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Philadelphia Eagles season preview: NFC East favorites

Change we can believe in

Continuity is overrated. That's what Eagles coach Chip Kelly's actions told us this offseason as he said goodbye to LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles, Evan Mathis, Trent Cole, most of the secondary, and the team's smoothie coordinator. Former general manager Howie Roseman got a "promotion," but less influence over personnel as Kelly dramatically re-made the roster. Kelly attacks personnel at the same pace his offense attacks the play clock. It's fun, but exhausting.

The Eagles got aggressive at logical positions like quarterback (Sam Bradford) and cornerback (Byron Maxwell), and zigged while the rest of the league zagged by spending big bucks at running back. DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews now form the best 1-2 punch in the league. You know it's an insane offseason when acquiring the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year (Kiko Alonso) was roughly the seventh-most interesting decision Kelly made.

Biggest concern

The Eagles are putting their sports science secret formulas to the test. So many of Philadelphia's pickups are coming off serious injury or at extra risk of injury: Bradford, Murray, Mathews, Alonso and safety Walter Thurmond. Kelly also spent big money to retain DeMeco Ryans, coming off an Achilles tear. An avalanche of injuries is a worst-case scenario and another injury to Bradford would put Philadelphia right back into the Sanchez Zone: Good enough to win games, but not as a real Super Bowl contender.

Training camp surprise

The relative hysteria about Bradford's recovery from minicamp season looks overwrought now. There's no way to know if Bradford can survive a season, but he's proven he's ready to play physically with a strong preseason. Bradford has taken some big hits, shown strong accuracy and looked comfortable in two preseason games. He's the most talented pro quarterback Kelly has worked with, and expectations have risen quickly.

With Jordan Matthews establishing himself as the team's No. 1 receiver, the biggest surprise from Eagles camp has been the lack of drama. The roles in the secondary were established quickly, with Thurmond and cornerback Nolan Carroll as starters. This team knows what it wants to be.

What we'll be saying in February

The Eagles own the NFC East again, proving to be among the NFL's elite for the first time under Kelly.

Predicted finish: NFC East champion, No. 3 seed in NFC playoffs, No. 6 overall in Around The NFL's Power Poll.

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