It’s a shame, but there are no football games in July —we checked.
While the whole country is salivating for Week1 of the NFL season, we picked out the Eagles games that standout this season to be particularly hyped —or worried —about. And yes, Week 1 made the list.
Week 1, Sept. 11, home against Cleveland
Doug Pederson gets about the best matchup he could hope for to start his career as a head coach. Most of the offensive players have worked together for a season now, but if the defenders need time to gel with each other and Jim Schwartz’ scheme, Cleveland will be the team to make mistakes against. Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin are no longer around to trouble the defensive backs, and they can focus on rookie Corey Coleman.
Of course, even if expectations for this season aren’t particularly lofty, there are expectations about playing the Browns at home. If this game goes poorly, it won’t be pretty in Philadelphia. Starting the season with a win over the team they swapped draft picks with for Carson Wentz would put a nice note on the trade.
Week 3, Sept. 25, home against Pittsburgh
If the Browns game allows the Eagles to ease into their new systems, the Steelers will provide a baptism by fire, particularly for the defense. Offense is the new name of the game in Pittsburgh. Eric Rowe, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin will have their hands full running after Antonio Bryant and Martavis Bryant while the linebackers try to keep track of Le’Veon Bell escaping the backfield.
Weeks 11 through 13, Nov. 20 through Dec. 4, at Seattle, vs. Green Bay, at Cincinnati
This is a rough stretch. On paper, you can’t pick the Eagles as favorites over any of these teams, all playoff teams in 2015. It starts on the road across the country in one of the NFL’s toughest venues. We’ll have to wait and see if Seattle’s offense maintains the passing success it exploded into at the end of last season, but if it does these are all offenses that should test the Eagle’s retooled secondary in a big way.
Taking one of three from this series ought to be viewed as a success, at least the way things stand right now.
Week 14, Dec. 11, home against Washington
Due to the murderers row of teams above, the Eagles may well be riding a three game losing streak coming into this game. As reigning division champions, Washington is a strong contender for the title this season, and if the Eagles are competing for the division come December, this will be a huge game.
The teams will have already played once, in Week 6 in Washington. Depending on how that game goes, they could come to Philadelphia hoping for their fifth win in a row over the Eagles. They have eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention the past two seasons, and in humiliating fashion in 2015. It’s about time the Eagles beat Washington.
Week 17, Jan. 1, home against Dallas
After a bizarre season where the Eagles were done playing Dallas by Thanksgiving, the Cowboys return to their rightful place at the close of the Eagles’ schedule. Neither Philadelphia nor Dallas had the 2015 season they expected. How 2016 will unfold is equally unclear for both teams. This game may have a lot at stake or a little.
More than one NFC East title came down to the last day of the regular season against Dallas during the Andy Reid regime. If this is one more part of that era that returns to Philadelphia this season, it will be a game worth waiting for, and both Cowboys and Eagles fans will be in for seasons to be excited about.