Eagles' schedule soft - after Sunday

Posted: September 26, 2013

WE'RE LOOKING at this all wrong, through a pinhole and not a telescope.

That "Monday Night Football'' game between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders was a thing of beauty for the Eagles. Provided great hope, in fact.

Yes, yes, the Eagles will get killed this Sunday. If Philip Rivers looked like Peyton Manning against their defense, imagine what Peyton Manning will look like against those guys.

On second thought, don't.

If Alex Smith could find Donnie Avery in the middle of the field any time he wanted to last Thursday, imagine how ridiculous it's going to be with Wes Welker going through there.

On second thought, don't.

Think of this instead:

Man, the Oakland Raiders looked awful.

Manning practically teased their defense into submission. The second half had hardly begun and it was 30-7 and, well, anything after that I had to read about. I heard Terrelle Pryor played better toward the end of the Raiders' 37-21 loss, which is good, because he couldn't complete a flip pass when the thing started. I also heard he left the game with a concussion after he was drilled on a designed run, so there's at least an outside chance it will be Matt Flynn behind center when the Eagles visit Oakland on Nov. 3. And if that doesn't bring a smile to your face, this surely will:

Man, the Giants looked awful on Sunday, too.

And so did Tampa Bay.

The Cowboys ain't shaking the earth, either.

Can you say 6-3?

After Sunday, the Eagles play their next five games against those four teams, including the Giants twice. Granted, the Cowboys are no gimme, but Michael Vick could throw three picks and Damaris Johnson could flub two punts and it is still hard to imagine the Eagles losing to the Giants, Bucs or Raiders - a combined 1-8 this season.

Not that it can't happen. Aw hell, we've seen it. And yeah, the Eagles have their own problems, with their ballhandling blips and a secondary that can't get out of its own way. Still, given their weapons on offense, it's as hard to imagine them losing those games as it is to imagine them winning in Denver.

Harder, really.

New York is just a mess. Yeah, I know, we've said that before at this point of the season and they have found some sort of groove at the end, but this truly looks like a team vying for the No. 1 pick in the draft. They don't run the ball very well, they don't pass-block at all and they commit turnovers. Tom Coughlin is already up to three day-after pep talks, this week appealing to their pride.

After a catch-less day in the Giants' 38-0 drubbing by previously winless Carolina Sunday, Hakeem Nicks told reporters, "I can't throw the ball to myself."

And if that doesn't bring a smile to your face . . . Well, what's wrong with you?

Meanwhile, in Tampa, the guy who took the job that Kelly turned down also has been forced to dust off his best Rutgers pep talks. (Yeah, wise guy, Rutgers has pep talks.)

Tampa is 0-3 and has lost eight of its last nine games under Greg Schiano, who began his career there with fanfare, and wins. The Bucs' offense has been just plain awful, and quarterback Josh Freeman has been even worse. The good news is that Schiano has vowed to stick with him.

Which means that Oct. 13 game can't come soon enough.

No doubt, Dallas could ruin the 6-3 scenario, especially after the Cowboys seemed to unlock their running game in Sunday's 31-7 drubbing of St. Louis. But even if the Birds lose to the 'Boys, extending that ignominious streak to nine losses at home, the Giants come in the next week.

So they're 5-4.

After Oakland on Nov. 3, it's a visit to Green Bay, which is not likely to go well. Despite their own 1-2 record, there is talk that the Packers might have three players with more than 1,000 yards receiving by season's end.

Or by the end of that game.

But then the Redskins come to town, another 0-3 team that began this season by making the Eagles look like the Broncos.

When most of us picked this to be a tough, losing first season for Chip Kelly, we did so based on a 4-12 record from the season before, a college coach's first-year NFL learning curve, and the reputation of the division in which the Eagles played.

The first two factors have played into their 1-2 start. Their defensive personnel and nagging knack of turning the ball over at the most inopportune times are by far the largest reasons they are not 3-0. And yeah, the coach is learning.

But the division? Both the Giants and Redskins have bigger issues right now than the Eagles. And it would seem that Dallas, despite an impressive win over the unimpressive Rams, has almost as many. But even if the Cowboys are legit, the Eagles' schedule after Sunday includes only two other games against teams currently holding a winning record - Detroit and Chicago.

Both visit here in December.

So relax Sunday. No matter how ugly it looks. The Eagles may not look much like a playoff team right now, but neither does a large majority of the teams left on their schedule.

And somebody's gotta get in - right?


Email: donnels@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @samdonnellon

Columns: ph.ly/Donnellon

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