The NFL was definitely kind to the Eagles when it made up their schedule for the 2008 season. Not only does Philadelphia get to play in five prime-time games (possibly more with flex-scheduling), but they were matched up against eight different teams that failed to make the playoffs last year. The only bad part of the schedule is the fact that the Eagles play in such a strong division, and are forced to play the defending Super Bowl Giants twice and the defending NFC East Champion Cowboys two times.
The Philadelphia Eagles 2008 Schedule:
Sunday, September 7 vs. St. Louis, 1:00 pm
The Eagles will open the regular season at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since 2004, the year they went to the Super Bowl. The Rams are coming off of a disappointing three-win season where their defense allowed the second most points-per-game in the league. Although they have one of the top running backs in the league in Steven Jackson, the Eagle’s defense should match up well against an aging St. Louis team, where key players like Marc Bulger (31 years old), Torry Holt (31) and Orlando Pace (32) aren’t getting any younger.
Ram's RB Steven Jackson
Monday, September 15 @ Dallas, 8:30 pm
In the first of their five prime time games in 2008, the Eagles head to Dallas where they have had great success in recent years, winning three of their last four games at Texas Stadium. Philadelphia will need Brian Westbrook to be at the top of his game, as the addition of former All-Pro linebacker Zach Thomas should bolster a Cowboys defense that finished sixth in the NFL in run defense last season.
Sunday, September 21 vs. Pittsburgh, 4:15 pm
The last time Pennsylvania’s teams met, the Steelers dominated the Eagles in Pittsburgh and handed them their first loss of the 2004 season in week nine. The next time the two teams meet will be in Philadelphia, where the Eagles have a home record of 24-8-2 all-time against the Steelers. While the Steelers are usually known for having a power running game, Mike Tomlin’s team will be without seven-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Jets in free agency.
Sunday, September 28, @ Chicago, 8:15 pm
The Eagles suffered a demoralizing loss to the Bears last season, when Brian Griese engineered a drive late in the fourth-quarter and connected with Muhsin Muhammad for the game-winning touchdown. Chicago will still have a strong defense led by Brian Urlacher, but after losing Griese and his top receivers, Muhammad and Bernard Berrian in free agency, their offense will struggle to find playmakers.
Sunday, October 5, vs. Washington, 1:00 pm
While the Redskins got a new head coach in the off-season, replacing Joe Gibbs with former Seattle quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, the only notable addition to the roster so far has been signing free agent wide receiver/kick returner Jerome Mathis. The status of quarterback Jason Campbell, who is recovering from a knee injury, will be a big factor in Washington’s chances of making it to the playoffs for the second straight year.
Sunday, October 12, @ San Francisco, 4:15 pm
The 49ers could be one of the most competitive teams in the NFC this year after adding some quality players in free agency. Defensive end Justin Smith joins a defense led by 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year Patrick Willis, and the offense will benefit from the signings of Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, and Deshaun Foster. The last time the Eagles played in San Francisco in 2006, Mike Patterson returned a fumble 98-yards for a touchdown in a 38-24 Philadelphia win.
Sunday, October 26, vs. Atlanta, 1:00 pm
After clearing cap space by releasing players like Alge Crumpler, Warrick Dunn, and Byron Leftwich, Atlanta will have the chance to add a lot of young talent through the draft, with the third overall pick in the first round, three picks in the second round and two picks in the third round. In the off-season, the most notable moves Atlanta made were signing former Chargers running back Michael Turner and trading cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who was the eighth overall pick in the 2004 draft. The Falcons are still in the early stages of a rebuilding phase and have to find answers at many different positions, especially quarterback.
Sunday, November 2, @ Seattle, 4:15 pm
Seahawk's QB Matt Hasselbeck
After putting up the fewest rushing yards since his rookie year and starting only 10 games for the second consecutive season, running back Shaun Alexander seems to be well past his prime, and the Seahawks addressed the need for depth in the backfield by bringing in T.J. Duckett and Julius Jones to share the load. The offense will still rely on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who finished last season with a career-high 28 passing touchdowns, to run Seattle’s West Coast-style attack. The Eagles have not beaten the Seahawks since 2002, and since then, they suffered an embarrassing 42-0 loss in 2005 and a 28-24 loss last year where A.J. Feely threw four interceptions.
