Patriots offensive line is already suspect, and this banged up version is going to have a very hard time stopping the Eagles’ pass rush. This matchup could have game-wrecking potential for New England, especially if they struggle to run the ball.