The Philadelphia Eagles should be in contention for a playoff spot, as they participate in a wide-open NFC East division. This franchise should be competitive, as the front office has brought in some nice talent on the offense. They’ll need to overachieve if they want to make a postseason push though, as the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team are the early favorites to win the division.

Now under a new coaching regime, the Eagles hope to get back to the top of the league as soon as possible. To do that, the defense will have to impress. They’re not the best unit on paper, but if they can get it together, Philadelphia’s defense could be a nice surprise for this franchise.

Meanwhile, most of the excitement surrounding this team is generating from the offense. Although Miles Sanders is in line to be the starting running back, there are some solid backups right behind him. Additionally, the wide receiver room is filled with young talent, but a second-year receiver could be the biggest surprise this year. Lastly, Jalen Hurts has all of the potential in the world and could make a massive leap in development. With that said, here are four bold predictions for the Eagles 2021 NFL season.

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4. Eagles defense plays better than expected

To put it frankly, there shouldn’t be many expectations for the Eagles’ defense. However, between Darius Slay and Fletcher Cox, the Eagles have two players to rely on throughout the regular season. Look for these two to step up and serve as superstars on Philadelphia’s defense.

Furthermore, the Eagles have a preferable schedule for their defense. They only face five teams who have potential elite offenses, while they’re matched up with more average offenses throughout most of their schedule. This bodes well for the Eagles’ chances, as the defense should be able to contain an average offense.

3. Kenneth Gainwell plays a major role

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The rookie fourth-round pick has made some noise throughout training camp and the preseason. He’s not likely to take over the starting running back job anytime soon, but he could be a nice compliment to Sanders. Kenneth Gainwell is currently listed as the third running back on the depth chart, but he could take over Boston Scott’s role as the third-down back.

If that’s the case, Gainwell will be in for a big rookie year. The coaching staff relied on him in two-minute drills in the preseason, which bodes well for his chances to see the field. Kenneth Gainwell is a great receiving threat out of the backfield, which is something the Eagles need to help develop Jalen Hurts. Keep an eye on Philadelphia’s running back situation, as Gainwell has the potential to be a major producer for this offense.

2. Quez Watkins serves as the best receiver on the team

Quez Watkins has been a pleasant surprise this offseason. He’s stepped up in training camp and proved to be a reliable target in the preseason. He was originally a long shot to earn playing time, but Watkins has won the slot receiver role on the Eagles offense. That makes him the third receiver on the depth chart, but there’s a real chance that Hurts looks his way more often than not.

Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith will play on the outside. All three of the Eagles’ wideouts are speedy receivers. Reagor himself has looked good this offseason, while Smith needs some time to adjust to the professional level. Quez Watkins could come hot out of the gate and provide consistency in the passing game. If he can do that, the Eagles should be better than anticipated.

1. Jalen Hurts plays like a top 10 quarterback

Jalen Hurts has the tools necessary to be a top quarterback in this league, he just needs to put everything together. He currently has a small sample size of playing time but seemed to be a solid option under center. Hurts isn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield and he has the athleticism to make a play happen with his legs. He’s a dual-threat quarterback and seems to fit the Eagles offensive scheme nicely.

With the offensive line a major concern right now, having a quarterback who can run the ball is essential. The front office should highly consider upgrading the group next offseason to increase their chances of succeeding. For now, Hurts is in line to have a big year and could break the top 10 right away. He has the weapons around him to be a great quarterback, but only time will tell if he’s the real deal or not.