Philadelphia Eagles 2012 Schedule: Power Ranking the Eagles' Games
The NFL schedules are out and the complaints are in. The Eagles play four teams coming off a bye week and have to weather the storm of a brutal seven-game stretch against six playoff teams from last season starting with a Week 2 showdown against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Eagles also finish the season with six of their final eight opponents with a .500 record or worse in 2011. It's a very winnable stretch of games ending with a likely NFC East deciding matchup against the New York Giants.
It's still April and we haven't even had the NFL draft yet. It's impossible to figure out who the easiest teams on the schedule are and who are the toughest. Things change, injuries happen and last year's bottom feeders turn into to this year's division champions. Here are the power rankings of all 16 games on the Eagles schedule starting with the easiest.
16. Week 1: At Cleveland
If there was a game I would want the Eagles to open with in the regular season, it would be a road game against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns offense is pedestrian at best and the defense isn't much better. There is a reason this team is picking fourth in the draft.
Last season the Eagles opening the season on the road against the St. Louis Rams. The won their season opener last season and should do the same this season. If the Eagles defense can't stop the lowly Browns offense in Week 1, they will be in for a long season.
15. Week 16: Vs. Washington
Two things make this matchup very winnable for the Eagles. One, the Eagles have been very difficult to beat in December. Two, the Eagles have the Washington Redskins' number and it's at home.
Last season, even in a very down year, the Eagles beat the Redskins twice. In 2010, they lost their first meeting with the Redskins when Michael Vick was knocked out of the game very early. They got their revenge later in the season in a Monday Night Football massacre. The Eagles should have a four-game winning streak against the Redskins going into this divisional contest.
The Redskins will likely have their franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III, but they won't have much else around him or on defense. They have a bright future but not in 2012.
14. Week 3: At Arizona
Going into Week 3, the Eagles could very well be 1-1 with an early-season must-win situation. For a team that is coming off a very down season, starting 1-2 would be a disaster. Lucky for the Eagles, they face a very mediocre Arizona Cardinals team.
Ray Horton, the Cardinals defensive coordinator, has done a great job with the defense in just a short time. The offense, however, needs a lot of work. The offensive line is a mess, Kevin Kolb has not lived up to a big contract and the loss of a second-round pick and a Pro Bowl cornerback and Beanie Wells has struggled to stay healthy.
This is a game early in the season the Eagles should win. They have better players, coaches and a little revenge on their mind from last season.
13. Week 11: At Washington
Week 11 will be the Eagles first taste of RG3. Redskins probable first-round draft pick Robert Griffin III will be the Redskins starting quarterback from April 26th until the day he is either retired or his contract runs out in Washington.
If you're the Eagles, you would like to face the Redskins as early as possible. That's the case with any team that starts a rookie quarterback. This is still a very winnable game because of what's around RG3, nothing.
12. Week 12: Vs. Carolina
Week 12 will be the Eagles first taste of Cam Newton, just a week after getting their first taste of Robert Griffin III. Normally, you would say the defense would be exhausted after this two-week stretch except this is a defense that practices against Michael Vick.
Cam Newton is the Superman of the NFL. He does everything well. He doesn't play with the Superfriends quite yet. There are no other super heroes on the Panthers roster. They have some nice young players, but nobody that will scare the Eagles defense or offense outside of Cam Newton.
11. Week 8: Vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have weapons on offense. Phiadelphia's own Matt Ryan comes to town with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner. Too bad he won't bring a defense with him. This may be the week that the Falcons really regret letting Curtis Lofton walk.
Atlanta gave up 31 points to the Eagles last season and that was with a run-stuffing middle linebacker. They won't have many early-round draft picks to upgrade their defense either. They gave them away to Cleveland last year in exchange for Julio Jones.
This is a very winnable game for the Eagles at home. Atlanta is always tough to beat in their house. They are a completely different team in their dome. This is a should-win type of game for the Eagles in the middle of a brutal stretch.
10. Week 14: At Tampa Bay
I don't know how good or bad Tampa Bay will be this season. In 2010 they were a fast rising young team that just missed the playoffs. Last season they were probably the worst team in the league in the second half of the season. They had become a young and dumb, undisciplined team. Now with some key but pricey free-agent signings, what is Tampa Bay going to be like this season?
By the time these two teams play in Week 14 it should be clear as to how good Tampa Bay will be this season. They are still a young team not quite a contender in their own division. Philly should be able to win this one, especially in December.
9. Week 6: Vs. Detroit
The Detroit Lions will be a dangerous opponent on everyone's schedule except for the Philadelphia Eagles. They just match up very well against the Lions. They have the long, speedy corners to cover Calvin Johnson all over the field and the pass-rushers to tear apart a very weak offensive line.
The Lions also have a very bad secondary that will have nightmares trying to cover the likes of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. This could be a shootout that the Lions just can't keep up with once we get to the fourth quarter and things start to settle in.
