The dreaded doldrums of the NFL dead zone will be soon be over. In less than two weeks, Eagles training camp starts. Shortly after that, preseason football will follow. And then in "only" about eight weeks the actual games kick off. So with nothing better to do than to look ahead to the upcoming Philadelphia Eagles season, I'm going to spend the next couple of days breaking down the team's 2014 schedule into four quarters. Here's a look at the entire 2014 Eagles schedule. Today we'll focus on the first four games.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars (September 7th, 1 PM)
The first thing I like about this game has nothing to do with the opponent. It's the fact that the Eagles get to play right away on opening weekend. Last year we had to wait until Monday Night Football to see the Birds in action. They were also on in the road in Washington. This year it's a home game instead.
The Eagles are already favored in this game by 11 points. That makes Philadelphia the biggest Week 1 favorites in the NFL on opening weekend. I don't see a problem with that. The Jaguars are entering the second year of a rebuilding project under Gus Bradley, who the Eagles almost hired following Andy Reid's departure. Chip Kelly should be able to confirm that the Eagles didn't make a mistake in their coaching hire. I can see Kelly's offense being too much for Bradley's defense to handle.
2) at Indianapolis Colts (September 15th, 8:30 PM)
The Eagles haven't played the Colts since Asante Samuel picked off Peyton Manning twice in a highly-entertaining 2010 match-up. You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Eagles actually play the Colts in Indianapolis.
The Colts appear to be the best team in a terrible division. That's not totally unlike the Eagles, except the AFC South was even way worse than the NFC East last year. With that said I'm not sure the Colts are as good as they may appear. Andrew Luck is extremely talented but he's hardly unbeatable. Eagles third string RB Chris Polk (11 attempts) had the same amount of touchdowns (3) as Trent Richardson (157 attempts) last season. The Indy defense will be lacking top pass rusher Robert Mathis. That said, this should still be a really good Monday Night Football game. Nick Foles versus Luck should be fun. I expect it to be close.
3) Washington Redskins (September 21st, 1 PM)
The story surrounding this game is impossible to avoid: DeSean Jackson's return to Philadelphia after being unceremoniously dumped this offseason. Jackson's already said he has this date circled on his calendar. It'll be interesting to see if the Eagles can limit the damage he does. It's not really fun to think about a healthy Robert Griffin III throwing to Jackson against the Eagles' secondary. Then again, the Redskins defense won't exactly be looking forward to face the Eagles offense.
The outcome of this game will have a significant impact on the Jackson narrative. If the Eagles win, it'll be all about how the Eagles didn't really need him anyway. If they lose, however, all we'll hear about is how the Eagles should have kept him and what a big mistake they made by letting him go. Fun.
4) at San Francisco 49ers (September 28th, 4:25 PM)
This is going to be the toughest challenge for the Eagles to this point. The 49ers are clearly at the top of the NFC and they'll have home field advantage at their new stadium. The Harbaugh-Kelly Pac-12 reunion dynamic will be fun, but how will the Eagles offense hold up against the 49ers defense? On the other hand, I'm not so much worried about the Eagles defense. That's typically the opposite of how things go. I really can't say I expect a victory here. The Eagles should be able to hold their own but a win will be hard to come by.
Is a 3-1 record possible?
I'd say so. I think the 49ers game is definitely a loss and the Jaguars game is definitely a win. The Colts and Washington games are toss ups. I'm leaning towards a win for both as of now, but the Colts game could be a close loss. So 2-2 at least should definitely happen. 3-1 is the realistic scenario. I don't see 4-0 but crazier things have happened.
Tomorrow I'll preview the second quarter of the Eagles schedule. For now, what say you about these four games? Where will the Eagles stand after the first quarter?