The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off of one of their most perplexing seasons in recent memory. Finishing the season with a 9-7 record, head coach Doug Pederson‘s team was able to escape into the playoffs after having a number of significant players miss time due to injury. Philadelphia had their season ended by the Seattle Seahawks in a 17-9 loss that felt indicative of how the season went. Quarterback Carson Wentz was knocked out of the game in the first quarter and the Eagles failed to generate any offense because of it. Wentz’s injury was just another on the list of players that finished the year hurt. Each of Brandon Brooks, Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Malik Jackson, and Ronald Darby all finished the year on injured reserve as well.
Now entering 2020, the Eagles are looking to retain their NFC East crown. However, they are fighting an uphill battle with one of the more challenging schedules, for a contending team. Their scheduled opponents had just a .486 winning percentage in 2019 but most have made significant roster upgrades over the off-season. General manager Howie Roseman has made his own upgrades to perhaps the team’s two most necessary positions: wide receiver, and cornerback. The additions of Marquise Goodwin and Jalen Reagor give the receiver corps a ton of speed while the acquisition of Darius Slay should be the shutdown corner Jim Schwartz has been looking to add. Slay is maybe the most talented corner the Eagles have rostered since maybe Asante Samuel.
These are the Philadelphia Eagles most difficult games of 2020.
Philadelphia Eagles Most Difficult Games in 2020
1. Week 15: at Dallas Cowboys
While the NFC East will not officially be decided when the Cowboys and Eagles meet in Week 15, there’s a good chance that this is looked at the most critical juncture of the season for both squads. Since 2013, when the division had not been clinched prior to their final meeting, the winner of the last Eagles vs. Cowboys game of the season has claimed the division four of the past five times. Only one of the contests. The NFC East formed in 2002 and there has only been one repeat winner in its history — the Eagles from 2002-2004. If Philadelphia wants to repeat that feat for the first time in 16 years, they will likely need to beat their rivals in their last regular-season clash of 2020. An NFC East team has only made the playoffs twice as a Wild Card over the past decade.
2. Week 4: at San Francisco 49ers
The Philadelphia Eagles first primetime game of the season is maybe their toughest game of the year. Their last matchup wasn’t a fair indicator of how these two teams will compare in 2020 either. The Super Bowl-bound Eagles faced off against the winless and C.J. Beathard-led 49ers in a predictable 33-10 romp. San Francisco is coming off of its best regular-season finish since 2011 and boasts one of the best rosters top-to-bottom in the entire NFL. Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave will form a great front to stifle Kyle Shanahan‘s rampant running attack but the Niners ran through almost every team they saw a year ago. San Francisco also holds one of the few tight ends – George Kittle – in the league that can hang with Zach Ertz. They also had the second-best total team defense from a year ago. It’s hard to match up well against a team as talented as the 49ers.
3. Week 6: vs Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens play a similar game to that of the Niners but the Eagles have the advantage of playing at home. Baltimore has similar playing conditions to Lincoln Financial Field back at home but the atmosphere that comes with playing the Eagles away is always a challenge. Containing 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson could be the toughest matchup, from a quarterback perspective, the Eagles linebackers could see all year. However, Slay and the Eagles secondary draw a fairly winnable matchup against a Ravens receiving corps that is maybe the weakest position group on their roster. John Harbaugh and the Ravens could do almost no wrong past Week 4 of 2019 and their dynamic offense is incredibly challenging to decipher. Baltimore’s defense was also top-six in each passing, rushing, total and scoring defense last season.
4. Week 14: vs New Orleans Saints
After seeing the Seahawks and Packers in back-to-back weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles end their hardest stretch of the season against one of the most winning teams of the past five years. The Saints are coming off of another division title in 2019 and should be one of the best teams in the NFC again in 2020. Drew Brees is approaching the twilight of his career but should remain an elite quarterback with the continued additions made to his offense. The Saints were 4-1 against the Eagles over the last decade and should be in need of as many wins as they can get with the improved Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempting to dethrone them. This will be the first time the two have faced since Jeffery had a Nick Foles pass go through his hands to Marshon Lattimore to essentially clinch the Saints their 2018 NFC Divisional matchup victory.
5. Week 12: vs Seattle Seahawks
While Jadeveon Clowney might not be playing for the Seahawks when the 2020 season opens, there is likely still bad blood between the teams over how the Eagles season ended a year ago. Clowney’s hit on Wentz had the Eagles quarterback out of last year’s NFC Wild Card game before a single point was scored. The severe blow to an already injury-riddled team was perhaps the final nail in the Eagles 2019 coffin and redeeming that loss would mean a lot to the current team. Keeping Russell Wilson quiet is always tough but the rest of the Seahawks roster lacks the talent they had back in the Legion of Boom days. Both the Eagles and Seahawks rosters are on a similar playing field from a player perspective. Pete Carroll‘s teams are never ones to roll over but Seattle is beginning to look thin outside of their Hall of Fame-bound quarterback.
6. Week 13: at Green Bay Packers
The Packers are a tough team to judge moving into next season. Their change in coaching philosophy has switched their dependence on former-MVP Aaron Rodgers to a reliance on the run game. Matt LaFleur adding a hulking downhill back in A.J. Dillon to an already full room of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams should give the Packers real diversity in their rushing attack for the first time since their Super Bowl run in 2010. Last season’s matchup between the Eagles and Packers produced maybe the best Thursday Night game of the year and Philadelphia’s 34-27 victory should only add to the confidence they have going into Lambeau again. The Eagles were the better statistical team at the end of last year but the Packers had a better record and snatched a playoff win from the Seahawks — after Seattle eliminated Philly. This game is a toss-up for now.
7. Week 11: at Cleveland Browns
After the debacle that was the 2019 Cleveland Browns, the 2020 edition is an improved team but an unreliable one as well. The Browns have not recorded double-digit wins since 2007 but look to have the best chance at making the playoffs since perhaps that same season. With the additions of Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills over the off-season, Cleveland’s new offensive line appears to be one of the few units that can rival the production and consistency that the Eagles have had on their o-line over that past decade. That along with a still-star-studded offense and new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, the Browns are a team with electric potential. Actually showing that potential against a coach like Pederson is another story. Defending the Browns offensive weapons could be a nightmare for the Eagles coverage unit but they need to click as a team before that happens.
8. Week 2: vs Los Angeles Rams
Week 2 will be the third time that Wentz and Jared Goff will face off since the two quarterbacks were selected first and second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Eagles have won the past two meetings and look to be trending in the right direction as opposed to Goff’s Rams. Los Angeles has been stuck in cap hell in 2020, with over $36 million in dead cap, but still possesses one of the more talented rosters in the NFL. Aaron Donald should provide a great early challenge for whoever replaces Brandon Brooks and Jalen Ramsey will be attempting to blanket one, 0r many, of Philadelphia’s new additions at receiver. They might not be the juggernaut they were a few seasons ago when they reached the Super Bowl but the Rams still ranked seventh in offense and 13th in total defense a season ago.