The Eagles will go into the 2018 NFL season as reigning Super Bowl champions. That makes them the most wanted team through every game on their schedule.
It will be tough for Philadelphia to make the NFC playoffs, let alone win the conference again, given their closest competition has reloaded to take aim. The Eagles do, however, benefit from a rather favorable schedule. Looking at last year’s records, their opponents combined to go 122-134. That’s tied for 13th “easiest” in the NFL.
Here’s breaking down how good things look for the Eagles’ quest to repeat based on all the games they will play in 2018.
Eagles schedule 2018
|Date||Opponent||Kickoff time||TV network|
|Sept. 6||vs Atlanta Falcons||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Sept. 16||vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 23||vs Indianapolis Colts||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Sept. 30||vs Tennessee Titans||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 7||vs Minnesota Vikings||4:25 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 11||vs New York Giants||8:20 p.m.||(FOX/NFLN)|
|Oct. 21||vs Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 28||vs Jacksonville Jaguars (London)||9:30 a.m.||(NFLN)|
|Nov. 11||vs Dallas Cowboys||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Nov. 18||vs New Orleans Saints||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 25||vs New York Giants||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 3||vs Washington Redskins||8:15 p.m.||(ESPN)|
|Dec. 9||vs Dallas Cowboys||4:25 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Dec. 16||vs Los Angeles Rams||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Dec. 23||vs Houston Texans||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Dec. 30||vs Washington Redskins||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
Philly’s schedule won’t be easy. While the Eagles are tied in 19th for the hardest 2018 schedule based on 2017 records, per John Breech of CBSSports.com, that doesn’t account for the fact that many of the teams on their slate should be improved in 2018.
In the NFC East, for instance, the Dallas Cowboys won’t be missing Ezekiel Elliott for a quarter of the season, and the New York Giants likely won’t see the majority of the depth chart at wide receiver lost for the season to injury.
The Eagles have to play the loaded NFC South, which had three playoff teams in 2017 and a fourth in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that isn’t exactly devoid of talent. Winning the division means matchups against the aforementioned Rams and Vikings, with the former loading up on defense this past season (welcome to Los Angeles, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh) and the Vikings adding Kirk Cousins.
And matchups against the AFC South won’t exactly be a walk in the park, either. The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the most talented young teams in football. The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts will get back Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck, respectively. The Tennessee Titans are fresh off a postseason appearance.
As always, the matchups against the NFC East should be knock-down, drag-out affairs. Three of the Eagles’ six games last year against NFC East opponents were decided by six points or fewer, and a fourth would have been were it not for Fletcher Cox’s defensive touchdown with just over a minute remaining in a 30-17 season-opening win over Washington.
The Eagles should be heavy favorites to win the NFC East again, but that doesn’t matter. NFC East games are almost always tight, and all three teams have talent. Yes, Washington will be adjusting to life with Alex Smith, the Giants were a disaster in 2017 and Dak Prescott appeared to take a step back last season.
On the other hand, both the Giants and Cowboys were playoff teams in 2016, and much of the talent from those teams is still in place. A full season of Elliott will be huge for Dallas. A full season of Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall will be huge for the Giants (as will the signing of left tackle Nate Solder and the trade for linebacker Alec Ogletree). A full season of Jordan Reed would be huge for Washington if it ever happens.
The NFC East is not the class of the NFL as divisions go. That title probably belongs to the NFC South based on last season. But the Eagles will find no gimmes in their six divisional games, either, as the Cowboys should threaten for a playoff berth and the Giants are a sneaky pick to be 2018’s most improved squad.
Toughest tests: The Eagles have to face four playoff teams on the road, including the fellow division-winning Rams, Saints and Jaguars. The NFC East might seem down, but it’s always trickier than it appears. Philadelphia came through in many of its close, tough games last season. It will need to do the same to come close to 13-3 in 2018.
Biggest breaks: The Eagles will be favored in every home game, and they draw the rematch of the NFC championship against the Vikings there, too. Getting the Giants and Redskins twice each is a nice built-in divisional advantage. The Eagles also are a much better team than the Colts or Buccaneers.
Bottom line: Philadelphia will have a less comfortable cushion, but it should finish ahead of Dallas in the NFC East again. The Eagles have not lost too much key personnel, and their coaching and experience remains strong to combat the raised stakes. They’ll be in the fight for a No. 1 seed in a top-heavy conference. Record prediction: 11-5