SPRING. Time for… football?!?

The NFL Draft is coming up. Training camp is still four months away and the preseason doesn’t start until August 8th. But I can’t help looking ahead.

2019’s schedule, just released, seems to favor the Eagles BIGLY.

Each year, the Eagles always play two games against each of the other three teams in the NFC East Division. The Giants were woeful last year, and I seriously doubt that they’ll get much better in the course of one offseason. They traded their great receiver Beckham to oblivion and they’re still arguing over whether Eli Manning can still play quarterback. The Redskins were underachievers, but that’s their reputation of late. The Cowboys won the division but, once again, were unable to do anything with it.

[The Cowboys have now won exactly THREE playoff games since they last won Super Bowl XXX after the 1995 season. That’s 23 years of frustration for Dallas fans. They’re beginning to understand how Eagles fans felt before 2017, except that their record of those 23 years has been absolute mediocrity. I expect that the Eagles and Cowboys will still swap wins this year.]

In 2019, all NFC East teams play the teams from the AFC East Division and the NFC North Division, plus two random teams based upon their divisional standings from last year. As 2nd place finisher in the NFC East, the Eagles will play the 2nd place teams from two other divisions: the Falcons and the Seahawks. Dallas gets the Saints and the Rams (both 1st place teams), while the Redskins and Giants get 3rd and 4th place teams, respectively.

Of the 16 games on the Eagles’ schedule, only 5 are against teams that finished last year with a better record than the Eagles (and that includes the stinkin’ Cowboys, twice). The AFC East has the New England Patriots and three teams that struggled. The NFC North has the Chicago Bears and three teams under .500.

Worth noting that the Eagles have a stretch of three games on the road in October, followed by three straight games at home in November.

As always, the wild card is whether the team (and especially now Carson Wentz) can stay relatively healthy. If they do, and if Wentz can trust his wide receivers as in days past, the offense should have no problem scoring points. And, as one genius sportscaster pointed out, “The only way to win games is to score more points than the other guys.”

Here’s how I break out the season:

Sep 8 Washington Redskins 7-9 W
Having the Redskins here in Philly for Game One gets the Eagles off to a good start.

Sep 15 @ Atlanta Falcons 7-9 W
Eagles just seem to have the Falcons’ number. They come close, but the Eagles seem to have a way of dashing their dreams. Even in Atlanta

Sep 22 Detroit Lions 6-10 W
I think the Lions are still looking to put together a team. A win.

Sep 26 @ Green Bay Packers 6-9-1 W
I waffle about this one. Yes, it’s IN Green Bay, but the Packers come down to the state of Aaron Rogers. Our defense makes him uncomfortable all day and the Eagles come out with a win

Oct 6 New York Jets 4-12 W
Another “trap game.” The Jets have new uniforms and may not recognize themselves. Still, they are pathetic. Five straight wins to start the season.

Oct 13 @ Minnesota Vikings 8-7-1 L
Revenge for the Vikings. Eagles are starting to believe they’re all that, and the Vikings remind them that they still have to play the game.

Oct 20 @ Dallas Cowboys 10-6 L
Still nursing from a loss, the Eagles go down to Dallas and give away a close one.

Oct 27 @ Buffalo Bills 6-10 W
Playing the Bills can make a team healthy. Bills will be no trouble.

Nov 3 Chicago Bears 12-4 L
The Bears come into Philly and take one from the Birds. Are they for real? I don’t know, but I’m giving them this game.

Nov 10 BYE

Nov 17 New England Patriots 11-5 W
The Patriots are coming off of a BYE, too, and I’m hoping that they’re looking past the Eagles to their game against the Cowboys the following week. Even so, the Eagles HATE these guys. And it’s on our turf.

Nov 24 Seattle Seahawks 10-6 L
Seattle beats the Eagles until they don’t. And they will. A loss for the Eagles at home.

Dec 1 @ Miami Dolphins 7-9 W
Eagles go to Miami at a nice time of year. Assuming that they show up for business, they win this one.

Dec 9 New York Giants 5-11 W
The Giants stink. They flat-out stink.

Dec 15 @ Washington Redskins 7-9 W
Washington’s season is probably over at this point. Eagles need to keep their eye on the road and win this one, setting up a game for the division title.

Dec 22 Dallas Cowboys 10-6 W
Unless they totally screw things up again, the Cowboys should have a record on par with the Eagles. This game will determine the division crown.

Dec 29 @ New York Giants 5-11 W (or L, if nothing to play for)
Eagles coast into the playoffs with an easy win against the Gints.

OKAY. I just gave the Eagles a 12-4 record, a division title, and possibly even a BYE for the first round of the playoffs. I’ve also given them five straight wins to start the season, five straight wins to finish the season. They will not win five straight. 11-5 is acceptable, but a 10-6 record is a FAIL, especially if it means Dallas wins the division again.

We’ve only got four months to argue.

In Chip We Trust (?)

