Playoffs-Bound? Predictions for Birds' 2014 Season

The Eagles will appear in prime-time four times during the 2014 NFL season and it’s not a surprise that they’ve been spotlighted so many times, considering their success last season and the interest football fans have in the high-powered offense of Eagles coach Chip Kelly. But what is surprising is that none of those prime-time games is against Washington and its new marquee player, wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles released Jackson this offseason and he was quickly signed by Washington, and it was widely anticipated that Jackson’s old team would play his new team on either Monday or Sunday night. But the first meeting between these long-time divisional rivals is just an ordinary, 1 p.m. start on Sept. 21 in Philadelphia and their rematch comes on Dec. 21 at Washington at 4:30 p.m. and that one will be nationally televised, albeit in the afternoon.

The Eagles four prime-time games include two on Monday night (at Indianapolis on Sept. 15 and at home vs. Carolina on Nov. 10) and two on Sunday night (vs. the New York Giants on Oct. 12 and vs. Dallas on Dec. 14. That game against the Cowboys will be the first of three straight NFC East games that will close out the season and will probably decide the division title.

So, that means it’s time for our yearly attempt to figure out the Eagles’ final record on a week-by-week basis, which is usually a fruitless exercise, but fun nonetheless.

Week 1: Sept. 7 vs. Jacksonville, 1 p.m. The Eagles couldn’t have picked a better way to open the season than against a bad team at home. If they don’t win this one it will be a long, long season, but it’s hard to imagine them falling to the hapless Jags. Win (record 1-0).

Week 2: Sept 15 at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. The first Monday night game is on the road against a team that has the best young QB in the game in Andrew Luck. The Colts has a great regular season (11-5) before laying an egg in the playoffs and they’ll be looking for redemption in 2014 – and this one is in the Colts’ home dome and they’re especially tough there. Loss (record 1-1).

Week 3: Sept. 21 vs. Washington, 1 p.m. The hype, of course, will be all about Jackson’s return to Lincoln Financial Field, but the real story will be the play of Washington QB Robert Griffin III, who struggled much of last season as he came back from a serious knee injury. But this team also has a new coach and a new system and Washington will probably have problems early in the season. Win (record 2-1).

Week 4: Sept. 28 at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. This will be the Eagles’ first real test of the season as they take on a team that has gone to three straight NFC championship games. It’ll be fun watching the Eagles’ offense vs. the 49ers’ rugged defense, but the home team has too much going for it on both sides of the ball. Loss (record 2-2).

Week 5: Oct. 5 vs. St. Louis, 1 p.m. The Rams are one of those teams that is hard to figure out. They have plenty of talent, but have problems putting it all together and QB Sam Bradford has been inconsistent throughout his career. The Eagles should be able to hang on in this one. Win (record 3-2).

Week 6: Oct. 12 vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. This will be another fun game to watch as the Giants try to rebound from a disappointing season. The big question mark is QB Eli Manning, who has two Super Bowl rings, but had a terrible season in 2013. This will be a tough, physical game as always, but the Eagles are on the way up and the Giants are on the way down. Win (record 4-2).

Week 7: Oct. 19. Bye.

Week 8: Oct. 26 at Arizona, 4:05 p.m. The Eagles have the advantage of coming off their bye week, but they always seem to have problems in Arizona, and the Cardinals have a pretty good team that plays in the best division in the NFL. Loss (record 4-3).

Week 9: Nov. 2 at Houston, 1 p.m. The Texans only won two games last season, but they made the playoffs the previous season, so they could rebounds in 2014. But this is still a team trying to find its way back and they still aren’t settled at quarterback. Win (record 5-3).

Week 10: Nov. 10 vs. Carolina, 8:30 p.m. The Eagles play their second game on Monday night and this will be a tough one. Carolina won its division last season as QB Cam Newton finally lived up to his potential, but it was the Panthers’ defense that keyed their 2013 season. Loss (record 5-4).

Week 11: Nov. 16 at Green Bay, 1 p.m. The Packers were dominating NFC North last season when All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers was injured and they weren’t the same after that. Well, Rodgers is back and so is the Pack, and Green Back is especially tough at hallowed Lambeau Field. Loss (record 5-5)

Week 12: Nov. 23 Tennessee, 1 p.m. The Titans are rebuilding and that’s hard to do when you don’t have a franchise quarterback, and so far the Titans don’t. That could change on draft day, but right now Tennessee is a mediocre team at best. Win (record 6-5).

Week 13: Nov. 27 at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. This game is on Thanksgiving and the Eagles should be grateful the Cowboys released some key players this offseason and Dallas hasn’t done much to replace them. As always, the Cowboys will go as far as QB Tony Romo takes them and nobody knows how that will work out. Win (record 7-5).

Week 14: Dec. 7 Seattle, 4:25 p.m. The Eagles start the final stretch against the defending Super Bowl champions and there’s no reason to believe the Seahawks won’t be as good as they were last season – in fact, they should be better, which isn’t good news for anybody in the NFC. Loss (record 7-6).

Week 15: Dec. 14 vs. Dallas, 8:30 p.m. The Eagles face the Cowboys in another nationally-televised game, but this one is at home, where the crowd will be fired up more than any game this season. And there’s nothing they’d like more than to be present when the Eagles sweep their archrivals this season. Win (record 8-6).

Week 16: Dec. 20 at Washington, 4:30 p.m. This game will also be on national television, and even though the DeSean Jackson story line will be old by now, these teams could be battling for the division lead. Win (record 9-6).

Week 17: Dec. 28 at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m. If things go as expected, the Eagles will go into the final weekend of the season as contenders for a playoff berth and the Giants will not. That should make all the difference as the Eagles will have something to play for and the Giants will be wondering what happened to their once-proud franchise. Win (record 10-6).Non

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