Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eagles 2011 Schedule & Early Predictions.

On Tuesday the NFL released the 2011 schedule.  All assumptions to date are that some games will most likely be missed due to the NFL labor dispute.  The NFL has a contingency plan of pushing the super bowl back a week if games are missed.  They could play a shortened season like they did in 1982, when a players strike caused a 16 game schedule to be shortened to 9.  The reduced season also occurred in 1987, again shortened by a players strike; replacement players were brought in and the season only lost one game, down from 16 to 15.  But for the sake of argument, lets pretend all is well and the labor dispute will get resolved before the season begins and a full 16 game schedule will be played.  If that happens and I hope it does, here is how I see the Eagles schedule playing out (subject to change after the draft and if free agency actually happens).

Week 1. Eagles @ St. Louis: Sunday Sept. 11, 1:00 PM

The Eagles opened up their 2008 season at home against the Rams with a 38-3 route; this isn't that same Rams team.  The Rams finished 2010 at an improved 7-9 and had a shot to clinch a playoff berth in the final week of the season before losing to Seattle 16-6.  The Rams aren't to be taken lightly, they have a solid running game with Stephen Jackson and Sam Bradford proved he could play at this level with one of the best rookie seasons for an NFL quarterback in history.  Although the Rams should improve even more in 2011, they are not on par with the Eagles quite yet.  The Eagles should win this game on the road, starting the season 1-0.

Week 2. Eagles @ Atlanta.  Sunday Sept. 18, 8:20 PM 

The Eagles traveled to Atlanta for an October 17th matchup last season.  The end result was very good for Birds fans with the Eagles pulling out a 31-17 win.  I don't expect this game to go that easily again, but Michael Vick and the Eagles speed in a dome is almost indefensible.  Eagles win improving to 2-0.

Week 3. NY Giants @ Eagles: Sunday Sept. 25, 1:00 PM

The Eagles were 2-0 against the Giants last season, including the new "miracle at the new Meadowlands" on December 19th.  The Giants will take another step back in 2011, and with chills running down their spines from visions of DeSean Jackson returning a punt, the Eagles hand the Giants another loss.  Eagles win their home opener, improving to 3-0.

Week 4. 49ers @ Eagles: Sunday Oct. 2, 1:00 PM

The 49ers were the sexy pick to win the NFC West last season and finally take the playoff step.  That all came crashing down and a 6-10 season resulted in the firing of Head Coach Mike Singletary.  With new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh their will be some growing pains for a season or so, couple that with a cross country trip and a 1 o'clock kickoff and the result should be yet another Eagles win, 4-0 is a great start to the season.

Week 5. Eagles @ Buffalo: Sunday Oct. 9, 1:00 PM

There was speculation that this game would be played in Toronto, but it seems as though that is not the case.  Buffalo is one of those teams that can be better then people think.  They played a number of close games last season against some tough competition.  Going to Buffalo in October is not as difficult as making the trip in December, but this will still be a tough road game.  Buffalo upsets the Eagles and the record falls to 4-1.

Week 6. Eagles @ Washington: Sunday Oct. 16, 1:00 PM

The Redskins always play the Eagles tough in Washington; last season thy squeaked out a 17-12 win causing the Eagles to fall to 2-2.  Divisional games are always harder then the others and Washington seems to have the Eagles number when playing at home.  Washington wins this first matchup, Eagles fall to 4-2.

Week 7. Bye Week

Week 8. Dallas @ Eagles: Sunday Oct. 30, 8:20 PM

The Cowboys, as much as I hate to admit it, are a much better team with Tony Romo under center.  Again a divisional game so it should be tough, but Andy Reid coming off of a bye week is unstoppable.  Eagles should win this one at home by a large margin.  Eagles move to 5-2.

Week 9. Chicago @ Eagles: Monday Nov. 7, 8:30 PM 

Chicago surprised a lot of people last season, making it all the way to the NFC Championship game.  They play great defense and at times there offense can get hot.  Bears squeak out a close one and the Eagles move to 5-3.

Week 10. Arizona @ Eagles: Sunday Nov. 13, 1:00 PM

Arizona is a possible destination for Kevin Kolb if they ever get the labor dispute hammered out.  As it stands right now, anyone reading this could start at quarterback for the Cardinals and it would be an improvement.  They have a so-so running attack and a Swiss cheese defense.  Eagles win this one easily improving to 6-3.

Week 11. Eagles @ New York Giants: Sunday Nov. 20, 8:20 PM

This is where the greatest game I ever watched happened.  That being said, 2011 is not 2010, but as I said before the Giants will take another step back in 2011.  Eagles win this one to pull off the sweep of the Giants and move to 7-3.

Week 12. New England @ Eagles: Sunday Nov. 27, 4:15 PM

The Patriots are the actual “gold standard” in the NFL.  They are always in the playoffs and they have actually won championships.  In recent years with the rise of the NY Jets they have had some stiffer competition within their division, but they will always be a good team.  Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger and although he can dance like a 23 year old at a club, he may be on the backend of his prime.  The Eagles win in a tough game and improve to 8-3.

Week 13.  Eagles @ Seattle: Thursday Dec. 1, 8:20 PM

No one likes to travel across the country to play a football game.  It is an edge to the east coast or west coast team hosting the game.  In Seattle they are always all hopped up on lattes and red-eyes, from cups with funny names for sizes and the twelfth man is a staple of their team and stadium.  Going on the road to a tough place to play the Eagles drop one and fall to 8-4.

Week 14. Eagles @ Miami: Sunday Dec. 11, 1:00 PM

Michael Vick + warm weather in December = a win.  Eagles win this one with no issues moving to 9-4.

Week 15. NY Jets @ Eagles: Sunday Dec. 18, 4:15 PM

The Jets have made it to back to back AFC Championship games, becoming the Eagles of the AFC.  Their defense is one of the best in the league and that trend should continue for as long as Head Coach Rex Ryan is in charge.  This game could go either way because of the matchup between the Eagles offense and the Jets defense but the deciding factor might be the play of Mark Sanchez.  Eagles win in a tight one improving to 10-4.

Week 16. Eagles @ Dallas: Saturday Dec. 24, 4:15 PM

The Cowboys and the Eagles might be jockeying for playoff positions and the division crown at this point in the season.  Again this is a game that could go either way and might as well be a coin flip.  Being the “homer” that I am, I will take the Eagles to pull it out, sealing the division title and improving to 11-4.

Week 17. Washington @ Eagles: Sunday Jan. 1, 1:00 PM

With the division title now the Eagles for 2011, Mike Kafka might see some late game action here at the end of the season.  Even with nothing to really play for the Redskins are so bad that the Eagles close out the regular season with a decisive victory and a 12-4 record.

In the real world with the uncertainty of the labor dispute in addition to unpredictable injury scenarios that pop up if and when there is a season it is very difficult to predict how a season will go four months prior.  This is more of an "if everything falls into place" in a no problem, injury free fantasy land.  But in reality the Eagles are a very good team with a lot of young talent.  If they can get on the field they should be the division favorites and a super bowl possibility. 

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