Eagles Wake-Up Call: 2014 Strength Of Schedule

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Upon first glance, the Eagles’ slate of opponents for the 2014 season appears daunting.

The Birds have a first-place schedule and will take on all four teams from what was the best division in football in 2013, the NFC West.


While we still have to wait a couple months to see how the dates line up, we already know who the opponents will be. Aside from the six division games against the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins, here's how it looks:

At home, the Eagles will take on the Panthers, Jaguars, Seahawks, Rams and Titans.

On the road, they'll face the Cardinals, Packers, Texans, Colts and 49ers.

Overall, the Birds have five teams on their schedule - Carolina, Seattle, Green Bay, Indianapolis and San Francisco - that made the playoffs this season.

But is the slate really as bad as it looks?

(We'll preface this by noting the quality of teams change each year, but it's February, and this is what people talk about in the offseason.)

The crew at Blogging the Boys took a look at strength of schedule from a couple different angles. If you want straight winning percentage, the Eagles' 2014 opponents played .478 ball in 2013. That ranks 20th in terms of schedule difficulty (19 teams have a more difficult road).

But they also took a look at point differential. Eagles 2014 opponents finished 2013 with a -297 point differential. By that measure, the Birds have the sixth-easiest schedule in the league.

As the Eagles realized in their Week 15 loss to the Vikings, there aren't going to be any gimmes. In fact, Chip Kelly has said that's part of what he likes about coaching in the NFL. But the path (on paper, at least) doesn't look as difficult as one might think for a team facing a first-place schedule.

WHAT YOU MISSED

My 10 Super Bowl observations with an Eagles slant.

Our offseason outlook series continues with an examination of the defensive line.

T-Mac takes a look at the Eagles' potential offseason strategy and has some interesting comments from Jeffrey Lurie about Nnamdi Asomugha.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor takes a look at just how much change might be in store for the Eagles' defense:

There is a possibility that the Eagles bring back all 11 starters on defense. Say what? But what about the need for upgrading? What about the need for speed?

The Eagles will bring in help, but these players won’t be thrust into starting jobs right away. The new players will have a chance to earn jobs. We all know how much Chip Kelly loves competition. He’ll give everyone a shot to show if they belong.

This will make you laugh (I think):

COMING UP

We'll continue our offseason outlook series.

  • NickS1

    Thanks for the video. That was pretty awesome.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Holy crap ya, some great morning laughs there.
      Harbaugh.. Lost it at Dijon Sanders
      Damn, the guy can impersonate so damn well.

      • EaglefaninAZ

        I’m still giggling. lol

        • Dominik

          They are all awesome, but he nailed it with Belichick, especially.

          • Maggie

            I laughed the hardest at Belichik and Harbaugh.

          • George

            Don’t forget Jaworski and Dijon

          • G_WallyHunter

            lol did you catch what he said to the dog?
            “Isn’t that right Mr Brady, we’re going to be together forever!!”

      • peteike

        loved the Schefter teeth at the end of each of those parts, too funny. He is great at impersonations. He even looks like Gruden, great stuff.

  • GEAGLE

    This tough schediule is awesome…can’t wait

    • moesus

      Yeah, those strength of schedule numbers in the article are bogged down by a few awful teams. If you take out Jacksonville, Houston and Washington – the winning percentage jumps to .597 – which is between 9-7 and 10-6.

      Obviously it’s pretty irrelevant since strength of schedule is going to be different before and after the season.

    • Token

      Its tough as hell. Dont know why people assume Houston will such again. I can see them bouncing right back. Every game is gonna feel like a huge matchup. Should be fun to watch.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        Who’s their QB? Are TEN and JAX competitive? What if Luck still doesn’t have any weapons next year, or their defense spots us 50? WHY IS IT SO TOUGH IN FEBRUARY

        • moesus

          A few of those teams are likely to suck next year. It’s nearly impossible to play a 16 game schedule where every team is good. Some people had Houston competing for a SB berth and they won 2 games. It’s tough to predict what’s going to happen the day before the season starts, much less 7 months.

