Eagles visit Patriots as QBs and former college teammates Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones square off

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - AUGUST 9: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes the ball during Training Camp at Lincoln Financial Field on August 9, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Eagles travel to New England for the first time since 2015 to face the Patriots in the season opener for both teams. 

New England has won four of the past five regular-season meetings, including the most recent in Philadelphia in 2019. 

This will be a reunion of sorts for Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts ad Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who played together at Alabama. 

Hurts is coming off a season that had him set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns. 

Jones is looking to bounce back from a rough sophomore season that included him missing three games because of injury.

EAGLES PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Jalen Hurts. He went 14-1 as a starter last season and since 2021 has the the second-best winning percentage (.733, 22-8) among NFL quarterbacks, trailing only Patrick Mahomes (.765, 26-8). Hurts is coming off a 2022 season in which he completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,701 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s also a threat to run, having notched 760 rushing yards and 13 rushing TDs last season.

PATRIOTS PLAYER TO WATCH: LB Matt Judon. He’s been worth the investment New England made in him as a free agent in 2021. He led the team with a career-best 15 1/2 sacks last season after doing the same in 2021 with 12 1/2 sacks. Judon can become the first Patriots player since Tony McGee in 1979 to have three straight double-digit sack seasons.

KEY MATCHUP: Patriots receivers vs. Eagles secondary. New England’s offense has had an offseason overhaul following the hiring of new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. A big part of that has been the changes to the Patriots passing attack, with the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster to a group that includes DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne. O’Brien has also integrated some of the zone read plays that quarterback Mac Jones was fond of in college at Alabama. The unit will be tested by a Philadelphia defense that allowed an NFL-low 179.8 yards per game last season.

KEY INJURIES: The Eagles enter the season mostly healthy, with only CB Josh Jobe (illness) on the injury report to start the week. … Three projected starters on the Patriots’ offensive line began the week dealing with issues with LT Trent Brown (illness), RG Mike Onwenu (ankle) and LG Cole Strange (knee) all limited. WR DeVante Parker was also limited by a knee ailment.

SERIES NOTES: The Patriots have won four of the past five regular-season meetings. … This is the Eagles’ first visit to New England since a 35-28 win on Dec. 6, 2015. … The teams have matched up in two Super Bowls, with the Patriots taking Super Bowl 39 and the Eagles winning Super Bowl 52.

STATS AND STUFF: Running back D’Andre Swift will make his debut in an Eagles uniform. He totaled 2,878 yards from scrimmage and 25 TDs (18 rushing, seven receiving) in 40 games with the Lions. … Receiver A.J. Brown ranked fourth in the NFL with a career-high and franchise-record 1,496 receiving yards and had a career-high 88 catches and tied a career high with 11 TDs last season. … DeVonta Smith had 95 catches for 1,196 yards and seven TDs in 2022. He and Brown were the only pair of teammates with 85 or more catches and 1,100 receiving yards last season. … TE Dallas Goedert had 55 catches for 702 yards and three receiving TDs in 12 games last season. … LB Haason Reddick ranked second in the NFL with a career-high 16 sacks in 2022. He has had a sack in six of his last seven road games. … Rookies DT Jalen Carter and LB Nolan Smith are both set to make their debuts. … CB Darius Slay had 14 pass breakups last season. … CB James Bradberry ranked third in the NFL with 17 pass breakups and is the only player with 10 or more in each in the past seven seasons. Bradberry (99) and Slay (98) rank first and second in pass breakups since 2016. … Patriots QB Mac Jones threw for 2,997 yards and accounted for 15 touchdowns (14 passing, one rushing) in 2022. He had six passing TDs and no interceptions over his final five games of 2022. … RB Rhamondre Stevenson is coming off a career-high 1,461 scrimmage yards (1,040 rushing, 421 receiving) last season with six total TDs (five rushing, one receiving). …. RB Ezekiel Elliott is set to make his Patriots debut after seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He is coming off a 2022 in which he accounted for 968 scrimmage yards (876 rushing, 92 receiving) and 12 rushing TDs. He ranks second among active players in scrimmage yards with 10,598. … Also debuting for the Patriots is WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had 78 catches for for 933 yards and three TDs last season. … LB Josh Uche is coming off a career-best 11 1/2 sacks in 2022. Uche and Judon were one of two duos with 10 or more sacks last season. … LB Ja’Whaun Bentley led the team in 2022 with a career-best 122 tackles. … DB Kyle Dugger had a career-high eight pass breakups and led the NFL with three defensive TDs last season.

FANTASY TIP: Eagles RB Rashaad Penny is a player that could make an impact as he debuts with the Eagles following five seasons in Seattle. For his career, he has a 5.7 yards per attempt rushing average, the highest among active running backs.