Heading into the second quarter of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles will face one of their toughest challenges and finally see their first NFC East opponent of the year. The outlook for the first four regular season games is positive for the reigning Super Bowl champs, but the next four could get a little dicey.
Here’s the next set of four games, taking us to halfway through the season:
Week 5: vs. Minnesota Vikings (Oct. 7, 4:25 p.m. ET)
I’ve had this game circled on my calendar since the day the schedule was announced.
While the Eagles won’t get the opportunity to return to the stadium in which they finally broke the curse and won the Lombardi Trophy, the great city of Philadelphia will have a chance to once again host the Vikings.
It hasn’t been long since the last time the team from Minnesota played in The Linc, and in case you forgot, the Eagles ended up pulling off a stunner for the NFC title. The Eagles destroyed the Sam Bradford-led Vikings to the tune of a 38-7 victory, crushing their hopes of playing in a Super Bowl at their home stadium. (Sad.)
The game was followed by weeks of Vikings players and fans crying about how they were treated during their road game, and were then forced to watch the Eagles come away victorious in the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Very sad.)
I think this is definitely one of the bigger tests early on in the season for Philadelphia. It’s the first team they’ll face with a pretty big grudge, but — wait for it, there’s a big but here... — they’ll be led by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The Eagles swept Washington—and Cousins—last season, winning both the matchup in September (30-17) and October (34-24). Cousins attempted 40 passes in each of those matchups, but improved between the two games from 23 completions (240 yards) to 30 (303 yards). He was sacked four times in each outing in 2017 and the most yards from any one target in either matchup was 67 by Vernon Davis in October.
The point being, the Vikings have a lot of offensive talent that could certainly boost Cousins penchant for being “meh” despite completely solid performances, but, we’re still talking about Kirk Cousins, which leads me to believe the Eagles round out their fifth game of the 2018 season with a narrow win to get them to 5-0.
Week 6: at New York Giants (Oct. 11, 8:20 p.m. ET)
The first NFC East opponent on the Eagles’ 2018 schedule is the Giants.
I don’t know how much we really need to talk about them and their potential this season. They’ve got all the offensive weapons they should need in OBJ and rookie running back Saquon Barkley, but Eli Manning is still their quarterback and they have a whole new coaching staff and front office.
New GM Dave Gettlemen — previously of the Panthers — gave players a clean slate when he took over earlier this year, which was good news for Eli Apple and the rest of the cornerback room. To say their secondary was a shit-show last season is putting it mildly. Between fighting during meetings to taking cheap shots at each other in the media, there were enough problems for that position group alone to sink the team.
Pat Shurmur is probably one of the few coaches who could actually turn the Giants’ franchise around — but expecting him to do that in the first half of his first season is a bit of a pipe dream.
Eagles move on 6-0.
(I’m trying very hard not to homer this whole series, but the Eagles are so damn good — and a lot of these teams are not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Week 7: vs. Carolina Panthers (Oct. 21, 1:00 p.m. ET)
Here’s where things get interesting.
The Panthers have Cam Newton and a young group of receivers and running back talent, but the team lost OG Andrew Norwell during free agency, which could leave the quarterback vulnerable. By Week 7 it’s safe to assume that the offensive line will have found a way to, at least partially, fill the void left by Norwell, but it will certainly be a factor against the Eagles aggressive and veteran defense.
Carolina’s offense in 2017 was less than impressive, but a lot of that was due to injuries to some of the few key targets for Newton, including tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Devin Funchess. Those two will be back in the lineup this fall though, and the team added Torrey Smith to the roster this offseason — one of many moving pieces of the Super Bowl winning Eagles squad — and drafted wideout D.J. Moore out of Maryland to boost their receiving corps.
Even with just sporadic success throughout the season, the Panthers could find a sneaky way to win.
Week 8: at Jacksonville Jaguars in London (Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. ET)
This game marks the first time the Eagles have traveled abroad for a regular season matchup, but the Jags have a bit of experience making the trek.
While it may be a homecoming for running back Jay Ajayi, the extended travel could cause some issues for players not used to overcoming jet lag. Philly has the worst travel schedule among the NFL in 2018, and they’ll have to figure out a way to overcome that lethargy quick.
Jacksonville has pretty quietly built a dominant defense over the past few seasons, and aside from having Blake Bortles as their quarterback, have a lot of offensive weapons as well.
The Eagles improved in Year 2 under Doug Pederson with success on the road, but it was still something they struggled with. Given that the trip to London will be their furthest journey yet, I get the feeling this could be one of the games that catches Philadelphia off guard.
The team will get a bye week when they return from the European country, and should get things back on the winning track for Week 10.
What will the Eagles’ record be after the first eight games of 2018?
This poll is closed
0-8 (if this is your answer, go away)