This summer, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be reviewing each NFL team’s schedule and grading their hardest games to their easiest games. The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the toughest schedules in all of the NFL next season for a variety of reasons. Their schedule has been broken down into their eight hardest games (1 – 8) and their eight easiest games (9 – 16). This article will be examining the Eagles toughest games in 2017.
Philadelphia Eagles Most Difficult Games in 2017
Week 13 at Seahawks
This primetime, NBC Sunday Night Football will be a rematch between the two teams. The Eagles traveled to Seattle last season and were wiped away 26-15 in front of a raucous CenturyLink Field crowd. Everyone can agree that Seattle is easily the hardest or second hardest field to play at for a visiting team in the NFL. The Hawks play at one of the loudest stadiums in the league and shower one of the best defenses in recent years in the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will do their best to eliminate the Eagles passing game and their pass rush with Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bobby Wagner should give Carson Wentz fits.
The Seahawks wide receivers were significantly underrated last season, especially Doug Baldwin who became Russell Wilson’s top target. Expect Wilson and the Seahawks receivers to carve up the very thin Eagles cornerbacks. The game may come down to how well the Eagles offensive line allows LeGarrette Blount to run. This is a late season, December west coast road trip for Philly against the reigning NFC West champs so it rightfully deserves the spot as the hardest game in 2017.
Week 2 at Chiefs
If Seattle isn’t the hardest venue to play in as an away team, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium certainly is. The decibel level in there can completely drown out an opposing team’s communications and play making. The Chiefs defense was stout all season last year, led by one of the best secondaries in the league that features Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry. Then rookie Tyreek Hill wreaked havoc on special teams and offense last season, with six receiving, three rushing and three return touchdowns. Alex Smith is one of the game’s best game managers and rarely makes crucial mistakes. To beat the Chiefs and former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, the Birds must play just as balanced of a game as the Chiefs will in one of the hardest stadiums in the NFL.
Week 15 as Giants
The Eagles nearly won at MetLife Stadium last season but didn’t finish on top. This upcoming season may not be so close for the Birds. The Giants only got better this off-season, capped off by the acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall joins Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and new rookie first round tight end Evan Engram to make one of the NFL’s most potent and dangerous pass attacks. Their defense was one of the best in the NFC, ranking tenth overall in the NFL. Their pass rush up front led by Damon Harrison and Jason Pierre-Paul will stifle Wentz and their talented secondary will cause problems through the air. The Eagles have won December games at MetLife in recent years, but this Giants defense this season is the best in the division and make life hard for Philly.
Week 16 vs Raiders
The Raiders, coming off a 12-4 2016 campaign, may be the most complete team in the NFL with some MVP caliber players on offense and defense. Their potent offense includes Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr, Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper and the new addition of bruising running back Marshawn Lynch who is fresh off retirement. Defensively, 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack can singlehandedly destroy an offense. With Philadelphia so thin at cornerback and secondary, the Raiders and Carr will have a prime opportunity to throw on the Eagles and set up a strong run game. This may be the most anticipated game of the regular season for Philly since it is played on Monday Night Football on Christmas Day. Oakland’s long travel to the east coast in frigid weather should benefit the Birds, but it may not be enough to overcome the talented Raiders.
Week 11 at Cowboys
The Cowboys jumped onto the scene last season with rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott and won the NFC East with an NFC best 13-3 record. Elliott led the league in rushing yards and overall the Cowboys held the second best running attack in the NFL. Prescott won the Rookie of the Year award as the starting quarterback and the two of them led one of the NFL’s top offenses. What most people don’t realize is they had the best run defense in the league, in terms of rushing yards allowed per game and total yards allowed. Philadelphia lost here last season in overtime on a Jason Witten overtime touchdown and a late season trip to “Jerry’s World” doesn’t bode well for the Birds. If Zeke and the Cowboys top rated offensive line doesn’t beat the Eagles, wide receiver Dez Bryant may feast on the young Eagles cornerbacks. It’s pick your poison against Dallas and Carson Wentz and the offense must keep up the scoring with Dallas to have a chance.
Week 4 at Chargers
On the surface, this should seem like a relatively easy game for the Eagles. There are much more factors at play to make this game quite difficult though. Last season, the 4-12 Chargers boasted the eighth best passing offense in the league. Their rushing was significantly improved, thanks to the breakout performance of Melvin Gordon in his sophomore campaign. That offense only got better, drafting wideout Mike Williams with the number seven pick in this year’s draft. They then took guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney, who both could be day one starters on the line. That means Philip Rivers should have more time to pass with a brand-new weapon on the outside and Gordon can only get better from his stellar 2016 season. This is the first west coast trip for the Eagles of the season but with the Chargers now at a fresh location in Los Angeles, this matchup could be surprisingly difficult.
Week 1 at Redskins
If you didn’t know, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost at Washington the past three seasons and have not won there since Chip Kelly’s first game coached in Philly. The Redskins still have Kirk Cousins at quarterback who has torched the Eagles since he became a starter. The wide receivers improved, with ex-Brown Terrelle Pryor joining the team in free agency to replace the departed DeSean Jackson and second year man Josh Doctson ready for an expanded role. What the Eagles have going for them is that it is Week One when they will be the freshest of all season. The weather should be warm and Washington still doesn’t have a solid running back situation. Unfortunately, history has shown recently that Washington isn’t a kind city for the Eagles to play in.
Week 6 at Panthers
How did a team with a 6-10 record crack the top eight hardest games next year for the Eagles? Well to start, the quarterback they will face is Cam Newton. After a down 2016, all signs point for Cam to have a bounce back season and play like his former MVP self when he led Carolina to the Super Bowl. They also added productive running back Christian McCaffrey in the draft to bolster their tenth best running attack from last year. Carolina is not a place the Eagles have won at recently either, last losing there in 2015. The plan should be simple for Philly in this matchup: contain Newton. We can all agree that’s much easier said than done. Hopefully, the Panthers defense struggles again like it did most of last season and the offense should thrive.
Be sure to check out the eight easiest games on the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles schedule.