NFC East: 2010 schedule analysis
But on Oct. 3, McNabb makes his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia. Something tells me the fans will give him a huge ovation before that game. The Redskins play four of their first six games at home, which should allow them to get off to a decent start. But hosting the Packers and Colts in back-to-back games in early October will be tough.
The Eagles, Redskins and Giants all received great bye weeks. Shanahan will have the Week 9 bye before the Eagles come to town. It's a pretty good scenario for the Redskins. The Redskins have the eighth toughest schedule in the league based on '09 records, but the schedule lays out pretty nicely in 2010. I just don't think they have a lot to complain about -- especially since they get the Colts, Packers and Vikings at home. I think the Redskins have the best schedule in the division. But now let's come up with something to complain about.
Complaint department: The other teams in the division don't have more than two sets of back-to-back road games. The Redskins weren't as fortunate. They travel to St. Louis and Philadelphia in Weeks 3 and 4. Then they have back-to-back road games in Chicago and Detroit in late October. The Skins will spend the Christmas holidays with back-to-back games in Arlington, Texas, and Jacksonville before hosting the Giants in Week 17. The Redskins only have back-to-back home games twice during the season. I don't think this is a huge complaint, but it's worth mentioning.
Facing Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in back-to-back games in October won't be easy, but I see the Redskins emerging from the first six weeks with a 4-2 record. There, I said it.
Most-appealing matchup: It's not even close. That trip to Philly on Sunday, Oct. 3, will be one of the most anticipated games of the season. I may go ahead and book my flight. I think the second-best matchup might be that Dec. 19 game at Cowboys Stadium. The Redskins in a meaningful December game? It could happen.
Redskins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Dallas, 8:20 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Houston, 4:15 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at St. Louis, 4:05 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at Philadelphia, 4:15 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Green Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Indianapolis, 8:20 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Monday, Nov. 15, Philadelphia, 8:30 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Like the other NFC East teams, the Eagles will face a brutal December. There are back-to-back road games against the Cowboys and Giants on Dec. 12 and 19. And that Cowboys game is on Sunday night. It seems like all the NFC East matchups are on prime time this season. Andy Reid has to like the Week 8 bye. It comes before playing the Colts at the Linc and an emotional trip to Washington. It's honestly the perfect time for the bye.
Complaint department: You never want to send an inexperienced quarterback on the road for two weeks early in a season, but you could do worse than trips to Detroit and Jacksonville. It's good to have the first McNabb reunion in early October. You don't want to backload that matchup because everyone would obsess about it too much. The week after that first matchup against the Skins, the Eagles have to travel across the country to play the 49ers. That's an NBC night game Oct. 10. And quite honestly, it seems like an odd prime-time matchup.
The Eagles have back-to-back NFC games on two separate occasions. That back-to-back at Cowboys Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium is a brutal way to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas. It's great that the league has decided to have a home-and-home series between the Cowboys and Eagles in Week 17. It's a very nice little tradition and I'd have no problem with it continuing.
Most-appealing matchup: This schedule is all about the Oct. 3 game against the Skins. Sending McNabb to the Linc on a nice evening in early October seems perfect to me. You don't want to wait too long for it to happen. You think Fox is OK with that matchup? Probably so.
Eagles Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Green Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Jacksonville, 4:05 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Washington, 4:15 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at San Francisco, 8:20 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, Indianapolis, 4:15 PM
Week 10: Monday, Nov. 15, at Washington, 8:30 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, NY Giants, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Thursday, Dec. 2, Houston, 8:20 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Dallas, 8:20 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, Dallas, 1:00 PM
It's pretty impressive that a team that finished third in the division scored four prime-time games. It's pretty interesting that the Giants don't play a division opponent until Week 7. That's when they travel to Cowboys Stadium and play on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." It will mark the fourth straight season the two teams have played a night game in North Texas.