        • cliff henny

          they get better…eagles will get better. 2nd yr in scheme, foles full of-season and the holes are damn obvious, have to be addressed.

        • Richard Colton

          That’s the fun part. Nobody knows. Still serious questions about ARI and STL QBs. They could fall off the map and be cellar-dwellers.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

            SF lost 2 great players, Bowman and Iupati, to serious injuries very recently. And just how many Seattle players test positive for PEDs between now and September?

          • Richard Colton

            Not to mention the playoff hangovers for both teams. SEA won the damn thing and the 49ers have been deep in the playoffs for two straight years.

        • peteike

          Like every season, Eagles will win some games we thought were losses and lose some games we thought were easy wins. Just how it is so I dont ever care about predicting schedules. It never works out the way you think it will. Those other teams wont want to see us either.

  • anon

    LBs will be at a premium this year both tx and cleveland will be going to a 3-4. Texas will be 2 gapping, we’ll see what happens to jj watt’s numbers.

    • George

      Probably comprable to cox…both of them are BEASTS

      • aub32

        Watt >>> Cox

        • Richard Colton

          Please let’s not compare our very promising 2nd year 3-4 DE to a defensive MVP. People always take it too far.

        • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

          thanks for the clarification

        • George

          Let me clarify. I think watt is a superior player to cox, put not as much as people think. He has gotten over-hyped because of one GREAT season, and I think he is ever so slightly overrated. I also think his numbers will take a his when he starts two-gapping, and I think Cox’s numbers will go up due to some stability with the coaches. I think their numbers will be comprable THIS year, but once JJ gets the hang of two-gapping he will be back to his dominant self. Please don’t think that I think Fletcher cox is as good as JJ Watt. I’m an optimist, but i’m not blind.

  • Will

    Defense wins Championships…The Eagles need to improve there for next year….

    • GEAGLE

      eagles aren’t dumb…they see the NFC playoff landscape, and it’s mostly a bunch of young tough defenses. You aren’t going to be able to compete with Seattle, Niners, Carolina without building a nasty defense of our own. Yes Chip Is an offensive guy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt Kelvin Benjamin is too nasty to pass up in round 1, but that doesn’t mean we won’t build a top Defense of our own…in 2015, we should have the defense in place to win those ugly, defensive battles when the second coming of the he greatest show on turf is struggling

      • Token

        Offense will always be the focus of this team. They just need to build a solid defense.

        • GEAGLE

          I think that’s just overstated bullshit…Chip respects the game. He ain’t the Andy type to be devaluing punt returners, LBs and WRs…think Chip is going to build a well rounded team good at all 3 phases of the game. Everyone thought our offense would have to win games this year 40-38, but instead our defense carried us thru some games, and held teams under 23pts for over 2 months…we aren’t THAT far away from having the pieces to be great on both offense and defense, so there is no reason why we have to be some unbalanced team that needs a certain phase of the game to carry us….Think Chips respects every I single position on the roster and will always strive to get the best 53 players in all 3 phases of the game….if our defense was in shambles and needed to be blown up and rebuilt, bthen maybe the “offensive team” talk would make sense to me, but by now, it should be obvious to a lot more people then just me that we already have about 70% of the pieces of an eventual good defense in place..

          Guys just need to keep gelling and growing into this scheme. Our Base defense was so damn under rated, problem is the Nickle defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd and long often erasing all the damn good work our base did on first and second down…all we need are safeties, young depth LBs that can cover, and a pass rush OLB…we aren’t so far off from having a good defense that we have to be an “offensive team”… Chip will strive to be as good as we can be in all 3 phases

          • Richard Colton

            Andy devalued punt-returners? Remember Jeremy Bloom cutting through opposing coverage units like moguls at Telluride?

