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Philadelphia Eagles Schedule: Projecting the 2012 Regular Season Record

RJ ReedContributor IMay 4, 2012

Philadelphia Eagles Schedule: Projecting the 2012 Regular Season Record

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    With a strong showing in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles additions of DT Fletcher Cox and LB Mychal Kendricks solidified their position as a legitimate playoff team in 2012.

    But Andy Reid didn't stop there. After Kendricks joined the team, the Eagles added DE Vinny Curry and CB Brandon Boykin, who both show a tremendous amount of potential.

    Boykin is particularly interesting. Standing only 5'9", he is one of the shorter cornerbacks in the league, but has experience as a slot receiver as well as a punt and kick returner. It has been several years since the Eagles have had a legitimate kick returner, and with experience at the position he will be matched up against, Boykin could prove to be a great prospect moving forward.

    All in all, the draft went extremely well for the Eagles, who were able to add depth to both their offensive and defensive lines, while filling necessary holes in the defense.

    In 2012, the Eagles have several tough match-ups with Baltimore, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

    Also in the mix are six games against a rejuvenated NFC East that saw additions like QB Robert Griffin III to Washington and CB Morris Claiborne to Dallas.

    If one thing is clear, the Eagles have a treacherous road to the 2012 NFL Playoffs, but have enough talent across the board to make a serious run at Super Bowl XLVII.

Week 1: @ Cleveland Browns

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    The Eagles' 2012 season begins with Michael Vick and Co. visiting Cleveland to face the Browns, fresh off a draft that injected RB Trent Richardson into an offense that was severely lacking in 2011.

    Similar to the 2011 season opener against the St. Louis Rams, the Browns will likely be an easy test for the Eagles.

    With a horde of defensive talent added to the Eagles' roster over the course of free agency and the NFL Draft, Philadelphia will have to stop Richardson early and get off to a hot offensive start. In doing this, the Browns will be forced to turn to either QB Colt McCoy or rookie Brandon Weeden.

    From there, CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can take over on defense and do what they do best to close the game out.

    Projection: 27-10 (Win)

Week 2: Vs Baltimore Ravens

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    After a win on the road in week one, the Eagles come home to face Head Coach John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens in perhaps the toughest AFC North match-up of the season.

    The Ravens' dominant rush defense will likely contain LeSean McCoy, leaving Michael Vick to face a hungry pass rush.

    At the same time, Philadelphia's revamped defense will prove to be a tough test for QB Joe Flacco, who will be unable to sit comfortably amongst the Eagles' front seven, which amassed 50 sacks in 2011.

    Limiting turnovers will be the key to this game, as RB Ray Rice is one of the most explosive backs in the league, both in the running and receiving game. Rice is a tremendous asset in scoring points off turnovers and controlling the clock.

    Not only that, Baltimore possesses the ability to sustain long drives and convert big third downs through WR Anquan Boldin, who was able to convert 44 in the 2011 season.

    When it comes down to it, the Eagles will answer the call for their home opener and improve to 2-0 in a defensive struggle.

    Projection: 16-13 (Win)

Week 3: @ Arizona Cardinals

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    Coming off a huge win against the AFC North Champions, the Eagles fly out to Arizona to take on the Cardinals.

    Even with QB Kevin Kolb sidelined due to injury when the Cardinals came to town in 2011, the Eagles were unable to contain WR Larry Fitzgerald and came away with a loss in a close game.

    However, Jeremy Maclin was clearly feeling effects of injury, and the Eagles were left without the services of DeSean Jackson after being benched for missing a team meeting. These holes in the offense defeated the Eagles, who were only able to achieve 126 yards of passing offense.

    Do not expect history to repeat itself in 2012.

    The Eagles' defensive additions will once again prove valuable, and although Fitzgerald will be difficult to contain, Kolb will have trouble getting him the ball against speedy defensive linemen like Trent Cole, Jason Babin, and rookie Fletcher Cox.

    The Eagles will carry their momentum from a hard fought win against a Super Bowl calibur team and win on the road.

    Projection: 24-14 (Win)

     

Week 4: Vs New York Giants

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    After a good win on the road, the Eagles come home to square off against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.

