A lot of times, breaking down a schedule 2 months before it really starts is at best inaccurate, and at worst, considered to be click bait. But this one will be a little different. Rather than going over just basic information and giving score predictions, I’ll be going in depth to look at stats, matchups, advantages and disadvantages for each team, and finally giving score predictions.
Week One: Philadelphia Eagles vs Cleveland Browns (3-13 in 2015)
The Eagles are starting the 2016 season on a high note. A dismal (but unsurprising) 2015 season has once again labelled the Browns as one of the worst teams in the NFL. Hoping for a turn around, the Browns hired Hue Jackson to be their head coach, a huge step up from any of their several coaches over the past few years. They also signed our old friend RG3, who is expected to start. All that aside, the main issue the Browns have is simply a lack of talent. They averaged only 17.4 points per game, which ranked 30th in the league. Paired with their average of 331.9 YDS/G (25th), just 29 sacks (28th), and 11 interceptions (21st) its easy to see that the Browns struggle both offensively and defensively. Joe Haden and Joe Thomas are probably their best players, and while both players are some of the best in the league at their respective positions, the team in general struggles to make plays.
Nelson Agholor vs Joe Haden – Haden wont necessarily match up against Agholor, but it’s a safe bet. This battle goes to Haden though, as he is often considered one of the top corner’s in the league. Agholor’s inexperience and the fact that the Browns should struggle to match up against both Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz means that Agholor probably wont see the ball to often in week one.
Eagles CB 1 (Leodis McKelvin?) vs Corey Coleman – The Browns top receiver Travis Benjamin left in the free agency, so the Browns drafted Coleman as a hopeful replacement. Coleman was considered one of the drafts top receiver’s skill wise, but he’s extremely raw and unlikely to put up any big numbers against the Eagles tough secondary. Assuming he does match up against McKelvin, McKelvin wins this one.
Eagles D-line vs Browns O-line – This one isn’t even really close. With the exception of All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas, the Browns O-line is very weak. I expect to Eagles to rack up 2-3 sacks in week one alone.
Prediction: The Eagles should dominate the Browns at home, and start the season off on the right foot, winning 35-10. The Eagles defensive will torment presumed starter RG3, racking up 3 sacks and an interception. Eagles fans hopes will sky rocket, but this game isn’t really indicative of the rest of the Eagles season. Still, and win is a win, and the Eagles start off 2016 1-0.
Week Two: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (6-10 in 2015)
This should be a good game. The Bears have struggles in recent years, but John Fox has them on the rise again. Jay Cutler is a talented but unassuming QB, with top receiver Ashlon Jeffery to throw too. They finished 21st in the NFL in yards per game last season at 344.6, and only had 20.9 PTS/G (23rd). They also rank 30th and 22 in interceptions and sacks respectively. Despite these bad stats, the Bears promise to be a good matchup for the Eagles. Their 1st round pick Leonard Floyd is a talented player who will cause problems on passing plays , and as mentioned earlier, Ashlon Jeffrey is a very talented player. John Fox is also a very capable coach, so don’t expect an easy game here.
Leodis McKelvin vs Ashlon Jeffrey – Again assuming that McKelvin is the top corner for the Eagles, this is one of the most important matchups of the game. If the Eagles can shut down Jeffrey, the bears offense will have few other options, and will struggle heavily. But Jeffrey’s extremely talented, and I have my concerns about McKelvin’s ability to keep up with him. Jeffrey wins this round.
Bears O-line vs Eagles D-line – This will be a common key match up. Even though I wouldn’t consider the Eagles corner back unit to be a a weakness anymore, it certainly isn’t a strength, and the Eagles front four will need to consistently create pressure on Jay Cutler in order for the corner back unit to not be overrun. In my opinion, the Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in football, and there are few offensive lines who I would think would win this matchup. They take this one as well.
Prediction: The Eagles defense will struggle more against the Bears than they did the Browns, but I still think they’re the better overall team. They win this one over a team that averaged just 20.9 points per game in 2015. Eagles win 21-17 and start 2-0.
