Despite the work stoppage still in effect in the NFL, the NFL has chosen to release regular season schedules for the teams, after their initial release of the schedules of pre-season games. The Philadelphia Eagles will have a bumpy road ahead of them, even though the first half of the schedule is easier than the second half of the schedule after their bye in week 7. Similar to their pre-season schedule, fair majority of their opponents will either have a dominating defense or powerful running back or a sordid combination of both which will test the Eagles on both sides of the ball. Michael Vick will have his health possibly tested in week 3 against the New York Giants, week 9 against the Chicago Bears, week 11 against the New York Giants again and especially week 15 against the New York Jets. These defenses won’t bend easily to Michael Vick, much less break, with their blueprints from the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.
Now to the game-by-game analysis of the Philadelphia Eagles regular season:
Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles @ St. Louis Rams
This is an intriguing game as the Philadelphia Eagles will face the St. Louis Rams offense, led by budding quarterback Sam Bradford, and steady and sturdy running back Steven Jackson at home. I imagine Steven Jackson will be the primary force of the Rams offense against the Eagles in this game as he was ranked eighth last season in total rushing yardage at 1,241. Don’t forget that the Rams, especially their defense, plays particularly well at home who won five out of eight games at Edward Jones Dome last season.
Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons
This is a tandem of one of the better developed quarterbacks Matt Ryan and one of the better running backs in the league, Michael Turner. After the Eagles face the physical running of Steven Jackson, they will have to contend with the speed of Michael Turner. Turner capped last season by ranking third in rushing yardage with 1,371 behind Houston Texans Arian Foster and Kansas City Chiefs Jamaal Charles. Lastly, Matt Ryan had a fairly impressive 91.0 quarterback rating last season and with receiving threats in Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, both could pose problems in the Eagles secondary. Roddy White himself produced elite numbers last season as he had 1,389 receiving yards on 115 receptions and was ranked second overall.
Week 3: New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
This game is a NFC East rivalry against an opponent that developed and refined the blueprint to stop against the revived Michael Vick last season. This is also the same defense that crippled a number of quarterbacks in the opening weeks of the previous season before Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped in to limit the number of concussions and injuries. The Giants still have the tandem running backs of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs which produced the sixth-ranked overall rushing offense. Ahmad Bradshaw, by himself, was ranked ninth last season in total rushing yardage with 1,235 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. Let’s not forget these wide receivers of the Giants. The receiving corps of Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham are all threats down the field, although Nicks is the better of the three and getting better.
Week 4: San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles
With the new coach in Jim Harbaugh, formerly of the Stanford Cardinals, the San Fransisco 49ers could undergo a heavy overhaul in both offense and defense. Perhaps Eagles fans might get a showing of former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, but most likely not. The Eagles will have to contend with a healthy running back in the name of Frank Gore. Although he hasn’t been an elite rushing threat since ranking third overall in rushing yardage in 2006, there are still sea legs on this veteran running back. One of the primary issues with the 49ers will be their quarterback situation. I imagine that sometime before the regular season starts, this situation will be resolved quite quickly with Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach. He won’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, Mike Singletary.
Week 5: Philadelphia Eagles @ Buffalo Bills
This should be one of the Philadelphia Eagles easier games, but then again, this isn’t the same Buffalo Bills of the past. They were competitive last season, and they won’t simply roll over. Their defense was ranked third against the pass, but unfortunately, they were last in their division with a meager 4-12 record last season. Their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found a potent wide receiver Steve Johnson who had two games against the stiffer defenses of two notable opponents of the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears last season with 130+ yards and one against the disorganized Cincinnati Bengals.
Week 6: Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
This was the same opponent last season which Micheal Vick absolutely dominated with a score of 59-28 on November 15th. It was an unforgettable night for the Eagles team and their fans. However, things have changed. Their quarterback Donovan McNabb has been released, and former Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman has taken over. Although most of their offense and defense was ranked the bottom of last year, they found a glimmer of hope in their running back Ryan Torain. Again, in this upcoming season, Ryan Torain may become a factor in Mike Shanahan’s offense.
Week 7: Bye Week
With this season going at full steam by now, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has not endured any physical defenses aside from the New York Giants. He should still be in good health, and Eagles coach Andy Reid shouldn’t have to resort to his backup, whoever he may be. The Eagles record at this point should be 5-1 or at worst, 4-2. In terms of injuries suffered during the Eagles pre-season, like every pre-season it seems, most of these players should have recovered at this time, and the Eagles should have a nearly healthy roster. However, the second half of the schedule is not quite as easy as the first.
