Philadelphia Eagles schedule analysis
Breakdown: The Philadelphia Eagles' only two prime-time games are in the first three weeks of the season -- their "Monday Night Football" opener in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins and their Week 3 Thursday night home game against Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs. Coming off a 4-12 season, the Eagles aren't automatically a big prime-time TV draw, but initial excitement over new head coach Chip Kelly and interest in the way his up-tempo offense is going to look could bring in viewers early in the season. Having the prime-time games in September guards against the possibility that the Eagles have a bad year and aren't the kind of team the networks want to showcase when the weather cools down. There remains the possibility of "flexing" one or more of the final six games to a Sunday night prime-time slot if the Eagles end up in the playoff race.
Playing Washington early could turn out to be a break, as Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III is recovering from offseason knee surgery and might not be ready to play in that game. Even if Griffin is cleared for Week 1, he's likely to have missed a good chunk of the offseason program and training camp and may not be at full strength.
The Eagles' final game of the season is a road game against the Dallas Cowboys, and if very recent history is any indication, that could be a good thing for Philadelphia. The Cowboys have played for (and lost) the division title in Week 17 in each of the past two seasons.
Complaint department: The first thing that jumps out is that the Eagles' first three games come in an 11-day stretch, thanks to the Monday night game in Week 1 and the Thursday night game in Week 3. Obviously, they get a couple of extra days of rest after that, but they're going to need them because the Week 4-10 stretch looks absolutely brutal.
It starts with three consecutive road games in Denver, New Jersey (against the Giants) and Tampa Bay. Home games against the division-rival Cowboys and Giants follow in Weeks 7 and 8, then the Eagles go on the road for two more in a row with long trips to Oakland and Green Bay. And all of this happens before the Eagles' bye week, which comes very late this year in Week 12. If they're going to play and practice at the speed Kelly's been talking about, there's a chance they could be pretty worn out by the time they hit their break.
Reid's return: The Week 3 storyline isn't hard to predict. Reid, who was fired in January after 14 seasons as the Eagles' head coach, is now the head coach of the Chiefs, who visit Lincoln Financial Field in the nationally televised Thursday night game Sept. 19. The run-up to that game will be packed with questions about how Reid will be greeted by Eagles fans who grew tired of him by the end of his tenure in Philadelphia. Reid surely will downplay it and talk about keeping the focus on the game and the players, but it's sure to be an emotional night for him so soon after his break with his former team.
Eagles Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 9, at Washington, 7:10 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, San Diego, 1:00 p.m.
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 19, Kansas City, 8:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at NY Giants, 1:00 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Dallas, 1:00 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, NY Giants, 1:00 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Green Bay, 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Washington, 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Arizona, 1:00 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Detroit, 1:00 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Minnesota, 1:00 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Dallas, 1:00 p.m.