Football fans know it’s meaningless, but it’s fun so we do it anyway. This week I’ll be making some predictions about the 2012 NFL season, all of which will likely be out the window before the end of Week 1. Of course, “predictions” are by no means “picks.” I’ll get to some actual picks for the first week of games possibly as early as tomorrow night for the season opener and maybe some season picks (though I don’t usually like them) by week’s end, but for now I’m focusing on a weekly breakdown of the Eagles schedule.
I went through the Eagles upcoming schedule game-by-game back in April, and to be honest, the final result of the potential record comes out the same. However, in looking a lot more closely at the schedule, I found some interesting things going on in terms of when the Eagles play various teams along with some other notable tidbits.
For instance, I would think the Steelers game is a bit more winnable than it looked months ago considering the fact that they haven’t been able to stabilize their offensive line. But Pittsburgh has the week off before that game and (barring more injuries) will have had a few games to sort things out. Splitting with Dallas, however, might be a little more precarious than I thought. The Eagles have a short week both times that they play the Cowboys with Monday night games the previous week, including what could be a brutal loss at New Orleans prior to the first game. Dallas also has their Thanksgiving Day game prior to the second meeting. It’s more horrible scheduling by the NFL, but the Birds will have to cope.
In fact, several scheduling quirks could adversely impact the Eagles this season.
Week 1: Sunday, September 9 @ Cleveland 1:00 PM FOX – Win; there’s no logic that says the Eagles lose this game, and they are big favorites. However, while the Browns finished last season on a horrible losing streak, Colt McCoy missed the last three of those games and at least the final scores indicate that they were close games. Mike Vick has barely played in the preseason, and the Eagles are opening on the road. They’ve also had some memorable opening day losses – Andy Reid is 6-7 on opening day. Still, in this exercise it has to be considered a win.
Week 2: Sunday, September 16 vs. Baltimore 1:00 PM CBS – Win; this is a flop from April based, again, on the schedule. The Ravens play Monday night in the opener, and have a “look ahead” game against New England the following week.
Week 3: Sunday, September 23 @ Arizona 4:05 PM FOX – Loss; this is a slight flop from my original post in April. There’s just something about cross country trips for all teams in the NFL, and the Eagles seem to struggle in the desert. (Just an impression; I don’t have numbers on that.) Arizona finished strong with John Skelton at quarterback last year, and they’ll be coming off their own cross country trip to New England likely hungry for a win.
Week 4: Sunday, September 30 vs. New York Giants 8:20 PM NBC – Loss; I called this an “optimistic” win in April, but I think the schedule burns the Eagles here. Andy Reid is usually pretty good in prime time games, but another impression tells me the luster is off that record lately. The Giants do have back-to-back road games here, but the first is on the prior week’s Thursday night game against Cleveland giving them some extra rest.
Week 5: Sunday, October 7 @ Pittsburgh 1:00 PM FOX – Loss; rip me all you want on this one for being a Steelers fan, but Pittsburgh at home coming off a bye. That said, the Eagles’ strength can be their pass rush. If Pittsburgh doesn’t have their line in order, the Birds could pull the upset.
Week 6: Sunday, October 14 vs. Detroit 1:00 PM FOX – Loss; don’t laugh. It’s another bad scheduling break for the beloved Birds. Detroit is off the week before, the Eagles are off the week after, and they are known for going into the bye with Ls. The Lions also debunked the idea that dome teams can’t play outdoors last season, only losing to Chicago and Green Bay outside a dome while beating Tampa Bay, Denver, and Oakland. (They beat Dallas, too, but that’s more dome than not.)
Week 7 BYE WEEK
Week 8: Sunday, October 28 vs. Atlanta 1:00 PM FOX – Win; yes, Andy Reid will continue his seemingly remarkable unbeaten streak after a bye. There’s not much to go on as far as judging the Falcons’ ability to play outdoors as a dome team from last season – 2-4 with some weak losses to Tampa Bay and Houston, but nothing overly telling. Recent history (or at least common thought), however, has said that Atlanta is not good outside. The Falcons will be coming off a bye just like the Eagles, and they got a win against Philadelphia last year after Mike Vick got hurt and Juan Castillo’s defense coughed up a big lead.
