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The Philadelphia Eagles came into 2011 with no shortage of hype, dubbing themselves the “Dream Team” during camp. But they severely underwhelmed in going 8-8 and missed the playoffs altogether, and the coaching staff seems to have an idea of why: special teams.
The Eagles ranked 31st in kickoffs and 29th in punt returns, according to ProFootballTalk, and have been spending a lot of man hours trying to get it turned around.
Philadelphia did used the offseason to address those issues, drafting Brandon Boykin in the fourth round of April’s draft and picking up Damaris Johnson as a free agent afterwards. Boykin was a four- year starter at Georgia that left as the school’s all-time leader in kickoff return yards. Johnson missed his entire senior season after being arrested for embezzlement charges, paying less than face value for items at a merchandise store his girlfriend worked at. Still, in just three years he finished as the NCAA’s all-time leader in all-purpose and kickoff return yards.
Both additions should be significant upgrades for the team, and should go a long way in improving this year. If the changes work, it will justify oddsmakers who list the Eagles as the team to be in the NFC East.
We’ve talked at length about the Giants being undervalued for the championship at 18/1, on 2013 Super Bowl Futures. But the Eagles seemed to be just a step off the pace last year, and won four-straight to finish the season.
Philadelphia still has a dynamic offense with the re-signing of DeSean Jackson, and ranked fourth in total offense last year, along with eighth in total defense. No other team in the NFL finished in the top-10 in both categaories.
The Eagles are a 14/1 front runner for the championship, according to Bovada’s Super Bowl XLVII Odds.
They open as a 7 ½-point favorite against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, according to BetOnline’s Eagles vs. Browns Betting Lines.