          • GEAGLE

            Didn’t we go into a season with friggin Greg Lewis as our PR? Reno friggin Mahe? Jeremy bloom was hysterical

          • Richard Colton

            Think we still need a KR for next year. Can Dennard return kicks? Since every mock this month has us taking him.

          • GEAGLE

            Blah blah every mock had us taking Dee Milner this time last year..we ain’t getting a corner before round 4

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

            Haven’t heard from him since…think he got PTSD from the sight of those LB bearing down on him?

          • Richard Colton

            LBs are a little bigger in the NFC East than they are in the Pac-12, aren’t they Jeremy?

          • Bdawkbdawk

            What in the world are you talking about? Chips respects the game more than Reid?! Reid doesn’t value every position the same, but somehow Chip does? (As in Chip cares about a PR as much as his starting QB) Somehow this will enable Chip to create a better, morewell-rounded team?! This is nonsense.
            ….
            Every coach has positional priorities. Reid does, Chips does, Belichek does, everyone does. Reid didn’t neglect the defensive side of the ball. and he certainly “strived” hard enough. In retrospect, him and his talent evaluators didn’t do as good a job identifying defensive talent and returners as the rest of the league. He was still a top ten coach in the NFL. It flummoxes me that some fans think that Reid is unique for drafting a few disappointing players in the first round.

          • GEAGLE

            Reid valued linebacker? He valued WRs? Really? When? 5 out of 14 seasons? Lol in 14yrs the ONLY WR worth a damn were TO for one year, Desean and Mac?…

            If you don’t get it, we can just agree to disagree, this doesn’t seem like a worthwhile debate arguining with someone who would even question if Chip values PR more than QB…Reid had the audacity to try and develop a young QB with Torrence Smalls, Charles Johnson and James Trash. Reid went into a season with rookie Casey Mathews at LB, sorry you can swing from Reid’s nuts if you want, but I would never think Chip would ever go into a season so bare at any position

          • Bdawkbdawk

            Please read what I wrote. Nowhere did I say that Chip values PR more than QB. If you think that Reid didn’t value every position, then you are a fool. The point is that he valued some positions more than others. Reid supremely valued QB and both offensive and deffensive lines. Maybe he valued backup line depth more than PR. I don’t know because he drafted Jackson and Maclin, but that argument could be made. I happen to think he had pretty good priorities. Every coach in the league has positional priorites. Chip is the same.
            ……
            Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I will happily engage you about whether Reid had the correct priorities. Or, whether once he had these priorities, he was good at going out and getting the “right guy”.

          • Coatesvillain

            Reid valued WR. He just was terrible at evaluating and/or developing them *looks at David Culley*

          • Richard Colton

            Upvoting proper use of “flummox.”

          • Token

            Chip literally didnt talk to his DC at Oregon. Chip is a offensive guy. He lets the defense rest in the hands of those coaches and I like that.

            Its not saying Chip is gonna ignore the defense. But offense will always be this teams main focus. And it should be. Teams have to have a identity. Defense wont be this teams. How many teams are stacked on both sides of the ball? Thats pretty damn hard to do.

            You are looking to build a team that is REALLY good on one side. Elite level. That will be offense for us. The defense just has to be good enough to get the job done. They will put resources into the D. But offense will be the calling card.

            The defense needs a lot of work still. You just happen to this our ILBs are studs. And you think our corners are studs. So obviously you wont see many holes. But they are there. And depth at pretty much every position sucks.

          • GEAGLE

            All true. But I think Chip isn’t as hands off defensively as we think, during the year I don’t think he bothers with defense, but OTA’s I think he is hands on with the entire team… Offense will always be the main focus? Really? If it weren’t for an unforeseen trade we were fully intent on spending the 4th in the draft on a defender…I just don’t believe generalizations apply to Chip. I believe he is that versatile of a coach. He has complete trust in Azz, who is more then your traditional DL coach

          • Sources

            you are just theorizing on all of this and acting like its fact. You would do well in the Philly Media scene.

