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The Good, Bad and Ugly of the 2020 Eagles' Schedule

The slate features some difficult games against some heavyweights from a season ago

If you’re being honest the NFL schedule release is probably one of the more overblown things in sports, a three-hour television vehicle built on logistics.

After all, fans already knew the opponents for their favorite teams before Thursday night and the actual release is about locking down dates, perhaps an important detail to those planning to travel but not all that meaningful in any other fashion especially in the age of COVID-19 which makes any vacation plan tentative at best.

For the April, and now May, “that’s a win, that’s a loss crowd,” they are already unfamiliar with one of the NFL’s more famous cliches: “it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them.”

For instance, the Eagles matchup against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 18 doesn’t look quite as daunting if league MVP Lamar Jackson is out with a balky ankle. 

Maybe a better example was Week 16 last season when Dallas arrived to play the Eagles in the de facto NFC East title game. History said Philadelphia had never beaten the Cowboys with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott but the variable not accounted for was Prescott with an AC Joint sprain and two painkiller injections.

Early speculation on contingency plans from the NFL centered on getting less-meaningful non-conference games out of the picture early in case the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the start of the season back and turned a planned 16-game schedule into a 12- or even a 10-game version.

That was blown out of the water early putting the Eagles at FedEx Field during Week 1 to face off against NFC East-rival Washington and old friend Ron Rivera, the Redskins’ new head coach who got his first positional-coaching gig under Andy Reid with the Eagles’ from 1999-2003.

Outside of the division, the Eagles' 2020 schedule features some difficult games against some heavyweights from a season ago, including another trip to Green Bay on Dec. 6.

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The good news for Philadelphia fans is the list of quarterbacks who will have to visit Lincoln Financial Field in 2020: players like Jackson, noted Eagles’ killer Russell Wilson, future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, and No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2020 season:

TALLEST TASK: Anyone on Green Bay’s schedule would prefer September over December and the Eagles drew Dec. 6 so now the hope turns toward the weatherman and whether (pun intended) he’s got good news or bad. The frozen tundra might be on the bucket list of many fans, but players want a balmier environment.

THANK YOU: Give the schedule-makers a handwritten thank you note for starting the Eagles off against the Redskins on the road. That's a nice little gift from a timing standpoint. Rivera figures to be a big upgrade as the head coach but that will be his first game after a limited offseason with a very inexperienced second-year QB in Dwayne Haskins. By the time the Eagles see Washington the second time - Week 17 on Jan. 3 of 2021 - the ‘Skins might be a more difficult task.

LOGICAL LOSS: Week 4 against the reigning NFC champions in Santa Clara is unlikely to feature a positive outcome although “Sunday Night Football” will help a bit when it comes to getting the body clocks up to speed right before kickoff.

RING IT UP:  Burrow might end up being a superstar in this league but Week 3 in Lincoln Financial Field against Jim Schwartz-level looks isn’t going to go well for a rookie QB with limited offseason work.

FIRST-PLACE BLUES: The toughest part for any division champion is the first-place schedule and the Eagles have five teams on the docket which made the postseason in 2019, and that doesn’t include Pittsburgh, which is getting Ben Roethlisberger back from injury, the L.A. Rams, who were the NFC champions after the 2018 season, and the arch-rival Cowboys.

John McMullen covers the Eagles for SI.com and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every day on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, Every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio, and every weekday on ESPN 97.3 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen