The date of April 14th used to only hold significance for being the last day to finish your taxes before “Tax Day”, but this year everything was different as it was “Release Day” for the 2009 NFL Schedule. The release of the schedule used to be another press release only footnote event on the road to the next NFL season in September, but with the advent of NFL Network, it truly is a spectacle unto itself. The entire 2009 schedule (17 weeks and 256 games) were announced and analyzed on NFL Network during a two-hour primetime show called NFL Total Access: 2009 Schedule Release that seemed to have 300 analysts. Hope sprang eternal around the NFL… Yes, even in Detroit where the Lions did not win a game in 2008 going an NFL-record 0-16 there was a sense of hope. From Oakland to New England, fans started penciling in wins/losses (don’t forget there are ties too) and circling key match-ups.
Sure we now know the dates and times of the Eagles’ 17-week regular season, but it is always impossible to predict games that are months away. Raise your hand if you thought the Eagles would tie the lowly Cincinnati Bengals or lose twice to the Redskins in 2008. So remember any analysis on the schedule is not written in stone as anything can happen from April to September (injuries, trades, the draft, etc) when the real games begin. The approach I like to take when looking at a team’s schedule is to break it into four quarters. The Eagles open at Carolina, who when we last saw them were falling badly in the playoffs (watch for their two-headed backfield). Then they have two winnable games against non-playoff qualifiers New Orleans and Kansas City before an early bye in Week 4. The middle part of their schedule is where things will get interesting as they face two rising teams in the Buccaneers (home) and Raiders (road) before starting their tough divisional games. After their cross-country trip to the “Black Hole”, the Eagles have to travel to Washington (Week 7) for Monday Night Football then come back on a short week to host divisional foe, the NY Giants in a Fox late afternoon feature game
The second half of the Birds’ schedule doesn’t get any easier as they start with a grudge match game against the hated Cowboys on Sunday Night Football – hopefully the Eagles play better in primetime than last year as they were 2-3 with wins only over the East Coast-phobic Cardinals and lowly Browns. Then the schedule-makers didn’t give the Eagles any breaks as they have to do a second cross-country trip to face the playoff tested Chargers (Week 10) immediately followed by another road game. This time the setting will be frigid Chicago as the Eagles take-on Jay Cutler and the Bears in another Sunday Night special. The Eagles after two straight weeks in two different timezones will return home for a divisional match-up against the Redskins. I believe the third quarter of the Eagles schedule is probably one of the toughest in the NFL. They have two back-to-back cross-country trips, two primetime games, and don’t face a single team with a losing record from 2008.
The fourth quarter of the schedule maybe equally as difficult as the 3rd quarter with the Eagles traveling to Atlanta in Week 13 to face the rising Falcons and Philly burbs quarterback Matt Ryan. Then if you can believe it, another Sunday Nighter as the Eagles travel to the Giants – Birds were 0-2 on SNF in 2008…maybe it is the Madden Curse. Two of the Eagles last three games are at home as finally a west coast team comes to the Linc with the Niners (Week 15) playing the Birds in a 1PM Sunday afternoon game. Week 16 will be a “Reunion Sunday” as Brian Dawkins and Correll Buckhalter return for an emotional battle with the Eagles – there will probably be more #20 jerseys than ever as fans show the Eagles front office how they feel about their departed warrior. The season will end in Week 17 as the Eagles play the Cowboys at the their yet to be named palace – hopefully the Eagles will be able to throttle them the same way they did in WK 17 last year.
Well there is the Birds regular season schedule laid-out for you, so you can start planning your Sundays and Mondays throughout the season. To say the least, the schedule is interesting as the Eagles will only face four teams that made the playoffs in 2008. But they will log a lot of frequent flier miles and play a featured late afternoon or evening game six times.
2009 Eagles Schedule
WK1: THU. AUG 13 PATRIOTS 7:00 PM ETN/6abc
WK2: THU AUG 20 @ Colts 8:00 PM FOX
WK3: THU AUG 27 JAGUARS 7:00 PM ETN/6abc
WK4: THU SEPT 3 @ Jets 7:00 PM ETN/6abc
WK1: SUN SEPT 13 @ Panthers 1:00 PM FOX
WK2 SUN SEPT 20 SAINTS 1:00 PM FOX
WK3: SUN SEPT 27 CHIEFS 1:00 PM CBS
WK4: SUN OCT 4 BYE
WK5: SUN OCT 11 BUCCANEERS 1:00 PM FOX
WK6: SUN OCT 18 @ Raiders 4:05 PM FOX
WK7: MON OCT 26 @ Redskins 8:30 PM ESPN/6abc*
WK8: SUN NOV 1 GIANTS 4:15 PM FOX*
WK9: SUN NOV 8 COWBOYS 8:20 PM NBC*
WK10: SUN NOV 15 @ Chargers 4:15 PM FOX*
WK11: SUN NOV 22 @ Bears 8:20 PM NBC*
WK12: SUN NOV 29 REDSKINS 1:00 PM FOX
WK13: SUN DEC 6 @ Falcons 1:00 PM FOX
WK 14: SUN DEC 13 @ Giants 8:20 PM NBC*
WK15: SUN DEC 20 49ERS 1:00 PM FOX
WK16: SUN DEC 27 BRONCOS 1:00 PM CBS
WK17: SUN JAN 3 @ Cowboys 1:00 PM FOX
*Nationally televised game
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)