When it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles’ best away matchup in terms of fan travel this season, the answer is not even up for debate. With all due respect to Atlanta (Falcons), Dallas (Cowboys), Charlotte (Panthers), Detroit (Lions), Denver (Broncos), East Rutherford (Giants and Jets), and Landover (Football Team), there’s a clear No. 1 road destination on the 2021 NFL schedule ... Las Vegas.
What more really needs to be said? It’s Vegas! The City of Lights! The Gambling Capital of the World! The Capital of Second Chances! The Entertainment Capital of the World! The Silver City! The Marriage Capital of the World! America’s Playground!
For many, they’ll be taking their first trip to Sin City when the Eagles play the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Week 7 on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 4:05 p.m. ET. Others might be returning to Paradise, but it’ll be their first time to watch their favorite NFL team play there. This year marks only the second season the Raiders have played at their new stadium. It’s also the first without major COVID-19 restrictions on attendance like there were in 2020.
I’ve never been to Vegas myself but I’m obviously well aware there’s no shortage of activities to do. Fans traveling out ahead of game day can easily make a whole weekend out of the experience. From walking along The Strip to checking out the casinos to taking a tour of the Grand Canyon ... it seems hard to go wrong.
If you’re into really big into food like I am, our friends over at Eater have a list of 38 essential restaurants with all different kinds of cuisines to try. Tacos El Gordo is described as a “must-order experience.” Osteria Fiorella has a Philly connection with Marc Vetri’s Italian food being served at Red Rock Resort. Alternatively (or in addition), loading up on a Vegas buffet or two sounds pretty nice if you’re into that kind of thing.
As for the actual game itself, there isn’t a whole lot of juice from the perspective that the Eagles (National Football Conference) and Raiders (American Football Conference) play in different conferences. The Raiders also don’t have a whole lot going on for them outside of the interesting market they play in. This is a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2016 season and hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2002 season. They’re very much in jeopardy of making it a full 20 years without a trip to the postseason.
But the Raiders’ incompetence is really just another reason to want to go see the Eagles play them. One has to feel like it’s a winnable game for Philly. Jon Gruden and his 19-29 record aren’t scaring anybody. Neither is Derek Carr, who might be one of the most reluctant NFL quarterbacks to throw the ball down the field.
When it comes to opposing players who could be fun to see in person, Josh Jacobs obviously comes to mind. He’s a weapon as both a runner and pass catcher. There was buzz the Eagles would draft him once upon a time, but they traded up for Andre Dillard instead. (Whoops.) Henry Ruggs III was another pre-draft crush for a lot of Eagles fans. He didn’t have a ton of success as a rookie but he’s certainly a big play threat given his 4.27 seconds 40-yard dash speed. Darren Waller is in the conversation for being the NFL’s best tight end; he’s an absolute monster who has logged 262 targets for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns over the past two years. Talk about production.
The Raiders’ defense doesn’t boast as much name recognition. Can you even name over half of their 11 starters (so, six) without looking them up? I’m guessing you can’t. The unit was really bad last year; it ranked 26th in opponent yards per play, 28th in defensive DVOA, and 30th in Pro Football Focus grading (only the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions were worse). It was so bad that the Raiders fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther during the season. He was replaced by former Eagles head coaching candidate Gus Bradley, so we’ll see if the Gus Bus can get the Raiders back on track. Again, the talent he’s working with isn’t overly inspiring.
On paper, at least, this game has the potential to be a shootout. A fast-paced, high scoring affair only seems fitting in Vegas.
The game also potentially comes as a key time for Philadelphia. There’s a decent chance the Birds will be something like 2-4 (give or take a game) at this stage after opening the season with the following six games: at Atlanta Falcons, vs. San Francisco 49ers, at Dallas Cowboys, vs. Kansas City Chiefs, at Carolina Panthers, and vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the Eagles playing the Bucs on Thursday Night Football in Week 6, the Raiders game is an opportunity to capitalize on a mini-bye and pick up a win before traveling to play on the road against the Detroit Lions the next week. Maybe the Eagles can get a little win streak going with some positive momentum.
Whether the Eagles hold up their end of the bargain remains to be seen. At the very least, we know that they’ll have a lot of support from a road crowd perspective. It is surely no secret that Eagles fans travel well and it won’t be surprising to see a sea of green cheering on the Birds in Vegas. If I’m not mistaken, I believe I saw multiple fan groups sell out travel packages not too long after the Eagles’ schedule dropped back in April. Seems like a good indication that Eagles fans will be taking over the city that weekend.
If you’re reading this post and planning on traveling to this game, feel free to leave a comment with some of your plans in the comment section below. They could serve as good resource material to your fellow Eagles fans.
Have fun out there in Vegas!