A first glance at the 2009 regular season schedule tells me the Eagles absolutely must get off to a strong start with three of their first four games at home, and with a very tough stretch of games that begins in late October and runs through mid-December. It is a roller-coaster of a schedule, with three sets of back-to-back road games that includes two trips to the West Coast and, well, how many wins do you see in this schedule?
I see 16. I always do. I never go into a game thinking the Eagles are going to lose. So let's go! Win 'em all! Start strong in Carolina, load up and stop that Panthers running game, and then come home and play well against New Orleans and Kansas City before a bye week leads the Eagles into another home game against Tampa Bay.
Tough stretches? You bet. At Washington and home against the Giants and Dallas. Bang, bang, bang. There NFC East games in late October through early November. Then tough road games at San Diego and at Chicago.
Emotion? Try this to end the season: Hosting Denver and the return of Brian Dawkins (and Correll Buckhalter) on December 27 and then conclude the regular season at Dallas in a game that could, as it did in 2008, mean a playoff spot or a trip home.
Or it could mean nothing at all.
The schedule now looks one way, as we all know, and it will look totally different in August and then we'll judge it on a week-to-week basis during the course of the season.
There are some unusual aspects to the slate, like five games before the NFC East enters the picture. The Eagles play at Carolina and then host New Orleans, Kansas City and Tampa Bay and then play at Oakland before they play in the division (Washington comes to town on October 26).
What does it all mean? It means that you can make your travel plans. It means the Eagles' initial reaction is the same as yours: Pure excitement.
"It's an exciting day around the NFL when the schedule is released," said Eagles president Joe Banner. "The fact that we have so many early games at home gives us a chance to get off to a fast start and gain some momentum. All of the prime-time games continue to be a statement about both the popularity and the optimism about the Eagles and the incredible excitement within the NFC East. We have a stretch of three straight NFC East games once again at a very crucial time and we finish in Dallas, which could be very, very dramatic. There should be a lot of great battles in the division and if you are a football fan, no matter who you root for, that is really exciting stuff."
So there you go. The Eagles play in prime time at least four times (at Washington on Monday night and then Sunday night games against Dallas, at Chicago and at the Giants). They are in prime time during television's sweeps period. Of the 11 games not subject to the NFL's flex schedule, six of them are nationally-televised contests.
It is an attractive schedule with plenty of tasty storylines. And it means that for a few days we can pick out wins and losses and see how the Eagles stack up on paper against their 2009 opponents.
And then we will focus again on the draft, as we did earlier on Tuesday after an interview with General Manager Tom Heckert. A lot of things are going to happen in the next week and a half. The Eagles are going to take all of the draft scenarios they now have in front of them and they are going to make the decision to do what they think is best for them.
We've got a schedule to talk about. A draft. A team that came oh, so close to the Super Bowl once again coming back strong. It's a good time to be in the middle of some Eagles action, with the anticipation of so much more ahead.