    • Token

      The better defense has lost 6 out of the last 8 SB.

      • moesus

        Obviously all of those teams had the better defense in the SB, which is all that matters.

        Regular season stats mean nothing once the playoffs start. We saw it Sunday and see it nearly every year (well recently at least) when a statistically average defense gets hot in January and gets a ring.

        • Token

          Theres cases like SEA and the Ravens with Dilfer where the defenses are all time good. But you dont need that. This team is gonna put pressure on teams with their offense. They just need a good solid defense that gameplans well. Not world beaters.

          • moesus

            I agree. Of course I’d like a historically dominate defense but that’s unlikely to happen. I’d love a defense akin to our early 2000′s teams.

      • knighn

        THANK YOU!!
        “Defense wins Championships” is a bit of a tired maxim in today’s NFL. So many of the rules are slanted towards the offense. I’m willing to bet that the rules will continue to slant that way. Anybody think Goodell wanted to watch a 43 – 8 game? No, he would have much rather the score been 43 – 40 or 33-30 or something like that. If any kind of low-scoring, defense-favored match-ups keep up, you can guarantee that the NFL will make more rules to favor the offense and will do it in the name of “player safety”.

    • Maggie

      In this Super Bowl I believe the consensus was that the Seahawks won on defense, on offense and on special teams. Defense outstanding for sure, but so was the whole team

  • aub32

    The 2013 schedule could not have worked out better for the Eagles. The NFCE was terrible. Rodgers got hurt. They played their 3 best opponents early, making the losses easier to forget and blame on growing pains. We could not have asked for better conditions to help this team gain some confidence heading into next season. Next season we will get to see what this team is really made of. Can we legitimately compete with the bullies of the NFC? Is Foles our guy? Can Chip outscheme teams that may be flat out more talented. Can Howie bring in another group of FAs and rookies that will excel under Chip? How will the defense look in year 2 under Davis? Next year will give us a real indication of whether we really are one of the best teams, or if we are still a year or 2 away. Let’s go Birds. I can’t wait.

    • Wilbert31

      Agree. We need to go 6-0 or 5-1 in our division.

      • Avril111

        my Aunty Amelia got a new blue Land Rover LR4 only from
        working part time off a home computer… helpful hints B­u­z­z­3­2­.­ℂ­o­m

    • UncleCarm

      Thanks aub32; the suspense was already killing me, and now you put it into words and made it worse. Can’t wait.

    • Maggie

      The Seattle game should be fun in a way. USC versus Oregon again. The head coaches have similar ideas and smarts, so interesting to compare. Carroll does have a couple of years head start, but Kelly is probably catching up.

      • dislikedisqus

        Only wins are fun.

  • GEAGLE

    Our division rivals won’t be equipped to handle this schedule…maybe we don’t win more than the 10 games we won this year, but a tough schedule like this will get us prepared for playoff battles..

  • TNA

    Nice video to start off the morning. Thanks.
    As for the schedule, the opponent point differential is largely three teams being horrendously bad: JAX, HOU and WAS (worst 3 point differentials in the NFL). Given that SEA, SF and ARI all had high positive pt differentials (ranked 2nd, 3rd, 10th) and played in a division in which STL only had a pt differential of -16, it’s easy to think that they all pounded non-divisional opponents. But that’s not necessarily the case. SEA eeked out OT victories over HOU and TB and lost big to IND.
    Also, this has been noted on this site before, but the Eagles got “lucky” playing against opponents missing some of their key playmakers. I wonder how much “luckier” they were than others in the NFC East and other teams around the NFL and how much that played a role in the Eagles season.
    All this is to say is that if all things stay the same (in terms of roster, which is nonsense, really) the Eagles should just focus on getting better, winning the division and not worry about their opponents. On any given sunday, even a bad HOU team can beat the world-beating Seahawks.