    A decent amount of hype will be surrounding this game, as recently retired FS Brian Dawkins will be in attendance to be honored during halftime.

    On 10 days rest, the Giants will be quite a challenge for the Eagles. WRs Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz complement each other nicely, and have proven to be quite formidable in previous match-ups. Not only that, the addition of the speedy RB David Wilson to spell Ahmad Bradshaw will also be a headache for teams around the league.

    Since 2007, Andy Reid has only been able to win one of his first match-ups against NFC East teams, and the Eagles will unfortunately drop to 3-1 on prime time.

    Projection: 24-31 (Loss)

Week 5: @ Pittsburgh Steelers

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    With a tough loss in hindsight, the Eagles travel across Pennsylvania to take on QB Ben Rothlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Entering into something of a re-structuring phase, the Steelers will be an interesting matchup for the Eagles after adding strong talent in the NFL Draft.

    The key to this game will be the play of LeSean McCoy. The Steelers' rush defense is notoriously stingy when it comes to yards per carry average, but slipped from the top tier in 2011. If McCoy can get off to a hot start, safety Troy Polamalu will be forced to crowd the box, leaving DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to run free.

    On the opposite side of the ball, the Philadelphia defense takes on Ben Rothlisberger. Standing 6'5" and weighing 241 pounds, he is extremely difficult to bring to the ground, and outweighs the majority of the Eagles' linebackers.

    The Eagles will leave Pittsburgh with a hard fought win, and improve to 4-1 on the season.

    Projection: 24-17 (Win)

Week 6: Vs Detroit Lions

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    After improving to 3-0 against the AFC North, the Eagles have two straight home games, starting with the Detroit Lions.

    Last time the two teams squared off, the Eagles won 35-32 in a shootout, where the teams combined for 854 yards of total offense.

    The Lions also had Shaun Hill starting at quarterback.

    This matchup will prove to be quite different, with QB Matthew Stafford back in the mix and RB Jahvid Best plagued by recent concussions. Needless to say, WR Calvin "Megatron" Johnson will also pose a significant threat through the air.

    In 2011, the Lions' offensive line allowed a mediocre two sacks per game. To win, the Eagles front seven must get after Stafford early and often, in order to ensure that Johnson is unable to get deep too often and do real damage.

    Unless Calvin Johnson is affected by the dreaded Curse of the Madden Cover, the Eagles will drop the ball in this one, and head into the bye at 4-2

    Projection: 20-27 (Loss)

Week 8: Vs Atlanta Falcons

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    If there is one thing Eagles fans should know by now, it is that there is no coach better after a bye week than Andy Reid.

    Without run-stopping LB Curtis Lofton leading the Falcons' D, the going will be much easier for LeSean McCoy, and a good day for McCoy means a good day for the Eagles' offense. Another interesting matchup to watch will be DeSean Jackson against former teammate and ball hawking cornerback Asante Samuel, who has a tendency to jump the gun, which will be a dangerous game against a receiver with speed like Jackson.

    The real key to victory against the Falcons is limiting production of RB Michael Turner.

    If Turner is able to get going, QB Matt Ryan has rightful confidence in WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones, and Eagles' fans remember how dangerous TE Tony Gonzalez can be.

    After an embarrassing defeat in Atlanta last season, the Eagles will bounce back and improve to 5-2 in front of their home crowd.

    Projection: 31-24 (Win)

Week 9: @ New Orleans Saints

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    Success against Atlanta leads the Eagles into the Louisiana Superdome to take on elite QB Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

    As he has proven in the past, Drew Brees doesn't need an incredible group of wide receivers to move the chains on a consistent basis. Add to that a unique rushing attack, RB Darren Sproles catching passes out of the backfield and TE Jimmy Graham, and it becomes a nightmare for defensive coordinators around the league.

    The Saints' brand of offense is conducive to success against a team like the Eagles, as they employ quick passes intertwined with tough running and can also use the screen effectively. The Eagles will not have much time to get to Brees, and Graham will be a headache for the mediocre safeties starting in Philadelphia.

    Drew Brees will come out to play in this one, and the Eagles drop to 5-3 on their way home to face Dallas. 

