The NFL released its 2012 schedule yesterday evening and now that we've had a chance to digest it... what do make of who the Eagles will be playing next year? First, here is the full Eagles schedule if you haven't seen it. So familiarize yourself with it and then let's move to some reactions.
- The Eagles will be on prime time no less than 5 times next season. Twice on both Sunday and Monday night football as well once on Thursday night football. They'll also be a part of two nationally televised late Sunday games, week 3 against Arizona & week 9 against Dallas. There's also that week 17 game against the Giants that could be ripe to be flexed to prime time if it has major playoff implications.
- As we know in the NFL (and Eagles fans especially after last season) you never really know how a team will perform relative to expectations. However, pretty much all we've got to go on at the moment is how teams performed in 2011. So the Eagles, like the rest of the NFC East, have a tough schedule based on last year's results. They'll play 7 2011 playoff teams next year.
- The Eagles will play 6 of those 2011 payoff teams in the first 9 weeks of the season.
- The schedule-makers kind of screwed the Eagles last year having them travel all the way across the country to Seattle for a Thursday night game on 4 days rest. It was a tough spot and the Eagles got pounded. This year they will play on Thursday night again, but it will be at home against the Bengals.
- There is also only one back to back set of games for the Eagles. Bettors will tell you that the second leg of back to back games is where a team will often struggle. Compare the Eagles with a team like Dallas, who has three back to back road games this season.
- This is not to say the schedule guys were kind to the Eagles. In fact, they put them a notable disadvantage with a quirk of the schedule that you may not have realized. Smart bettors will also tell you that another spot where they like to bet against teams is when they face someone coming off their bye. The Eagles will find themselves in this scenario four times this season! The Lions, Steelers, Redskins & Falcons will all have two weeks of rest before playing the Birds this year. That said, against the Falcons, the Eagles will also be coming off their bye, where Andy Reid is 13-0.
The key thing about most of the points I've made here is that this all applies regardless of how good any of these teams are. We can guess, but we really don't know who will be good next season. In fact, you can be sure that one of these teams everyone picks to make the postseason won't next year (that was us last year). But what we do know is that looking at years of data, that playing back to back road games is tough and playing teams after a bye is a tough. The Eagles got a break with the former, but will have a rough go with the latter.