The New Orleans Saints open the 2018 regular season hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The early May news that they will be without running back Mark Ingram for the first quarter of the regular season schedule leaves a hole in coach Sean Payton’s offensive scheme. The Saints’ coaching staff has four-plus months to configure a Week #1 through Week #4 game plan that centers around second-year tailback Alvin Kamara. This due to Ingram’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. 2018 NFL Week 1 Team News and Notes: Eagles -4 over Falcons.
We are still a couple of months away from the start of NFL training camps, but with the draft now complete it is never too early to start looking at the 2018 regular season matchups and accessing team additions, subtractions, draft picks and injuries for each franchise. And it is just plain fun to make picks based on the Vegas and Offshore sportsbook handicaps.
*The following news and game forecast offers an early look. This forecast and prediction is not carved in stone. There is a thousand-and-one things that can change between now and the first week of September.
Thursday Night Football (September 6)
(451) Atlanta Falcons at (452) Philadelphia Eagles -4
Matt Ryan is officially the highest paid player in the National Football League. Ryan told NFL.com that he “views his new contract as an incentive, not a reward.” Ryan has earned MVP honors, was the fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 40,000 passing yards and owns 20 franchise records.
The reigning Super Bowl champs have plenty of roster decisions to make. The National Football League is a completely different animal than that of the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball. Salary caps and the short average tenure that the majority of player personnel face results in turnover, surprising roster changes, even for Super Bowl champions.
It is just mid-May but the Eagles Rookie Camp takes place this weekend. And Organized Team Activities are approaching with a quickness.
One of the bigger questions that will present itself in training camp is whether last year’s mid-season acquisition of tailback Jay Ajayi becomes the No #1 ball carrier in 2018. A full spring and summer of work with the Eagles coaching staff offers Ajayi an in-depth look at the complex offensive scheme. It is reasonable to believe that Ajayi will once again be a part of a running back by committee this year. Included in the mix will be Corey Clement.
And what role will Darren Sproles play after missing the 2017-18 campaign to injury? Throw Wendell Smallwood’s name into the ball carrier mix, as well. In addition where does Donnel Pumphrey fit into coach Doug Peterson’s plan? There isn’t any lack of running back talent on the Eagles roster into OTA’s, Training Camp and ultimately the 2018 season.
Early Week 1 Forecast and Prediction
As is the case for all NFL franchises; you are what you do not what you have done. I trust Peterson and the Eagles front office to make favorable decisions for what is a loaded and talented player base. Peterson was mentored by one of the best Week #1 head coaches in the history of the league, Andy Reid. The best example of what Reid can do with more than one-week of prep time for upcoming opponents can be outlined by his post-bye week record. Reid is 16-3 following the bye-week in his NFL head coaching career.
Consequently Peterson and his Philadelphia player personnel win their 2018 season opener – and cover – in what currently is a minus-4 point spread.
Week #1 Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles -4*
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2018 NFL Week 1 Team News and Notes: Eagles -4 over Falcons