    Projection: 17-35 (Loss)

Week 10: Vs Dallas Cowboys

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    After nine long weeks, the Dallas Cowboys come to town to face the Eagles, coming off a tough loss at the hands of Drew Brees and the Saints.

    Last season, the Eagles owned the Cowboys, outscoring them 54-14 and forcing a shutout for all but the last minute of their week 16 meeting.

    LeSean McCoy's production will be an enourmous factor in how this game goes. In the teams' first matchup in 2011, the Eagles rode McCoy's 185 yard, two touchdown performance to a 34-14 victory. The second meeting yielded different results, as McCoy was only able to gain 35 yards on the ground and thus, the Birds only scored 20 points.

    Michael Vick will have a much more difficult time moving the ball against the Cowboys in 2012, especially with the Cowboys' recent acquisition of CBs Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne. Not only that, but the loss of LT Jason Peters raises an important matchup against the elite DE DeMarcus Ware, who causes fits for offensive lines around the league.

    When the smoke clears, the Eagles will emerge victorious, and improve to 6-3 on the season.

    Projection: 27-14 (Win)

Week 11: @ Washington Redskins

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    The first matchup with freshly drafted QB Robert Griffin III comes in week 11, when the Eagles head down I-95 to take on the Washington Redskins.

    At this point in the season, the Eagles' coaching staff will have ample time to watch Griffin and create a defensive strategy to contain him.

    The Redskins have been busy adding offensive talent this offseason, including the addition of WRs Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. RB Roy Helu also emerged as a legitimate ground threat last season, forcing a completely different gameplan than seen in 2011.

    A serious weak point of the Redskins' team is the secondary, which was ranked 12th last season, but lost talented safeties LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe to free agency. With CB DeAngelo Hall matched up against DeSean Jackson, the other weapons on the Eagles' offense will have to step up in this one, a task well fit for players like Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, and LeSean McCoy.

    Containing the Redskins' improved offense is a task suited for an Eagles' defense fresh with new faces, and Philadelphia carries momentum forward at 7-3.

    Projection: 20-17 (Win)

Week 12: Vs Carolina Panthers

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    A win on the road in Washington brings the Eagles back home to face off against the Carolina Panthers for the first time since QB Cam Newton was drafted last season.

    The containment of Newton will be slightly different than that of Griffin, as Newton tends to look to scramble and run far more quickly then Griffin, who is more of an athletically gifted passer.

    With the addition of LB Luke Kuechley in the draft and a healthy Jon Beason, the linebacking corps become far more formidable than what was seen out of Carolina last season. The Panthers also have talent on the offensive side of the ball in RB DeAngelo Williams and WR Steve Smith, coming off an excellent year when he was able to snag 79 passes for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns.

    All in all, the Eagles' defense has the ability to contain Newton, especially considering the additions of LBs DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks and Nnamdi Asomugha definitely possess the ability to shut down Smith. The Eagles' offensive weapons also seem to be too deep for the Panthers to handle, as their secondary was among the league's worst in 2011.

    So long as the Eagles can contain their complacency after two hard fought NFC East games, they head to Tampa Bay at 8-3, with a win in their second Monday Night Football appearance of the season.

    Projection: 31-24 (Win)

Week 14: @ Dallas Cowboys

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    For the second time in four weeks, Philadelphia squares off against the Cowboys, this time on Sunday Night Football in the house that Jerry Jones built.

    This matchup will be far more important than in week 10, with only five games remaining in the season and the playoffs advancing quickly.

    As in their previous meetings, if LeSean McCoy can get off to a hot start, the Eagles have a very good chance of winning the game. This will be made difficult by the likes of the emotional Cowboys defensive leader DeMarcus Ware, who seems to elevate his play in key games, especially under the bright lights of national television.

    Another key factor to beating the Cowboys is the containment of elite WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, who have a talented QB in Tony Romo. In order to stop the passing game, the Eagles' defensive front will have to get to Romo early, who often becomes flustered and makes bad decisions with the game on the line. With CBs as talented as Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, any quarterback's bad decision could be disastrous, especially in a tough division matchup.

