Instant analysis: Five takeaways from release of Eagles 2018 regular season schedule

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The NFL schedules have officially been unveiled which means we can all start procrastinating and dreaming of another magical year for the Philadelphia Eagles. While the all-too-early predictions will be out in full force in the days to come, here are some quick takeaways from the schedule and the road to a title defense.

 

Strength of schedule:
We’ve known this ever since the opponents were first announced, but the Eagles have a difficult set of opponents in 2018. Of the 13 they’ll face, 7 of them experienced playoff football last year. The really tough stretch comes between weeks 4-6. Two games against playoff teams including an NFC Championship rematch are rounded out with a divisional clash against the Giants who always run the Eagles to the wire. It’s a tricky spot to be in before hosting another playoff team in Carolina and then traveling to the UK to face one more. The heart of the season is a nitty and gritty one for the reigning Super Bowl champions.

 

More rest, less stress:
Of the first nine games on the schedule, four (including week one), come with extended rest. Durability will be a big concern for this team and with such. high strength of schedule working against them, even minor victories, such as sufficient time to prepare of the next week and find a rhythm early on, are crucial.

 

The London advantage
The biggest takeaway of this season for me is the handling of the London game. Sure, no team really wants to travel a million miles overseas for a game that would be played at 9:30 in their own timezone. It’s difficult to adjust and prepare without getting lost in the moment, which is how the Jags have turned Wembley into a fortress in recent years. But before and after the week 8 clash, the Eagles have a pair of home games AND a bye-week. This means the players will be in the best position possible to handle the trip.

This could’ve been ugly. Could you imagine if the Eagles had to go on the road and face the Rams, THEN come to London and THEN go to Dallas? It would’ve been a very, very different scenario. However, the scheduling Gods have dealt mercy on the Eagles this time around.

 

A difficult end:
The final quarter of the season could be lethal. Two divisional games bookend clashes against Houston and L.A, two of next season’s must-watch teams. If the Eagles are in a playoff race in their own division, these games could well become the be-all and end-all.

 

Rematches:
NFC Championship round 2? That’s fun, but what about hosting the Atlanta Falcons who just one week before that blowout win, were eliminated from the postseason in heartbreaking fashion in the biggest underdog story of the season? That’s fun too. The Eagles will play both teams whom they had to overcome on their Super Bowl journey and revenge will be on the minds of their opponents. But neither Minnesota nor Atlanta played the Eagles when Carson Wentz was at the helm, making for a gladiator clash in each scenario.

 

The spotlight:
Just as they did last year, the Eagles will play in five primetime games. This is huge for the Super Bowl champs as the national exposure continues to snowball and the culture ripens. It also means that more and more people can watch the best team in the league do battle.

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