With Eagles training camp set to begin in less than two weeks, now’s a good time to look ahead to the upcoming season. I'm going to spend the next couple of days breaking down Philadelphia's 2017 schedule into four quarters. As a reminder, click here for the entire 2017 Eagles schedule. Today we'll focus on the first four games.
1) at Washington Redskins (Sept. 10, 1:00 PM)
The Eagles enter this game as standard three point road underdogs. One might think Washington isn’t getting enough respect, then, given how they’ve dominated the Eagles lately. Philadelphia hasn’t beaten Washington since the 2014 season. The Birds haven’t won at FedEx Field since all the way back in September 2013.
That changes this year. I’m convinced the Eagles are going to open this season with a win. They’re going to want this game so much more badly than Washington does. The players have talked about how they’ve struggled to beat this NFC East rival. I can’t help but imagine this game is circled on their calendars.
In addition to the Eagles being the hungrier team, Washington could be poised to take a step back this year after losing some of their biggest weapons in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Not to mention how Washington showed signs of a very dysfunctional organization (surprise!) this offseason.
This game figures to feature a great matchup between the Eagles’ improved defensive line and a strong Washington offensive line. Getting pressure on Kirk Cousins will be key for the Eagles.
Another key battle to watch is Alshon Jeffery versus Josh Norman. Jeffery’s biggest strengths happen to line up with Norman’s biggest weaknesses.
2) at Kansas City Chiefs (Sept. 17, 1:00 PM)
Two straight road games to open the season. Tough start for a team that went 1-7 in away games last year. Plus Kansas City isn’t an easy place to play. It gets really loud at Arrowhead Stadium, so I hear.
The obvious storyline surrounding this game is Andy Reid (The Mentor) versus Doug Pederson (The Mentee). It’ll be interesting to see how Pederson fares against the guy he learned everything from.
The Chiefs are a weird team in that they’ve been very successful in the regular season over the past few years but they’re not incredibly intimidating. That’s because Alex Smith is at quarterback. Even Kansas City knows he’s not the answer for them, which is why they traded up and drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round this year.
Even with Smith at the helm, though, Kansas City figures to be a formidable challenge. They’ll be favored over the Eagles in this game and for good reason.
3) vs. New York Giants (Sept. 24, 1:00 PM)
I really don’t get why some people are so high on the Giants.
Yeah, New York’s defense was pretty good last year. And yes, the Giants have a nice wide receiving corps after adding Brandon Marshall.
But why are we overlooking the most important aspect of the team: the quarterback? Eli Manning was not good last year. He turned 36 this offseason and his best football is likely behind him. It’s especially hard to see Manning bounce back when New York’s offensive line is very suspect.
The Giants just don’t scare me. And they shouldn’t because the Eagles own them. Here’s your regular reminder that Philadelphia is 14-4 in the last 18 meetings between these two rivals.
The Eagles should be juiced up for this contest since it’s their home opener.
4) at Los Angeles Chargers (Oct. 1, 4:05 PM)
There’s an unusual factor about this game that I’ve been wondering about: how will the Los Angeles crowd receive the former San Diego Chargers? Especially when the Bolts are playing in a temporary venue that isn’t very big (30,000 seats). Could Eagles fans actually outnumber L.A. fans at this game? Probably not, but how close will it get?
As for the actual football stuff, the Chargers are hardly an intimidating opponent on paper. They’re 9-23 over the past two seasons. There’s just nothing particularly interesting going on with this team other than moving cities.
One factor working in the Chargers’ favor is that they’ve been very unlucky with injuries recently. Assuming their bad injury luck regresses, they could be poised to improve. Philip Rivers is still a good quarterback when he’s at his best and the Los Angeles defense has some pieces. We’ll have to see how it all gels under first year head coach Anthony Lynn.
This game could be a coin flip.
Is 3-1 possible?
Again, the Eagles only won one road game last year. They have three road games in the first quarter of their 2017 schedule. I’m going to say it’ll be hard to get to 3-1, but 2-2 definitely seems like the floor for this stretch. I think the Eagles win at home and then steal at least one of the three road games.
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?
What will the Eagles' record be after the first four games of 2017?
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