It looks like a very challenging schedule for the Eagles, especially once Oct. 20 arrives.
That is the date of the Eagles’ first game against the Dallas Cowboys and it begins a stretch where six of their final 10 games will be played against teams that made the playoffs in 2018. Two of those games are against Dallas.
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Looking at the 2019 schedule, I tried to identify five games that could define the Eagles’ season. You won’t find any games against AFC competition here, because the NFC games are typically more impactful in terms of a postseason berth. So don’t look for either the game with Buffalo or New England, though they will be fun and figure to be important games.
Here are my five:
Week 4: At Green Bay Packers, Sept. 26, 8:20 p.m.
The Packers haven’t been to the postseason since 2016. Every year, though, they are in the conversation for a playoff spot because of one man – QB Aaron Rodgers. The Eagles secondary – still a lot to sort out here – will have had three games to get settled before the Rodgers test.
It won’t be easy for the Eagles to go into Lambeau Field on a Thursday night, but this is an early game that could go a long way toward helping one or both teams earn a wildcard berth if neither can win its respective division.
The Eagles should at minimum be 2-1 going in with two of their first three games at home. The road game in that stretch is in Atlanta, which will be the home opener for the Falcons. The Eagles, though, have won three in a row over Atlanta, with the last two taking place in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs in 2017 and in the season-opener in Philly last year. Both games came down to the final series.
Week 6: At Minnesota Vikings, Oct. 13, 1 p.m.
This is the first game in a three-game road stretch returns the Eagles to the site of their greatest glory – Super Bowl LII.
You know the Eagles are in the head of Minnesota fans after the Vikings were lambasted in the NFC Championship two years ago then last year, despite beating the Eagles 23-21 in Philly, had to watch the Eagles get into the playoffs after the Vikings missed their chance to do so with a 24-10 loss to the Bears in the regular-season finale. All the Vikings had to do was win that game and it would have been them – not the Eagles – that would have made the postseason.
This game, like the one against Green Bay, could also go a long way in determining a leg up in a potential wildcard playoff spot.
Week 9: Chicago Bears, Nov. 3, 1 p.m.
This will be the Eagles’ first home game in nearly a month, since Oct. 6. Achieving a 2-1 record in their three straight road trips would be most welcome since it is a trip that takes them to Dallas and Buffalo after they play in Minnesota.
This will be a must-win because of the long road trip, but the Bears will be a tough foe to get that must win against.
Forget the double-doink in their playoff meeting that will be replayed dozens of times this week in both cities this could come down to who reaches 20 points first for the win.
Yes, the Eagles added more weapons around quarterback Carson Wentz, and their red zone offense should be better this season, but the Bears’ defense doesn’t figure to miss a step from last year. Chicago’s D will likely be the best the Eagles will have played to this point, though something tells me the Buffalo Bills, who had the second-ranked overall defense last year and will host the Eagles in the game preceding this one, could be as equally difficult of a challenge.
Week 12: Seattle Seahawks, Nov. 24, 8:20 p.m.
You could argue that the game a week earlier could be viewed as a defining game since it comes at home against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. That would be fine, but for my money the game with the Seahawks comes within the NFC and it could be for wild-card positioning or even to stay in the race for the top spot in their respective divisions.
Provided both Wentz and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are still healthy at this point, this will be matchup between two quarterbacks who got mega-contract deals in the offseason.
It figures to be much more, though. My thinking is there still won’t be much separation between the two top teams in the either the NFC East or NFC West, with the Seahawks still hanging with the L.A. Rams and the Eagles and Cowboys neck-and-neck through 11 weeks.
Add in the fact that this one will be on Sunday night in primetime and it should be a doozy.
Week 16: Dallas Cowboys, Dec. 22, 4:25 p.m.
You could debate which game is more defining – this one or the first meeting between the two teams on Oct. 20 in Dallas. I take this one because it comes later. A loss by either team in week seven (Oct. 20, 8:20 p.m.) still gives them time to recover. This could be for the division title.