The PhiladelphiaEagles knew their opponents on their 2014 NFL schedule. Yet on April 23, the Eagles found out the order of their schedule, as well as what time the NFL expects them to start playing. Since Philadelphia won the NFC East last season, it received some breaks on this year's slate, but time will tell how daunting it really is.
The Eagles only have five games against teams who made the playoffs last season, to go along with their six games against the NFC East. Yet Philadelphia is facing every NFC playoff team from last year, except the New Orleans Saints club that knocked it out this past January.
Nevertheless, the NFL schedule offers a presumed break at the very start. The season will open at home for Philadelphia, against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and former Eagles coaching candidate Gus Bradley. However, the Eagles then have to go on Monday Night Football in Week 2 to visit the more formidable Indianapolis Colts -- and then comes the most hype worthy game of the season.
DeSean Jackson won't take long to return to Philadelphia, as he and the Washington Redskins will be welcomed back in Week 3 on Sept. 22. With a visit to the San Francisco 49ers then looming in Week 4, these three early games with the Colts, Redskins and 49ers should set a revealing tone for the Eagles' season.
Yet since the Colts, 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks are the only 2013 playoff teams the Eagles face this year, not every week will be a gauntlet. However, the end of the season will be, since it consists of a Thanksgiving visit to Dallas, hosting the world champion Seattle Seahawks and then closing out with three straight games against the NFC East.
At this time last year, the Eagles couldn't foresee the breaks they'd get on their schedule, or how some games looked more or less daunting than they turned out to be -- or that the 2013 season finale with the Cowboys would actually be a divisional title game. Therefore, projecting the difficulty of the 2014 schedule in April may be a fool's errand for Philadelphia and the rest of the NFL.
Regardless, the accompanying list breaks down the order of games for the Eagles this fall, no matter how grueling they turn out to be or not.
Bradley comes to Philadelphia
Week 1: Eagles vs Jacksonville Jaguars -- Sept. 7, 1 p.m. est
The Eagles open Chip Kelly's second season against the Jaguars and Gus Bradley -- the coach that almost beat Kelly out for last season's job opening.
Luck on Monday night
Week 2: Eagles at Indianapolis Colts -- Monday, Sept. 15, 8:30 p.m. est
The Eagles face a much tougher AFC South opponent, in a much bigger showcase, in Week 2 as the Colts and Andrew Luck become their first prime time opponent of 2014.
Jackson returns early
Week 3: Eagles vs Washington Redskins -- Sept. 21, 1 p.m. est
The return of DeSean Jackson to Philadelphia with the Washington Redskins was always going to be the most hyped game of the year for the Eagles. As such, the NFL scheduling committee got it out of the way early for them.
Tested by 49ers
Week 4: Eagles at San Francisco 49ers -- Sept. 28, 4:25 p.m. est
The Eagles get their first test against a truly elite NFC team -- assuming the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick have recovered from a rough postseason and offseason by then.
St. Louis Rams
Week 5: Eagles vs St. Louis Rams -- Oct. 5, 1 p.m. est
Robert Quinn and the Rams were the worst of the stacked NFC West by default last season. Is that as good as last year's best in the NFC East?
Giant battle before bye
Week 6: Eagles vs New York Giants -- Oct. 12, 8:30 p.m. est
The Eagles get a fairly early bye in Week 7, but they get a chance to go in on a really high or low note after a prime time battle with the Giants.
Another duel with Cardinals
Week 8: Eagles at Arizona Cardinals -- Oct. 26, 4:05 p.m. est
The Eagles helped keep Carson Palmer and the 10-win Cardinals out of the playoffs by beating them last year. However, the Cardinals helped begin the end of the Andy Reid era by slaughtering the Eagles in Arizona the year before that.
O'Brien leads Texans
Week 9: Eagles at Houston Texans -- Nov. 2, 1 p.m. est
The Eagles close the first half of the season by visiting Bill O'Brien, the Texans and whoever their No. 1 pick in the NFL draft turns out to be.
Newton pays Monday night visit
Week 10: Eagles vs Carolina Panthers -- Monday, Nov. 10, 8:30 p.m. est
The Eagles return to the Monday night stage to duel with Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Rodgers to face Eagles?
Week 11: Eagles at Green Bay Packers -- Nov. 16, 1 p.m. est
The Eagles launched their playoff run last year by beating the Packers while Aaron Rodgers was away. Presumably, Rodgers will be around for the rematch.
Whisenhunt leads Titans
Week 12: Eagles vs Tennessee Titans -- Nov. 23, 1 p.m. est
The Eagles are very familiar with Ken Whisenhunt from his time in Arizona -- especially the time when he beat them in the 2009 NFC title game. Now he returns with the Titans, in merely the first game of the week for the Eagles.
Thanksgiving in Dallas
Week 13: Eagles at Dallas Cowboys -- Thanksgiving day, Thurs Nov. 27, 4:30 p.m. est
The Eagles' second game in five days marks their first trip to Dallas since winning their quasi-NFC East title game with the Cowboys last season. The stakes won't be that decisive this year, at least not right away.
Facing the champions
Week 14: Eagles vs Seattle Seahawks -- Dec. 7, 4:25 p.m. est
The Eagles thankfully get over a week off, and thankfully don't have to go to Seattle, before facing Richard Sherman and the defending champion Seahawks. It will also be the last time Philadelphia faces an opponent outside of the NFC East.
Quick rematch with Cowboys
Week 15: Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys -- Dec. 14, 8:30 p.m. est
The Eagles begin a season-ending stretch of NFC East rematches with a speedy one against Dez Bryant and the Cowboys, just over two weeks after their Thanksgiving grudge match. For the moment, this showdown is scheduled for prime time, but is subject to flexing.
Visit to Redskins
Week 16: Eagles at Washington Redskins -- Saturday, Dec. 20
A second showdown with DeSean Jackson and the Redskins shouldn't be as gigantic as the first. If it is, it will be because something is actually on the line for one or both teams in this Saturday battle.
Grand finale with Giants
Week 17: Eagles at New York Giants -- Dec. 28, 1 p.m. est
It all ends for the Eagles -- or at least they hope it doesn't end for good -- in New York. Will this be another season ending game on the road for the NFC East crown, or will Philadelphia already be in or out by then?