    The Eagles and Cowboys never cease to put on a show when playing on prime time, and expect this to be no different, the Eagles defeating Dallas for the season sweep and improving to 9-3.

    Projection: 35-28 (Win)

Week 15: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Eagles head down to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers on a four game winning streak with the playoffs on their minds.

    After drafting safety Mark Barron out of Alabama seventh overall in this year's draft, the Buccaneers received a much needed upgrade to their secondary, which already contains the talents of seasoned veteran CB Ronde Barber.

    The real threats to the Eagles' chance of victory in this game come in the form of QB Josh Freeman, RB LeGarrette Blount, and WR Mike Williams. Freeman will be the third quarterback the Eagles will face that is also a threat on the ground, and after facing Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, should be the easiest of them. However, the Buccaneers are a dangerous team to face, as they were able to defeat both the Falcons and the Saints last season.

    The Eagles have a tendency to play down to their opponent, especially when playoff chances seem imminent. The offense will be unable to carry their momentum forward in a tough road game, dropping to 9-4 on the road with three games remaining.

    Projection: 10-14 (Loss)

Week 15: @ Cincinnatti Bengals

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    After a tough loss on the road in week 14, the Eagles play the Bengals in Cincinnati after just four days rest, on a December edition of Thursday Night Football.

    In a fantastic showing in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Bengals were able to secure QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, who led the team to the playoffs in just their rookie year.

    A tough loss at the hands of the Houston Texans sent the Bengals packing, but the team is poised to make another run at the playoffs in 2012 after the loss of Baltimore Ravens' LB/DE Terrell Suggs for the majority of the season.

    In the 2012 Draft, the Bengals were able to add talent to both sides of the ball, including CB Dre Kirkpatrick. He will be joined by DTs Devon Still and Brendan Thompson, additions to a defense that was seventh in the league in terms of yards per game.

    On the opposite side of the ball, WR Mohamed Sanu will open things up for A.J. Green to form what appears to be a formidable duo heading into 2012.

    On the road, with just four days rest, the Eagles drop their second straight and move to 9-5 with two NFC East matchups coming up, likely with playoff implications.

    Projection: 17-21 (Loss)

Week 16: Vs Washington Redskins

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    With the playoffs on the line, the Eagles head home for their second meeting with the Washington Redskins.

    If the NFC East lives up to the hype, any or all teams could be in the hunt for the playoffs come week 16, and with back-to-back rivalry games, the Eagles need to come through in the clutch to solidify playoff hopes.

    After seeing Robert Griffin III in week 11 and facing off against other quarterbacks with similar abilities afterwards, the Eagles will have an edge against the Redskins, especially in front of their home crowd. Although the Redskins have been quite a problem for the Eagles when playing at Lincoln Financial Field recently, Andy Reid's team has the better talent of the two, and should prevail in this game.

    Just as in the first game, the Eagles will need to limit turnovers and hope for good performances from players who are not named DeSean Jackson. Even with a group of talented linebackers, the Redskins finished the season with a mediocre rush defense, and LeSean McCoy's production will also carry importance in this game.

    Ultimately, the Eagles superior talent will answer the call in a close game, and the team will improve to 10-5 with just one game remaining,

    Projection: 28-27 (Win)

Week 17: @ New York Giants

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    A big win against a talented team is followed by a trip north to square off against QB Eli Manning and the World Champion New York Giants.

    After a bitter defeat in week four, the Eagles will need to pull it together and put all of their effort into this game, where playoff implications are all but imminent.

    The Giants are always a tough team for Philadelphia to face, as their strengths match up well against one another. While New York has proven it is excellent when it comes down to crunch time, Andy Reid has never missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since becoming the Eagles' head coach, and this game will reflect that.

    To beat the Giants easily in this one, the Eagles will have to jump out to an early lead in order to hand over the responsibility to close to LeSean McCoy, as well as the Eagles' defense. This game will be a tough battle driven by the defensive line play, as the Eagles arguably have the deepest, most talented defensive line in the league after the 2012 Draft.

    The final game's results will send the Eagles to the playoffs as NFC East Champions, where difficult games against teams like the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints likely await.

    Projection: 24-20 (Win)

    Regular Season Record: 11-5

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