* 3 of the Eagles’ first 4 games and 2 of their last 3 are at home.
* Just 2 of their first 8 games are against ’08 playoff teams (at Carolina in Week 1, home v. Giants in Week 8.
* A Week 17 game against the Cowboys, who should be well into their late-season swoon by then.
* A potentially perilous middle-of-the-schedule stretch that has them playing 6 of 9 games on the road, including 3 separate back-to-back road swings.
* Back-to-back pre-Thanksgiving road faceoffs against the Chargers’ Phillip Rivers and the Bears Jay Cutler, who combined for 59 touchdown passes last season.
* A much-too-early Week 4 bye.
Playing the W & L game right now really is useless, since rosters still are under construction and training camps don’t open for another 3-plus months. But I’ve been told by my bosses that nothing is too useless to put in a blog. So, without further ado, here’s how I see the Eagles’ 2009 week-by-week journey right here, right now:
Week 1, at Carolina: Win. Panthers’ grind-it-out style of offense doesn’t match up well against the Eagles. They need to be able to run the ball to win. You saw what happened in the playoffs when Jake Delhomme had to throw the ball a lot. The Eagles’ defense has developed into one of the league’s top run-stopping units.
Week 2, vs. New Orleans: Win. If the Eagles don’t get pressure on Drew Brees, he could pick them apart. But the Saints, 8-8 a year ago, didn’t really add any difference-makers in free agency and have just one selection in the first 115 picks in the draft next week. I don’t see them beating the Eagles at the Linc this early in the race.
Week 3, vs. Kansas City: Win. The Chiefs will be improved this season thanks to the development of last year’s draft class, the addition of Matt Cassel and having the third pick in next week’s draft. But they won’t be improved enough to beat the Eagles on the road. Eagles have done poorly under Andy Reid prior to the bye week, but this one comes so early in the season that it shouldn’t be a factor.
Week 5 vs. Tampa Bay: Win. The Bucs’ ground game should be better with the addition of ex-Giant Derrick Ward, but the Eagles never have lost under Andy Reid the week after the bye, and I don’t see Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown or Brian Griese or whoever the hell is going to be the Bucs’ starting quarterback changing that.
Week 6 at Oakland: Loss. I had a dream about this game. JaMarcus Russell gets knocked out of the game early in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Jeff Garcia replaces him and throws 3 second-half touchdown passes to bring the Raiders from behind. WIP’s phone lines light up like a Christmas tree the next morning as fans once again second-guess the Eagles’ decision to let Garcia go 3 years ago.
Week 7 at Washington: Loss. The Eagles rushed for a grand total of 120 yards in 2 games against the Redskins last season. And that was before they signed Albert Haynesworth. Eagles’ prime-time struggles continue as they drop to 4-2.
Week 8 vs. Giants: Loss. It should be illegal to have as many good defensive linemen as the Giants have. And the likely addition of Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin will more than make up for the departure of Plaxico Burress.
Week 9 vs. Cowboys: Win. Eagles’ secondary should be able to handle the Cowboys’ T.O.-less receiving corps and Donovan McNabb should be able to throw the ball against a their below-average secondary.
Week 10 at San Diego: Loss. Jim Johnson is very good at shutting down star running backs, but that could leave the door open for Phillip Rivers to have a big day. Another long plane ride home from the coast as the Eagles fall to 5-4.
Week 11 at Chicago: Win. I know the Eagles have lost their last 2 games to the Bears. I know this is another prime-timer. And I know that will be Jay Cutler behind center, not Kyle Orton or Brian Griese. But I think this game will be where the Eagles start to get their second-half act together.
Week 12 vs. Washington: Win. Eagles lost twice to the Redskins last year. I just can’t see that happening again.
Week 13 at Atlanta: Win. The Falcons are one of those surprise ’08 teams that I think isn’t going to be nearly as good in ’09.
Week 14 at Giants: Loss. This one could decide the NFC East. Every time I think the Eagles will win this game, I see Justin Tuck and Rocky Bernard barreling through the `A’ gaps, decking McNabb and forcing a game-deciding fumble.
Week 15 vs. San Francisco: Win. There’s never a bad time to play the 49ers at home. But this is a really good time.
Week 16 vs. Denver: Win. Brian Dawkins would like nothing better than to return to the Linc and beat his former team. But unless the Broncos push all the right buttons in next week’s draft, they’re probably not going to win more than 7 games this season, and this won’t be one of them.
Week 17 at Dallas: Win. See Week 9.
So, I’ve got them going 11-5. If they end up with Boldin or Edwards instead of the Giants, you can probably give them one of those Giants games, as well as the NFC East title. If they don’t, they’ll have to settle for a wild card berth again. But that didn’t work out so badly last year.
OK, now start telling me what a moron I am.
To read our earlier post about some of the potential draft picks visiting the Eagles, click here.