Week Three: Philadelphia Eagles vs Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6 in 2015)
The battle of Pennsylvania teams probably won’t leave many Eagles fans happy. The Steelers are a very good team across the board, and should be able to take advantage of the many strengths they hold over the Eagles. The Steelers ranked in the top five in total yards, YDS/G, total passing yards, P YDS/G, total points, and PTS/G. Ya, their offense is stacked. And while their run game struggles last year, a healthy and non-suspended Le’Veon Bell will make sure that doesn’t happen again. What’s more, their defense is also very good, ranking within the top 10 in totalt tackles, sacks, and interceptions. They have very few holes to exploit, and a healthy Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell will wreck havoc against pretty much any team they face, Eagles included.
Antonio Brown vs Eagles secondary – If the Eagles want to have any chance of winning this game, they need to slow down Brown. And that will not just take one player, but they entire secondary. Brown was hands down the best receiver in the league last season, and I have my doubts as to if the Eagles can even reasonably slow him down. He takes this matchup by a long shot.
Eagles receiving core vs Steelers secondary – If the Eagles are going to win this game, they can’t rely on just the defense, the offense has to come out to play as well. I think Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews are looking at good matchups here, but for the Eagles to stay in it, Nelson Agholor will need to have a big game, and that’s a big if.
Eagles O-line vs Steelers D-line – The matchup is flipped here, because like I said, the Eagles offense needs to come to play. If the O-line can’t buy Bradford enough time to make good throws, this game will be over before it even starts. I like what the Eagles did this offseason to bolster their offensive line, and ultimately, they game will probably be won or lost in the trenches (but when is it not?).
Prediction: While the Eagles will probably hold up better than many would expect, the Steelers hand them their first loss of the season, 42-31. They’ll have a lot to work on heading into their very early bye week.
Week Five: Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (7-9 in 2015)
I’m sure all Eagles fans still have nightmares about the absolute pounding the Lions gave the Eagles on Thanksgiving in 2015. Or more specifically, that Megatron gave the Eagles. But Calvin Johnson is now retired, and as sad as it is to see him go, it gives the Eagles a much better chance of winning this game. With Golden Tate now the go to guy on offense, this promises to be another good game. The Eagles actually hold a lot of advantages over the Lions. Mainly, the Eagles will need to create consist pressure on Matt Stafford, and minimize Golden Tate’s usefulness to win this one. Detroit’s main strength is their defensive line, who ranked in the top 10 (usually around 7) when it comes to getting after the QB. A less than stellar run game, secondary, and the fact that their best player (arguably) retired this offseason means the Eagles stand a good chance of winning this one.
Golden Tate vs Eagles secondary – It’s fair to say that the lions don’t have a ton of big time weapons on the offensive side of the ball except for Golden Tate, and stopping him would be the Lions offense would slow considerably. Still though, he is very talented, and I think the Eagles will have to throw a variety of different players at him to confuse him and mess up his game.
Eagles O-line vs Lions D-line – Once again, we’re back to the trenches. The Eagles could have a field day against a weak Lions secondary, but only if the offensive line does their job. If they can buy Bradford the time to make goof throws, the Eagles will all but have this one in the bag.
Prediction: The Lions will take on the Eagles after facing two NFC North rivals, the Packer and the Bears. Meanwhile, the Eagles are coming of a bye week. The Eagles should be able to win this game. They hold the advantage in matchups all across the field, and will be eager for revenge from last years’ matchup. More importantly, this game will be a good way to judge if the Eagles can consistently beat teams that are middle of the pack (Bears, Lions, etc…). Eagles find victory number 3 in Detroit, winning 20-13, to advance t0 3-1.
That’s right. I have the Eagles starting 3-1 n their first four game. Which is probably pretty bold considering many people are predicting they’ll only win 4-5 games in total next season. But I think the Eagles are vastly underrated. An already good defense has the chance to get much better, and the offense, while not great by any means, but up decent numbers last season and should be able to do so again this season. What will be the determining factor in whether or not the Eagles succeed in 2016 will be ability to stay healthy (always important), and Doug Pederson’s ability to competently coach. Both are pretty big if’s, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles surpass most people’s expectations for the team.