Yes, it does seem a little premature to already be talking about the Eagles’ schedule for 2014, but their postseason is over and their offseason has begun. They are already in full offseason mode, cleaning out lockers and even signing players to “future” contracts. There are also rumors that the re-signing of WR Jeremy Maclin is imminent, who is definitely the biggest name on their list of upcoming free agents. But fast-forwarding past all the offseason stuff, let’s take a look at the likely very challenging schedule that the Eagles will face next year.
The 6 division games will already take up 6/16 of their games, with one game against the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins both home and away. They also got stuck with playing the NFC West as their other NFC division, which record-wise was the best division this season, combining for a record of 42-22, an astounding winning percentage of .656 for the year. And since they won the division, they have to face all of the other NFC division winners, which are the Packers, Seahawks (who was included in the NFC West), and the Panthers. With the NFC being the stronger conference this year, I would not want to have the schedule the Eagles have. It is arguably the hardest out of division schedule in the league.
The combined record of the opponents’ records of this year is 122-134, a winning percentage of .477 overall. While that is actually pretty low, it’s mainly because of the low winning percentage of the teams in their division. The winning percentage of those teams is .375, considerably lower than the .477 total. Hopefully that will balance out the schedule and allow them to get a lot of key wins, but in division games anything can happen and they could drop one or two because of the rivalry factor. So, subtracting the records of the other NFC East teams, their opponents’ records combine for a winning percentage of .538, a much higher number.
The season isn’t lost already though, because they play the Seahawks and Panthers both at home. Both of these teams are nearly unbeatable on their home fields, combining for 14-2 on the season. While they’re still a very respectable 12-4 on the road (since they’re both very good football teams), they’re still beatable, and I think the Eagles have a chance. The one good part about the Eagles schedule is that they face the AFC South, probably the worst division in the conference. They combine for a winning percentage of .375 even including the division-winning Colts at 11-5. The Eagles need to win at least 3 out of 4 of those games if they want to remain competitive.
I don’t expect that the NFC East will improve too much, so I think they’ll be able to make the playoffs once again at either 9-7 or 10-6. The Eagles could easily lose 6 or 7 games though because of the schedule, but I think a winning record is still very doable. Here’s a full list in one place of the teams they play next season: Cowboys (twice), Giants (twice), Redskins (twice), Panthers, Packers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, Colts, Titans, Jaguars, and Texans.
Home Schedule: Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Panthers, Jaguars, Seahawks, Rams, and Titans.
Away schedule: Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Cardinals, Packers, Texans, Colts, and 49ers.
Here’s how the Eagles can finish 10-6. Let’s say they finish 5-1 in the division, accounting for a loss somewhere in one of those games. They also need to finish 3-1 against the AFC South, assumedly losing to the Colts. That means they need to win 2 out of the other 6 games against the NFC West, Packers, and Panthers. I think beating the Rams should be easy, leaving them with only one team left to beat. If they can’t beat one of the other division winners or the Cardinals or 49ers, then they probably don’t deserve to make the playoffs anyway because those are the types of teams that they’d be playing in the postseason. So, I think it’s very possible to maintain a 10 win season, or maybe even win more games, depending on how much they improve this offseason.