A true football geek loves the NFL off-season as much as the regular season. I am one of those true football geeks. I love the weeks leading up to free agency. I love the first day and the frenzy of free agency. I love “voluntary” mini camps, and. I watch the draft like it is a big sporting event. Yesterday was my favorite of all off-season days, and that is the day that the NFL season schedule is released.
Like any die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, I was on pins and needles all day waiting for the Eagles schedule. I received the official release from the Eagles sometime late last night. Immediately I went through the schedule like a fine toothed comb. Granted, making any kind of predictions about the Eagles schedule in April is pointless. Pointless yes, but is that going to stop anyone who bleeds Eagle green?
One thing immediately stuck out to me as I skimmed the schedule and that is the road schedule. The home advantage is becoming less of an advantage these days in the NFL. However, there is something to be said about the impact of traveling cross-country. I don’t think anyone could argue that it is more favorable for players to play at home rather than travel cross-country, adjust to time-zone changes, adapt to climate, find practice time, and be away from their families.
The Eagles had the potential for a brutal schedule this season. The Eagles faced possible away games in San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, and Oakland. That kind of schedule has the potential to take a lot out of a team. I remember last season New England as one team that had back-to-back west coast trips. It does happen. The Eagles dodged a big bullet in this regard.
The Eagles only have to travel west twice this season. The trips will be broken up by a month. Even better, the second trip on November 15 is the last away game with any real significant impact from a logistics standpoint. The Eagles make their first lengthy trip on October 16 to play the Raiders. They return west to play the Chargers. Neither team should make you shake in your boots. The Eagles got a very big break avoiding trips to Kansas City, San Francisco, or Denver. That alone makes this a favorable schedule in my opinion.
The most disappointing thing about the schedule is the placement of the bye-week. The bye comes on Week 4 after three games. This is way too early in my opinion for the bye to have any impact on the team. The Eagles are going to be very tired and very beaten up if they get lucky enough to get into the playoffs. Did I say playoffs? This makes it even more critical for the Eagles to start hot and win games. There is no room for error. In order for this team to have any shot in the playoffs, they need a first-round bye week.
It amazes me that the Miami Dolphins get two Monday Night games in the first five weeks, yet the Eagles have one all season. I had no problem last season with the Eagles’ lack of MNF appearances. This year, the Eagles are coming off of the NFC title game and have two of the biggest stars in the league on offense. I am disappointed and I see it as a sign of disrespect to the birds. At the same time, you have to wonder if this is because the ESPN matchmakers are expecting a disappointing season from the Eagles.
There are a few games that I immediately want to circle on my calendar. Philly fans will get a chance to see what Jay Culter can do for the Bears in prime-time on November 22. The first three games are a really interesting group of teams. Opening on the road in Carolina is definitely not a “gimme.” I like the fact that the Eagles play two of their last three at home. Once again the Eagles close out against the Dallas Cowboys. Regardless of the records, that is going to be one hell of a game.
It is easy and fun to sit here and say 10-6, 11-5, etc. However, predicting any kind of a win/loss record on April 15 is just ridiculous. I can say by looking at their road schedule and their opponents that it does lean favorable in the Eagles direction. We have a lot of young teams on the schedule which can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is critical that this team doesn’t letdown against anyone this season.
The schedule is out, life is good, now bring on the draft!
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