The Eagles' 2016 regular season schedule was released this past Thursday and I decided to take a few days to reflect on what it means in terms of the Birds' chances to win the NFC East this year. Along with their six division games, we already knew that the Eagles would face the AFC North and the NFC North as well as Atlanta and Seattle to round-out the 16-game slate. Now that the actual schedule has been put together, it is time to start putting the games into the win and loss column.
The good news is that the Eagles will open the season at home against Cleveland and the early betting line on that game has Philly favored by seven points. I am going to pencil this one in as a W considering just how bad the Browns really are.
In Week 2, the Eagles will go road to face the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football before returning home to host in-state rival Pittsburgh in a late start on Sunday, Sept. 25. The best-case scenario would be a split heading into an early Week 4 bye and I'll take it.
The month October features three-straight 1 p.m. starts against Detroit and Washington on the road and Minnesota at home. I am going to get really optimistic and say that the Eagles come away with two wins in these three games to improve to 4-2 through their first six contests. Things start getting tough from there starting with a Sunday night road trip to Big D on Oct. 30 to face the Cowboys. I am looking for a split in the season series, but the win is going to have to come at home following a loss in this game.
Philly will start the month of November on the road against the New York Giants and that could spell another tough loss within the division. Now at an even 4-4 on the year, I do like the Eagles' chances to get back above .500 with a victory at home against Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 13. Unfortunately, it will be short-lived with losses to Seattle on the road in Week 11 followed by a home loss to Green Bay in another Monday night appearance on Nov. 28. For anyone not keeping score, that puts the birds at 5-6 heading into the all important month of December.
The Eagles will start the month on the road in Cincinnati as a likely underdog and the end result will prove the Oddsmakers right with a third-straight loss. The rally to the NFC East title starts with a win at home against Washington on Sunday, Dec. 11. They will then go on to pull-off the I-95 Beltway sweep by beating Baltimore on the road the following week.
The final two games on the schedule for the 7-7 Birds start with a Thursday night matchup at home against the Giants on Dec.22. I am giving the Eagles the slight edge in this one and the extra rest heading into the season finale against the Cowboys is just enough to tip the scales in their favor in that game as well.
The end result is a 9-7 record with a 4-2 record in the NFC East. That record was good enough to win the division last season and it will prove to be good enough to claim the title this year. A few other bold predictions have Doug Pederson receiving strong consideration for "Coach of the Year" honors and running back Ezekiel Elliott being named the NFL's "Offensive Rookie of the Year".
What did you expect from a life-long homer like me? Just remember when this season does unfold that you first read all about at EaglesLincs!