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3 Philadelphia Eagles

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CARSON WENTZ has that rare, Roethlisberger- ian ability to extend a play without breaking down its structure. We'll see him do that even more in 2017. Last year the Eagles just wanted their rookie QB to make completions, so they called a lot of quick-strike throws, which Wentz, when he was comfortable, executed well. With an expanded understanding of the NFL game and of DOUG PEDERSON'S offense, an improved receiving corps and more trust in his line, Wentz will approach top 10 QB status before long.

• There's no need to be concerned about how ALSHON JEFFERY, signed from the Bears, will fit in in an offense that is structured around misdirection concepts, quick underneath throws and the occasional downfield route combination. Last season the Eagles asked Dorial Green-Beckham to fill the role that they are now handing to Jeffery. Both receivers have the same rare combination of size and speed, but Jeffery actually knows how to use it. Defenses should be on high alert for dig routes from Jeffery while speedy free-agent pickup TORREY SMITH runs go routes.

• Three things to know about Philadelphia's O-line: 1) Right tackle LANE JOHNSON is critical. When he's in—he missed 10 games last year for a performance-enhancing drug suspension—Wentz is much more comfortable; 2) Left tackle JASON PETERS is declining athletically, but the team believes the 35-year-old, three-time All-Pro can gut out at least one more quality season; and 3) Center JASON KELCE is great on the move, but lacks the strength to battle in traffic. Defenses will exploit this by deploying a nosetackle against him.

• Philly's defensive line depth and versatility are fantastic. Veteran free-agent pickup CHRIS LONG can be a first- and second-down end, allowing first-round rookie DEREK BARNETT from Tennessee to focus solely on situational pass rushing. Former Raven TIMMY JERNIGAN provides a second interior gap-shooting presence alongside FLETCHER COX. And Cox can actually line up at end sometimes, while BRANDON GRAHAM and VINNY CURRY (both excellent pass rushers) slide inside. The only negative is the loss of tackle Bennie Logan, who signed with the Chiefs. He'll be missed in run defense.

"WITH AN IMPROVED RECEIVING CORPS, WENTZ WILL APPROACH TOP 10 STATUS BEFORE LONG."

SI'S 2017 PREDICTION

8-8

2016 RECORD 7-9

SEPT. 10

AT WAS

Sept. 17

AT KC

SEPT. 24

VS. NYG

OCT. 1

AT LAC

OCT. 8

VS. ARI

OCT. 12

THURSDAY

AT CAR

OCT. 23

MONDAY

VS. WAS

OCT. 29

VS. SF

NOV. 5

VS. DEN

BYE

NOV. 19

AT DAL

NOV. 26

VS. CHI

DEC. 3

AT SEA

DEC. 10

AT LAR

DEC. 17

AT NYG

DEC. 25

MONDAY

VS. OAK

DEC. 31

VS. DAL

Position Rankings

QB

16

SKILL

21

OL

12

FRONT 7

17

DBs

21

Weakness

ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400

26 FLETCHER COX DT

84 LANE JOHNSON T

89 ALSHON JEFFERY WR

98 BRANDON GRAHAM DE

110 MALCOLM JENKINS FS

129 RODNEY MCLEOD FS

202 CARSON WENTZ QB

231 VINNY CURRY DE

270 RONALD DARBY CB

284 JASON PETERS T

340 TIMMY JERNIGAN DT

352 DARREN SPROLES RB

359 JORDAN HICKS LB

380 ZACH ERTZ TE

397 BRENT CELEK TE