The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway through what is becoming a rough preseason. But the Eagles have their third game ahead against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 21, as this is supposed to be where their starters play for at least a full half. It would be a good time for the Eagles to reassure fans, since this is their first game in Philadelphia of the 2014 campaign.
The last time the Eagles played in Lincoln Financial Field, they were eliminated at the buzzer in their wild card game with the New Orleans Saints. Home field advantage used to be a given for the Eagles, but they had a stretch where they rarely won at Philadelphia until last year's second half surge. Even after that, they couldn't win a big one down the stretch with a home crowd behind them.
Facing the Steelers in August is hardly as important as facing the Saints in January. However, this is the most crucial battle of the preseason, and not just because the starters will finally play together for a long stretch. No matter who is on the field, the Eagles have to stop the Steelers more than they've stopped the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots this month.
If these defensive lapses aren't fixed, Philadelphia will be in a lot of shootouts this season -- and even Chip Kelly's tactics may not help the team win most or half of them. Yet Pittsburgh isn't as explosive as Chicago or New England, and now has to worry about running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount facing charges of marijuana possession after a traffic stop on Aug. 20, according to ESPN.
The Eagles are already facing losing Lane Johnson for the first four games of the regular season after he was found to have taken PEDs. It hasn't been a smooth preseason all around for teams in Pennsylvania, which is another reason why these final games in August can't end fast enough.
The best hope is the switch will be flipped in September and the Eagles will start the 2014 season as hot as they ended the 2013 season. But better performances to end the 2014 preseason would help that switch go on a lot faster, or at least make it look that way.
Either way, the Eagles will unveil themselves in Philadelphia for the first time in seven months at 7:30 p.m. est.