5 Takeaways on the Eagles’ Schedule

Forget predictions, look at themes when it comes to NFL schedules
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PHILADELPHIA - Yeah, I did it on BIRDS 365 with Jody McDonald because it's an indictable offense in the radio/streaming world not to play the “dat's-a-win, dat's-a-loss game” after the release of the NFL schedule.

The 10 seconds-or-so of thought before each game on the Eagles' 2021 sked led me to an 8-9 finish for Nick Sirianni's rookie season as head coach, north of the Vegas over/under number of 6.5 and something directly tied to my belief that the talented Philadelphia offensive line will not go through another round of historic attrition.

The optimism - if you can call a below .500 record optimism - stems from the simple thought that if you can block people, you're going to be able to win some games.

My substantive thoughts on the schedule are more contextual and here they are:

THE DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY IS FRONTLOADED

The “tough part” of the Eagles schedule is clearly the first half but even that is overblown.

Admittedly, gauging the strength of schedule on 2020 records should be an outdated mode of doing things, but it is true that Philadelphia has the easiest schedule in the entire NFL by that metric and will be facing only three teams with a winning record from last season (the two Super Bowl teams and a New Orleans club in transition after Drew Brees’ retirement).

The second half of things is as “easy” as it gets with the final month being spent in the NFC East and no air travel required after a Nov. 15 trip to Denver.

If the Eagles have their heads above water, or even at sea level, coming out of a city that's a mile high, they will have a chance to make a run in the division.

NOT READY FOR PRIME TEAM

The Eagles have been a marquee team around the NFL for over two decades but there's little buzz around this version nationally with a rookie head coach and a second-year quarterback with only four career starts.

Philadelphia is only scheduled for two prime-time games and no Sunday night affairs, the main event of the week in the NFL.

More so, the Eagles' night games are tied to marquee teams - Dallas in Week 3 on Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl champion Bucs and Tom Brady on Thursday Night Football during Week 6.

In other words, the networks are pessimistic when it comes to the Eagles.

NO FREQUENT FLYER MILES NEEDED

The Eagles aren't going to be piling up frequent-flyer miles in 2021 with only six flights needed throughout the season with half of those being relatively quick and painless — to Atlanta in Week 1, a Charlotte trip to see ex-Temple coach Matt Rhule, and Detroit for a Duce Staley reunion.

Over the final two months, Philadelphia will become an I-95 corridor team with the only trips being up the Jersey Turnpike and down to the Beltway.

ROAD WARRIORS

I asked former league executive of the year, Randy Mueller, what he used to look at on schedule day this week and he mentioned "road trips," particularly back-to-back games on the East Coast when he was in Seattle.

The hope was to stack them so the Seahawks could stay in the time zone for two weeks.

The Eagles have only two road trips this season and one is back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium against the Giants and the Jets. The only other consecutive road affairs are Weeks 7 and 8 with back-to-backs at Las Vegas and Detroit.

UPSET POTENTIAL

San Francisco in Week 2 is ripe for an Eagles upset.

A healthy Niners team has significantly more talent than the Eagles at this stage but it's a west coast team coming east in an early window, the so-called body-clock game.

Also, the contest will mark the first in over a year where Lincoln Financial Field will be filled with fans.

Finally, it's early in the season meaning if the Eagles are going to be as bad as some expect they won't know it yet.

The second possibility for a big upset is the Super Bowl champs in Week 6 simply because having to travel on a short week may be the biggest scheduling disadvantage in the NFL as a whole.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.