This past Wednesday, the NFL world began a seemingly annual tradition of pre-draft schedule analysis. The NFL officially released the full season schedule, and the Eagles move from a last place to a first place schedule based on their NFC East Championship. In this division, the Philadelphia Eagles were the last team to hold the crown more than a year, maintaining division champion status from 2001-2004. Ever since then, the division title has been a carousel among the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, and the Birds. This year provides a glimmer of hope that the Iggles could buck that trend and defend the crown.
The Eagles open their season with a winnable game on paper against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This also marks the first time the Birds open on their home field to start the season since 2010. Coincidentally, that season posted a 10-6 record and a one-and-done trip to the playoffs. Let’s hope this season is better. A trip to Indianapolis to face the Colts may prove to be an early season test for the team, and with a defense still in transition, a 1-1 record going into Week 3 against the Redskins isn’t out of the question. With the DeSean Jackson move to Washington, expect the Redskins to try and make a statement against the Birds at home, putting them in a 1-2 hole on base for the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, this may be another year where the team starts out in a 1-3 hole, as it figures out its defensive identity. Quarterback Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense could prove us all wrong, and that certainly would be a much better outlook at this point. Either, a Week 5 home game against the Saint Louis Rams followed by another home game against the New York Giants, and the Birds could go into their bye and even 3-3.
If this projection seems gloomy, based on past seasons, the Birds have shown a propensity to storm back in November and December. Even with Head Coach Chip Kelly replacing Andy Reid, the team did essentially the same thing last season. The problem is they always seem to have a bad game at the wrong time towards the end of the season. That has to be eliminating, and focus maintained, as the Birds season ends with three back-to-back-to-back division opponents.
Coming out of the bye, a win against the Arizona Cardinals seems plausible, as does a potential win at home against the Houston Texans. A Monday Night Football home game against the Carolina Panthers, and the Eagles could be staring a 6-3 record in the face. The Green Bay Packers are up next at hostile Lambeau Field, a game which could be the “recharge” game for the team, taking a 6-4 record into a home game against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans precede the Dallas Cowboys, both of which the Eagles should defeat, setting them up with an 8-4 record, 2-1 in the division. Next up is a trip to the Seattle Seahawks, a true test of the team’s ability to handle a tough defense. In the worst case scenario, the Eagles enter the final three weeks of the season with an 8-5 mark.
The Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants close out the season schedule. A home game against Dallas should put a notch in the win column, and a revenge win at FedEx Field against the Redskins. Taking a 10-5 record into the final away game against the Giants, and the Eagles could conceivable sit atop or tied for the division. With the number of issues plaguing the Giants last season, a sweep by the Birds wouldn’t be unheard of. If these predictions hold true, the Eagles could enter the playoffs as NFC East Champions again, with a total 11-5 record, adding another win to the total from last season. Another step in the quest forward with Kelly and Foles at the controls.