The dreaded doldrums of the NFL dead zone will be soon be over. In about a week, Eagles training camp starts. Shortly after that, preseason football will follow. And then in "only" about seven 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 look at weeks 9-13. [Weeks 1-4] [Weeks 5-8]
Week 9 - @ Houston Texans (Nov. 2, 1:00 PM)
The Houston Texans seems to be that team that everyone is expecting to bounce back after a terrible season. Kind of how like Kansas City Chiefs went from having the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to making the playoffs last season. Houston hired former Penn State coach Bill O'Brien to take over the reigns and the Texans drafted Jadeveon Clowney with the first overlal pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Pairing Clowney with J.J. Watt just doesn't seem fair. Similar to the Rams, however, I'm just not impressed by the Texans QB situation. You could do worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick but you could also do a lot better. I feel good about the Eagles chances of holding on in this one. I don't think Houston is ready to make a huge leap forward.
Week 10 - Carolina Panthers (Nov. 10, 8:30 PM)
The Carolina Panthers seem like that team that will inevitably regress this year. Grantland's Bill Barnwell has talked about how great defenses are harder to sustain than great offenses, and Carolina's defense was a big key to their success last season. The cupboard seems bare on offense. Former Eagles veteran Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, rookie Kelvin Benjamin, and journeyman Tiquan Underwood are listed as the Panthers top 4 receivers. That's terrible. Carolina also suffered a major loss on the offensive line with the retirement of offensive tackle Jordan Gross. I don't expect Carolina to fall off the map entirely but this should be a winnable game.
Week 11 - @ Green Bay Packers (Nov. 16., 1:00 PM)
This is going to be a tough one. The Eagles were fortunate to not have to face Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay last season. Chances are they won't have that same kind of luck again. With Rodgers playing, the Packers are clearly one of the best teams in the NFC. The fact that this game is at Lambeau won't make things any easier. Just like the 49ers game, it's hard to feel confident in this one.
Week 12 - Tennessee Titans (Nov. 23, 1:00 PM)
This is the game that I'm convinced will be a trap game for Philadelphia. Just look at the game before this one (Packers) and the game after (Cowboys on Thanksgiving). I don't see any real angle to this game worth discussing. The Titans will probably be bad and the Eagles are at home so Philly should win this one easy. But it's never that easy and this one just feels weird.
Week 13 - @ Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 27, 4:30 PM, Fox)
Eagles versus Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Kudos to the schedule makers on this one. This is going to be fun, hopefully. If you thought the Eagles were lopsided when it came to offense as a strength and defense as a weakness... they're nothing compared to what the 2014 Dallas Cowboys project to be. The Cowboys defense, which was terrible last season, only figures to be worse with the loss of key players such as DeMarcus Ware (released), Sean Lee (ACL injury), and Jason Hatcher (signed with Washington). Dallas still has plenty of talent on offense but I don't think it's wrong to wonder about Tony Romo's back injury that ended his season in 2013. And if Romo goes down, a solid veteran like Kyle Orton is no longer backing him up. It's just Brandon Weeden. The Eagles could score a lot of points here.
Is 4-1 possible?
Why not? Except for the Packers, I'm not thoroughly impressed by any of these teams. I can't see 2-3 or worse out of this stretch. 3-2 looks like a conservative estimate to me. Based on our estimates from previous posts, I can see the Eagles being around 8-4 at this point of the season.
On Friday I'll preview the final weeks of the Eagles schedule. For now, what say you about this stretch of games? What will the Eagles record be?