Sep 8, 2023 - Sports

Philadelphia Eagles season preview: Tough schedule and big tests

Philadelphia fans hold up a jersey of Eagles cornerback Darius Slay during training camp.

Slay, Eagles, Slay. Photo: John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A "rare bird," a rare season and a rare moment.

What's happening: The Eagles' regular season starts this Sunday after capturing lightning in a bottle last year.

Flashback: Led by "triple threat" QB Jalen Hurts, the Birds put up gaudy numbers on offense and defense en route to the NFC crown and a Super Bowl appearance against the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • They were thunderstruck in the championship, watching a hobbled Patrick Mahomes carve up their stout defense in the second half, as the Chiefs erased a 10-point lead to blow up the Birds' longed-for fairytale ending.

Driving the news: The Eagles open their season with a stiff road test against the New England Patriots that'll tell us a lot about how prepared they are to make another Super Bowl run.

  • The Eagles made key offseason acquisitions, including backup QB Marcus Mariota and D'Andre Swift, to enhance what's already a loaded roster boasting the likes of Jason Kelce, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

Yes, but: History isn't on their side. The 1974 Minnesota Vikings were the last NFC team to lose the Super Bowl and make it back to the game the next year, per ESPN.

They do have one big thing going for them. In Philly, fandom is a full-time job. Fans break news. They call out of work to stand in line for hours for throwback Kelly green jerseys.

  • That's to say, there's no "how to fake it" here. Nope, it's "how to embrace it."

The big picture: The Eagles need to embrace all the help they can get to survive what many agree is one of the most brutal schedules in the NFL.

  • They play five teams that finished first in their divisions last year, per CBS Sports. Plus, six of their eight home games are against teams that made the playoffs last year.

Zoom in: Hurts, already a statistical juggernaut last season, now has more job security after signing a lucrative new deal with the Eagles. He continues improving at a clip not seen out of many players.

What they're saying: It's hard for anyone around the league to imagine Hurts replicating last year's MVP-caliber season, but not Nick Sirianni. The head coach has told reporters that Hurts' potential is limitless.

  • "He's really like a coach on the field with those things," Sirianni said. "Our conversations in the quarterback room just keep getting deeper and deeper as far as how we dissect all the things we're doing."

Yes, and: Patriots legendary head coach Bill Belichick called Hurts "arguably the best player in the league."

The bottom line: Fame, money and praise aren't what motivates Hurts. Championships do.

  • If he's shown an enduring trait every time he's doubted, it's an indomitable work ethic that will serve the Eagles well as they once again chase a Lombardi trophy.

"I didn't walk through that fire," Hurts said, "just to smell the smoke."


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