The 2007 Eagles Schedule is out and I, like most Eagle fans, feel the irrational need to try to predict what will happen to an NFL team during the Fall in the month of April. Need I remind you we still have the draft and all of the mini-camps, training camp, and 4 preseason games until we will really know what the 2007 Eagles (along with the rest of the NFL) will really look like? But that won't stop us from peering into our crystal ball....
Sun. Sept. 9 - at Green Bay.....this is a Win. Green Bay was average in a bad division last year and Brett Favre is returning. This means irrational decisions followed by spates of brilliance. Record: 1 - 0.
Mon. Sept. 17 - vs. Washington......this is a win. Monday night. The home opener. A dreadful Redskin team with a young QB. Win. Record: 2 - 0.
Sun. Sept. 23 - vs. Detroit.....this is a win, although not an easy one, coming off an emotional win versus a division rival. I think Detroit will be better than people think. I think Rod Marinelli is a good coach who can turn them around provided Matt Millen doesn't screw up their draft again. Record: 3- 0.
Sun. Sept.30 - at NYG.....this is a tricky one. Not sure how the Giants will look this year. Whether or not the Giants can get past losing Tiki Barber largely depends on how much Eli Manning will have developed over the course of the off-season. He is no where near where he should be considering he was the first pick of the draft. I do think the Giants picked up a good running back in Reuben Droughns, but I wonder what that means for Brandon Jacobs? There doesn't seem a whole lot of difference between the type of runner Droughns is and the type of runner that Jacobs is (or is to become). I think this is a loss going into the Bye week. Record: 3 - 1.
Oct. 7 - BYE. If it wasn't for the rise in Fantasy Football, this would be the worst week of the year. Some fans like the bye week because it affords an opportunity for their liver levels to go back to normal for one week. I used to hate the bye week before fantasy football. With fantasy football, EVERY game is important.
Oct. 14 - At NYJ.......This is a win. There is no way they drop 2 in a row at Giants stadium. The Jets went to the playoffs last year, but they had a soft schedule down the stretch last year, so it may have been a mirage. Chad Pennington's arm might have fallen off by this point in the season. Record: 4 - 1.
Oct. 21 - vs. Chicago........This is a loss. Chicago's defense is tougher than nails and I don't see the potential loss of Lance Briggs slowing them down. If Rex Grossman is still their QB, do not take the "over" in this game. I see this game ending in a score of 14 - 10 or something very low scoring. Record: 4 - 2.
Oct. 28 - at Minnesota........Win. Who is playing QB for Minnesota? I don't know and don't know if it matters. They lost their defensive coordinator, Mike Tomlin, to the Steelers, so there is no telling how that will work out for them. I doubt Vikings head coach (and playcaller) Brad Childress will be able to surprise Eagle defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, as the two were colleagues with the Eagles for several years. Record: 5 - 2.
Nov. 4 - vs. Dallas.......Win. This is a game on Sunday night, in primetime, at home. I see the Eagles winning this game in emotional fashion. No one knows for sure what the Cowboys will be like with Wade Phillips as coach and Tony Romo starting right from the beginning. Record: 6 - 2.
Nov. 11 - at Washington......Win. The drums will be beating for the sainted Joe Gibbs' head by this point in the season. Record: 7 - 2.
Nov. 18 - vs. Miami........Win. Not sure what Miami will look like this year. They have a good defense, but who will be the QB? Does it matter? How do we know if former San Diego offensive coordinator and new Dolphin head coach Cam Cameron is a good coach. I could look like a good coach when you have LaDainian Tomlinson as your running back. Record: 8 - 2.
Nov. 25 - at NE.......Loss. Bill Belichick did a tremendous job in getting players in free agency this year. Furthermore, I believe he could out-coach Andy Reid with one playbook tied behind his back. Record: 8 - 3.
Dec. 2 - vs. Seattle........Loss. Too much Shaun Alexander coupled with getting physically beaten by New England. The Eagles will need to prove they can stop the run again this year. This will be a difficult game for them to win, despite Seattle travelling cross-country to face the Birds. I just don't think the Eagles match up well against Seattle. Record: 8 - 4.
Dec. 9 - vs. NYG........Win. There is no way they get swept by New York. By now, the players could be forming a lynch mob for Tom Coughlin. Record: 9 - 4.
Dec. 16 - at Dallas........Loss. Going on the road after a tough home game against the Giants always makes the Eagles look a little vulnerable the week after. Record: 9 - 5.
Dec. 23 - at New Orleans......Bad loss. Again....playing New Orleans in their dome. Again. Sean Payton is a good coach who clearly has Eagle defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's number. Record: 9 - 6.
Dec. 3o - vs. Buffalo......Win. They will beat a rudderless Bills team to go 10 - 6....good enough for the NFC East crown once again.
There you have it. The meaningless April prediction of 10 - 6, which will be good enough for the NFC East crown.
As I see it, the keys for the Eagles this season are as follows:
1.) Donovan McNabb MUST be ready by the opener. If AJ Feeley or Kelly Holcomb's services are required for anything more than a game or two, and the Eagles will be lucky to get the wild card.
2.) The Eagles must address some defensive deficiencies (depth at DB, LB) at the draft.
3.) Defensive tackles Broderick Bunkly and Mike Patterson need to be significant contributors. Especially the highly touted Bunkly.
4.) Darren Howard and Jevon Kearse need to return from injury to play like their former selves.
Notice I did not include wide receiver as an issue here? There is no single, more overrated issue in Eagle-land, than the position of wide receiver. People were upset over the Eagles' not retaining Donte Stallworth, but they also forget that Donte Stallworth missed 3 games with a bad hamstring. Furthermore, he did show an inability to stay healthy when he played in New Orleans. I don't think Kevin Curtis can replace Donte Stallworth, but I do think Reggie Brown is ready to be a number 1 receiver in this league and Curtis is almost certainly equipped to be a good number 2 receiver. Hank Baskett should also progress and there is also the draft if they still feel short at WR.
Further making the WR issue a moot point is the fact that the Eagles, after the success late in the season with Jeff Garcia at QB, will almost certainly run the ball more. The win at Dallas last year, where they essentially ran it down the Cowboys throats to the tune of 204 yards on 42 carries was exactly what long time Eagle fans had hoped for: a legitimate running attack. Hopefully, it was an epiphany for Andy Reid as well, as he must have seen the good effect the improved running game had on not only his offense, but it allowed his defense to rest as well. I certainly don't think Reid will become Bill Cowher overnight or anything, but a balanced offense will allow other holes (i.e.--the inability of the recent Eagle teams to stop the run) to not be such glaring holes.