It’s been less than 24 hours since the NFL’s schedule release..which means only one thing. It’s time to once again take an all-too-early look at the schedule, making predictions for the team’s regular season record. Sure, the Draft is still yet to come and it’s more than a little premature..but it’s also fun..and hopefully refreshing too. So, here it is:
Week 1 @ Washington Redskins
A season opener against a divisional rival is never easy, especially on the road. But if we’re to take go off of current rosters alone, I think the advantage lies with the Eagles. The team were unable to take on the Redskins in a shootout last year and didn’t have the pieces to stop opposing wideouts wreaking havoc.
The names Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills may not intimidate Washington’s coordinators..and the Redskins acquisition of Terrelle Pryor, partnered with Jordan Reed and company certainly make for a mismatch on paper. But with press specialist Aaron Grymes, an elite pass rusher in Timmy Jernigan and a safety tandem in their natural spots, the Eagles Defense stands a much better chance of standing firm.
There’s also one very important factor we haven’t mentioned, the offensive line. There will be no trial by fire when the two teams meet again, with Lane Johnson returning to his starting role on the right side..and when you look at the ruthlessness he played with in those closing games of 2016, and the way he’s still fighting for his innocence..it’s safe to say there will be a chip on his shoulder.
If it gets down to a shootout, with a now stable offensive line, I think the Eagles have every chance of pulling out a narrow win over Washington in week one.
Week 2: @ Kansas City Chiefs
Anakin meets Obi-Wan in Andy Reid’s second game against his former team..and his first against his former offensive coordinator, now Eagles Head Coach, Doug Pederson.
The Chiefs roster is loaded on both sides of the ball, but if they’re forced to attack through the air..things get interesting, just as it does for the Eagles. Alex Smith is one of the most consistent (albeit unflashy) quarterbacks in the league..but if he physically has to throw time and time again, with no support on the ground, the Eagles have a shot.
Last season, the Eagles run defense was dominant at times and in the games it lacked, the unit still forced teams to get creative. The Birds averaged 103 opposing rushing yards per game in 2016..and if the Chiefs offense struggles to get off to a hot start, the Eagles have the ability to hurt the Chiefs with their kryptonite, a taste of their own, multi dimensional medicine.
Week 3: Vs New York Giants
I genuinely believe that the first home game of the season will be crucial as the team face their second divisional opponent in three weeks..but it’s also a game that like the two before them, they will spring an unlikely surprise.
The Eagles were able to get one up on the Giants last year, cutting the cord on their playoff hopes and proving that they won’t go down without a fight. Sure, the Giants have been able to bolster their receiving corps, but Eli Manning is regressing..and if it wasn’t for Odell Beckham Jr, the last three years could have ended very differently.
The Giants offensive line leaves a lot to be desired..and with question marks over left tackle, the Eagles Defense will be licking their lips at the chance of making life difficult for Manning yet again.
This will be a true test for the Birds..but a very winnable one if they’re able to disrupt Manning as they do so frequently.
Week 4: @ L.A Chargers
It’s ironic that one of the more winnable games on the schedule goes down as the team’s first loss, but this is a do-or-die year for the recently relocated Chargers..and if their season starts in a bumpy manor, pressure and a sense of urgency will begin to set in.
The Chargers have not made the playoffs since 2013, with injuries being a key factor in that disappointing run. But with a new direction and a new era, I think the Chargers will upset a lot of people. Oh, and Phillip Rivers is a fantasy GOD..so with the Eagles current cornerbacks, I believe that’s going to be easy pickings for one of the most underrated and consistent arms in the league.
Week 5: Vs Arizona Cardinals
The Eagles and Cardinals are beginning to rack up quite the rivalry..or at least a sense of bad taste that needs removing after that brutal 2015 loss in which David Johnson ran rampant. A lot has changed since then..and while the Cardinals are getting older offensively, it’s the rebounding Eagles who look to shake things up with a big win.
In the battle of Carson’s however, the youth will win here. Wentz is surrounded by a larger spread of outside talent and the offense as a result has an abundance of layers for the defense to account for.
Week 6: @ Carolina Panthers
If there’s one thing that the Panthers struggled with last season, it’s keeping Cam Newton upright. Concussion controversies aside, Newton was sacked 36 times by opposing teams last year..and even with Kelvin Benjamin back by his side, the Super Bowl hangover is still making the head of Ron Riviera spin.
The Panthers Defense is incredibly dangerous and they will look to exploit any rookie tendencies that have been carried over into year two from Carson Wentz, but in a shootout scenario, this will be a game where Jernigan and Cox are the difference. All it takes is a few hits to rile Cam Newton up and throw him off of his game..forcing some inaccurate throws and uncharacteristic mistakes.
This has the potential to be one of the grittiest games of the year..but one I think the Eagles could once again throw the Cat amongst the Pigeons.
Week 7: Vs Washington Redskins
The Redskins will bounce back after the season opening defeat..and with the Eagles streaking into this matchup, will take advantage of the attrition that begins to set in.
Washington have a week 5 Bye, could be a little fresher coming into this than the Eagles..and facing the Niners in week 6 isn’t going to be their toughest challenge in 2017. Keen to break even with the Eagles, I can see this being one of those games that comes down to a coaching decision or something of that nature.