  • Giorgos Kassakos

    The way I see it, it’s a tough schedule. The Redskins won’t be that bad again and it’s hard to imagine another 0-6 start for the Giants. The Cowboys are the Cowboys, good for 7-9 to 9-7.

    Do you think we get to play the “Tolzien” Packers next year? Or the misery squad that was the Texans in 2013? Nope.

    I believe that games are won on turf, no matter who is your opponent. This is a tough schedule, but since Kelly is here, I am confident the Eagles can handle that. I would go to war with coach Kelly.

    • cliff henny

      Cowboys will be worse. “skins might get better-even shipping off #2 pick, but if Eagles make correct moves along with young players’ natural growth for 2nd yr in scheme, Eagles will still be much better. the Giants are in rough shape, holes everywhere, held onto aging players particularly in trenches. team needs complete overhaul, and not a ton of young talent to lean on.

  • cliff henny

    need to do what NE has done for a dozen years, kick the teeth in of division opponents. also got much better at protecting homefield in 2nd half of season.

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

      that’s just it. If people are already griping about the schedule in February, which is ridiculous, at least remember that the entire NFCE plays the NFCW and AFCS. So as long as we go 6-0 in the division, it’s no problem.

      • cliff henny

        if Eagles go 5-1 in NFCeast, and 3-1 in non-Seattle home games, that leaves 6 games to get 2 wins and equal the 10 in ’13. see no reason why Eagles cant get to 10 or 11.

    • Coatesvillain

      Hey, if the other teams in the NFCE agree to tank on a yearly basis like the AFCE I’m all for it!

  • GEAGLE

    Howie made some interesting comments on WIP yesterday, suggest checking it out because it won’t be covered on this site, with Tim and Sheil working for the fanatic

    • cliff henny

      see charlotte reporter saying bobcats are interested in Turner? was on liberty ballers reading, wondering in charlotte could be tht dumb. yeah, think MJ put down an order for telecaste to build ET up. they were gushing over him after getting blocked like 3 times in 4 possessions, somehow scoring twice.

      • GEAGLE

        Cliff, i would be absolutely SHOCKED if Hinkie, TODAY didn’t already have worst case scenario fallback deals in place for ATleast ET and Hawes, and that he will spend every minute from now til the deadline seeing if he can get better compensation. I mean 8 teams called about our players in the month of January? Hinkie isn’t dumb he def has deals in place already..

        Bobcats did sign Jefferson, opting to bail on the best draft class in a while. they are absolutely in win now mode(basically 8th seed No mans land we have been stuck in for over a decade), I could def see that silly franchise adding ET

        • cliff henny

          you know Hinkie wants that Detroit pick-i’d eat hendo and gordons contracts. sure Charlotte is talking Portland’s pick and gordon. i wouldnt mind hanging onto Young, if turner and Hawes get late 1st, one might have to be ’15 pick, then draft day use TY and mid 20′s pick to move up, do jrue trade again. bring in 3 top 12 guys, add a ’15 pick. whole team have to carpool like in jr high, they’d be so young.

          • GEAGLE

            Hinkie will take the best offer no matter what it is for ET and Hawes, but not Thad. I think he would like to move Thad, but he won’t just give him away. If someone wants Thad at the deadline they will have to pony up some value…if he isn’t moved I absolutely view him as a draft night trade chip

          • cliff henny

            might have to look at ’15 picks. with noel and 2 lottery, some point be too many rookies. plus 3 2nd rounders.
            .
            i cant believe hinkie can get anything for ET. but reading sbnation’s bobcat blog, they are buying the hype. think he’s gotten raw deal in philly, and typical bad fanbase bs. 1 guy posted exactly what we think, he got shouted down.

