Well everyone, you gotta hand it to the NFL. They sure know how to string out the off-season. A week after the Superbowl officially ends the season, we get the ProBowl. Two weeks later, its the Scouting Combine, followed shortly thereafter by the opening of FA in the beginning of March. Then there would appear to be a large hole until the NFL draft in late April. But have no fear. First week of April brings out the formal 2007 schedule, which gives we addicted plenty of material gnaw on between the incessant mock drafts and "he's still unsigned!" chatter.
Now I know the schedule came out a few days ago, AND that I'm behind the power curve on having my say about it. But so what? None of you are coming here for the bleeding edge news, what-happened-10-minutes-ago news on the 'Boids....so let's get to it:
Preface: There will be no win/loss predictions accompanying this schedule breakdown. Why? Besides the fact that they ridiculous at this point, I fully believe that the Eagles can win every game on their schedule. They are a good team. Does that mean I am saying 16-0....don't be silly...but I will set out some of the basic presumptions that I will be using:
- "any given Sunday" applies - The Eagles are capable of beating any opponent
- Most often the Eagles greatest enemy in games is themselves
- That said, at least twice this year, the team will barely show up or won't show up at all (for those of you seeking references: the game vs Tampa Bay, where the Birds slept walk through about 3 qtrs of the game vs a lousy opponent, came storming back and then lost on a 62-yd-never-shoulda-happened-FG; also see: the lackluster I'd-rather-be-in-Vegas showing against the Jags, a 13-3 bore-fest from last year.)
- The Eagles will also lose at least twice even if they play a strong game simply because the other team was/did a combo of the following: 1) was the better team that day no matter what; 1a) got all the right "bounces" (better to be lucky than good - ask the Patriots); 2) made fewer mistakes; or 3) capitalized aggressively on whatever mistakes the Eagles did make
That said: onto the games (Ed. - FINALLY, windbag)
9 Sep - Week 1 - At Green Bay Packers: opening the season vs the Pack should be a blessing. Why, because there has been a lot of turnover in Cheeseland this off-season. The Pack became a competitive team in the latter half of 2006. Best to hit them early before they gel
17 Sep - Week 2 - Washington Redskins: hmmm, division games are always tough. This should be no exception but I gotta like the Eagle at home on Monday Night football. Hopefully we can send the 4skins spinning into an early 0-2 hole....
23 Sep - Week 3 - Detroit Lions: Next in the Linc slink the Lions. The only problem with facing this conglomeration of under-achievers is whether or not they're 0-2 going into the game. Regardless, the Eagles should roll the Lions no matter what.
30 Sep - Week 4 - At NY Giants: Ok, so a quick trip up the Jersey turnpike to the swamp-o-lands for a Prime Time match-up on NBC Sunday Night football (hmm, a second prime time game with Philly vs a division opponent). That's fine, though I wonder what the Tiki-less Giants will look like...
7 Oct - Week 5 - BYE: Alright, its not TOO Early, and you never know when the BYE week will be needed....it usually seems to be the right time though...
14 Oct - Week 6 - At NY Jets: cripes, deja vu time, back to the swamp. But this time we face a regular pre-season foe the Jets. Dang it, they got Thomas Jones too. Hmmmm. Still the Birds are tough to face coming off the bye week. I don't envy NY fans.
21 Oct - Week 7 - Chicago Bears: well at least we get the Bears at home for a nationally televised late Sunday afternoon game. Hopefully they will be firmly entrenched in the post-Superbowl hang-over.
28 Oct - Week 8 - At Minnesota Vikings: what you our quad-corps of games vs the NFC North will be over in the first seven games? The way I see it, the Eagles better make some hay in this part of schedule.
4 Nov - Week 9 - Dallas Cowboys: Return of MEO Part Duex on National TV, NBC Sunday Night Football. It comes a month later in the schedule than last year, and marks the second time we start a division series at home. The Eagles need to ring up the Boys here in their 3rd nationally televised NFC East match-up. Holy smokes...that the first 3 games as in the bright lights....The Eagles are very good in these games...that bodes well.
11 Nov - Week 10 - At Wash. Redskins. Trap game.
18 Nov - Week 11 - Miami Dolphins. The 'Fins at home. Two games-in-a-row on Sunday at 1pm EST. Is this some kind of trick? I wonder who their QB will be?
25 Nov - Week 12 - At New England Patriots. The Birds 4th and final Prime Time game (pending Flex scheduling). Tough one. In NE? Yikes....This is where some early wins could really take the pressure off.
2 Dec - Week 13 - Seattle Seahawks. HA. Good. our one potential really long road-trip, and it doesn't happen. The Seahags get to fly cross-country and play in an early game. That plays to our favor, but it doesn't guarantee a damn thing.
9 Dec - Week 14 - NY Giants. What's this? Two home games in-a-row? Happens twice this year, first in Sep and then in early Dec. Hopefully we can use this as a springboard, cause December is NOT an easy slate for the Birds.
16 Dec - Week 15 - At Dallas Cowboys. Well its not a Christmas weekend game (that would've been grand) but this could certainly get Eagles fans in a jolly mood for the holidays! Hopefully the Birds will not be in too giving a frame of mind.
23 Dec - Week 16 - At New Orleans. Hmm, depending on the rankings, this one could have flex scheduling potential...could...I think 4 national games it pretty dang good. I doubt the Birds get dialed a 5th time, but its possible....
30 Dec - Week 17 - Buffalo Bills. Talk about anti-climatic....(please don't prove me wrong). The final game of the year in a non-conference game? That is weird. Hopefully the Birds can "represent" and kick some AFC tail to set the stage for a SuperBowl run.
So what do I see: what everyone else does. The potential for a strong double-digit win season if everyone comes back strong and healthy. Or a mediocre 7 to 9 win season if the Birds get too cocky and don't take their earlier, weaker opponents seriously enough.
The good news: the Birds longest road trip this year is to Dallas! How nice is that? Their AFC road trips are to NY and Foxboro Mass. Not too shabby either as far as travel goes. (Better than flying to Miami). No three-game road-trip versus division opponents (though that worked out pretty well last year didn't it?)