The Philadelphia Eagles have had Andy Reid’s return circled on their calendars for months. Now that the Eagles and Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs are meeting on Sept. 19 in Philadelphia, it may be the most memorable night of the year no matter how the next 14 weeks turn out. At the least, it stands to be the biggest psychological game of the year for the Eagles, especially after what happened four days ago and what looms ahead.
When the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins on Sept. 9, it was easy to dream of a big, explosive start to Chip Kelly’s debut season. However, the rough last-second loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 15 brought Philadelphia back to reality. In this case, reality means a likely 1-3 start or worse if the Eagles can’t bounce back against the Chiefs.
Losing to Reid in his big return wouldn’t be the best early referendum on Kelly. To have the Eagles suffer two painful home losses in a week, while Reid starts 3-0 at Kansas City, would be a brutal double whammy heading into the extended break. What’s worse, the Eagles have to visit the Denver Broncos when the break is over on Sept. 29.
If Philadelphia can’t knock off Kansas City at home, it is hard to imagine a win on the road at Denver. It is hard to imagine it now, given how the Broncos have been the best team in football early on, with 90 points scored in two games. That is a frightening prospect for the creaky Eagles defense, which couldn’t even force more than one punt from the Chargers.
If the Eagles face the Broncos with a 2-1 record after beating Reid, it would make a loss go down easier. But if Philadelphia comes in at 1-2, it would face days of backlash and disappointment to go along with a probable 1-3 start. And as last season proved, the Eagles can snowball towards a long losing streak very quickly.
A week ago, there was reason to hope after the win in Washington. Much of that will return if the Eagles bounce back over the Chiefs -- but if they can’t, it could create a hole they aren’t equipped to dig out of. Week 3 is an early place for a must win game, yet Philadelphia is there now, and not just because of Reid’s return.