Philadelphia Eagles 2014 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions
The Philadelphia Eagles' 2014 schedule is not going to be easy. Eight of Philly's 16 2014 opponents had a .500 record or better in 2013.
While the Eagles defense may be improved, they will be without their No. 1 receiver of the past six seasons, DeSean Jackson. Even if Jeremy Maclin is 100 percent, there may be growing pains for the first few weeks.
On paper, the Eagles should still be a playoff-caliber team, especially considering they are in a relatively weak division. Here is a game-by-game breakdown of their 2014 season.
Week 1: Jaguars at Eagles, Win (1-0)
Last year the Jacksonville Jaguars managed only four wins. They may be improved this season, but are still far from being a playoff contender.
Their offense boasts a talented cast, with Cecil Shorts, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson at wideout and Toby Gerhart at running back. But Chad Henne will still be starting at signal-caller in Week 1.
The Jaguars will be outgunned, on both offense and defense. LeSean McCoy and Maclin will feast on 2013's 27th-ranked defense.
Week 2: Eagles at Colts, Win (2-0)
The Indianapolis Colts game might be where the absence of Lane Johnson begins to show on the field. While Indianapolis' defense is not exactly stout, it still ranked 11th in the NFL last season in sacks with 42.
The key to winning this game will be to force Andrew Luck into mistakes, but that won't be easy. He is already one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL. He overcame a mediocre offensive line and receiving cast in 2013 to rack up 3,822 yards, 23 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.
Still, the Eagles defense should be greatly improved in 2014. The last-ranked pass defense will be aided by Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll and another year's experience in Billy Davis' system.
It will be a close battle, but if Nick Foles is anything close to what he was last year, this will be a hard-fought win.
Week 3: Redskins at Eagles, Win (3-0)
The Washington Redskins won the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes, but they'e still, on paper, the worst team in the NFC East. Their offense may have as many weapons as any other team, but their defense is porous. It allowed an average of 29.9 points per season in 2013, tied for 30th in the league.
To make matters worse for Washington, they were unable to draft first-round talent in the 2013 and 2014 drafts to augment the defense due to the trade they pulled off the acquire Robert Griffin III in 2012. Since then, Griffin had a dominant rookie year, only to struggle mightily in his sophomore campaign.
Last year, the Eagles shredded the Redskins for 57 points in two games. Barring a resurgent Griffin, there is no reason to believe anything will change in 2014.
Week 4: Eagles at 49ers, Loss (3-1)
This may be a hard-fought game, but Philly will have their hands full against one of the finest teams in the NFL in San Francisco. The difference will likely be the absence of Lane Johnson to anchor the right side of the O-line.
A strong defense, potent offense and sound coaching led the 49ers to 12 wins last season. They also boasted the fifth-best defense in the league in 2013. While the Eagles defense is improved, it will be hard-pressed to keep up with an offense led by Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
Without Johnson, the 49ers may be too much to handle this early in the season. They will hand Philly its first loss.
Week 5: Rams at Eagles, Win (4-1)
No Sam Bradford? Should be no problem for the Eagles. Shaun Hill may be one of the best backups in football, but he is still not a starting-caliber QB.
Chris Long, Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn make up one of the best pass-rushing corps in the NFL; the St. Louis Rams were third in the NFL in sacks last year with 53. However, they still lack reliable options on offense and no longer have their No. 1 option at QB.
With Lane Johnson back to shore up the O-line, this game shouldn't be a problem for the Birds.
Week 6: Giants at Eagles, Win (5-1)
The New York Giants may have given Philadelphia fits last season, but the Eagles were forced to play Matt Barkley after Michael Vick was sidelined with an injury. The team is now a shell of its former championship-winning self.
Eli Manning is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, as well as one of the worst seasons of all 2013 starting quarterbacks. In 2013, he completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 3,818 yards, 18 touchdowns, 27 interceptions and a poor 69.4 passer rating.
At 33 years of age, Manning's best days are likely behind him. The Eagles should nab a win against them at home going into the bye week.
Week 8: Eagles at Cardinals, Loss (5-2)
For some unknown reason, the Arizona Cardinals always seem to give the Eagles fits. Eagles fans are still haunted by the memory of their upset of Philly in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. The Eagles barely escaped with a 24-21 win against the Cardinals last year.
Philly has the advantage of the bye week, but the Cardinals boast a strong defense and a sense of familiarity with Philly's tendencies. This could be a game where Philly falls short and is handed its second loss of the season.