Sunday, November 9, vs. NY Giants, 8:15 pm
The Eagles will get their first chance to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants in prime time at Lincoln Financial Field. Just weeks after winning the big game, Tom Coughlin’s team took a few hits on the defensive side of the ball, with safety Gibril Wilson and linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor all landing with new teams as free agents. Even with a few personnel losses, the man who engineered the Giants frantic, blitz-happy style of play, Steve Spagnuolo, will return as defensive coordinator after turning down head coaching positions with other teams.
Sunday, November 16, @ Cincinnati, 1:00 pm
Bengal's WR Chad Johnson
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
One of the Eagle’s biggest weaknesses last season was defending against the pass, as they finished the year ranked 18th in the league in pass yards allowed per game, and this might be a problem against the Bengals because throwing the ball is something that Cincinnati loves to do. While the Bengals have one of the most dynamic receiver duos in the league with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson to go along with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in Carson Palmer, the chemistry between the main cogs in their offense is quickly eroding, with Ocho Cinco making demands for a trade out of Cincinnati.
Sunday, November 23, @ Baltimore, 1:00 pm
In their second consecutive away game against an AFC North opponent, the Eagles will face a Ravens team led by new head coach John Harbaugh, who was a special teams and secondary coach in Philadelphia from 1998 to 2007. With the retirement of quarterback Steve McNair, Baltimore will go with either a rookie or choose between veteran Kyle Boller and Troy Smith to lead an offense that ranked in the bottom of the league in most offensive categories last season.
Thursday, November 27, vs. Arizona, 8:15 pm
Thanksgiving day football will return to Philadelphia for the first time since 1940 as the Eagles host the Cardinals in this prime time match up. After finishing last year with a non-losing record for the first time since 1998, Arizona’s young offense led by receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald should be as good as any in the league if the line can hold up and keep quarterback Matt Leinart on his feet. The big concern for the Cardinals will be improving a defense that allowed 25 points a game last season.
Sunday, December 7, @ NY Giants, 1:00 pm
If there was any game from last year that Eagles fans would like to forget, it had to be when the Eagles played the Giants at Giants Stadium last season in week 4. In that game, New York’s defense piled up 12 sacks, tying an NFL record, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora accounted for half of them while making former second round pick Winston Justice look like a deer in the headlights. If future Hall-of-Famer Michael Strahan decides to retire this season, expect the Giants pass rush to drop off as Umenyiora will see more double teams with Strahan’s dominating presence no longer on the line.
Monday, December 15, vs. Cleveland, 8:30 pm
Philadelphia has been inconsistent in Monday night games over the last couple of years, posting a record of 5-5 on Monday Night Football since 2004, and their last prime time game of ’08 will be against Cleveland. The Browns are one of the league’s intriguing young teams after quarterback Derek Anderson had a breakout season in 2007, and their offense has some explosive playmakers in Braylon Edwards (80 catches, 1289 yards, 16 touchdowns last season) and Kellen Winslow (82 receptions, 1106 yards, 5 touchdowns in ’07). After just missing the playoffs last season, Cleveland has made some key moves in free agency trying to improve their roster, signing defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and ex-Eagle wide receiver Donte Stallworth.
WR Braylon Edwards (#17)
Sunday, December 21, @ Washington, 1:00 pm
If the Eagles could consider any opponent’s stadium their home away from home, it would have to be Washington’s FedEx Field, where Andy Reid’s team has won seven of its last eight games. Donovan McNabb had one of his best games of the year last season on the Redskin’s home field, completing 20 out of 28 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns.
Sunday, December 28, vs. Dallas, 1:00 pm
Cowboy's WR Terrell Owens
Terrell Owen’s return to Philadelphia is always good for some headlines and some drama, and what better setting could there be for the former Eagle to return to the Linc than the 2008 regular season finale. Owens dominated last season on the Eagle’s home field, recording 10 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown in a 38-17 Dallas victory. The match-up of Asante Samuel covering T.O. should be one of the best all year and should definitely be popcorn-worthy.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org