Week 9: Monday, November 5 @ New Orleans 8:30 PM – Loss; the Saints will be coming off two consecutive road games, including a Sunday night game in Denver. They could need a win pretty badly here with early games in the season at Green Bay and Carolina. In fact, this will be just their third home game of the season (with a bye week having passed). I believe they’ll also be getting some of the suspended players back or they will have been back already, including the co-interim head coach, Joe Vitt. Honestly, I don’t care who the coach is as long as Drew Brees is playing.
Week 10: Sunday, November 11 vs. Dallas 4:15 PM FOX – Win; this is almost a must win for the Eagles the way the two games with the Cowboys set-up, and the Eagles are still coming off a short week. In fact, this could be the pivotal game of the season. If I am on target at all so far, the Eagles could be in the neighborhood of 3-5. I also think they could be coming off a trouncing in New Orleans. It could be classic “Eagles suck” time for all the die-hard Birds fans. But I’m not a believer in Tony Romo.
Week 11: Sunday, November 18 @ Washington 1:00 PM FOX – Loss; if the Eagles lost to Dallas the previous week, “all bets are off” and I think the free fall would be on. Regardless, I’m making this my official game that the Eagles annually lose that they should win. Washington will be coming off a bye, and I just have visions of Robert Griffin III making things happen as he settles into the starting role for the Redskins.
Week 12: Monday, November 26 vs. Carolina 8:30 PM – Win; this is another slight flop from April, when I had a gut feeling on Cam Newton pulling out the win. I still think the lights of Monday Night Football could see Newton put on a show, but it’s an either/or proposition with this game and the previous one. If Griffin burns the Eagles, Newton won’t. Carolina has a better team than Washington, but I’m going with RGIII in the previous game so I think the Eagles are prepared for Newton.
Week 13: Sunday, December 2 @ Dallas 8:20 PM NBC – Loss; I had the Dallas games reversed in April because I didn’t think it made sense to predict a sweep of the Cowboys. However, I now see this as a solid loss for the Eagles just because of the schedule – short week for the Birds while Dallas has the extra long week after their annual Thanksgiving Day game. That’s why I think the first Dallas game is big for the Eagles in terms of potential tie-breakers and just overall record. If they lose in Philadelphia, I still think the game in Dallas is a very tough one to win.
Week 14: Sunday, December 9 @ Tampa Bay 1:00 PM FOX – Win; the Bucs lost 10 straight to finish last season. For their sake, I hope they’re better, but I’m certainly not going to predict an upset here.
Week 15: Thursday, December 13 vs. Cincinnati 8:20 PM NFL – Win; I called this an “iffy” win in April, but this game is right in the middle of a potential rough spot for the Bengals who face San Diego and Dallas prior to this game and Pittsburgh (making the Eagles game a potential “look ahead” for Cincinnati) and Baltimore to end the season. Their young quarterback could be improved, but I think the Eagles get this victory.
Week 16: Sunday, December 23 vs. Washington 1:00 PM FOX – Win; maybe if RGIII didn’t help the Redskins pull the upset the first time, they could do it this time. But much like I think the second Cowboys game sets up well for Dallas regardless of the outcome of the first Eagles-Cowboys matchup, this game sets up well for the Eagles regardless of the first game between the two teams. The Eagles get an extra few days off playing the Thursday game the previous week with the added bonus of a potentially easy win in that game.
Week 17: Sunday, December 30 @ New York Giants 1:00 PM FOX – Loss; obviously, this game is especially hard to predict even in an exercise like this because it’s impossible to know what it will or will not mean for either team. But, as I said in April, if this game means anything for the G-men, they get the win.
So, four months after my original look, I have the Eagles exactly where I had them when the schedule first came out – with a record of 8-8. That may illustrate just how futile it is to try to predict the outcome of games months ahead of time or say something about my ability to do it. Readers can decide.
I’m actually mildly surprised at the results of going through the season this way. Obviously, it’s a rather meaningless exercise, and it’s impossible to predict what the impact of injuries will be throughout the season. Nonetheless, I plan to have more NFL predictions, including more on the Eagles, later this week.