Week 9: Eagles at Texans, Win (6-2)
The Houston Texans managed just two wins in 2013. Matt Schaub may be out of the picture, but the team can only be expected to improve so much. The defense is still above average, but the offense averaged just 17.3 points in the league in 2013, 31st in the league.
Even with the Texans' stout Wade Phillips-led defense, the Eagles will manage at least 20 points against them. Nick Foles versus Ryan Fitzpatrick in a shootout is a matchup that is in Philly's favor.
Week 10: Panthers at Eagles, Win (7-2)
In terms of yardage, Carolina's defense ranked second in the NFL for fewest allowed. They also allowed the second-least points in the NFL with 15.1 per game.
But they also possess one of the league's worst offenses, which ranked 26th in the NFL last year in terms of yardage. Cam Newton is without major weapons on offense, as Kelvin Benjamin is a rookie and will likely take a season to develop.
As good as the Panthers defense is, they won't be able to hold the Eagles offense back for long if they can't score. This game will be a stalemate at halftime, but Philly will come alive in the third quarter.
Week 11: Eagles at Packers, Loss (7-3)
Winning at Lambeau Field has never been easy. This will be a battle between two offensive juggernauts as 2013's second-ranked offense in Philly will take on the third-ranked offense in Green Bay.
As good as Nick Foles is, Aaron Rodgers is an elite player capable of carrying offenses with his play alone. While Malcolm Jenkins will help shore up the pass defense, the 32nd-ranked pass defense from 2013 can only improve so much in one offseason.
Rodgers will more than likely pick apart the Eagles secondary to hand Philly its third loss in a shootout.
Week 12: Titans at Eagles, Win (8-3)
After a tough matchup in Week 11, the Eagles get back on track with a win over the Tennessee Titans. The Titans finished below .500 in 2013 with a 7-9 record and will have their hands full against Philly.
Tennessee possesses an average defense, a below-average offense and lacks explosive playmakers on offense. This game should match up very well for Philly on paper.
Week 13: Eagles at Cowboys, Loss (8-4)
The Eagles will most likely split the season series with the Dallas Cowboys despite being the superior team on paper. Regardless of both team's rosters or records, they are very familiar with each others' tendencies. At home, the Cowboys may have the advantage.
Dallas has a poor defense, but it has as many offensive weapons to match up with Philly. DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Tony Romo are enough to give any defense fits. This will likely be a hard-fought loss.
Week 14: Seahawks at Eagles, Loss (8-5)
The Seattle Seahawks will hand the Eagles a second straight loss. The Eagles may be at home, but Seattle is still the superior team. They will have an improved offense with Percy Harvin back in the mix.
Their defense is smothering as well. The unanimous best defense in the league is capable of slowing down Philly's high-octane offense. This won't be a blowout, but it will likely be a decisive loss.
Week 15: Cowboys at Eagles, Win (9-5)
At 8-5, there will be a lot of worried fans in Eagles Nation. But Chip Kelly will right the ship just when Philly needs a big win.
At home against Dallas, Philly will break their losing streak with a decisive win to push their record to nine wins. Dallas possessed the worst defense in the NFL last year. They won't be able to stop McCoy and Foles twice.
Nine wins may already be enough to cement their spot atop the weak NFC East. At this point, Philly can turn their attention to playoff seeding.
Week 16: Eagles at Redskins, Win (10-5)
The Eagles will continue their NFC East tour to finish the season with a trip to FedEx Field. The Redskins will more than likely be playing for pride at this point, as they are unlikely to be in the running for the playoffs this season.
Their offense will put up a fight, but in December, LeSean McCoy will have all the momentum. This is where the addition of Darren Sproles may pay great dividends for Philly, as McCoy will be fresher and more capable of performing at the end of the season.
With Philly motivated to nab a higher seed, or even a potential first-round bye, they win this hard-fought NFC East battle.
Week 17: Eagles at Giants, Win (11-5)
The Eagles will be entering Week 17 looking to compete for seeding with teams like Carolina or New Orleans. Even if they are eliminated from the first-round bye, Kelly will likely still play the starters, as he did not rest them against Chicago in Week 16 last year when the game would not have affected postseason prospects.
The Giants will not have much to play for at this point except to play spoiler to their hated rival. Philly has much more on the line, as well as a far superior team. Expect Nick Foles to finish the season strong with a win over the G-Men and momentum heading into the postseason.