The 2018 Eagles schedule is everything you thought it would be – with the usual twists and what-the-??? moments thrown in. There is star power throughout, the prime-time spotlight five times, and a kicker in December that is, whew, a gauntlet to imagine. One of the league's most featured teams has an up-and-down-and-all-around challenge at each turn. Let's take a look at the week-by-week schedule and some of the key elements to each matchup.
Thursday, September 6 vs. Atlanta – Lincoln Financial Field will be rocking, to say the least. The Eagles open the NFL's schedule at home with the first of *two *Thursday night games on the slate. Atlanta and the Eagles engaged in a slugfest in the NFC Divisional Round game, won 15-10 by the Eagles. It came down to a Matt Ryan pass to wide receiver Julio Jones, well covered by cornerback Jalen Mills in the corner of the end zone. Had Jones made the catch, his feet would have been out of bounds. The Eagles prevailed. The underdog masks were unveiled. The fans loved every bit of it. An opening-night rematch, following the unveiling of the in-stadium recognition of the Super Bowl championship, will make for a memorable opener.
Sunday, September 16 at Tampa Bay – Following their first mini-bye weekend of the season, the Eagles travel to Tampa, which is going to be steamy. According to Accuweather.com, the high that day on average historically has been 89 degrees, with a low of 75. Pump up the volume. The Bucs added defensive linemen Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, and Jason Pierre-Paul in free agency and the Bucs know, after a very disappointing season in 2017, that they need to win now. All of those Tampadelphia Eagles fans are going to be in the house, though. This is going to be funnnnnnnn. Oh, and, hey, another chance for the Eagles to play against former Eagle DeSean Jackson, still running all those "go" routes with his blazing speed.
Sunday, September 23 vs. Indianapolis– New head coach Frank Reich brings his Colts to town and, he hopes, has quarterback Andrew Luck under center. With Luck on the field, the Colts will be capable of beating anyone. Without him, the task will be much tougher.
Sunday, September 30 at Tennessee– Another great quarterback matchup as the Eagles' defense goes against Marcus Mariota, a mobile quarterback who is also capable of killing teams from the pocket. Tennessee made the playoffs last season and defeated Kansas City and then changed out the coaching staff. Which way are the Titans heading in 2018? We should know by Week 4.
Sunday, October 7 vs. Minnesota – This is a 4:25 p.m. kickoff and no doubt one of the week's biggest games. Minnesota reloaded at quarterback with the Kirk Cousins signing in free agency. The Vikings are expected to be NFC title contenders again after reaching the NFC Championship Game last season. The return of running back Dalvin Cook should help the cause, too.
Thursday, October 11 at New York Giants – Already, a second Thursday night game for the Eagles. This time, they head up the New Jersey Turnpike to play the Giants and new head coach Pat Shurmur featuring new quarterback/running back/defensive end (whatever the Giants do with the second overall pick next Thursday night). The NFC East schedule starts against a Giants team that could very well be in contention after an aggressive offseason.
Sunday, October 21 vs. Carolina – Following another mini-bye week, the Eagles host Carolina and quarterback Cam Newton. These two played a nasty, physical, and highly entertaining game on Thursday night in Carolina in 2017. Expect a similar kind of game this time around. Just how good are the Panthers? Are they ready to contend again, or are they heading the other way?
Sunday, October 28 vs. Jacksonville in London – A featured game. International flavor. Eagles have never played a regular-season game overseas, although they were in London twice for preseason games in 1989 and 1991. Jacksonville is the real deal after reaching the AFC Championship Game last season and the Jags are used to the travel across the pond. How will the Eagles handle the jet lag and the new surroundings? The bye weekend follows this game.
Sunday, November 11 vs. Dallas– Here we go, the Eagles and Cowboys renewing acquaintances for the first time in 2018, this time on Sunday night. The Cowboys have had a quiet offseason, they've released one of their most visible players in wide receiver Dez Bryant and, well, nobody really knows how good the Cowboys will be this season. By the middle of November, we'll know what's up in the NFC East.
Sunday, November 18 at New Orleans– The Saints are one of the best teams in the NFC with a prolific offense and a defense that improved by leaps and bounds after a strong 2017 draft. The Saints are explosive. They have youth at key places and they've got quarterback Drew Brees still flingin' it. Great matchup in the Big Easy.
Sunday, November 25 vs. New York Giants – A second time around against the Giants as the NFC East makes the turn and heads for a hectic finish in December.
Monday, December 3 vs. Washington – This is the fourth prime-time game for the Eagles and it's the first matchup of the season against Washington and new quarterback Alex Smith. Intriguing game as the Eagles play Washington twice in the same month.
Sunday, December 9 at Dallas – A quick turnaround sends the Eagles to Dallas for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff at the Cowboys. Great game. Huge spot.
Sunday, December 16 at Los Angeles Rams – Will the Eagles stay on the West Coast for a full week after the Dallas game? It's worth considering, just as the team did last year on the Seattle-Los Angeles back-to-back gauntlet. The Rams loaded up in the offseason. We're obviously going to know as December 16 rolls around whether the Rams' moves were worth all the hype. This is a Sunday night game - the Eagles' fifth prime-time game on the schedule - and maybe the tastiest affair on the prime-time schedule all year for the NFL. As it looks now, anyway.
Sunday, December 23 vs. Houston – Home for the holidays … again. Nice to have both Thanksgiving and Christmas games at Lincoln Financial Field, right? Quarterback Deshaun Watson is the centerpiece for what the Texans do, and he's a rising star. Jim Schwartz and the Eagles' defense will have its hands full in this game against the arm and legs of Watson.
Sunday, December 30 at Washington – The regular-season finale plays out at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. It's the Redskins. It's the Eagles. They opened 2017 and they close 2018. It's gotta mean something, doesn't it?