Week 8: Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
This is the same defense last season that nearly perfected how to hinder Michael Vick. However, the offense this time quite possibly won’t be led by Jon Kitna. Instead, Tony Romo should be at the helm once again. Despite his occasional flaws, on and off the field, he should perform much better than Jon Kitna. With wide receiver Miles Austin and the Cowboys backfield of Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice blossoming, Jason Garrett’s offense will be one to contend with. The Cowboys rushing defense performed admirably last season as it was ranked 12th.
Week 9: Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles
This may a potentially dangerous outing for Michael Vick as he faces the taut Chicago Bears defense led by Brian Urlacher. After the criticism of their quarterback Jay Cutler for leaving their conference game last season due to an injury, Cutler performed above average with 3,274 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and a 86.3 quarterback rating. Let’s not forget that Cutler does have his moments. Last season, he beat the Eagles 31-26 in week 12 in a stunner of a game. The Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz found their running back Matt Forte after half the season was over, and again, Forte should become a factor in establishing the run against the Eagles.
Week 10: Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles
This could potentially become an intriguing game should Kevin Kolb or maybe Donovan McNabb be traded to this team. With their quarterback and backfield problems, their only shining star was wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Despite all these problems with the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald managed to ranked eighth in total receiving yards with 1,137.
Week 11: Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
Like last season, it would be interesting to see if Michael Vick can pull another Miracle at the Meadowlands. If the Eagles won the earlier game in week 3, I imagine the New York Giants could possibly win this one or vice versa. After this game, Michael Vick could be hinting of potential injuries as this defense will remain unforgiving.
Week 12: New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles
Not only will the Philadelphia Eagles be facing last season’s MVP New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, they will face the varied offense of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch and Wes Welker. Although Michael Vick was in the running as last year’s MVP, this season will test whether he can remain consistent throughout the season. If this game doesn’t show if Vick can demonstrate consistency, Tom Brady will show him how.
Week 13: Philadelphia Eagles @ Seattle Seahawks
The Philadelphia Eagles first trip to the West Coast as they will face the Cinderella team of last season, the Seattle Seahawks. With their veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and wide receiver Mike Williams, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll found ways to defeat the New Orleans Saints in their Wild Card game last season and remain somewhat competitive in their final loss against Chicago Bears in their divisional title game. Pete Carroll has shown he can will his team to win, and the Philadelphia Eagles could potentially face one dangerous and adaptive opponent. Compounding the fact that the Eagles don’t fare well on the West Coast, this could play to the Seahawks advantage.
Week 14: Philadelphia Eagles @ Miami Dolphins
Another road game…but this time, a return to the East Coast against the Miami Dolphins. With the entire offense in shambles, the Miami Dolphins offense wasn’t much of a threat. Neither running back Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams posed much of a threat like in previous seasons. However, the Dolphins defense was surprisingly effective. They were ranked eighth against the pass and seventh against the rush last season. Even if the Dolphins lose, I imagine that Michael Vick could be in for some jarring by the Dolphins defensive backs.
Week 15: New York Jets @ Philadelphia Eagles
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan’s defense was formidable last season. It was ranked sixth against the pass and third against the rush. The New York Jets defeated both the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in the playoffs, but they could not defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game. Their rushing tandem of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene produced an effective rush as they were ranked fourth overall in total rushing yardage. Facing this defense may not be desirable as it will be stifling and physical for Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles offense. Even the wide receiving threats of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin may face considerable problems.
Week 16: Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles will face Jason Garrett’s Cowboys team again. Again, I envision this game as a split. With the Dallas Cowboys adapting to incoming blueprints from earlier games in the season with Michael Vick, this could be another long afternoon for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
With Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins still coaching, the Redskins team, however, will still remain mediocre without any potent offensive additions. Not to discount the Redskins entirely, however, as Rex Grossman may show moments of brilliance, but whether at FedEx Field or Lincoln Financial Field, the Redskins can’t overcome their deficiencies.
2011 Season Forecast
I predict for this upcoming season a record 10-6 for the Philadelphia Eagles realistically. Optimistically, they can possibly pull off a record of 11-5. In either case, they should have a winning record and possibly enter the playoffs again. Whether Michael Vick remains healthy through the end of the regular season, I remain tentative. Lastly, given the parity in the league and the coaching changes in some of these teams, my prediction remains highly speculative and should be taken with a grain of salt.