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April 17, 2019

Analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of the Eagles' 2019 schedule

Eagles NFL
071719CarsonWentz Green Bay Press-Gazette/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles will be forced to play a Thursday road game for the fifth time in six years when they travel to Green Bay Week 4 this season.

The Philadelphia Philadelphia Eagles 2019 scheduleEagles' 2019 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:

Advantages

• Opening up against Washington is ideal. With Carson Wentz under the microscope heading into this season, a weak opponent could help Wentz sort of get his metaphorical sea legs after being unable to finish each of the last two seasons while watching his backup win the hearts of the city. A loss Week 1 could be ugly. 

In Washington, the Eagles get a team over whom they have a four-game winning streak, with each of those wins being by a margin of at least 10 points. At quarterback, Washington will be starting Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, Josh Rosen, some rookie, or (fill in the blank of some other inept option), and it's not like Washington has a new coaching staff that will completely take the Eagles by surprise, schematically. The Eagles should be favored by at least a touchdown.

• My logic 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, 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. Does that make sense? Good? Good.

Things can certainly change from year to year, but the Eagles' first five opponents in 2019 were a combined 30-49-1 (0.381) in 2018.

• From a difficulty-of-opponent standpoint, the Eagles' schedule as a whole is very favorable. The Eagles' 2019 opponents were a combined 121-133-2 (0.477) last year. Their 2018 opponents, by comparison, were a combined 132-123-1 (0.518) last year. The Eagles have one of the three easiest schedules based on current win totals in the NFL, according to Warren Sharp of SharpFootballAnalysis.com. Yes, yes, again, I know... things can change in the NFL. 

• A Week 10 bye is good. The later in the season you can get your bye when injuries really begin to pile up, the better. You don't want to get your bye too early in the season, obviously.

• The Eagles' last four games are against divisional opponents. We'll put this in the "advantages" sections seeing as they completely own the Giants, and have won their last four over Washington. Three of their last four games are against those two teams.

Disadvantages

• The Eagles have to face 3 teams -- the Jets, Patriots, and Seahawks -- coming off their bye week. I don't know how that happens. Meanwhile, the Eagles themselves don't get the advantage of the extra week of preparation over an opponent, as they have the same bye week as the Patriots. On the bright side, the last time the Eagles and Pats played an important game after both teams had a bye week, it worked out OK for the Eagles.

• The NFL tries to avoid making teams play road games on three consecutive weeks, but the Eagles will have to do just that Weeks 6-8, against the Vikings, Cowboys, and Bills. The Eagles are the only team in the NFL that has three straight weeks in which they are on the road, according to NFL.com. That is a major disadvantage.

• Thursday road games are difficult. The Eagles have one this year in Green Bay against the Packers, Week 4. This is now the fifth time in six years that the Eagles have had to play a Thursday road game, which they are undoubtedly unhappy about. At the NFL annual meetings in Phoenix in March, Jeffrey Lurie openly and honestly discussed the yearly unfair practice of awarding the Cowboys and Lions with Thursday home games, with those teams never being required to play Thursday games on the road.

• You'd prefer to end the season with a home game, in the event you're playing in the wildcard round of the playoffs. In 2018, for example, the Eagles played on the road in Landover Week 17, then they went on the road to Chicago in the wildcard round, and then they had to travel to New Orleans for the divisional round. 

By comparison, the Saints were well-rested, sleeping in their own beds for a month. Maybe a home game in Week 17 would have made a difference? The Eagles play on the road against the Giants Week 17, though an hour-and-a-half bus ride back down the Turnpike isn't exactly a difficult trip home.


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