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April 19, 2018

Analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of the Eagles' 2018 schedule

Eagles NFL
041918CarsonWentz Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles will have their bye the week before their first matchup against the Cowboys for the second straight year.

The Philadelphia Eagles' schedule is set, so now we'll take a deeper look at the advantages and disadvantages of this year's slate of games. Here's a snapshot of the Eagles' schedule, via the Eagles' website:

None

Advantages

• Opening up on Thursday night before the rest of the league is nice advantage for two reasons:

  1. Lincoln Financial Field is going to be lit.
  2. The Eagles will have an extra three days to prepare for their next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

• My belief is that you would prefer to get your weaker opponents early in the season. Or perhaps better stated, you would prefer to get your stronger opponents later in the season. Why? Well, look at the Green Bay Packers last year, for example. With Aaron Rodgers, they were a potential Super Bowl contender. Without him, they were awful. Early-season good teams becoming late-season bad teams is a more common occurrence than early-season bad teams becoming late-season good teams. And so, you may as well get the bad teams early and the good teams late. Does that make sense? Good? Good.

This year, the Eagles will have two weak opponents (in my opinion) Weeks 2 and 3 and in the Buccaneers and Colts. The Eagles are especially fortunate to get a pair of lesser opponents early while Carson Wentz continues to recover from his ACL tear.

• A Week 9 bye is a nice advantage. Two seasons ago, the Eagles' Week 4 bye served as more of a detriment than an advantage. Oh, and their bye week comes before the Eagles' first matchup against Dallas, same as last year. Oh, and the Cowboys have a Monday night game the week before.

On the whole, the Eagles will have a combined four more days of added prep time for their opponents than their opponents will have on them:

Week of prepartiaon Opponent Plus-minus days to prepare
Week 1 to Week 2 Buccaneers +3
Week 2 to Week 3 Colts 0
Week 3 to Week 4 Titans 0
Week 4 to Week 5 Vikings -3
Week 5 to Week 6 Giants 0
Week 6 to Week 7 Panthers +3
Week 7 to Week 8 Jaguars 0
Week 8 to Week 10 Cowboys +8
Week 10 to Week 11 Saints 0
Week 11 to Week 12 Giants 0
Week 12 to Week 13 Redskins -3
Week 13 to Week 14 Cowboys -3
Week 14 to Week 15 Rams 0
Week 15 to Week 16 Texans -1
Week 16 to Week 17 Redskins 0
TOTAL +4

• In 2016, the Eagles faced three teams coming off their bye week. In 2017, they didn't face any. In 2018, they once again won't face any.

• You can look at the strength of the Eagles' schedule one of two ways. If you're the "doom and gloom" type, you'll bemoan the fact that the Eagles will face all five of the "other" NFC teams (Vikings, Rams, Saints, Panthers, and Falcons) that made the playoffs last year, as well as two playoff teams (Jaguars and Titans) from the AFC. Those games certainly aren't going to be easy. 

Still, the Eagles' opponents had a combined record of 126-130 (0.492) last year.

 Opponent W
 Falcons 10
 At Buccaneers 511 
 Colts 412 
 At Titans 9
 Vikings 13
 At Giants 313 
 Panthers 11
 At Jaguars 10
 Cowboys 9
 At Saints 11
 Giants 313 
 Redskins 7
 At Cowboys 9
 At Rams 11
 Texans 412 
 At Redskins 7
 TOTAL 126130 


That is tied for the 19th most difficult schedule in the NFL. For a team playing a first place schedule, it could be worse, so we'll put this in the advantages column.

Disadvantages

• Many will look at the Eagles' game in London against the Jaguars as an advantage. I don't see it that way. The Jaguars play in London every year, and know how to prepare for that trip. In fact, they have won three games in a row in London, and put up 30-plus points in each of those games. Playing in London will be much more difficult, in my view, than playing in Jacksonville, where half the stadium would have likely be overrun by Eagles fans anyway.

• While the Eagles have an advantage over the Cowboys in the first matchup, in that they have their bye the week before, they are at a disadvantage in the second matchup, as they'll have to go on the road to face them on a short week after a Monday night game against the Redskins.

• Thursday road games are difficult. The Eagles have one this year in New Jersey against the Giants, Week 6, but at least it's only a short train ride away, and then they'll have three extra days to prepare for a tough game against the Panthers the following week.

• You'd prefer to end the season with a home game. That did not happen this year, as the Eagles will have to play on the Redskins' garbage, beat-up field Week 17.

Conclusion

This looks like a fair schedule. There is nothing egregiously bad to complain about, and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, in my view.


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