Kirby Lee -- USA Today Sports

Eagles: 5 predictions for final eight games

Eliot Shorr-Parks
November 08, 2018 - 7:33 am

The first half of the season is likely one that Eagles’ coaches, players and fans likely want to forget. 

It was filled with injuries. It had plenty of frustrating losses. It didn’t have much offense. It saw the team lose as many games as they won. 

The good news is that the first half of this 2018 Eagles’ season is now in the books, and the second half will get underway this upcoming Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Here are five predictions for the second half of the season:

Golden Tate has more catches than Alshon Jeffery: The new addition to the Eagles’ offense should end up being a big one. Receiver Golden Tate fits the Eagles’ offense perfectly — he is versatile, he has great speed and he is hard to tackle in the open field. Head coach Doug Pederson is going to be very creative with how he uses Tate, and the result will be plenty of catches in the final eight games — even more than receiver Alshon Jeffery. 

That isn’t to say Jeffery won’t have an impact — and he will likely have more yards and touchdowns. Jeffery will thrive as the second option on the outside, much like he did during the beginning of this career with the Chicago Bears. Other teams having to focus on Tate will open things up for Jeffery, making his life easier in the final eight games. 

Overall, however, the prediction here is that Tate gets more targets and catches than the Eagles’ top outside receivers in second half of the season. 

The offense turns things around: Despite how ugly it has looked at times for the Eagles’ offense, the fact remains they are not as far away as you might think — and are very close to turning into last year’s high-scoring unit. 

The Eagles’ offense is 17th overall in yards this season with an average of 366.9 per game — which is actually a yard more than they averaged last season. The offense is averaging 33.15 yards per drive, which is 17th. In 2016 they averaged 32.16, which was 11th, and a yard less than they are this season. 

The Eagles’ offense is also getting more chances than they were last season. The Eagles are running an average of 67.8 plays per game on offense this season, which is more than last season (66.9). Only four teams are running more plays on average per game than the Eagles are this season. 

Whether you think the Eagles’ offense can turn things around comes down to whether you believe they can turn things around in the red zone. The Eagles’ offense converted roughly 10% more of their trips into the red zone last season into touchdown than they are this year. 

With Tate now on the roster, and quarterback Carson Wentz heating up, the Eagles should be able to start turning more field goals into touchdowns, and start putting more points on the scoreboard the second half of the season. 

Darren Sproles doesn’t make a big impact: The return of running back Darren Sproles is exciting for fans, but it is fair to wonder how much of an impact he will have on the offense. 

Sproles might very well be heading towards a spot in the Hall of Fame, but the reality is that since the start of 2016, he has 71 yards rushing and 95 yards receiving. Sproles has missed 20 of the last 24 regular season games. He simply has not shown he is able to stay healthy, and at 35-years old, it is hard to imagine that changing. 

At this point, the Eagles should rely on Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Josh Adams out of the backfield — and anything they get from Sproles should be considered icing on the cake. 

The Eagles beat the Rams on the road: The Eagles have two tough games on the road in the final eight — a trip to Los Angeles and a trip to New Orleans. The good news is they can likely lose both and still make the playoffs. The better news for Eagles’ fans? They won’t be losing in their trip to Los Angeles. 

The Rams have looked impressive the first half of the season, but they looked impressive last year as well, when the Eagles went into Los Angeles and beat them to clinch the NFC East. Yes, that is last season and the teams are different, but the fact remains that the Eagles are not going to be intimidated by having to go to Los Angeles to play the Rams. The fact also remains that the Rams have not yet faced a pass rush like they will when the Eagles come to town. 

With an improved offense, and the same defense that has been excellent this season, the Eagles will go into Los Angeles and beat the Rams. 

The Eagles go 6-0 in the division, make the playoffs: One benefit of the Eagles’ having so many out-of-conference games in the first half of the season? They now return back to their own division for the majority of the second half of the season, as they get to play the NFC East in five of their final eight games. Based off of how the Dallas, Washington and New York looked this past Sunday, the Eagles have to feel confident about their matchups with those teams. 

The Eagles have already locked up one win in the division, beating the Giants at MetLife Stadium earlier this season. The Eagles’ best path to the playoffs is going to be winning the division, which should take away any chance the team gets over confident and drops a divisional game. In desperate need of wins, the Eagles should sweep the NFC East — and win the division. 

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