PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 21: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after defeating the Washington Football Team at Lincoln Financial Field on December 21, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

By Dylan MacKinnon

It really is amazing the grip the NFL has on the sports world in America. Everything they do takes over the narrative. What other league could consume the national sports talk scene by releasing their schedule? The NBA and NHL are in their playoffs, the MLB is a month into its season. The NFL has 0 games being played right now. And yet they captured a large amount of the media attention this week. All they had to do was announce games that won’t be played for another 4 months. Even with everything else going on, we have been talking about the Eagles’ Schedule the past couple of days.

I have to say, as annoying as it is, they are quite smart to let it leak over a day. It kept people talking about it, as opposed to one dump. Even here in Philly, the leaks kept it in the conversation all day. The Sixers were getting ready to play an elimination game, and the Eagles still got a share of the conversation across Twitter and here on the Fanatic.

But now that we do know the full schedule, what can it tell us about the Eagles’ Upcoming season? I am not talking about win-loss predictions. Those are a fun exercise, but like mock drafts are mostly pointless. But there are basic facts about the schedule that could help, or hurt the team. How many times do the Eagles have to play a team coming off extended rest? How often do they get an advantage with rest? What kinds of road trips do they have to take? Let’s take a look at 5 numbers that tell the story about the Eagles’ upcoming schedule.

.464

The Eagles’ Strength of Schedule, based on their opponent’s record in 2021, is .464. It is the 3rd easiest on paper schedule in the league, behind the Commanders (lol) and the Cowboys. The Giants are just behind the Eagles. Basically, each NFC East team gets an easy strength of Schedule because not only do they get to play each other, but they get to play the AFC South. They also all play the NFC North. Meaning the Eagles will get to play all 4 of the teams with the worst records last year, plus the Bears who had the 7th worst record.

The question becomes, does this mean anything? Six of the teams with one of the 10 worst records last year, also had one of the 10 worst records in 2020. The Giants just missed the cut in 2020 with the 11th worst record. Four of those teams were still there in 2019. The Jaguars and Lions, in particular, have been perennial losers.

But you do see jumps. I mean just look at the Eagles. They went from the 5th worst record in 2020, to a playoff team. Granted they were a playoff team at 9-8, but it was still a 5-win improvement. The Eagles were one of those teams last year when the schedule came out people were marking it as wins, but for 9 teams it did not go that way. So it is important to note that teams may not be as bad, or good for that matter, as they were last year. But the Eagle’s Schedule, at least on paper, seems easier than most.

12

Staying on the topic of Strength of Schedule, there were 12 teams last year that had at least a 3 win swing between 2020 and 2021. There were 4 teams with at least a 5 game swing. It is worth noting, that all 4 of those teams had a change at QB. Dallas and Cincinnati both saw injured QBs return to the field, explaining why they each had 6 more wins. The Eagles not only went with Jalen Hurts instead of Carson Wentz, but also had a change of head coach.  And Seattle had 5 fewer wins, but that comes with Russel Wilson dealing with an injury and missing time. 5 of the other 12 teams also saw changes at QB, either by injuries or in the draft like with New England. Additionally, there was Arizona, who kept the same QB but saw Kyler Murray improve on the field.

So what does this say for the Eagle’s Schedule this year? Well if QBs are the position that most often causes big swings in win/loss total, there are a few teams to note. Washington now has Carson Wentz at QB instead of Taylor Heinicke. However, the Colts actually had a dip in win-loss total last year with Wentz under center. While that is not all on Wentz, it isn’t not his fault. Speaking of the Colts, the Eagles play them too. They replaced Wentz with Matt Ryan. The Giants missed Daniel Jones in several games last year, but unless he takes a jump his return is unlikely to have the swing the returns of Dak Prescott and Joe Burrow had. The Saints will have Jameis Winston back, which will certainly be an improvement over what they put out there in his stead.

They also play the Jaguars, who have the same QB in Trevor Lawrence, but he could certainly be improved with one season under his belt. This also removed the incompetent Urban Meyer from the equation. It is also safe to assume Justin Fields will improve in his second year. The Steelers swapped out Big Ben for Mitch Trubisky and drafted Kenny Pickett. But it feels unlikely either of them is good enough this year to drastically change the Steelers’ win outlook.

4

The Eagles have to play 4 of their 8 road games coming off short rest. They play Washington on the road in week 3 coming off Monday Night Football, 1 day less of rest. They play Houston in Week 8 on Thursday night. Later in week 1, they play in Indy coming off MNF again. And then in Week 16, they play a Saturday game in Dallas on Christmas Eve. 4 road games off of short rest is the most of any team in the NFL. 7 teams play 0 games on the road on short rest and 14 teams who have only 1 game like that.

The good news is only 1 of those 4 games is coming off a road game. The one example would be the Cowboys game on Dec 24th. They travel there on short rest after playing in Chicago. In fact, that will be their 3rd road game in a row, as they play in New Jersey vs the Giants the week before that. it may also be worth mentioning the Bears are coming off their bye week in that game vs the Eagles.

Logistically that will be a tough stretch. Luckily it comes vs teams not expected to be great in the Bears and Giants. The Cowboys will likely be one of the better teams though. But still, the Eagles find themselves short-changed by the Schedule Makers once again. This year it’s the surplus of short rest road games. Last year it was the NFL handing them 4 games in 17 days.

0

Thankfully, the Eagles’ Schedule has 0 games in the Pacific Time Zone this year. They also have just 1 game in Mountain Time Zone. The furthest west they have to travel is Arizona. Other than that game, they spend all their time in either the Eastern or Central Time Zone. It seems like a small thing, but anyone who has traveled can tell you it makes a difference. Not just because it means shorter flights, but the adjustment, especially returning home, of a 3-hour difference in time is real.

Last year they had two games in the Mountain Time Zone. In Las Vegas, and in Denver. Granted, they won the following game in each of those instances. They beat the Lions on the road following the loss in Vegas, though they did lose the next week in their first game back at home. And then they followed up the win in Denver, with a win at home vs the Saints. Overall they were 4-5 coming off road trips. Though I would not read too much into that. Some of their toughest games last year were off-road trips. They face the Chiefs, Buccaneers, 49ers, Chargers, and Cowboys following road games.

5

There are 5 games this year on the Eagles’ Schedule where their opponent has at least one extra game of rest than them. The Eagles have just 2 games with a rest advantage. Only 3 teams have a worse disparity than this. One of those 5 games is when they play the Bears coming off their Bye Week. They also play the Cowboys on Saturday, but since both teams will have one less day of rest in that game it evens out.

Part of this disparity is that they play two Monday Night Football games this year. While it is nice to have the Eagles on National TV, it does put them at a slight disadvantage the following week. The Eagles are 3-7 after their last 10 MNF games. However, I again caution against weighting that stat too heavily. Some tough games drug the record down, and a couple of bad seasons. Last season they played the Chiefs coming off MNF, and lost. This year they play the Commanders (lol) and the Colts coming off their MNF games.

It is also worth noting that the Cowboys were graced with 5 games this season where they get an advantage in rest and only 2 games where they are at a disadvantage. Somehow the Schedule always seems to have these little quirks that help them out.