There's something special about football. Don't get me wrong, I love basketball and baseball is in my blood, but football season is a different animal altogether. It's the limited number of games. A bad loss in baseball can only be dwelled on for 24 hours in most cases, then there's another game to soothe your nerves. You might have a day or two off between hoops games, but then it's time to move on. With football you have a whole week.
Sundays are for excitement. From the time you get up until kickoff you can't think about anything else. You sit glued to the TV for those magical three hours, then you spend the rest of the night going over every play, good or bad.
Mondays are for second guessing. With a little time it's easier to put your finger on what went wrong, or right. You boil games down, kick yourself over missed opportunities, count your lucky stars for an opportune bounce.
Tuesday through Thursday are for perspective. You take a look at the standings, double check the box scores to see what division rivals have done. Look ahead at the schedule and generally try to put the past week's game into some kind of context. You take a look at where your team is, where they need to be, and what they need to do to get there. That's what we're going to try to do today, and going forward, in the middle of the week. Before we get to that, though, let's finish the circle.
Fridays and Saturdays are a slow rumble in your stomach that builds and builds and builds until you can't take it anymore. You get antsy. You read every preview you can find online. You talk the game through with your friends. You talk trash to your enemies. Each morning you scour the injury reports with a wary eye. Fridays and Saturdays are a manic buildup to the day every football fan lives for. Game day.
Bye weeks, well they just suck.
After the jump, we'll take the long view of the Eagles season.
|1||St. Louis||Win, 38-3||1-0|
|2||@ Dallas||Loss, 41-37||1-1|
|6||@ San Francisco||--||--|
|10||New York Giants||--||--|
|14||@ New York Giants||--||--|
When I look at that schedule, something jumps out at me. The Eagles just began their toughest stretch of games. At Dallas, at home vs. Pittsburgh, then at Chicago. Granted, the way the schedule looks before the season, or even two weeks into the season, doesn't mean much in the NFL these days. Worst-to-first stories seem to happen every year, but from the looks of things right now, the Eagles will only have three games against legit playoff contenders the rest of the way. Two against the Giants, and the season finale against the Cowboys.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. On Monday night, the Eagles made a statement to themselves. There were plenty of people out there who had picked them to do well this season, but that was all on paper. They had to step on the field against one of the top teams in the league and prove that not only was McNabb all the way back, but as a group they were all the way back. The loss stings like you wouldn't believe, but no Eagle should've walked off that field hanging his head. They went into the belly of the beast minus their two starting wide recievers and torched the Dallas D. It wasn't the ideal beginning to this three-game stretch, but it will do.
Part two of the test comes this weekend against a Pittsburgh team led by a banged up Ben Roethlisberger. This game is the next step. To come out of these three games 3-0 was probably an unrealistic goal. To come out of them 2-1 would be huge. 1-2, not a death sentence, but definitely a step in the wrong direction. 0-3 and you're fighting an uphill battle the rest of the way.
It's probably way too early to start worrying about the playoffs and final records, but I will say this. With the way the schedule is laid out, if the Eagles can win these next two games, 12-4 is within their reach, easily. If everything breaks right, that final game in Dallas could be for home field advantage. For now, let's get through this Pittsburgh game and then take stock in the middle of next week.
I'll have a full preview up on Friday, in the mean time, start thinking about what the Eagles have to do differently to find running room against a 3-4 defense. There wasn't a whole lot there against the Cowboys. Also, cross your fingers that Shawn Andrews won't be missing too much time.