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The NFL schedule has finally been released and we can finally start the annual exercise of looking at the Eagles schedule and deciphering which games will be wins or losses. I think the exercise is enjoyable, but a little early at this point in the year considering we won’t know the full roster or depth charts until right before the season starts. There’s also a number of different factors that make it really difficult to accurately predict wins and losses before June, but nonetheless it’s kind of a given at this time in the year.

But that’s not what I wanted to do with this column. For this column, I thought it’d be interesting to go through the schedule and pick out three games that stand out to me for any number of reasons. Whether that be the quality of the opponent, history with the team, playoff implications, or something else that catches my eye.

At first glance, the Eagles do have a fairly easy schedule with no real top tier teams other than maybe the Titans, Cowboys, or Packers which are probably closer to second tier teams than first. In fact, the Eagles have the second easiest strength of schedule, only behind the Washington Commanders and the Dallas Cowboys…. Huh? Yes, the 2021 NFC East champions have the easiest strength of schedule according to opponents combined record in 2021. The Cowboys will face opponents that had a combined  133-155-1 record in 2021, along with the Commanders who also will play opponents with that same combined record.

As for the Eagles, their 2022 opponents combined for a record of 133-154-2 in 2021. Not really much of a difference, but my main takeaway from that was how the Cowboys managed to get a last place schedule after winning the division. To no one’s surprise, the Giants come in right above the Eagles in terms of easiest schedule where they will face opponents that had a .465 winning percentage in 2021. All 4 NFC East teams have the 4 easiest schedules in 2022, a testament to how painfully below average the division has performed in recent years.

But with all that out of the way, let’s get to the three games in 2022 that caught my eye, and will definitely be games to watch out for. 

1.) Week 5 @ Arizona Cardinals 10/9

This game will be the first real test for the Eagles in 2022. To start out the year the Eagles will play: the Lions, the Vikings, the Commanders, and the Jags. The Vikings should be improved from last year, but all in all I think a 3-1 or 4-0 start is a very realistic expectation. This game is in Arizona, and the Cardinals are an extremely explosive team. They will be without their star WR Deandre Hopkins after he was suspended for 6 games for PED use, but they traded for Hollywood Brown and still have playmakers on offense. If the Eagles can find a way to win this game and head into their first matchup with Dallas at home potentially on a hot streak, it could give them some much needed confidence heading into that game.

 

2.) Week 10 Washington Commanders 11/14

There’s one obvious reason why this game sticks out. It’ll be the first time Carson Wentz has returned to Philadelphia since being traded to the Colts last offseason. The tension should be high since this will be Week 10, and ideally the Eagles will be in a position where this game will be important for the playoffs. The Linc will be ROCKING and it’ll be these teams’ second matchup of the year. It’ll be interesting to see how Carson Wentz responds to the fans, and how the fans will be. Will they be more thankful for Carson’s time rather than bitter about the breakup? I kind of doubt it, but this will be must watch T.V. regardless.

 

3.) Week 16 @ Dallas Cowboys 12/24

This year will be the first time the NFL has scheduled games on Christmas Day, breaking the precedent of NBA teams having the spotlight for the day. The Eagles won’t get a chance to have that spotlight on them on Christmas Day, but they will play their bitter rival Cowboys in Dallas on Christmas Eve. This game is awesome for so many reasons. It’s late in the season, so there’s no doubt there will be playoff implications galore. This will be their second matchup of the year which always provides for a great game. And simply, its Cowboys vs Eagles. Not much to explain there, this game should be awesome and it’ll most likely be a deciding game for the winner of the divison.

 

All in all, it’s still way too early to really start diving into these games and breaking them down. But with no football in sight until late summer, the schedule release is always a great way to start getting excited and talking Eagles football again. After an encouraging 2021 season where the Eagles were able to sneak into the playoffs in a supposed “rebuilding year”, the feel good vibes are now gone. This team is better than it was last year, and rightly so, the playoffs are the expectation this year, not the hope. The NFL scheduling the birds for 5 primetime games tells us those expectations are there.

With key additions such as A.J. Brown, Haason Reddick, and Jordan Davis this team will have expectations for the first time in a while. The Cowboys are worse, the Commanders aren’t really a threat, and the Giants are still a year or two (and a QB) away from really competing for this division. The Eagles are in the driver’s seat, and with the schedule they have, improving on last year’s 9-7 campaign and outright winning the division has to be the next step towards building a championship contender.

 

Featured Image: (Getty Images/The Athletic)

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