Even before the Eagles’ schedule for 2023 was released last week, we knew it was going to be a doozy.
Last season, the Birds jumped out to a 13-1 record thanks, in part, to one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. You can’t help who’s on your schedule, all you can do is take advantage of it, and the Birds did their part by winning almost every winnable game in which Jalen Hurts was the starter.
This year’s schedule is the most challenging in the league, based on last year’s standings. Each year, teams that we thought would be good aren’t, and teams we thought would struggle, excel. The 2023 season will be no different.
One of the benefits of a tougher slate of games is that fans will be treated to a ton of scintillating match-ups, with some truly great quarterbacks coming to Philadelphia. There is a Super Bowl rematch, an NFC title game rematch, two rematches against the NFC divisional round foes (games that don’t even make this list!) and a number of burgeoning rivalries that could grow into something more.
Here are the five (plus one) games I’m most excited to watch this season, as the Eagles defend their NFC title.
Week 6: Sunday, October 15 at New York Jets at 4:25 PM (FOX)
I’m very curious about the new Jets, with aging, failed playoff QB Aaron Rodgers expected to save a long-dormant franchise. Rodgers wasn’t bad last year, but he wasn’t terribly good either, with a 91.1 QB rating that was tied with Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson for 15th in the NFL. His 3,695 passing yards were the fewest in any season in which he played at least 16 games since 2015, with 26 TDs and 12 INTs, the most picks he’s thrown in a season since 2010.
In 2022, New York won six games with Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White calling signals, so the upgrade to Rodgers is obvious, even if he is declining. Garrett Wilson caught 83 passes for 1,103 yards from that trio of QB garbage in his rookie season, so one would assume Rodgers will enjoy throwing his way. Mostly, the Jets’ defense is very good, first in opponent yards per game, with the fourth-fewest points allowed in the NFL.
The NFL is more fun when the Jets matter, and it’s likely the toughest road opponent in the first half of the Eagles’ schedule.
Week 11: Monday, November 20 at Kansas City Chiefs at 8:15 PM+ (ESPN/ABC)
I mean, this is the game the entire league is most interested in so of course it’s on my list.
Super Bowl rematch between Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes? Kelce Bros.? Andy Reid vs. Nick Sirianni redux? The Eagles looking for some minor payback? Chiefs looking to defend their home field and prove they’re the best of the best?
Man, it doesn’t get any better than this. Kansas City will be favored, as they should be, provided everyone is healthy, but the Eagles will be coming off their bye week, hopefully giving them the edge they need to pull it out.
Week 12: Sunday, November 26 vs. Buffalo Bills at 4:25 PM+ (CBS)
Josh Allen is likely to be the best opposing QB to come to Lincoln Financial Field this year, and the Bills are always a treat to watch play. Can Sean Desai’s defense slow down Allen and get him to be his turnover-prone self?
Under Jonathan Gannon, the Eagles were never able to slow down an elite quarterback. There will be opportunities before this game to see if that trend will change under Desai, but their home game against Josh Allen will be one of their biggest tests. If they can’t, Hurts and the Eagles’ loaded offense will have to try and outscore them.
You could be looking at a 45-42 game or something, here. Goosebumps.
Week 13: Sunday, December 3 vs. San Francisco 49ers at 4:25 PM+ (FOX)
The Forty-Whiners have spent the months following their NFC title game loss to the Eagles sobbing and complaining about how they didn’t have a chance to win. Sure, losing Brock Purdy early in the second quarter on a completely legal and legitimate football play sucked, but hey, that’s football. The defensive line was eating San Francisco’s offensive line from the first snap, and it’s not surprising they got to Purdy. The score was 21-7 and the Eagles were dominating both lines of scrimmage when Johnson suffered his concussion. After the ensuing drive ended in an Eagles touchdown to make it 28-7, it wouldn’t have mattered who was under center for them, they were losing that game.
But hey, give them credit. The 49ers are trying to convince the world they didn’t actually lose that game, and if those are the loser vibes they want emanating from their franchise, so be it. The fans are sure to be in a frenzy and San Francisco will no doubt be fired up at the start.
These are the two best rosters in the NFC and we could be looking at the beginning of one of the best rivalries in the NFL. Sign me up.
Week 14: Sunday, December 10 at Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 PM+ (NBC)
I’m always going to put a Cowboys game on this list, and the one I’ll add this year is their Sunday Night tilt in Dallas, a personal house of horrors for them. The Eagles haven’t won a game there since their Super Bowl season of 2017, dropping five straight to the Cowboys away from home, with many of them absolute heart-breakers.
Is this the year they finally break that awful streak?
Week 17: Sunday, December 31 vs. Arizona Cardinals at 1 PM+ (FOX)
I usually only do five games but I couldn’t resist putting Jonathan Gannon’s return to Philadelphia here. I have no doubt the Eagles are going to annihilate this very, very bad team, and I truly believe Gannon’s first season in Arizona is going to be an unmitigated disaster.
Yet this game is on the list just because of the boos that will rain down on the man who virtually single-handedly lost the Super Bowl for the Eagles. Everyone is mad at him and the fanbase will be out for blood.
I can’t wait.