7 Must-Watch Matchups on Philadelphia Eagles' 2014 Schedule
The NFL schedule has been released, and with more than two weeks until the NFL draft (why was it pushed back to May again?), there's really not a lot to do for fans other than analyze the schedule.
That is, unless you're not sick of mock drafts.
What I am not going to do is predict whether the Philadelphia Eagles will win or lose certain games. That's completely pointless. The season doesn't start for more than four months. We don't know who will even be playing quarterback for a number of the teams the Eagles are playing this year—including Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee.
What we do know is which contests will be must-watch games, and that's going to be most of them. All six divisional matchups should be quality. The Eagles will also play Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Carolina, Arizona and Indianapolis. All six of those teams either made the playoffs or won at least 10 games in 2013.
The following slides will highlight the top seven games for the Eagles in 2014.
7. Week 2: At Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. (Monday)
The Eagles have as close to a guaranteed win as they can get when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first game of the season. After that, in an unusual turn of events, they play their second straight game against an AFC South opponent.
Their Week 2 game against the Indianapolis Colts, on the road, isn't going to affect the playoff standings when it comes to tiebreakers. However, it's still a big game.
It will see Nick Foles against Andrew Luck in a battle between two of the top young quarterbacks in the league. It's a combination that will only happen every four years, and it takes place in front of the entire world on Monday Night Football.
6. Week 11: At Green Bay, 1:00 p.m.
The Eagles managed to face the Green Bay Packers in 2013 without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback or Clay Matthews at linebacker. They dodged two bullets and ended up winning the game 27-13.
Don't expect them to get so lucky in 2014. The Eagles haven't faced Aaron Rodgers since two memorable games in 2010—the first game of the season, in which Matthews ended the Kevin Kolb era before it began, and on Wild Card Weekend.
The Packers, of course, won the Super Bowl that season.
Their Week 11 matchup in Green Bay could easily end up playing a major role in the NFC playoff race, whether it affects playoff seeding or a potential wild-card spot.
5. Week 14: vs. Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
This will likely be the toughest game on the entire schedule for the Eagles. The Seattle Seahawks were the best team in the NFL and the Super Bowl champions in 2013.
However, they're not invincible. They did lose three games in 2013—all on the road. They also came within a field goal of losing a fourth game (to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
In 2014, they play the Eagles on the road. What's more, both teams will have 10 days to prepare for the game, as each is scheduled to play on Thanksgiving.
Nick Foles threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2013. How will that streak look against Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas?
4. Week 16: At Washington, 4:30 p.m. (Saturday)
The Eagles end the season against three straight divisional opponents. This is the first of two on the road.
The Redskins weren't a good football team in 2013, but they're almost certainly going to improve in 2014. Robert Griffin III should be close to 100 percent healthy, DeSean Jackson was a terrific addition to the offense and new head coach Jay Gruden should do better than washed-up Mike Shanahan.
In all likelihood, this game will determine playoff seeding for at least one of the two teams. There's almost no way it doesn't. Let's just hope it's the Eagles.
3. Week 3: vs. Washington, 1:00 p.m.
This is the first game that a lot of Eagles fans looked for when the schedule was released. Washington at Philadelphia. RGIII and Jay Gruden against Nick Foles and Chip Kelly.
Oh, and the dramatic return of Mike McGlynn and Akeem Jordan to Philadelphia.
Plus, DeSean Jackson.
It's not about whether DeSean deserves to be cheered (no) or booed (yes) when he returns to Philly. It's about the Eagles and Redskins playing a crucial early-season game that will likely have a major impact on the postseason race by the season's end.
2. Week 15: vs. Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
The Dallas Cowboys twice in three weeks? You better believe it.
After facing Dallas on Thanksgiving in Week 13, the Eagles host the 'Boys in Week 15. Barring disaster seasons by both teams, the game will undoubtedly have playoff implications for one or both of them.
More likely than not, it will be the Eagles and Nick Foles fighting for the division title, while Tony Romo and the Cowboys look to stay alive in the NFC wild-card race.
1. Week 17: At New York Giants, 1:00 p.m.
The NFC East has come down to a winner-take-all game for the division title in each of the past three seasons. Will the 2014 season make it a fourth?
It's the Eagles traveling to New York to play the Giants in Week 17. The game will definitely have playoff implications for one or both teams. The big question is whether it will be do-or-die.
Chip Kelly's Eagles survived against the Cowboys with everything at stake in Week 17 of the 2013 season. Can they do it again?