More Sports:

May 12, 2021

Analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of the Eagles' 2021 schedule

Eagles NFL
051221JalenHurts Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts

The Philadelphia Eagles' 2021 schedule is set, so now we'll take a deeper look at the advantages and disadvantages of this year's slate of games. For quick reference, here's a snapshot of the Eagles' schedule, via the Eagles' Twitter account:


There are more advantages to this schedule than disadvantages.

Advantages

‚ÄĘ The Eagles' 2021 opponents had a combined record of 117-155 (0.430) in 2020, which gives them the easiest schedule in the NFL. The next-closest team is the Dallas Cowboys, whose 2021 opponents had a combined record of 122-148-2 (0.452) in 2020.

Here are the Eagles' opponents, and their 2020 records. I also went ahead and added in point differentials.

Week Opponent 2020 Record Point differential 
1 At Falcons 4-12 -18 
2 49ers 6-10 -14 
3 At Cowboys 6-10 -78 
4 Chiefs 14-2 +111 
5 At Panthers 5-11 -52 
6 Buccaneers 11-5 +137 
7 At Raiders 8-8 -44 
8 At Lions 5-11 -142 
9 Chargers 7-9 -42 
10 At Broncos 5-11 -123 
11 Saints 12-4 +145 
12 At Giants 6-10 -77 
13 At Jets 2-14 -214 
14 BYE   
15 Football Team 7-9 +6 
16 Giants 6-10 -77 
17 At Football Team 7-9 +6 
18 Cowboys 6-10 -78 
TOTAL  117-155 -554 


They only have three games against teams that had winning records in 2020, and only five games against teams that had positive point differentials.

The Eagles have a fourth-place schedule, and as such, they play fourth-place teams in the 49ers, Lions, and Jets. They perhaps didn't draw an ideal opponent in the 49ers, but the Lions and Jets are both likely to remain very bad in 2021. The other NFC East teams drew the following floating opponents this year:

Finish NFC East team NFCW / NFCN / AFCE opponents 
1st Football Team Seahawks, Packers, Bills 
2nd Giants Rams, Bears, Dolphins 
3rd Cowboys Cardinals, Vikings, Patriots 
4th Eagles 49ers, Lions, Jets 


‚Äʬ†The Eagles don't face any teams coming off their bye week this season.

‚ÄĘ Week 14 is a really late bye week. Is it too late? If the Eagles are still in the hunt for a divisional championship, that late bye week could be really helpful. If they're all but done by then, it's a waste. We'll lean toward the placement of the bye week being more of an advantage than a disadvantage. It's a lot better than getting one very early, anyway.

‚ÄĘ Their Thursday night matchup (vs. the Bucs, Week 6) is a home game.

‚ÄĘ The Eagles barely have any long distances travel in 2021. They only have six flights on nine road games, and three of their flight destinations ‚ÄĒ to Atlanta, Charlotte, and Detroit¬†‚ÄĒ¬†are fewer than two hours away.¬†Even their lone road preseason game is a trip up the NJ Turnpike to play the Jets.¬†Amazingly, in the final eight weeks of the season, the Eagles will not board a plane.¬†

‚ÄĘ The Eagles have a pair of back-to-back road games late in October in Las Vegas and Detroit, and then another pair of back-to-back road games (if you'd even call this travel) against the Giants and Jets late in late November / early December. But they avoided having three straight road games, a major disadvantage that schedule makers try to avoid. For example, the Saints' loss to the Eagles last season came on New Orleans' third of three straight road games. The Saints did not look right in that game.

‚ÄĘ Getting a home game to close the season is a nice advantage for teams that make the playoffs. In 2018, for example, the Eagles closed on the road in Washington. Then they had to play on the road in Chicago. Then they had to go to New Orleans. Had they advanced, they'd have gone to Los Angeles. Obviously, we're not expecting the Eagles to make the playoffs in 2021, but if they do, not being on the road Week 18 will help.

‚ÄĘ In Week 2, the 49ers will have to fly to the east coast to play a 1:00 p.m. Sunday game.

Disadvantages

‚ÄĘ The first eight games of the season look tough, on paper, at least for a schedule that is considered the easiest in the NFL based on 2020 records. The Eagles have to start the season on the road, and while the Falcons have faltered in recent years, the Eagles' biggest weakness (their secondary) will have to deal with a Falcons offense that features Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and now Kyle Pitts.¬†

Then they'll face a pair of teams in the Niners and Cowboys, who should both be significantly better than they were in 2020, followed by the Chiefs Week 4, which will obviously be a very difficult game. The Eagles will very likely be underdogs in each of those first four games. 

In total, they're on the road in five of their first eight games, and their home games are against the three teams that have played in the Super Bowl the last two seasons.

Ideally, 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, because the NFL is a league that depends so much on injury luck, 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, since the good teams might lose a quarterback or something.

Of course, if the Eagles can somehow stay afloat through the first half of the season, the last six games of the season are against the Eagles' craptastic NFC East rivals, plus the Jets.

Some links provided in this content are sponsored by Pickswise, a PhillyVoice.com Sports Betting Partner, independently created by PhillyVoice. 21+ Please gamble responsibly. 


Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader

Videos