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Eagles schedule preview review: Birds expected to soar

The Eagles are better. But how much better?

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

For the past two weeks, we looked in detail at each opponent the Eagles will face this season. It doesn’t appear to be a particularly tough schedule, but it’s no cake walk either, the Eagles will play some teams that should be really good.

In each preview I put out arguments as to why I think the Eagles will win or lose, but didn’t overtly put my opinion in it (except for that Bears game, because the Bears will be terrible this year), but asked for yours with a poll. The natural thing to do now is go over the poll results and also opine on each game from the lens of early July. A lot is going to happen between now and when these games are played, so I am taking this with a grain of salt. Unless I nail it, then I’m going to gloat wild.

Why the Eagles will be better in 2017

The Eagles’ path to improvement is straightforward: the veteran skill position players they added give them the seasons they expect, which helps Carson Wentz improve, Doug Pederson learns from his mistakes in his rookie year and progresses as a coach, the defense gets to the QB and special teams are dominant again. But if everything was so predictable, sports wouldn’t be any fun.

Why the Eagles won’t be better in 2017

If Torrey Smith’s struggles in San Francisco weren’t just a product of his environment, the Eagles don’t have much behind Alshon Jeffery. LeGarrette Blount looks to be an upgrade over Ryan Mathews, but counting on a player the Patriots no longer have a use for generally ends in failure. The cornerbacks could be awful all year (and yet still promising for 2018). We’ve already seen what happens when the offensive line is down a tackle. If Fletcher Cox, or Malcolm Jenkins, or Jordan Hicks misses serious time, the defense could fall apart.

And what if Carson Wentz doesn’t improve? He wouldn’t be the first, or last, QB to have a promising first year but never have that promise materialize. What if he doesn’t fix his overthrows, at least in 2017?

Doug Pederson had good moments and bad in 2016. He says he wants to continue to be aggressive, which is encouraging, but what if he’s too aggressive? What if the lower expectations for 2016 only hid that he’s in over his head?

We’ll find out when the games are played. For now, let’s project!

Weeks 1 and 7 - Redskins

Poll result: Eagles sweep 47%, split 38%, Redskins sweep 16%

I want to think the Eagles turn the tide and sweep the Redskins this year. It’s not hard to see it happening, the Eagles got better in the offseason and the Redskins got worse. I think the Eagles take the opener, but the second game concerns me, divisional games can be weird. I’m reluctantly going with a split.

Week 2 - at Chiefs

Poll result: Eagles 44%, Chiefs 56%

Agreed. The Chiefs defense and special teams are outstanding, and this game is in Kansas City. That’s a lot for the Eagles to have to overcome. Loss.

Weeks 3 and 15 - Giants

Poll result: Eagles sweep 55%, split 34%, Giants sweep 11%

The Eagles swept the Giants in 2014 and 2015, and if not for some rookie mistakes by Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson, they would have been swept again. I’ll go Eagles sweep here.

Week 4 - at Chargers

Poll result: Eagles 77%, Chargers 23%

This game scares me a little. If it was in Philly, I’d make the Eagles strong favorites. A west coast game following a divisional game… add in that the Chargers have some dangerous players on both sides of the ball and a new coaching staff that probably isn’t incompetent… even the best teams in the league drop games they should win. This has enough going for it to be that game. Loss.

Week 5 - Cardinals

Poll result: Eagles 68%, Cardinals 32%

I think the Cardinals will be bad this year, though that defense is scary. This could instead be the game they should win but actually lose, but I already did that. I like the Eagles in a vacuum, and in the context of coming off a loss to an inferior team on the road, I really like them at home. Win.

Week 6 - at Panthers

Poll result: Eagles 45%, Panthers 55%

Mea culpa, I forgot to add the poll to this until hours after it went up, so the vote totals are low.

I agree with the poll results, I think the Panthers edge this game, which is in Carolina and on a Thursday night. This might be the least exciting game at the moment, almost entirely because it’s on Thursday night. Loss.

Week 8 - 49ers

Poll result: Eagles 66%, 49ers 34%

The 49ers should be much improved and could still get blown out in a lot of games. Win.

Week 9 - Broncos

Poll result: Eagles 53%, Broncos 47%

This one is tough, and the results reflect that, as this is the third closest margin. I want to take the Eagles, but I’m having a hard time seeing them hang with the Broncos defense. Loss.

Week 10 - bye

Just want to say that Week 10 is a really good time for a bye. Last year it was Week 4, which was a joke. There should be no byes until Week 7.

Week 11 and 17 - Cowboys

Poll result: Split 51%, Eagles sweep 40%, Cowboys sweep 10%

The Cowboys didn’t improve, the Eagles did. I agree, this series is a split. I can see it going Eagles sweep, it nearly was last year.

Week 12 - Bears

Poll result: Eagles 80%, Bears 20%

Oh yeah. I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this game. Or be miserable. Win.

Week 13 - at Seahawks

Poll result: Eagles 52%, Seahawks 48%

No. You don’t predict a visiting team beating the Seahawks. Loss.

Week 14 - at Rams

Poll result: Eagles 94%, Rams 6%

Which will be a higher score, the Rams in this poll or the actual Rams in this game? Win.

Week 16 - Raiders

Poll result: Raiders 51%, Eagles 49%

I’m going upset here. I think the Raiders weren’t nearly as good as their 12-4 record showed, and I like the home field advantage in this game. Win.

Poll results: Eagles 12-4

My take: 9-7

9-7 feels like the low end, so I’m tempted to go back and change the Broncos game. I think 12-4 is asking too much for Year Two of the Wentz Era, but we’ve seen teams flip from 7 wins to 12+ wins before (Raiders last year, Panthers 2015), so it’s not crazy. Year Two of the McNabb Era went from 5-11 to 11-5, so if the Replicate The Andy Reid Era plan stays true, 11 or 12 wins is on the table. The Eagles barely caught any breaks last year, if they catch them this year, a big improvement should happen. I’m going with low expectations, which increases the chances I’m pleasantly surprised. Or since this is a Philly team, the best way to phrase that might be it decreases the chances they’ll piss me off.

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