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Frank LeMaster Previews Eagles vs. Panthers

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Every NFL coach, player, and fan this week will be focused on the most anticipated, exciting, and intriguing week of every new NFL season: the  Frank LeMasterfirst game. Anyone who has played and enjoyed the game of football feels the cold nip in the air as summer turns to fall, and that means it’s “hitting time.” After playing football 25 years of my life, 10 of those in the NFL with the Eagles, I still feel goose bumps and tear up when I hear the national anthem being played before the start of each game. I feel, like every Eagles fan, that this is our year the Eagles will parade down Broad Street with the Super Bowl trophy.

Each message from a coach to his players will be that everyone’s record is 0-0 and that only you, your teammates, and coaches will control your own destiny – your hard work and sacrifice will allow you to thrive and survive to make it to the big dance. That is what’s so great about the NFL today… the parity is very even, and not only talent wins championships. Team chemistry is just as important. Who would have thought the Arizona Cardinals would have made it all the way to the Super Bowl last year?

So as the saying goes “Are you ready for some Football?!?!?!”

As for my thoughts on the Eagles versus the Panthers…

Look for this game to be a close game as both the Eagles and Panthers are rated by most of the so-called "experts" to go 9-7 this year. The Eagles offensively need to have a solid performance from McNabb, DeSean Jackson & Company with very few turnovers. Look for Coach Reid to use Westbrook alternating with LeSean McCoy as Westbrook’s off-season ankle surgery continues to heal. The offensive line, still limping with pre-season injuries, faces a huge test against a very aggressive Panther defense. The Panthers will depend on their strong running game until the Eagles front seven can show they can stop them. If not, it could be a long day for the Eagles. I am concerned about the Eagles level of physical conditioning for the offensive and defensive linemen. In the preseason, they looked overweight and out of shape. This may be part of the reason they experienced so many injuries this pre-season. The Eagles defensive line and linebackers are fast, but light and need experience. Stewart Bradley will be greatly missed as he was an excellent team leader, great run stuffer, and fast enough to cover the inside passing game. Look for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to mix up blitzes and slants if the Eagles cannot stop the running game.

The intangible factor, especially for this first game will be the team who makes the least mental mistakes, penalties and turnovers. Whoever does this will win.

Special teams play will win the game for the Eagles with David Akers' field goals providing the final margin of victory:

Eagles 20 Panthers 17