Now that the NFL has officially released its schedule for the 2012 season, it’s a good time to look at the key matchups the Philadelphia Eagles will face in its quest to rebound from a subpar 8-8 campaign in 2011.
In the National Football League, every game obviously has an extreme level of importance, especially considering each team only plays 16 of them. One contest can make or break a season. In fact, one play can easily be the difference in whether a team goes on to play in January or whether they spend that month watching the playoffs on TV.
The 2011 Eagles lost more than their fair share of games in the fourth quarter, and just a handful of plays kept the Eagles from finishing 10-6 or better. The 2012 Eagles bring back most of the talent from last year’s team. The key will be winning the following five games.
This could be a potential Super Bowl matchup. The Baltimore Ravens are led by Joe Flacco, the best quarterback in the NFL, if you ask him. The Ravens are also led by Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, and they’ve got a fearsome defense that includes Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb and Ed Reed.
Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are as good as it gets offensively, and they will be a tough matchup for the Ravens’ defense. Then again, the Eagles will likely be without Asante Samuel on defense, as he has been the subject of trade talks all season, and it will be up to the Eagles’ pass rush to get to Flacco before he throws the ball.
The last time the Eagles and Ravens played, Reed made a fool of Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, and the Ravens dismantled the Eagles, 36-7. Flacco was just a rookie then, relying heavily on a strong running game and exceptional special teams unit. There will be much more pressure on him to throw the ball downfield against the Eagles. Whoever loses this game may get another opportunity come Super Bowl time.
This will be the first time the Philadelphia Eagles will meet with Robert Griffin III—barring some unforeseen circumstance in which the Washington Redskins get Andrew Luck or reach for Ryan Tannehill. Griffin was a playmaker when he was at Baylor University, bringing home the Heisman Trophy for his stellar 2011 season.
Griffin is an electrifying quarterback with otherworldly speed, and he’s also a dangerous passer. Fortunately, the Redskins don’t possess the elite receivers the Eagles have, and the Eagles cornerbacks should be able to force Griffin to run the ball and run the ball often. Then again, most rookie quarterbacks with scrambling abilities run as much as possible, and Griffin will probably push for 100 ground yards in this game.
This contest likely won’t have playoff bearings for the Redskins, as most experts expect them to again be last in the NFC East. But Griffin could shock the world and get the Redskins in contention, and if the Redskins enter this game around .500 or above, it means even more to both teams.
The Philadelphia Eagles follow up the matchup with Robert Griffin III by facing Cam Newton, arguably the NFL’s most electrifying quarterback that doesn’t current play for the Eagles.
Newton had an unbelievable rookie season, becoming the first quarterback in league history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards. He passed for 21 touchdowns and ran for 14 more, accounting for an unbelievable 35 scores as the dynamic leader of the Carolina Panthers offense. Newton teams with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart—assuming Stewart comes back—to give the Panthers a top-flight rushing attack.
The Panthers could be a surprise contender in the NFC, and these two teams could easily be fighting for the one of the conference’s wild card berths. Factor in that this game is also on Monday Night Football, and this is a can’t-miss game if you’re a football fan.
The Philadelphia Eagles play in Dallas on Sunday Night Football in December. That alone should be enough to get the average NFL fan to clear his or her schedule for three hours.
Factor in that Michael Vick & Co. will likely be battling Tony Romo & Co. for the top spot in the NFC East, and you have yourself a terrific football game. The Eagles swept the Cowboys last season, but this game has the potential for a high-scoring shootout, and either team could emerge victorious.
The Philadelphia Eagles play the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants at the Meadowlands in the final game of the regular season, a contest that will very likely have strong playoff implications for both teams.
There’s not a Giants fan in the world that has forgotten about DeSean Jackson’s walk-off punt return touchdown in the miraculous comeback two seasons ago; just like there’s not an Eagles fan alive that has gotten over the fact that Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings and the Eagles franchise has none.
The Giants historically play much better in the second half of the season, as do the Eagles. When the Giants and Dallas Cowboys met back in the final game of the 1993 season, the game determined not only the winner of the NFC East but the No. 1 seed in the entire NFC. This game could easily be the same.