Since the Carolina Panthers closed Giants Stadium down with a beatdown, it's fitting that they'll travel to New Meadowlands Stadium in Week 1. That's a 1 p.m. ET game. I would have preferred seeing the Philadelphia Eagles open the new stadium. The Giants' first prime-time game comes in Week 2 on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. That's an NBC game and it's probably good to go ahead and get Manning vs. Manning out of the way early.
Coach Tom Coughlin hates the early bye, so I'm sure he's very pleased about the Week 8 draw. That will allow the Giants to recover from a big road game at Cowboys Stadium before they travel across the country to play the Seattle Seahawks.
Complaint Dept.: We've seen what happens when the Giants back load their schedule with division opponents. I'm not sure it's a great thing to only play one division game in the first nine weeks. I don't see a ton to complain about because the Giants don't have to stay on the road for long periods of time. But that's a brutal December, just like what the Cowboys drew. They open the month by hosting the Redskins and then they close the season on the road against Washington.
I know the league was trying to make the last two weeks more meaningful, but they may end up making us wait too long for some of the marquee games. Other than the trip to Indy, there's really not a great matchup until Monday, Oct. 25, when the Giants play Dallas on the road.
I just keep going back to that December stretch. You have the Minnesota Vikings and Packers sprinkled in between three division games.
Most-appealing matchup: Maybe the Redskins will have faded by Dec. 5, but I still think Donovan McNabb coming to New Meadowlands Stadium will be pretty special. I like Eli vs. Peyton in Week 2, but for whatever reason, seeing McNabb roll into the Meadowlands in Burgundy and Gold is very appealing to me. It's a real downer that the league sent the Panthers to open the new stadium. I'm sure most Giants fans were hoping for the Cowboys to arrive.
Giants Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Indianapolis, 8:20 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Chicago, 8:20 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Monday, Oct. 25, at Dallas, 8:30 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Dallas, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Philadelphia, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, at Green Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Washington, 1:00 PM
The Cowboys only have back-to-back games on the road twice this season. We already knew the Cowboys were going to have one of the toughest schedules in the league, but a brutal finishing stretch makes it even tougher. The Thanksgiving Day game will feature the defending Super Bowl champion Saints coming to Cowboys Stadium.
The Cowboys finally played better in December in '09, but it will be even tougher this season. It's a stretch that begins with the AFC champion Colts and includes three division games. You'd be hard-pressed to find a tougher schedule in the league.
Complaint department: Well, as we've already said, the Cowboys will be on the road for Christmas Day. That game will be on the NFL Network. I'm sure every Cowboys player (and their families) groaned after seeing that game. The aforementioned December stretch would be the biggest complaint for the Cowboys, though. You travel to Indianapolis to begin things Dec. 5 and then you host back-to-back games against the Eagles and Redskins.
After the Christmas game, you close on the road in Philly. The NFL schedule czar must laugh every time he gets to this matchup. This is the third straight season, so it looks like we've established a tradition. It's unbelievable that the Cowboys won't see the Eagles until December. How tough is that assignment? We'll have to see how Kevin Kolb starts out to answer that question. I'm sure the Cowboys hate having a bye in Week 4. You'd rather have that about two or three weeks later.
Most-appealing matchup: I love the opener against the Redskins, but the Saints Thanksgiving game is the most appealing in my book. Sending the Raiders to Cowboys Stadium on Thanksgiving was an absolute joke. Both of these teams should be in the Super Bowl conversation in 2010. It will also be interesting to see how the Cowboys fare in back-to-back road games against the Packers and Giants in November. That's a pretty salty two-week stretch.
Cowboys Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Washington, 8:20 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Tennessee, 4:15 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at Minnesota, 4:15 PM
Week 7: Monday, Oct. 25, NY Giants, 8:30 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Green Bay, 8:20 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, at NY Giants, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 25, New Orleans, 4:15 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Indianapolis, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Philadelphia, 8:20 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 25, at Arizona, 7:30 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM