Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles claimed the last victory of the 2017 season and the first of 2018, so on this first full Sunday of NFL games we get to sit back and enjoy the rest of the action. Here's a look at the games to track and some leftover notes from the win over the Falcons in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
1. Five Games To Keep An Eye On
If you're keeping tabs on today's action from an Eagles standpoint, here are the five I'm most interested in:
Dallas at Carolina
Division games take priority, and this will be a new-look Cowboys offense without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.
Carolina is on the Eagles' schedule, and I'm intrigued to see Cam Newton in Norv Turner's scheme plus how much work second-year back Christian McCaffrey gets in the offense.
Jacksonville at New York Giants
It's the Tom Coughlin Bowl. How does Jacksonville open after it should have won the AFC title a year ago? Plus, Eagles will meet them overseas in London.
Giants have a plethora of changes with Pat Shurmur as the new head coach, James Bettcher running a new scheme on defense, and Saquon Barkley becoming back that New York has needed for quite some time.
San Francisco at Minnesota
When the Eagles hosted the 49ers last season, I was impressed with San Fran but knew it needed a quarterback to reach the next level. Is Jimmy Garoppolo it?
In Minnesota, Kirk Cousins takes over as the Vikings' quarterback with former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo running the offense. And is the defense still as dominant as it was in the 2017 regular season?
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Eagles play the Bucs in Week 2. Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the offense while Jameis Winston is suspended.
Should have been the Saints in the NFC title game last year coming to Philadelphia. What will be Alvin Kamara's role? Will the young defense that thrived take another step forward?
Washington at Arizona
Will Alex Smith be an upgrade over Cousins in the nation's capital?
Does former Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford have something up his sleeves for his Cardinals debut? Running back David Johnson just got paid after missing nearly all of 2017 with a wrist injury.
2. September Is For Banking Wins
Sampling sports talk radio on Saturday, and it appears that the fans who called in aren't happy with the team's performance in Thursday's 18-12 win over Atlanta.
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro spoke with head coach Doug Pederson, who said the team accomplished the biggest mission in the season opener.
"It's about winning and that's all that matters," head coach Doug Pederson told Spadaro on Friday. "And to do it against a great opponent who, quite honestly, we may see if we get a chance to be in the postseason. It's a good football team with a lot of talent. For the players, it's three days of rest and just spend time with their families. Since Training Camp started they haven't had a break and so this will be a significant break, kind of like a mini-bye for us. Coaches will work, coaches will be in the office getting prepared for Monday."
Philadelphia has won each of its last three season openers, tying for the third-longest streak in franchise history, behind 1942-47 (six) and 2011-14 (four). The Eagles have won nine of their last 11 season openers since 2008, including seven of their last eight overall.
So, what did the Eagles' head coach do with his mini-bye? He was an honorary captain for his alma mater, Louisiana-Monroe, against Southern Miss. Pederson's son, Josh, is a tight end for the Warhawks (No. 86 pictured below). The honorary captain for Southern Miss was Pederson's former teammate in Green Bay in Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who spoke to the Eagles on the Saturday morning before the Super Bowl win over New England. Pederson got to witness his son's team come out on top, 21-20.
3. A Witness To Greatness
Fletcher Cox was credited with two tackles, one for loss, a sack, and four quarterback hits on Thursday night while playing 65 out of 70 snaps. The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle was downright dominant against the Falcons as he picked up right where the 2017 season ended.
"It's rare that he takes a play off or a day off or anything of that nature unless I give it to him, quite honestly," Pederson said. "And so he's just a big, big part of our defensive line, a valuable part of the team, and for the team to elect him captain I think just shows where he is in his career."
Fran Duffy showed on tape how Cox wrecked the Falcons' night.
4. QB Nick Foles Goes Back To Back
With Philly Special and Philly Philly, Nick Foles is the first NFL quarterback with receptions in consecutive games since Marc Bulger with the Rams in 2008, according to ESPN.
5. LB Jordan Hicks' Career Night
First game as a Super Bowl Champion. First game as a father.
It was a special night for linebacker Jordan Hicks, who returned from his season-ending Achilles injury to post a career-high 1.5 sacks. Hicks and his wife, Ivana, welcomed a baby boy, Ayven, on August 31.
"It's special to be back on this field," Hicks said. "It's special any time you get the opportunity. It's special. When you're out, you feel like you take it for granted and I felt like making plays on third down, making sacks, interceptions, and just regular first-and-10 tackles – you take those things for granted. The ability to get back out here and have fun and celebrate and really have passion no matter the situation, no matter the play, it feels good."
6. Darren Sproles Continues His Climb
In his first game back from season-ending knee and forearm injuries, Darren Sproles moved up to sixth in NFL history with 19,216 career all-purpose yards, trailing only Jerry Rice (23,546), Brian Mitchell (23,330), Walter Payton (21,803), Emmitt Smith (21,564), and Tim Brown (19,682). With 61 all-purpose yards against the Falcons, Sproles surpassed Steve Smith Sr. (19,180) and Marshall Faulk (19,190).
7. Cameron Johnston's Leg Comes Up Big
In his NFL debut, Cameron Johnston punted for a 52.2 gross average and 47.0 net average. Johnston recorded four 50-plus-yard punts, including a 65-yarder in the first quarter.
8. Apparently, The Better Team Keeps Losing
Philadelphia has won three consecutive games vs. Atlanta, including a 15-10 win in the NFC Divisional Round and a 24-15 victory in 2016. Philadelphia has now held Atlanta to 15-or-fewer points in three consecutive games dating back to the 2016 season (including playoffs).