Eagles vs. Panthers: The pick

Posted: September 11, 2009

I THINK there's a good chance the Eagles will be a better team than the Panthers by the end of the season.

The game, however, seems to be scheduled for this week.

I was leaning hard toward the Panthers even before yesterday's Shawn Andrews/Jon Runyan follies. Yesterday pretty much clinched it for me. I didn't get a strong "taking this in stride" vibe from anybody.

The middle of the defense might be a bigger problem right now than the offensive line.

"We certainly understand where teams want to attack us," new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said yesterday. We'll see whether understanding it and being able to stop it are the same thing. In the preseason, you could screen the Eagles or throw underneath on them all night long. Hard to imagine the strong Carolina o-line letting the Birds' pass rush really tee off on Jake Delhomme.

Can't pretend to know much about the Panthers, other than that they were 12-4 last season and then bombed spectacularly in the playoffs. That's part of what makes openers hard - nobody foresaw a 38-3, season-opening romp for the Eagles last year, because nobody knew exactly how awful the Rams were going to be.

Nationally, I see a lot of people picking the Eagles to win. Am I just too close to these day-to-day struggles, or are they too far away?

Prediction: Panthers 33, Eagles 31.

- Les Bowen

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