Winning in the NFL is almost never easy, but some weeks are less difficult than others. Here's a ranking of all the games on the Philadelphia Eagles' 2017 schedule (click here) in order of most to least winnable. (Note that I have the Eagles finishing with a 9-7 record.)
Week 8 - vs. San Francisco 49ers (Oct. 29, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
Under Chip Kelly, the 49ers were the second worst team in the NFL last season. San Francisco’s lack of success wasn’t only his fault; the 49ers arguably had the league’s worst roster. Yes, arguably even worse than the Browns. But now Kelly is gone and so is Trent Baalke. In to replace them: unproven young head coach Kyle Shanahan and inexperienced general manager John Lynch. The 49ers made a bunch of signings this offseason and they’ll have high picks in this year’s draft but their turnaround won’t be able to get started until they find a legitimate answer at quarterback. Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley aren’t scaring anybody. This is the most winnable game on the Eagles’ schedule.
Week 12 - vs. Chicago Bears (Nov. 26, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
The Bears were completely ravaged by injuries last season. They likely wouldn’t have been all that good if they were healthy, but they might have been merely bad instead of one of the NFL’s bottom three teams. Much like San Francisco, Chicago’s quarterback situation is very unenviable. Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez don’t exctly strike fear, except to Bears fans maybe. I don’t think Alshon Jeffery holds a lot of bitter feelings towards his former team. He seemed really appreciative of the Bears in his Players’ Tribune post. But I do think he’ll be extra motivated for a big game in this one.
Week 3 - vs. New York Giants (Sept. 24, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
A division game as one of the Eagles’ easiest games on their 2017 schedule? Allow me to remind you once more that the Birds are 14-4 in their last 18 games against the Giants. Here’s a look at the last three Eagles-GIants games that have taken place at Lincoln Financial Field.
2016: Eagles 24, Giants 19
2015: Eagles 27, Giants 7
2014: Eagles 27, Giants 0
In other words, the Eagles have outscored the Giants 78 to 26 in their last three Philly matchups.
This Week 3 game is the Eagles’ home opener so you know the crowd will be fired up for this one.
Week 5 - vs. Arizona Cardinals (Oct. 8, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
If this game was in Arizona, it would be a lot more difficult. But the Cardinals aren’t as tough to beat when they’re on the road. Arizona’s three road wins last year all came against division opponents. Two of those games came against some of the NFL’s worst teams: the 49ers and the Rams. I don’t think the Cardinals figure to be a cake-walk by any means but they’re not as threatening as they used to be. Carson Palmer really declined last season and he turns 38 this year so it’s easy to imagine he won’t rebound too well.
Week 14 - at Los Angeles Rams (Dec. 10, 4:25 PM ET, FOX)
The Rams’ defense has the potential to be pretty legit with Wade Phillips taking over as defensive coordinator. But the Rams’ offense has the potential to be pretty awful with Jared Goff starting unless he shows massive improvement from his rookie season. Another factor helping the Eagles in this one is the fact Philadelphia won’t have to travel out to the West Coast for this one. They’ll already be out that way after playing the Seahawks in Seattle.
Week 4 - at Los Angeles Chargers (Oct. 1, 4:05 PM ET, FOX)
The Eagles will have to make a separate trip out west this season to play the Chargers at their new home city of Los Angeles. Typically these kind of matchups aren’t favorable to the traveling team. The Chargers still have Philip Rivers and some other talented players. The factors keeping this game from being ranked more difficult is that Anthony Lynn is a first-year full-time head coach and I don’t think L.A. will have a really good home field advantage. The stadium is small and I don’t know how passionate of a fan base they’re going to have in the new market. I think a good number of Eagles fans will actually show up to this one.
Week 15 - at New York Giants (Dec. 17, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
The Eagles are 8-2 in their last 10 road games against the Giants. They easily could have been 9-1 if they didn’t squander a late game opportunity to beat New York last season.
Week 6 - at Carolina Panthers (Oct. 12, 8:25 PM ET, CBS/NFLN/Amazon)
I’m not really sure what to make of the 2017 Panthers, so I’ll put them right here in the middle. They’re only a season removed from being the 2015 NFC champions and having the NFL’s Most Valuable Player at quarterback. On the other hand, they had the league’s eighth-worst point differential in 2016. Thursday night games have the potentially to be ugly and this one is on the road.
Week 7 - vs. Washington Redskins (Oct. 23, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN)
The Eagles haven’t beaten Washington since early 2014; they’re 0-5 in five games since then. Philadelphia had a chance to end the streak late in a game at home last year, but then Matt Tobin’s knee gave out on a play leading to a game-ending sack on Carson Wentz. Maybe Washington’s offseason dysfunction will help the Eagles to finally beat their NFC East rivals this year.
Week 1 - at Washington Redskins (Sept. 10, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
You have to imagine the Eagles are desperate to get a win in Washington after not winning their since 2013. It might not be easy since the Eagles haven’t been able to get the best of Kirk Cousins.
Week 17 - vs. Dallas Cowboys (Dec. 31, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
It’s difficult to rank a Week 17 game like this because it could end up being meaningless, just like it was least season. Alternatively, the Eagles and Cowboys could be playing for the division in Week 17. For now I’m going to assume the game will be competitive. If that’s the case, it should be a good one, and it won’t be easy for either side.
Week 11 - at Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 19, 8:30 PM ET, NBC)
This game being outside of the Eagles’ top four most difficult games shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yes, the Cowboys had a really good season last year. They have some good young pieces in Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott that could allow them to be very competitive for many years to come. But Dallas also lost a lot of pieces this offseason, especially on defense. They need to remake their secondary. And even though the Cowboys might be good I don’t think the Eagles should necessarily be afraid of them. Philadelphia nearly had that game in Dallas won last year.
Week 9 - vs. Denver Broncos (Nov. 5, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)
Denver’s defense is still pretty good. The Broncos ranked No. 1 in defensive DVOA last year and allowed the fewest opponent yards per play. Losing defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could have an impact, but the Broncos still have talented players. This figures to be a tough test for Carson Wentz. The only reason this game isn’t more difficult is due to the Broncos’ sketchy quarterback situation. Maybe 2016 first round pick Paxton Lynch takes a step forward, but we’ll see.
Week 16 - vs. Oakland Raiders (Dec. 25, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN)
Prediction: the Eagles will get blown out on Christmas as karma for throwing snowballs at Santa. Just kidding. This could be a pretty tough one though. The Raiders have a lot of talent. Derek Carr is one of the best young passers in the league. Oakland’s offense will put Jim Schwartz and Philadelphia’s defense to the test.
Week 2 - at Kansas City Chiefs (Sept. 17, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
Andy Reid’s Chiefs are 23-9 in 32 home games since Big Red was hired in 2013. Last year their home losses only came by a combined four points. I really wonder how Doug Pederson will fare in his return to Kansas City considering mostly everything he knows he learned from Reid. I am really not expecting the Birds to win this game.
Week 13 - at Seattle Seahawks (Dec. 3, 8:30 PM ET, NBC)
Seattle is such a tough place to play. The Seahawks are 39-6 in their last 45 home games (including playoffs). Only two of those losses were to non-division opponents. It would be incredibly for the Eagles to pull off a win here.