Week 8: Vs San Francisco 49ers
The Niners may be entering the year with a new quarterback and a slew of young talent..but at this stage, it’s full rebuild time. I expect the Niners to somewhat represent the 2016 LA Rams, they may not allow a lot of points..but they also won’t score many, and against the Eagles Defense..that’s music to the ears of Jim Schwartz.
Week 9: Vs Denver Broncos
The Broncos Defense is still among the most intimidating in the league, but offensively, things just aren’t set in stone, nor are they ever consistent. If the Broncos fail to establish momentum on the ground early, the result is often an offense that’s executed sporadically.
It’s strange, but the focus all offseason has been building an offense for the Eagles future of the franchise to thrive. A fortress of offensive linemen to keep him upright and stars outside to bring in those home-run hits. But it’s the Defense that based off current rosters alone, in my opinion, will have the bigger role to play in the success of the Eagles in 2017.
Week 10: BYE
Record: Is the new Kendrick album available on record yet?
Joking aside, this will finally be a week in which the Eagles can breathe and prepare themselves for an incredibly difficult run to the end of the season.
Week 11: @ Dallas Cowboys
Hear me out on this one. It’s the first time that the teams will have played each other in the 2017 season and as much as we all want to see the Eagles decimate from start to finish, I think that once again, the Cowboys will start off as the hotter team.
Wentz will have more options..but even the Eagles rush Defense struggled to stop Ezekiel Elliott doing that annoying first-down celebration. This will be a pure offensive shootout..and as it stands, I think the Cowboys are a complete offense. The Eagles are almost there..and arguably have more versatility and stars outside, but the Cowboys just have this knack of punching it up the gut until Zeke finally finds the momentum he needs for a big rush..and supported by a reliable cast of hands outside, I think they have enough to overthrow the Eagles..for now.
Week 12: Vs Chicago Bears
Angered and fired up after a loss to Dallas, the Eagles pick a part a Bears team that’s still in disarray. No questions or deep analysis needed here, barring some big injuries or a stunning draft from Chicago, the Eagles have more than enough talent to defeat the Bears two seasons in a row.
Week 13: @ Seattle Seahawks
This is getting scary now. But there’s always that one game every year that the Eagles shouldn’t win..but they will, somehow. In 2015 it was the Patriots, in 2016 it was the Steelers. 2017’s candidate? Russell Wilson and the 12th man.
The Eagles are building their roster in a very similar vein to Seattle when it comes to surrounding their quarterback with franchise talent..and after Wentz got his first taste of one of the league’s most notorious defenses in his rookie year, revenge will be on the mind.
Week 14: @ L.A. Rams
Conversely, there’s one game every year that the Eagles somehow manage to lose..and with the playoff pressure heating up, the tenacious Rams Defense might just be enough to finally get through to Carson Wentz in a low-scoring affair, giving the Rams a slight and very frustrating victory.
Week 15: @ New York Giants
Are the wheels falling off the Wentz wagon? Not yet. But entering the Meadowlands after a tough loss, the Giants could be fighting a playoff race of their own. With the series 1-1 last season, I can see something similar happening in 2017.
Doug Pederson doesn’t have the hottest divisional record so far, winning only two games against NFC East opponents in 2016. That record is going to be much better next season, but it won’t be perfect.
Week 16: Vs Oakland Raiders
I’m looking forward to this game more than arguably any other this year. Derek Carr is one of my favorite young quarterbacks in the NFL and the Raiders offense is just explosive. This, surely doesn’t bode well for the Eagles..right? Wrong.
The Raiders on the road..in the cold..on Christmas Day..in a hostile environment..against THAT defense?! Suddenly, the game doesn’t seem as intimidating.
Although the situation could not be anymore opposite, it’s worth noting that the last time the two teams met in the regular season was back in 2013, when Nick Foles threw a record setting 7 touchdowns in the 49-20 demolition of the Oakland outfit.
The two have met 12 times in total, with the series tied at 6-6. Derek Carr vs Carson Wentz, two of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league with two of the most dynamic offenses, going toe-to-toe at the Linc? It almost feels like Christmas..oh wait.
With that in mind, I think that defensively, the Eagles have enough firepower to force a cold..windy..hostile shootout. An environment where the Eagles young gunslinger could be set to thrive for a second upset.
Week 17: Vs Dallas Cowboys
Result : W
I know what you’re thinking. 1), there’s no way that the Eagles are going 11-5 this year. 2) This is why we don’t make schedule predictions. As mentioned before, this is all hypothetical and just a bit of fun basing it off of current rosters and overall direction.
By this point, I expect the Eagles to be gridlocked with the Cowboys in a win-and-in scenario, just as they were in 2013. I think that in this scenario..at home..to their biggest rival in a game that means so much more than a playoff berth, the heart and soul that was injected back into this team through the culture embedded by Doug Pederson will come to fruition..and the Eagles will go on to secure the NFC East.
So there you have it. As we all know, these prediction articles, like mock drafts never hold too much weight..especially at this stage, but it’s a lot of fun. SO with that in mind, be sure to let me know your predictions below and whether you agree or disagree with mine!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports