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Eagles 2015 schedule was influenced by the Pope and the Philadelphia Phillies

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*Insert Tim Tebow joke*

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You may have noticed that there are a few oddities on the Eagles 2015 schedule. The team will play in Philadelphia only once during their first four games. As a result, the Eagles will host three home games in a row in December for the first time in franchise history.

Why did the schedule shape up like this? According to Peter King of The MMQB, it was the Pope who (indirectly) influenced the schedule.

"Phillies conflicts in Weeks 1 and 4, and a letter from Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to commissioner Roger Goodell (the archbishop spelled it "Rodger") last July 8 respectfully requested the NFL not play in Philadelphia on the Sunday of Week 3, the day Pope Francis is scheduled to hold a mass for an estimated 2 million people on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway outside the Philadelphia Art Museum. In October, Katz wrote the archbishop to say the Eagles would be out of town that weekend … 93 miles up the New Jersey Turnpike to play the Jets on that afternoon, Sept. 27. 'Yes,' Katz said, finally able to relax Tuesday evening in his scheduling den. 'The pope did influence the NFL schedule. My name may be Katz, but I wasn’t taking any chances.'"

As noted above, the Phillies also made an impact when it came to the season opener.

"Katz understands it’s been the Offseason of Chip. The Eagles couldn’t conflict with a Phillies home weekend, so a Monday night game at Atlanta was the seed the group planted here."

One potential concern about the Eagles schedule that I didn't realize earlier is that they're going to have to play on the same field one day after the Army-Navy game is held at Lincoln Financial Field. Usually the Eagles try to avoid this dilemma, but they couldn't this year.

"Surprise! Eagles maxed out their prime-time appearances at five, including three straight in midseason: Giants on Monday, Carolina and Dallas on Sunday night … Did you notice the three-game homestand in December? The Eagles requested the weekend of Dec. 13 on the road, because the Army-Navy game is at Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 12. The league tried but couldn’t accommodate Philadelphia, and so a three-game homestand was the result … And this from Michael North of the NFL, on whether the pope’s visit gave the Eagles three of the first four on the road: "If the pope were not there this year, given the Phillies’ blocks in Weeks 1 and 4 because of their home games, the Eagles most likely would have been home in Weeks 2 and 3.""