Following their Week 5 cupcake of a home game against the New York Jets — a comprehensive 31-6 victory — the Philadelphia Eagles are staring down the barrel of their most difficult portion of the 2019 schedule.
For the next three weeks, the Eagles will be on the road where they’ll be visiting their fair share of daunting opponents.
Sunday provides a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, who soundly defeated the New York Giants in Week 5 while providing an opportunity for the team’s dangerous-looking offense to get back on track. The Vikings have no shortage of weapons with the likes of running back Dalvin Cook alongside receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The problem has been the playcalling of head coach Mike Zimmer and the confidence issues of Kirk Cousins properly distributing the ball to those pass-catching targets.
After a 300-yard passing effort — 130 of those going to Thielen — Cousins could be finding his groove, which could be bad news for an Eagles secondary that has made some promising steps in the right direction. However, questions of their long-standing legitimacy remain.
It doesn’t get easier as an enormous divisional matchup with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium follows on Sunday night (Oct. 20). After two-successive losses, the Cowboys have plummeted from Super Bowl contenders to overrated and will be keen on re-stating their divisional intentions against the Eagles. They have a tune-up game at the Meadowlands against the lowly Jets.
From Dallas, the Eagles head to Western New York to face a Buffalo Bills team that is one of the early surprises in the NFL.
With a 4-1 start — albeit against an easier schedule — the Bills are boasting one of the top defenses in the NFL. Buffalo ranks third in points and total yards allowed while giving up the second-fewest passing touchdowns in the league.
They also have a cushy schedule leading up to their Week 8 matchup with the Eagles with a bye week this Sunday followed by a home game against the Miami Dolphins, who may become one of the worst teams in NFL history.
That’s a brutal stretch for the Eagles, who have their baseball-playing neighbors, the Phillies, to thank for this.
Back in April, NBC Sports’ Peter King reported that the NFL gave the Eagles this October schedule because of “Bryce Harper and the Phils.”
The league was expecting the Phillies to make the playoffs after acquiring the superstar right fielder — an understandable notion considering the team looked loaded to make a serious run at not only the NL East crown, but a pennant.
Considering that Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles, is across the street from the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, there was a good chance that there would be Sunday postseason games in the City of Brotherly Love this month that would have presented quite a scheduling conflict.
It’s happened twice before over the last 11 years. The Eagles played an Oct. 26, 2008 home game at 1 p.m. just hours before the Phillies hosted Game 4 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Two years later, the Eagles played opener for another Phillies main act, Game 2 of the 2010 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.
The problem is that the Phillies didn’t live up to those expectations in 2019. An 81-81 season saw the team miss the postseason for the eighth-straight season, forcing the Eagles to experience this difficult road trip for no good reason.
Of course, the Eagles will be compensated for their October troubles. They’ll play five of their final eight games of the season at home, but it will still include matchups against the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, and Cowboys.