A couple of months back (I swear, it was only a couple of months), the talk in Philadelphia was about how Chip Kelly had lost it. He was making very questionable moves with his personnel, sending his best players elsewhere. We began to think he was crazy. Now, after seeing in preseason what he had put together on the field, we are looking forward to a very good year.

— History —

Like every good bandwagon-jumping fan, I came on board during the good times. It was 1979, and Dick Vermeil was coach, Ron Jaworski quarterback. These guys would lead the team to a Super Bowl (okay, they lost), along with players who would become Philadelphia legends (even though they lost). It seemed that the best the Eagles could do was get TO the Super Bowl.

Dick Vermeil gave way to Marion Campbell, and I must have slept through those years. Nothing worth remembering. But…

To shake things up, there was Buddy Ryan. He was FUN, putting together a defense for the ages. Never won anything, but at least it was entertainment. Ron Jaworski gave way to Randall Cunningham, a man with tons of talent and no offensive coaching to speak of. Never won anything, but he was damned entertaining.

Buddy Ryan gave way to Richie Kotite (Richie the K), who was nothing but annoying. He never won anything AND he was annoying. In his last year, the team lay down like dogs, and I wanted Richie AND everyone who played for him gone.

Be careful what you wish for, because in came Ray Rhodes and talk of sodomy. Yeah, Ray had a couple of winning years and the fans gave him the key to the city. He could have been mayor of Philadelphia, if he’d wanted that. But then the losing came, and Ray’s coaching style began to stink. Ray went from Coach of the Year in 1995 to Out the Door in 1998. Then came…

Andy Reid. The winningest, bestest damn coach in Eagles history (Eagles NFL history, that is). Andy, too, took the Eagles to the Super Bowl (and LOST), after an historic string of four straight NFC Championship games (three LOST, one WON). We had never seen such success in our football team in the modern era (yeah, yeah, Champions in 1960, but you’d have to be, like, 70 to even remember such a thing). We had a glimpse of the Promised Land, before the long, slow decline into irrelevance. Andy set the bar awful high, but in the end couldn’t get over that bar himself. It seemed, eventually, that Andy had lost the team, and Andy, too, had to go.

— end History —

Enter Chip Kelly. Kelly is now in his third year, has caused a great amount of turnover on the Eagles squad, and has assembled what is arguably “Kelly’s team.” After a rough offseason (rough for the fans), and after a surprising preseason (yes, I know, preseason), this team looks poised to improve upon Kelly’s first two years. And I do mean improve.

Kelly dumped DeSean Jackson. Were the Eagles receiving corps better then, or are they better now? Kelly showed LeSean McCoy the door. Were the Eagles running backs better then, or are they better now? The offense, IMO, is much improved, and the offense didn’t exactly stink before!

So, here’s how I see the 2015 season ahead of us.

The Eagles play only five teams this year that had a winning record last year. The rest are really bad, I mean awful, teams and the Eagles should beat them all (that would be 10 wins right there) –
Tampa Bay BUCCANEERS 2-14
New York JETS 4-12
Washington REDSKINS 4-12
New York GIANTS 6-10
Carolina PANTHERS 7-8-1
Atlanta FALCONS 7-9
New Orleans SAINTS 7-9
Miami DOLPHINS 8-8

I throw a loss to the Saints, who play tough in New Orleans, because the Eagles should be coasting on autopilot when they head down to NOLA. A wake-up game.

Then, three “good” teams, all of whom the Eagles should beat –
Buffalo BILLS 9-7 (The McCoy Reunion game, smackdown)
Detroit LIONS 11-5 (We love picking on those Lions)
Arizona CARDINALS 11-5 (Here in Philly in late December)

That leaves the “powerhouse” teams, the fraud Cowboys and the for-real Patriots –
New England PATRIOTS 12-4
Dallas (sucks) COWBOYS 12-4

We split with Dallas (sucks) (the Cowboys are a little worse this year, the Eagles a little better, and Dallas still has a Tony Romo problem) and lose to the Patriots.

The Eagles have no problem scoring points, and should now score even MORE points, whether it’s Bradford or Sanchez behind center. Our weakness was our defense, specifically the corners and safeties who were royally exposed. Assuming the run and pass defense improves over last year (as it should), the Eagles should be able to hold opponents’ scoring down below the Eagles’ own 30+ average.

I see 13 – 3, with the division title and home field advantage.

If I’m off by one (I can see losing in Detroit on a very short week), 12 -4 gets the division title but may not guarantee home field. Even if I’m off by two (and I don’t think I am), it’s still a bit of an improvement in Kelly’s third year, and the future is still looking good.

Time to put the seatbelt back on my La-Z-Boy.

POSTSCRIPT

The Eagles turned in a record of 7-9 in this most promising season. This was such a disappointment (forecast by everyone BUT me) that the Chipster was shown the door before the season’s end and Pat Shurmur became interim head coach. Bye, Chip. Thanks for nothing.

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