Eagles Schedule Crystal Ball: How The Birds Can Make the 2016 Playoffs
The purpose of this column is to find a way for the Philadelphia Eagles to win their division and get into the NFL playoffs.
It is a daunting task, this being the team’s first year under new head coach Doug Pederson and facing a just-released schedule that if not directly from hell, originates just down the street from the fiery inferno.
The entire success of the 2016 Eagles depends on a couple of trouble spots: the second game of the season at the Chicago Bears, and a treacherous spot of three games in a row later in the season against Seattle, Green Bay and Cincinnati. It is those spots that will determine whether the Eagles finish 8-8 or even 9-7. Both records might be enough to win a lousy NFC East. (And I don’t want to hear from Dallas fans about how the Cowboys are the team to beat this year because they have Tony Romo back. If the Cowboys were that good, they might have won one game without Romo last year). Truth is, everybody in the NFC East is pretty much the same, and it may take a tie-breaker to determine the winner between several teams with mediocre records.
Of course, the only true way to determine the final record is to examine the schedule game by game. I’m not breaking any new ground here, since every Eagle fan has done this at their cubicle.
So without further ado:
Eagles vs. Browns (Game 1). If the Birds can’t win this game against one of the league’s also-rans, it’s going to be a long season. I’d love for the Browns to open the season here with Carson Wentz as their quarterback so the I-AA product from North Dakota State can see this is a big boys league and he’s not facing off against South Dakota A&T, or some such. Win. (1-0).
Eagles at Bears (Game 2). A tremendously key game that will shape the final record. A must-win for the Eagles. If they get off 2-0, they can allow for some later season losses. Win. (2-0).
Eagles vs. Steelers (Game 3). Uhhh, don’t think so. Loss (2-1).
BYE (A mite too early for a bye since no one is tired yet. But, it will give them a lot of preparation for the next game).
Eagles at Lions (Game 4). Revenge for the Birds from last year’s game, where Chip Kelly took the first crack in his armor (blubber?). Win. (3-1).
Eagles at Redskins (Game 5). Second straight road game and this one against the defending division winners. I always think these division games are a split anyway, so … Loss. (3-2).
Eagles vs. Vikings (Game 6). Vikings are a good team. But this is another must-win at home for the Eagles. They contain Adrian Pederson. Win. (4-2).
Eagles at Cowboys (Game 7). Splitsville. Romo wins. Loss. (4-3).
Eagles at Giants (Game 8). Taking a shot here, but I have win. Birds could sweep the Giants. I like this as a W after coming off a Dallas loss. (5-3).
Eagles vs. Falcons (Game 9). Falcons stink, and I love Matt Ryan. Win (6-3).
Eagles at Seahawks (Game 10). Loss. Do I need a reason? (6-4).
Eagles vs. Packers (Game 11). Not seeing an upset here. Loss. (6-5).
Eagles at Bengals (Game 12). Yikes. Loss (6-6).
Eagles vs. Redskins (Game 13). Birds recover after three straight losses. Get a split. Win. (7-6).
Eagles at Ravens (Game 14). This game could go either way. But this late in the season, I’m assuming the Ravens might be in a playoff run. And it’s a home game for them. Loss. (7-7).
Eagles vs. Giants (Game 15). Earlier I said the Birds could sweep the Giants. I hate the Giants. So I’m sticking to my guns. Win. (8-7).
Eagles vs. Cowboys (Game 16). The power of splitting with division opponents give the Eagles a win at home, which gets them in the playoffs! (Final record, 9-7).
(A note to my editors at Phillymag.com: If the above doesn’t come true, please delete this blog forever.)