The Eagles schedule was released yesterday (along with everyone else's) and my first thought was...Super Bowl here we come!!!
To be fair, that's my thought every year in May. And I have been right twice, so I have that going for me.
But looking at the schedule, you cant help but to feel pretty good about the team's chances this year.
For one, we get off to an easy start. Having Detroit, the Jaguars and the Commanders in three of our first four games is pretty nice. Plus, our toughest game looks like Minnesota, and we get them in the home opener on Monday night. One downside is that Washington gets off to an easy start as well, and could be riding a pretty emotional high going into our week three game. But a worst-case scenario seems to be 2-2 after the first four games, and that seems a lot less likely than 4-0 or 3-1.
The next two games will be tough. Going to Arizona and then facing the Cowboys at home is going to be a good test for this team. But the Cardinals and Cowboys both have a brutal beginning to the season. The Cardinals face the Chiefs, Raiders and Rams in their first three games, and the Cowboys have the Bucs, Bengals and Rams before they face us.
Overall, I think the division could be won or lost before the bye. If the Cowboys struggle out of the gate and we start off hot, we could have a two or three game lead after week six. This is obviously a complete guess, but if we don't, it has nothing to do with the schedule not trying to help us get there.
Another nice thing about the schedule is that you could make the argument that our second-place schedule is much easier than the first-place Cowboys schedule or the third-place Washington schedule.
We play the Cardinals, Steelers and Saints, while the Cowboys get the Rams, Bengals and Bucs, which is a huge advantage for us. For one, the Steelers are going to be worse than last year. And the Cardinals are almost certainly going to be worse. We either get Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett at qb, which is like Christmas for our defense. The Cardinals didn't have a first-round pick this year, and their second-round pick was a tight end who will likely sit behind Ertz. Plus, they lost Jordan Hicks and Chandler Jones on defense, and the potential replacements for them don't look great.
I also think we have an advantage over Washington, who has to play the Browns, Falcons and 49ers. This depends on who is playing qb for all three teams, but if Watson and Garoppolo are playing, I would rather have our schedule than theirs.
The Giants get a nice bonus for finishing last by playing the Panthers, Seahawks and Ravens, but they will likely go 2-1 against those teams, and I could see us definitely going at least 2-1 in our portion of that schedule, which is no worse than a wash. Meanwhile, Dallas could easily go 0-3 or 1-2 against the division leaders, and Washington will likely go 1-2. So we have a nice theoretical advantage with our second-place schedule.
Finally, there isn't a real brutal part of the schedule.
Last year we had a really rough start to the season, with 5 of our first seven games coming against playoff teams. And then after that we didn't play against a playoff team until the meaningless last week of the season.
This year the schedule appears to be much more even. We have a tough two-game stretch against Dallas and Arizona and then get a bye. After that, our toughest stretch looks to be against Indy, Green Bay and the Titans, but two of those games are at home, and if you gave me a choice of the toughest NFL teams we had to play, Indy and Tennessee would be high on the list because they are two teams who rely on the run game, and we have spent a pretty high pick on a guy whose strength is that he can single-handedly shut down the run game.
In closing, there's a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year. I like our schedule a lot more than I did last year, when it was hard to see more than a few wins early in the season. But the biggest positive is the fact that the Cowboys have to play Burrow, Stafford and Brady while we have to play Pickett/Trubisky, Winston and Murray. I don't think anyone would rather have the Cowboys opponents, and in a division where one or two games could be the difference between a division title and missing the playoffs, I think it gives us a huge edge.