Now that the dust begins to settle after a 3-0 start the season and with the bye week underway, it is time to look ahead as the Eagles schedule gets increasingly difficult.
Any given Sunday in the NFL can prove to be a battle, but some opponents are simply more talented than others. During the remainder of the season, Philadelphia's schedule will be arduous to navigate.
After last Sunday's win against the Steelers, the Eagles have proven they can beat anyone in the league on a week-to-week basis. Pittsburgh remains one of the top teams in the NFL, and get one of its best weapons back this week in Le'Veon Bell after he served his three-game suspension.
Despite what the Eagles have proven so far this season, they do play four of their next five games on the road after this week's bye. That is always a grueling task to deal with.
The four road games are against the Detroit Lions (Oct. 9, 1 p.m.), Washington Redskins (Oct. 16, 1 p.m.), Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 30, 8:30 p.m.) and New York Giants (Nov. 6, 1 p.m.). The lone home game during this five-game stretch is the return of Sam Bradford to Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 23, as the Vikings come to town.
The opponents during the next five games, four on the road, have a combined record of 9-6. Each of these teams have legitimate shots to make playoff runs this season, though Detroit has to play the Packers one more time and the Vikings twice in a solid NFC North.
Three division games in four weeks is also an important stretch. Though the Eagles are off to a fast start, they have yet to play a division team. Winning four of the six NFC East games will give them a great shot to claim the division crown in 2016.
After the aforementioned five-game stretch following the bye week, the Atlanta Falcons come to the Linc in Week 10 before the Eagles go back on the road in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks. Atlanta appears to be an improved offensive team during the early goings of this campaign, while Seattle on the road is a monumental task. The Seahawks "12th man" is one of the best home field advantages in the NFL.
The Eagles will get an extra day to prepare to host the Green Bay Packers on the Monday Night Football stage in Week 12. Preparing for the Packers offense is always a challenge.
Then, they head back to the road for a matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. The last time the Eagles played in Cincinnati was in 2008, the game where Donovan McNabb wasn't aware of the overtime rules.
The good news with the last four games is that three of those contests will be at home. It always evens out, as the Eagles play a ton of road games early in the season. More importantly, all three of the home games are against division foes, starting with Washington in Week 14. They will host a Thursday night game against the Giants in Week 16, and the final game of the regular season is on New Year's Day against the Dallas Cowboys. Sandwiched in between in Week 15 is a road game against the Baltimore Ravens.
When the schedule is released each April for the next season, it has become very popular for analysts, sports talk show hosts and writers to break it down game-by-game and give their predictions based off that. The fact is things change during the months leading up to the next campaign.
Many had the Eagles winning eight games or less in 2016. After a 3-0 start, it might be safe to say those future outlooks may need to be tweaked.
The final 13 games of the season will prove to be the biggest test of all for this Eagles team. With the early bye week, 13 straight weeks of games isn't the most ideal situation.
It doesn't appear that this team is about to make any excuses, however. If the first three weeks of the season taught us anything, it is that this team could care less what those preseason outlooks were. They have a sense of belief now, and will take each challenge ahead in stride.