The Philadelphia Eagles' 2017 schedule features five playoff teams from a year ago, an extended stay out West, and a trip to Kansas City to check in on an old friend. Oh, and Monday Night Football against the Raiders on Christmas.
While technically a last-place schedule, quarterback Carson Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson will face their share of challenges in Year 2. Here is my game-by-game analysis:
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10 at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
A chance for the Eagles to reverse a negative trend right out of the gate. The Eagles have dropped their last five to Washington, including three straight on the road. You have to go back to 2013 to find an Eagles win at FedEx Field. The Redskins had an awfully rocky offseason, however, and an eager Wentz, playing alongside Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith for the first time, will pounce. Record: 1-0.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17 at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
It's teacher versus student, as Andy Reid squares off against protégé Doug Pederson. This is the Eagles' first trip to Kansas City since 2005, and it should be a memorable one. Record: 1-1
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24 vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m.
It is unclear who will be opposite Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. At best, the Eagles will be young at the corner position. At worst, they'll be talent-deficient. It could be tough sledding for the secondary in the NFC East. Record: 1-2
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
An intimate affair by NFL standards, as the Eagles play the Chargers in StubHub Center: a soccer stadium that seats about 30,000 and will serve as the Chargers' temporary home in Year 1 of their move to L.A. That'll be quite the contrast to their game at the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which has a capacity of 80,000 for Rams games. Record: 2-2
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m.
The Cards have given the Eagles plenty of fits over the years dating to their time together in the NFC East. Arizona holds a 59-55-5 record over the Eagles all time, including two wins in its past three trips to Lincoln Financial Field. Former Temple coach Bruce Arians seems to enjoy sticking it to the Eagles after they canceled their head-coaching interview with him back in 2013. Record: 2-3
Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 12 at Carolina Panthers, 8:25 p.m.
This is an example where a last-place schedule doesn't always lead to the easier path. The Panthers finished 6-10 last year but went 15-1 in 2015 en route to a Super Bowl appearance, finishing a string of three straight trips to the postseason. This could be a bounce-back year. Record: 2-4
Week 7: Monday, Oct. 23 vs Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m.
The last time these two teams met, Doug Pederson dropped Wentz back 46 times despite the fact that it was a close game throughout. Inconsistency in the run game was part of the reason why Wentz ended with the most pass attempts in franchise history. Will it be any different in 2017? Record: 2-5
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1 p.m.
What could have been. When the Eagles 2017 opponents were determined back in December, Chip Kelly was still the Niners' head coach. This would have been his glorious return to Philly. Instead, it's Kyle Shanahan at the controls of a franchise trying to regain its footing. Record: 3-5
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5 vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m.
The Eagles haven't lost to the Broncos at home since 1986 and hold a 5-1 home record against Denver overall. With a new head coach in Vance Joseph and some uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position (Trevor Siemien? Paxton Lynch? Door No. 3?), there's some mystery to this Broncos team. But Doug Pederson knows overcoming that standout defense is the key. Record: 4-5
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19 at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.
The Eagles let one slip away late and fell in OT the last time they traveled to Dallas. They've had plenty of success there otherwise of late, winning the previous three games at AT&T Stadium. Record: 5-5
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26 vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Wentz has fond memories from his first matchup with the Bears. Back in Week 2 of last season, he created league-wide buzz by leading the Eagles to a 29-14 win (he completed 62 percent of his throws for 190 yards and a touchdown) in his first NFL road tilt. This time the game's at the Linc, and Wentz has Chicago's former top weapon Alshon Jeffery on his side now. Record: 6-5
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3 at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m.
Wentz got a taste of playing at CenturyLink Field in his rookie season, a 26-15 Eagles loss last November. There shouldn't be any surprises this time around, but cross-country trip plus Legion of Boom often equals trouble. Record: 6-6
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10 at Los Angeles Rams
It's Wentz against Jared Goff (we think), a clash of the top two picks in the 2016 NFL draft. The early returns are in favor of Wentz, as Goff started out his rookie season on the bench and went 0-7 as the starter. This is a chance for Wentz to further make the case for why he's the better prospect. Record: 7-6
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17 at New York Giants
Wentz and the offense are really hitting their stride by this point, though the secondary problems haven't gone away. A shootout, this time with the Eagles coming out on top. Record: 8-6
Week 16: Monday, Dec. 25 vs. Oakland Raiders, 8:30 p.m.
Eagles-Raiders, under the lights, Christmas night, Monday Night Football on ESPN. This is going to be fun. With many of the league's established QBs now in the back end of their prime, Wentz and Oakland's Derek Carr are two potential candidates to lead the next wave. Carr is a bit more seasoned at the moment, and the Raiders, coming off their first playoff appearance since 2002, appear to have the talent advantage overall. Record: 8-7
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m.
The Eagles closed out the season with a home game against Dallas, which proved to be Tony Romo's last appearance in the NFL. Dak Prescott is the man now, and he and Wentz will be judged side-by-side for years to come. Record: 9-7