The long-awaited NFL schedules have finally been released. At 8 p.m. yesterday, they were made official by the NFL, although many of the games were already leaked ahead of time. Regardless, with the schedules actually made official, I can now analyze what they were given and predict their record. Here it goes:
The Eagles got Jacksonville at home in their opener. Couldn’t start much better than that, could they? Jacksonville had a pitiful season last year, finishing with a 4-12 record and the worst point differential by 50 points (-202). They bolstered their defensive line with the additions of Ziggy Hood, Chris Clemons, and Red Bryant, although they lost Jason Babin. They also re-signed Chad Henne, who will likely end up battling with some rookie for the starting QB job. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, they Jags don’t really have a shot to win this one. The Eagles barely lost anyone and bettered their team a lot with the additions of Darren Sproles and Malcolm Jenkins. The last time they played them, the Eagles won 28-3 back in 2010. I don’t expect this one to be much different. Verdict: win (1-0)
Eagles favored by 11 points over Jaguars in Week 1 http://t.co/ryriDfTeGq
— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) April 24, 2014
They will continue their AFC South battles in Week 2 with a Monday Night Football matchup away in Indianapolis. This has the potential to be an awesome football game. The Colts finished 11-5 last year, winning the division and moving into the playoffs. They also had a pretty solid offseason, picking up DE Arthur Jones and LB D’Qwell Jackson, as well as re-signing RB Ahmad Bradshaw and CB Vontae Davis. They even grabbed former Eagles S Colt Anderson a few days ago. If they can get their running game together, they will be a very dangerous team next year, especially now that Bradshaw and WR Reggie Wayne will be back from injuries. Verdict: loss (1-1)
Then they’ll move onto the Redskins, which is a matchup that I and basically every other competent Eagles fan can’t wait to see. It will be in Philadelphia, which will make it even more interesting to see the reaction of the fans to newly acquired WR DeSean Jackson. Will this have an effect of the explosiveness of Washington next year offensively? Absolutely. But I have a feeling he’s going to create more problems than he can solve. They have a brand new coach in Jay Gruden, who I think frankly won’t be able to take control of Jackson and his antics. I think they’re going to end up imploding by the end of the season. Other than the Jackson signing, they didn’t have a particularly mind-blowing offseason. They picked up a bunch of former Eagles other than Jackson (OL Mike McGlynn, LB Akeem Jordan, and DE Clifton Geathers). Maybe that’s their new strategy? Well guess what Washington, I have a secret for you. Those guys aren’t in Philly anymore for a reason. Verdict: win (2-1)
Next they have to play the 49ers, who some people argue as the real second best team last year. They were top 10 in offensive rushing yards and basically every other defensive category. They’re still going to be just as dominant next year in my opinion, which doesn’t bode well for the Eagles. They managed to go 12-4 last year in the very difficult NFC West. They lost CB Carlos Rogers, but bolstered their secondary with the additions of CB Chris Cook, S Antoine Bethea, and re-signing CB Perrish Cox. They also acquired the horrific QB Blaine Gabbert as their backup to Colin Kaepernick, so maybe hurting Kaepernick is the way to go for the Eagles. Just kidding. Sort of. Assuming that doesn’t happen, I don’t see the Eagles winning this one. Verdict: loss (2-2)
So is a 2-2 start a disappointment for the reigning NFC East Champions? Well, it’s certainly not the best case scenario, but with the teams that they have to play early on, I think it’s fair. The Colts and 49ers were two of the best last year and could easily both end up in the Super Bowl this year. I think as long as they start the season with a win and beat the Redskins, they’re in good shape. They have a very challenging schedule to overcome to finish as well as they did last year.