This is the night that so many fans celebrate. There is some shape to the 2015 Eagles season now that the regular season schedule is out. We can look at it and pencil in the wins and discuss the matchups and, well, what does it really mean?
It means that we're one step closer to finding out how good the Eagles will be. Projecting wins and losses is a ritual for the fans. The team looks at every week as a win, so nobody at the NovaCare Complex was in much of a discussion mood on Tuesday evening.
What the schedule says to me is that the NFL thinks the Eagles are must-see television and one of the most compelling teams in the league. Eight games are scheduled to be televised nationally – five in prime time, including the opener at Atlanta on ESPN's Monday Night Football. In one three-game stretch through early November the Eagles host the Giants on a Monday night, play at Carolina on a Sunday night, have a bye week and then go to Dallas for a Sunday night NFC East showdown.
But you know how head coach Chip Kelly will treat this slate: It's a day-by-day process for Kelly, with the goal to be better than the day before. Every game carries equal weight, although once again the regular season ends with the 1-2 punch of Washington (at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, December 26) and the Giants (at Metlife Stadium on Sunday, January 3).
So the schedule is as the schedule is and I'll go on record to say the Eagles will go 16-0 and roar into the postseason. Is there any other way to look at a regular season? Not from this perspective, no.
But I will note each game and some of the particulars of the games and the meetings, so here we go.
Week 1: September 14 at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons struggled last season and have a lot of work to do with new head coach Dan Quinn and the Seattle defensive scheme he brings to the table. This is going to be a great off-the-bat test for the new-look Eagles secondary working against Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. How ready is the Eagles defense after a season in which it gave up a league-most passing plays of 20-plus yards?
Week 2: September 20 vs. Dallas Cowboys
It's a great matchup, a nationally televised game on FOX that kicks off the Lincoln Financial Field schedule. Eagles and Cowboys, an early-season test in the NFC East. You know all the stories. You know the rivalry. You know how awesome it's going to be on a beautiful September Sunday in South Philadelphia.
Week 3: September 27 at New York Jets
This is the second of three trips to MetLife Stadium (one to close the preseason against New York) as new head coach Todd Bowles tries to get the Jets back into the postseason. The Jets will blitz and play aggressive defense because that's the way Bowles does things. Good test for the offense.
Week 4: October 4 at Washington Redskins
The late-season loss at Washington in 2014 still lingers. It was a bitter defeat. Washington did a number on the Eagles and those who are still here remember the game. Another great in-division game against a Washington team that should be much improved in Jay Gruden's second season as head coach.
Week 5: October 11 vs. New Orleans Saints
Are the Saints a team in transition? They still have the ultra-dangerous Drew Brees at quarterback, which means the offense is potent. The defense needs a lot of work, however, after last season's struggles. New Orleans is a team expected to make some major moves during draft weekend, so this is a roster that is far from set. Already in the offseason, the Saints have changed up the roster.
Week 6: October 19 vs. New York Giants
The Eagles host the Giants on Monday Night Football once again. And there won't be a more difficult test for the Philadelphia secondary against receivers Odell Beckham, Jr., Victor Cruz and the rest of the outstanding Giants passing attack.
Week 7: October 25 at Carolina Panthers
Can the Eagles bounce back from the emotional game six days earlier, prior to their bye week, against the Panthers? Carolina won its division last season and then beat the depleted Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card playoff round, but it was a step-back kind of season for the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton, who battled injuries all season.
Week 9: November 8 at Dallas Cowboys
Another Sunday night game for the Eagles coming off the bye week and, again, this game needs no explanation. Maybe the featured attraction is running back DeMarco Murray's return to Dallas. The Cowboys fans will be wired to see him back on the field in an Eagles uniform. Otherwise, you know the stakes.
Week 10: November 15 vs. Miami Dolphins
Miami should be a much-improved team, particularly on defense. This is a great test for the Eagles offensive line and the running game. Miami is a team on the rise. The Eagles will have to get back up and play a good game after the emotional matchup the week before in Dallas.
Week 11: November 22 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Will Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota play the quarterback position for the Bucs here? Tampa Bay has a slew of offensive weapons and hopes its rookie quarterback is the right one to give this group a chance to take off. Who will Tampa Bay pick on April 30?
Week 12: November 26 at Detroit Lions
For the second consecutive season the Eagles are on the road for Thanksgiving. A short week lands the Eagles in Detroit against the Lions, a playoff team in 2014 for an early, early 12:30 PM kickoff. It's going to be very interesting to see how the Eagles react to the short week and the early kickoff.
Week 13: December 6 at New England Patriots
So, the Eagles get some rest before playing the Patriots. They'll have the mini-bye weekend prior to this crucial road trip to start a tough December. The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions and, historically, they start to peak right around this time. The game, of course, is a national game on FOX at 4:25 PM.
Week 14: December 13 vs. Buffalo Bills
Former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy returns to Philadelphia. Should be quite a week leading up to the game. Maybe head coach Rex Ryan will borrow an idea from his daddy, Buddy, and have the Bills team buses circle the city of couple of times to get fired up before the game.
Week 15: December 20 vs. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona has Super Bowl aspirations after its outstanding run in the 2014 regular season despite major injuries. The Cardinals are loaded on defense and quarterback Carson Palmer is healthy. The wide receivers are outstanding.
Week 16: December 26 vs. Washington Redskins
A Saturday game on the NFL Network could mean a lot in the division, so the Eagles need to be prepared to close the Lincoln Financial Field season on a high note.
Week 17: January 3 at New York Giants
Scheduled for 1 PM now, this is the kind of game that has a chance to move to a national broadcast depending upon what's at stake. The Eagles ended the 2014 season at MetLife Stadium and we've seen how many changes the team has made since. What happens here?
The 2015 schedule for the Philadelphia Eagles has been announced. The schedule features six nationally televised games and a second consecutive Thanksgiving Day game ...