          • GEAGLE

            Hahahahaha…need to pluck Karl Towns Jr out of the 2015 lottery, the top pick will be Jahlil Okafor, Towns will go in the top 10. He is going to Kentucky! but Calipari has been coaching him on the Dominican Republic national team for years…Kind of Durrant Ish in that he is a long 7ft bombs away 3point shooter, but he has a long way to go before he has Durrants ball handling and scoring from anywhere, but he is that stretch 4, who could also develop enough to be a bIg small Forward…I want that top 5 protected 2015 lakers pick that Chicago aquired for trading Deng,.

            But I need that 3rd first round pick this year to draft Nik Stauskas!!!! Gritty defender, athlete, BOMBs as AWAY shooter

          • cliff henny

            Lakers will rebound, that pick wont be as great as it looks today. Gasol’s getting moved, kobe will be healthy too. Hinkie needs to keep stock piling picks. if all goes well-miss playoffs next yr too, by ’16 season have least 5 lottery draft picks and 2 or 3 mid to late 1st rounders on team. why at some point, packaging young in draft day trade with 2 late pick to get another lottery pick would be ideal. can have too many.
            .
            watched you boy vonleh other day, if he learns corner 3, be nice fit, real nice. guess he’s PF, but could allow for almost any type of 3 then. hope is still wiggins, i cant get off him, embiid is close, but not there yet.

          • GEAGLE

            I’m in love with so many of these kids, it will take a lot to piss me off on draft night..actually think there is a chance Vonleh stock soars to like #5-6, pushing Randle back a spot or two…
            ….
            If I can get Embiid,Exum,Wiggins,Jabari with our pick and get lucky with the Pelicans delivering the 6th, I’d look for Vonleh,Rande,Marcus Smart..but if that pelicans pick is like #12, I would want:
            1) Jerami Grant, Syracuse
            2) Dario Saric
            ..
            But my dream scenario would be drafting Embiid and trading the pelicans pick to the bucks for Giannis Antenkoumbo!!!
            ..
            I want nothing to do with UCLA Zack levin or MSU Gary Harris??they reak of great college players average NBA players

  • GEAGLE

    Cliff or someone need to break down the cap ramifications of signing say Ward! to a 45mil contract, paying him 20-30mil in the first two years of the deal

    • cliff henny

      dont see why we’d need to go that short. just front load deal some, make yrs 2-4 around 7-8m cap hit. say eagles make couple moves to clear up to 35m this year, which is reasonable, roll 10m over. even if peters gets 3yrs 21m, cooper 3yrs 15m, in ’15 off-season they have 10m under, before roll over, and thats with 5 blotted contracts of cole herrmanns ryans williams and graham-that clears 25m-so over 40m in ’15. not even getting into celek casey barwin. at that point, eagles have available in ’16 close to 60m, that’s including ward, peters cooper and 2 yrs worth of picks. certainly have some activity to decrease that some, say even 20m-but then you offset that with usual cost cutting and will go back up. eagles have plenty of room to fit and stagger deals.

      • GEAGLE

        My man…thank you kindley

  • Kev_H

    “First place schedule” doesn’t have the same meaning that it once did. It basically only effects the games against Green Bay and Carolina (compared to Tampa Bay and Arizona this year). The other 14 games are essentially the same for every other NFC East team.

  • Maggie

    Great clip. Caliendo does some great imitations. Almost missed the Clinton eye roll. ;~D

  • Coatesvillain

    Thank you Sheil for not using the phrase “first place schedule.” It make my blood boil when I see people bring that up as offering a more difficult schedule. In the pre-Texans NFL it made a difference, but now first place schedule only means you play two different teams than anyone else in division.

    • moesus

      He said it twice….

  • dislikedisqus

    The averages are distorted by the inclusion of the Texans. But the Texans aren’t going to go 2-14 again. They will probably be more like the Chiefs and rebound. Other than the Jags and Titans at home, and the ‘Skins of course, I am hard pressed to see easy wins on this schedule. The key will be whupping the division, win the Jags and Titans games at home, and then go .500 on the other half of the schedule. If they can do that, they get to 11-5 which would be admirable against that schedule.