Since the end of March, we’ve known each team’s opponents for the upcoming season. But on May 12 over the course of the day, the highly anticipated inaugural 17-game slate for the 2021-2022 NFL schedule was revealed.
For the Eagles, this is the first roadblock of an overdue rebuild – on just about every betting platform the Eagles are picked to finish 4th in the NFC East for this upcoming season. Parts of this team are old and decrepit, others are devoid of talent, and others are big question marks – but none of them are bigger than at the quarterback position: for the 2021-22 season, it’s all evaluating Jalen Hurts and seeing if he’s a long-term solution.
The Eagles have surrounded Hurts with a solid supporting cast with one of the deeper offensive lines in the league, a formidable backfield, and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner and first round pick, DeVonta Smith.
On paper, the road seems favorable for Philly to potentially surprise but take a closer look and there should be some cause for concern. Here’s the schedule for this upcoming season:
Let’s jump into the takeaways:
- “Easiest Schedule”
Going off of 2020 records, the Eagles have the easiest schedule for this upcoming season.
However, I highly doubt it materializes that way. There’s a few reasons the win % of this crop of teams is so low:
-Being in the NFC East, the WFT, Giants, and Cowboys make up 6 of their games and had a combined record of 19-29 (.396%) in 2020. Going into this season, you can expect this division to remain the worst in football but you can also expect some moderate improvement from Dallas getting Dak back and the Giants adding an influx of talent this past offseason.
-Philly opens up with Atlanta who landed the 4th pick in this past draft but they certainly weren’t the 4th worst team. They finished with a 4-12 record but remarkably only yielded a -19 point differential. Expect Atlanta to improve under first-year head coach Arthur Smith.
Last season, San Francisco stumbled to a 6-10 record as one of the more injury riddled teams in the NFL. But after getting healthy, Nick Bosa returning, and coming to a resolution at QB, I expect the 49ers to be a player in the NFC landscape.
Every year, I fall in love with the Chargers offseason and one of these years, they’re going to break through and actually meet expectations. Like San Fran, the Chargers were really beat up but were also just brutal in clock management situations under former head coach Anthony Lynn. If LA can stay healthy, they’ll be a really tough matchup in week 9.
- It could be a rough start
The Eagles have a gauntlet of a schedule to start the year – as we talked about above, they’ll open up with Atlanta followed by San Fran, two teams that could easily rebound followed by a date with Dallas on Monday Night Football. Over the next month, they will then play Kansas City, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Las Vegas.
Barring any major injuries, I would be surprised if the Eagles were favored in any of their first seven matchups. And to make matters worse, between weeks 3 and 6, the Eagles will play four games in a 17-day span where two of those matchups are against the NFC and AFC champions.
- Two primetime games
Personally, I’m really happy it’s only two.
The Eagles had five in 2020 and were somehow 3-2 in those outings. But even then, these were some of the worst national TV matchups the NFL had in all of 2020. The first three resulted in wins against Nick Mullens, Daniel Jones, and Ben DiNucci.
The last two were as embarrassing as they get: first came a loss against Seattle on Monday Night which ended being the last time Carson Wentz played each snap in a game for Philly – the next week he would lose his job to Jalen Hurts in Green Bay. And who could forget the controversial week 17 matchup against Washington that propelled the Football Team to a playoff berth and the Eagles to the 6th pick?
This year, the only two primetime matchups will be their week 3 matchup against Dallas which lands on a Monday night and week 6 they will take on the defending Super Bowl champs, the Buccaneers who will be coming to the Linc on a Thursday night.
- Favorable road schedule
According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Eagles are 30th in net travel miles for this upcoming season:
How Burke calculated net miles is taking the sum of the miles a team travels for a round trip minus the miles its opponents have to travel to play them. The Eagles are roughly -5000 in net miles meaning their opponents have to travel much more than them.
So, even though their 17th game ended up being an extra road game, the only two tough road trips for Philly are trips to Vegas and Denver. Everything else is manageable including trips to Carolina, Detroit, and back-to-back games in MetLife Stadium in weeks 12 and 13 against the Giants and Jets.
- Facing 0 opponents off bye weeks
According to Warren Sharp of NBC Sports, the Eagles are 1 of 11 teams that will not face any teams coming a bye week:
For a first year head coach in Nick Sirianni, they need all the advantages they can get and this is a win for the Eagles and their young coaching staff.
The NFC East is a relatively inexperienced division with three new coaches in 2020 and another new one in Sirianni in 2021.
Sirianni will face off against four other first year head coaches this season against the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, and New York Jets.
- Late bye week
The Eagles bye week fell in the last potential slot: week 14. This will be the first time in NFL history a bye week can fall as late as week 14 with the added 17th game.
A late bye can be more of a blessing than a curse – in 2020, we just saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers start off 7-5, regroup with their late week 13 bye week and manage to roll off 8 straight en route to a Super Bowl title.
Now, I won’t get that carried away – for a team that is as old as Philly in the trenches and has been hit with the injury bug like them in the past few seasons, this could be a recipe for disaster.
Time will tell if they can make this work in their favor.
- Four division games to round out the schedule
One potential saving grace of the late bye week is it could be the perfect reset button for a mini NFC east season to cap off the regular season. In their last four weeks, the Eagles will face vs. Washington, vs. New York, at Washington, and vs. Dallas.
The last time the Eagles faced four NFC East teams to finish the season was in 2019. After getting off to a slow 5-7 start, the Eagles rattled off four straight against their divisional foes and clinched a playoff berth in the last week of the regular season.
If for nothing else, there should be quite a bit of NFC East drama to end off the season.