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):
We'll continue our offseason outlook series.