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Breaking down the first quarter of the Eagles’ 2018 schedule

Can the Super Bowl-winning team keep their momentum from February?

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The World Champion Philadelphia Eagles are inching toward training camp and are just weeks away from the start of the 2018 preseason. BLG asked me to spend the next couple of days taking a look at Philly’s schedule in four quarter increments, and there’s a lot to be excited about.

Let’s start with the first four games of the season:

Week 1: vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sept. 6, 8:20 p.m. ET)

There is a lot riding on the first game of the 2018 season, not only as a benchmark for how the team is going handle the success from the Super Bowl win, but to finally find out if Carson Wentz is healthy enough to get in the lineup.

As of now, Doug Pederson refuses to give answers to medical questions — “I’m not a doctor” ad nauseam — and while Wentz was seen participating in 7-on-7 drills during OTAs and lifting his Bride following his July wedding, there’s been no commitment from either the QB or the team about whether he’ll be back in Week 1.

I’ve already bought my lifetime pass on the “Wentz Wagon” but if he does get the start, I’ll be a little more nervous about the outcome of the matchup with the Falcons. Atlanta has a young and fiery secondary, with players like Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee, and Wentz will need to be on target throughout the evening to capture the first win of the season.

I have no doubt he has the skills to jump right back into things, but there will definitely be a “wait and see” period for him to adjust to in-game situations with a once-injured knee. It won’t be until he takes real-time snaps that we’ll see his confidence in his rehab, and whether he hesitates to break off on a run, or how he handles slides.

Should Wentz not be 100% ready to make his return, Nick Foles would get the start and I’d have very few concerns about the Eagles starting 1-0 in their Super Bowl follow-up.

Sure, the Falcons have some of top offensive weapons in the league, but it’s tough to say whether Julio Jones’ hold-out with cause ripples once the team is back on the field — even if it hasn’t in prior years, this year’s offseason feels a bit more contentious between the two parties. Matt Ryan still has Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to wreak some havoc, but the Eagles defense should be able to shut them down.

Plus, it’s the home opener for the reigning Super Bowl Champions — they are not going to lose this one.

Week 2: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sept. 16, 1:00 p.m. ET)

This matchup got a little easier to predict with the legal woes and three-game NFL suspension of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

Of all the NFL teams from Florida, I’d be much more concerned about facing the improvements made to the Jaguars squad than I am about facing the Bucs — with or without Winston. But, I feel even better about things knowing veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will suit up in Winston’s place.

The last time Fitzpatrick faced the Eagles was back in 2015 — before Philadelphia’s defense got really good — when he was still with the Jets. They faced off in late-September that season, with Fitzpatrick finishing the day with a 60.3 completion percentage for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but also having thrown three interceptions.

The Eagles won that game 24-17 during a year in which they’d end up winning only seven total matchups and kicking Chip Kelly to the curb before the season was even over. If Philly can get a win over a mediocre team led by Ryan Fitzpatrick back then, I see no reason they won’t be able to do that again.

Week 3: vs. Indianapolis Colts (Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. ET)

A reunion between the Eagles and Frank Reich is happening sooner rather than later, and it’ll be a good matchup to get out of the way. Reich has all the potential to mold the Colts into a somewhat respectable team, but it’s going to take at least a few weeks for them to get into a rhythm and develop in-game chemistry.

In addition to a new head coach and staff, the Colts return a few key players from injury and could take some time to shake off the rust and get back into their formerly successful ways. (I’m looking at you, Andrew Luck.) Fortunately for the pair, Reich’s penchant for adapting his playcalling to suit the progress of his quarterbacks, should help he and Luck get on the same page and develop throughout the season.

But, this won’t be done by Week 3.

It might not be the kind of shellacking we are all used to seeing from teams playing the Colts, but it should be a solid win at home in The Linc to make a 3-0 push to start the season.

The last time the Eagles faced the Colts was in 2014 on the road in Indianapolis. Philadelphia walked away with a 30-27 win in mid-September, with Nick Foles throwing for 325 yards and Darren Sproles topping the list of receiving yards for the day with 152.

Week 4: at Tennessee Titans (Sept. 30, 1:00 p.m. ET)

This will be the first time the Eagles have faced the Titans since the Tennessee team drafted Marcus Mariota — despite months of Philly fans stanning for Chip Kelly to give up the farm for him. (I’m guilty as charged, and you can @ me. I deserve it for ever having this terrible, terrible idea.)

The Eagles last played the Titans in 2014, winning 43-24 on the road. Let me remind you, this particular win was thanks to Mark Sanchez, who threw for 307 yards on the day, and LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 130.

Both teams are completely different than when they last met, and the Titans have a new up-and-coming head coach in Mike Vrabel and secondary savant in Kerry Coombs. (Sorry, is my Buckeye blood showing? Not sorry.) These two additions alone should add a ton of value to the Tennessee defense, and should push for a pretty immediate improvement.

While their defense should be far and away better than it was last season, the offense still has plenty of question marks. Our good friend Demarco Murray decided to retire just last week, leaving the Titans’ run game solely on the shoulders of Derrick Henry and Dion Sims. Henry is expected to be the feature back in Tennessee, but Sims has been around long enough to make an impact even in reduced snaps.

So, while it seems pretty far-fetched to think that fresh off a Super Bowl win, the Eagles turn around and start the 2018 season 4-0, I seriously don’t think it’s all that unrealistic.


What will the Eagles’ record be after the first four games of 2018?

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