8. Week 15: Vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs last season, which means they probably will have a down year in 2012. They haven't made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since the early 80s. They have some good young players, but not enough depth to be a consistent contender in the a very tough NFC North quite yet.
The Eagles match up well against the Bengals with the talent in the secondary to contain receiver A.J. Green for four quarters. That is the key to beating the Bengals right now with the loss of Cedric Benson and a shortage of playmakers around Andy Dalton.
7. Week 10: Vs. Dallas
The first meeting with the Dallas Cowboys comes in early November. Dallas is going to be a very hungry team with a lot of jobs on the line this season. They have watched the Eagles and the Giants win the last two NFC East titles while the Cowboys have stayed at home during the playoffs.
Jerry Jones didn't build a 100,000 capacity stadium to see it empty during the playoffs. Jason Garrett and Tony Romo have to prove they can lead this team into the playoffs. The quarterback class in 2013 is too deep for Jones not to think about taking a quarterback if Romo struggles to make plays in December once again.
Unfortunately for Romo, the offense isn't really the problem. This is a very weak secondary that gives up the big play far too often. That is a major reason why the Eagles haven't lost a meaningful game to the Cowboys since the 2010 playoffs. It's never easy to beat a rival, but the Eagles match up too well not to be the favorite in this one at home.
6. Week 9: At New Orleans
This might be the toughest game on the schedule had the New Orleans Saints coaching staff not been rocked by the suspensions stemming from Bountygate. Sean Payton is suspended for the year and that will have a major impact on the season, and we haven't even gotten to the player suspensions yet.
The Saints are still a very dangerous offense. The defense has been on the decline the past two seasons, and could struggle even more this season as they will be under the microscope after everything that happened the past few seasons.
This could be a very tough game against a favorite to win the NFC. This could be a laugher against a team that is collapsing without its head coach. It's tough to tell right now, but regardless of what happens, it's always tough to contain this offense on the road when Brees is under center.
5. Week 13: At Dallas
This will be the second time in four weeks these two teams will have met. It's the first week in December which usually means good things for the Eagles and not so good for the Cowboys.
This will be a key game for both teams as we head into the home stretch in the NFC East. If both teams are in contention, this could be the difference in who wins the East. It will be the last time these two teams meet and the team that wins the first game will be going for the sweep and the tiebreaker advantage.
Jerry's World has become a tough place to play. Any arena or stadium or field that holds over 100,00 people is tough to play in. It will come down to the fourth quarter, unlike both games between these two teams last season.
4. Week 4: Vs. New York Giants
It's the first of two meetings against the defending Super Bowl champions. It's Week 4, it won't be deciding the NFC East quite yet. Every game between these two teams is always huge. There is trash talking and post-whistle pushing and shoving. Every game between these two teams always come down to the fourth quarter and this one should be no different.
I like the Eagles to win this game at home even though the road team has won the last three games in this series.
3. Week 5: At Pittsburgh
When you see this as the third-toughest game on the schedule, that says something about how tough your schedule is. Pittsburgh is year in and year out one of the deepest and most balanced teams in the NFL. They have weapons all over the offense, they have Super Bowl winning experience and a flat out nasty defense.
The Eagles will match up very well in one key area, the pass rush. The Steelers have struggled to keep Big Ben upright for four quarters the past few seasons and the Eagles racked up 50 sacks in a down year for the defense.
If the Eagles can get after Ben Roethlisberger early and often, they should win this game. The loss of Rashard Mendenhall will be felt in Week 5 for the Steelers.
2. Week 2: Vs. Baltimore
If I had to give you one team that I believe is the most likely to be in the Super Bowl I would say the Baltimore Ravens. The fact that they were a Lee Evans drop away from being in the Super Bowl has to make this team sick to their stomach. A hungry Ray Lewis is a scary Ray Lewis.
The offense should be even better if they can make both Joe Flacco and Ray Rice happy with contract extensions. Torrey Smith should be even more dangerous after a full season of pro football under his belt.
This is a great early-season test to see exactly where the Eagles are at. I believe that they will be one of the elite teams in the NFL early on, but they will have to prove it to the rest of the football world in Week 2.
1. Week 17: At New York Giants
There is a very good chance that the winner of this game will knock the other out of the playoffs in Week 17. There is so much parity in the NFC now that we can't count on the East sending two teams to the playoffs anymore.
It's been a long time since the Eagles have lost in the old or new Meadowlands. We have seen shootouts, walk-off punt returns and an improbable win with the ever-so-erratic Vince Young.
This rivalry is starting to become the best rivalry in the NFL. You get a general dislike for each other, you get two potentially elite teams and you get a trill for the theatrics. This has the makings of being the game of the year. That's why this is the toughest game on the schedule for either team. It wouldn't be shocking to see the winner of this game end up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy less than two months from here.