By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Eagles are set to kick off the 2021 season Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. In anticipation of the season opener, CBS3’s sports director Don Bell and reporter Pat Gallen break down their expectations for the season.

What do you think the Eagles record will be? 

Don Bell: The Eagles have a rookie head coach and the youngest coaching staff in the league. Their second-year quarterback (Jalen Hurts) has four career starts. The most talented receiver on the roster is a rookie and none of their rotational players at the position have more than two years of experience. They’ll lean on their veteran defense, but the NFL regular season is about offense. There will be some positive signs of growth, but it’s going to be a struggle.

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Record prediction: 6-11.

Pat Gallen: I think the Eagles will go 7-10, best case scenario 8-9. They will not make the playoffs, but I think on the strength of both the offensive and defensive lines, they’ll be in a lot of games. The most worrisome part of the team is the wide receiver position. I think Devonta Smith is incredible, but beyond him, who knows.

Record prediction: 7-10, or 8-9.

Is there any player, or coach, you think has the most to prove this season?

Don Bell: Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts are the obvious choices here. Devonta Smith gets honorable mention. But, I’m going with Zach Ertz. I was talking to Brian Dawkins after practice one season — it was late in his career. He explained how narratives shift as players age. When young guys have a bad game, people chalk it up to a lack of experience. When older players underperform, critics say they’re washed up. Neither may be true. Ertz is coming off the worst season of his career. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s still the best tight end on the team — probably the division and maybe top 10 in the league.

Pat Gallen: Adding to my answer above, it’s Jalen Reagor.  The second-year wideout needs a breakout. As a first-round wide receiver, you used to be given some leeway — but they need for him to play like a WR1 right now. I expect Jalen Hurts to rely HEAVILY on the tight ends, which gives Reagor a bit of a softer cushion. That said, he needs to prove he’s not a bust.

Are there any players you are most looking forward to watching this season? 

Don Bell: Linebacker Alex Singleton. He’s a tackling machine and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen an Eagles linebacker ball out.

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Pat Gallen: I would have said this even before his monster four-year contract extension — but I’m really looking forward to seeing Jordan Mailata’s forthcoming breakout. And the Eagles have paid him like they expect to see the same. He has a chance to be a star and a household name in Philadelphia. Big smile, big dude — can’t wait to see him maul guys in 2021.

Who do you think will be the breakout star for the Eagles this season?

Don Bell: Jalen Hurts. He’s going to make mistakes because he’s a young quarterback and that’s what young quarterbacks do. But, he’ll prove that he’s worth the investment.

Pat Gallen: Jordan Mailata would be my number one, obviously. But if I’m digging a little deeper, I’ll go with Dallas Goedert. He’s heading into year four and a big year means a big contract in the near future. Unfortunately for him, Zach Ertz is still here. That said, I think Goedert will still put up big numbers as a safety valve for Hurts. I think 65 catches and somewhere around 750 yards.

Which NFC East team do you think is going to be the most challenging for the Eagles to face this season?

Don Bell: The Cowboys. Why? Because they should be able to score in bunches. I just don’t know where the offense is going to come from for the Birds.

Pat Gallen: Dallas and Washington. The Giants aren’t very good. But the Cowboys and the Washington Football Team are talented — Dallas has a mighty offense, Washington is loaded on defense. I think it’ll be a dog fight between the two in the East, with the Eagles playing them tough, but ultimately not having enough to compete.

Pat says he is also interested to see what Nick Sirianni is all about. He appears to be a good people person and loves teaching, especially the WRs.

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“Will it eventually translate into wins? Time will tell,” Pat said.