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. On Monday we looked at the first four games. Today we look at the second quarter (weeks 5-8).
5) St. Louis Rams (Oct. 5, 1 PM)
The St. Louis Rams are the best worst team in their division in the NFL. Imagine if they didn't have to return to an NFC West division that features the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the NFC Championship game losers San Francisco 49ers, and the 10-6 Arizona Cardinals. Like other NFCW teams, what stands out the most about St. Louis is their defense. An already dangerous defensive line featuring PFWA defensive player of the year Robert Quinn was bolstered with the addition of first round pick Aaron Donald. The Eagles offensive line will have their work cut out for them in this one.
The offense is a different story. Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin are some young offensive weapons but quarterback Sam Bradford shouldn't really be scaring anyone. This game would cause more concern if it was on the road, but fortunately for the Eagles it's not. This won't be an easy one but it should still be a win.
6) New York Giants (Oct. 12, 8:45 PM)
The Eagles make their 2014 debut on Sunday Night Football with a game against the New York Football Giants. The G-Men are already the Eagles biggest threat to the NFC East division crown in 2014 so this obviously has the makings of a good one. This game will be Philadelphia's first look at the Giants changes from the 2014 offseason. New York brought in former Green Bay Packers quarterback coach Ben McAdoo to be their new offensive coordinator in place of Kevin Gilbride. McAdoo will try to get QB Eli Manning back into top form after throwing 27 interceptions in 2013. It'll also be the first return of former Eagles cornerback Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie to Lincoln Financial Field since he left Philadelphia in free agency last year.
Division games are usually a toss up and I don't see this one being any different.
7) BYE (Oct. 19)
Last year the Eagles had their bye week during the latest time possible (Week 12). This year it's much earlier. I expect the Eagles to be above .500 by the time the bye arrives. If not, 3-3 at the least.
8) @ Arizona Cardinals (Oct. 26, 4:05 PM)
This is a revenge game even though the Eagles beat the Cardinals last season. Despite getting off to a respectable lead, the Eagles started to let this game slip away back into Arizona's reach. The Cardinals made a close run at it but had some bad breaks go their away. Some would argue the Eagles got lucky because of a number of plays near the end of the game. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians admitted he wasn't a fan of the officiating.
Both the Eagles and Cardinals appear to be in the same tier of the NFC. They're not quite at the top with the likes of Seattle and San Francisco but they're right there in that next group. Add in the fact that this game is in the desert and I expect it to be good.
Is a 2-1 record possible?
Yes. This is hardly a cakewalk but none of these teams are juggernauts. I can't see the extremes of 3-0 or 0-3 here but I can see 2-1 or 1-2. Combine this outlook with the Eagles first four games and I think there's a decent chance they're .500 or better by the halfway point of the 2014 season.
Tomorrow I'll preview the third quarter of the Eagles schedule. For now, what say you about these four games? Where will the Eagles stand after the second quarter?