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2021 Eagles schedule: Our beat writers analyze the season game-by-game and predict some surprises

The Birds visit the Cowboys in Week 3. Andy Reid brings his Chiefs to town in Week 4, and Tom Brady and the Bucs try to take over the Linc in Week 6.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (left) evades Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in December. The Eagles play the Cowboys in the 2021 regular-season finale. Will it matter?
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (left) evades Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in December. The Eagles play the Cowboys in the 2021 regular-season finale. Will it matter?Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

The Eagles’ 2021 schedule is set, and our beat writers have plenty to say about it. Here is a game-by-game look at how things may play out for the new-look Birds:

Week 1, Sept. 12: Eagles at Falcons, 1 p.m.

Jeff McLane: The Nick Sirianni era begins against another first-time head coach: Arthur Smith. Aside from the travel, it’s a generous opener. WIN

Paul Domowitch: The Eagles haven’t beaten the Falcons in Atlanta since 2009. The drought continues as QB Matt Ryan slices and dices Jonathan Gannon’s defense. LOSS

Les Bowen: Do the Eagles have anyone who can cover Kyle Pitts? Nick Sirianni’s offense gets what ought to be a “soft opening,” in restaurant parlance, against a pliable defense. WIN

EJ Smith: Two new coaching staffs face off to start the season. Even if Atlanta deals Julio Jones before Week 1, Atlanta’s offense has too much firepower for Jonathan Gannon’s defense. LOSS

Week 2, Sept. 19: 49ers at Eagles, 1 p.m.

McLane: The Eagles should be playing to a packed Linc for the first time in 20 months. It might not matter if Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. return to form. LOSS

Domowitch: The offensive line’s ability to protect Jalen Hurts will be tested in a big way now that the Niners have Nick Bosa and Dee Ford back from injury. LOSS

Bowen: Thank heavens at least one North Dakota State quarterback appears at the Linc this year. Will it be Trey Lance running the Kyle Shanahan offense? I see the Niners bouncing back from last season’s injury chaos. LOSS

Smith: Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance running Kyle Shanahan’s offense, the Eagles likely don’t stand a chance against a healthy Niners team. LOSS

Week 3, Sept 27: Eagles at Cowboys, 8:15 p.m., Monday Night Football

McLane: Dallas could be the favorite to win the NFC East. The Eagles’ next chance to gauge themselves against a division rival won’t come for another nine weeks. LOSS

Domowitch: The Cowboys hired a new defensive coordinator (Dan Quinn) after finishing 28th in points allowed. But he can’t change water into wine. The Eagles manage to avoid an 0-3 start as Jalen Hurts throws a walk-off touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. WIN

Bowen: Dallas looks formidable on paper, a sentence we type every year, it seems. The Eagles have lost five of the last seven meetings, three in a row at Dallas. LOSS

Smith: This ought to be fun. The Cowboys’ defense should stink again this year, so this could be a shootout. I’m just not sure the Eagles’ offense is good enough to hold up in that type of game. LOSS

» READ MORE: 2021 Eagles schedule: New coach Nick Sirianni, QB Jalen Hurts face a tough first six weeks

Week 4, Oct. 3: Chiefs at Eagles, 1 p.m.

McLane: Kansas City represents what the Eagles aim to be: a perennial winner with a franchise quarterback and speed all over the field. This meeting could show how far they lag behind. LOSS

Domowitch: Andy Reid returns to Philly for the first time since 2013. He’ll be bringing one of the best offenses in the league with him unless Patrick Mahomes comes down with food poisoning. LOSS

Bowen: This ought to be a mismatch. We have no idea what the Eagles’ 2021 defense will look like, but improvement will have to be stunning to keep the Chiefs’ offense from running up the score. LOSS

Smith: Short week against Patrick Mahomes? Yikes. The Chiefs’ offense will make Eagles fans bemoan Howie Roseman’s decision not to take a cornerback earlier in the draft. LOSS

Week 5, Oct. 10: Eagles at Panthers, 1 p.m.

McLane: Matt Rhule is turning Carolina over bit by bit, but Sam Darnold looks like a stopgap more than a solution. Will the Eagles have a better read on Jalen Hurts at the quarter pole? WIN

Domowitch: With Bruce Arians and the Super Bowl-champion Bucs up next, could Nick Sirianni become the first Eagles coach in history to lose to two ex-Temple coaches in the same season? Close but no cigar. WIN

Bowen: No idea what to expect from Matt Rhule and Sam Darnold this year. Or from Nick Sirianni and the Eagles, really. WIN

Smith: Carolina’s got a young defense with a lot of high-upside players and an offense without much firepower. Unless the team takes a big leap, this is a winnable game for the Eagles. WIN

Week 6, Oct. 14: Bucs at Eagles, 8:20 p.m., Thursday Night Football

McLane: The second of the Eagles’ two prime-time games comes on Thursday night vs. the defending champs. The Bucs may be unable to repeat, but an upset against Tom Brady, even at age 44, seems unlikely. LOSS

Domowitch: Does it really matter that the Eagles are playing Tom Brady and the Super Bowl-champion Bucs at the Linc on a short week? Absolutely not. LOSS

Bowen: Tom Brady at the Linc, helming the defending Super Bowl champions? Doubt Bruce Arians has Brady try to catch any passes. Short week, Eagles coming off a road game. LOSS

» READ MORE: Here are the Eagles’ and opponents’ win totals, and Super Bowl odds | Sports betting notes

Smith: Weird stuff happens on Thursday night but not weird enough to predict an Eagles win against the defending champs. Maybe Tom Brady’s old bones are too creaky to play. LOSS

Week 7, Oct. 24: Eagles at Raiders, 4:05 p.m.

McLane: A trip to Sin City could be the cure for the struggling Eagles, or just an excuse for traveling fans to check off another city and release frustration. Don’t bet on a win. LOSS

Domowitch: The Raiders were 2-6 last year at home. Vegas is a great place to visit, but a lousy place to call home and build a Super Bowl contender. WIN

Bowen: Nobody can beat Nick Sirianni when he has 10 days to prepare. I’m guessing. WIN

Smith: A trip to Vegas on a long week! The Raiders’ defense has been historically terrible under Jon Gruden, and I don’t see that changing this year. Jalen Hurts and Co. can capitalize. WIN

» READ MORE: The Eagles will play a game in Las Vegas this season. Here are Vegas Vic’s tips for fans heading to Sin City.

Week 8, Oct. 31: Eagles at Lions, 1 p.m.

McLane: It’s unlikely that a couple of former assistants, Duce Staley and Dave Fipp, offer much intel on the new Eagles. But this could be a battle between two of the lesser weights in the NFC. WIN

Domowitch: Howie Roseman had better hope that Lions rookie DT Alim McNeill isn’t the difference in this game. LOSS

Bowen: There are a lot of Eagles-Lions connections: Duce Staley, Hank Fraley, Dave Fipp on Dan Campbell’s staff; Big V on Fraley’s O-line. Look for Fipp’s special-teamers to block a punt, and he is carried off the field on their shoulders. LOSS

Smith: Hopefully, the Eagles wear something to protect their kneecaps from getting bitten off. I’m not a believer in Jared Goff, so it’s hard to project Detroit being very good this season. WIN

Week 9, Nov. 7: Chargers at Eagles, 4:05 p.m.

McLane: The Eagles had hoped to interview Brandon Staley, but the Chargers wouldn’t allow the former Rams defensive coordinator to leave Los Angeles. Justin Herbert likely made the job more attractive than Philly. LOSS

Domowitch: Who would know better how to throw a wrench into Justin Herbert’s gears than the guy who helped him win the offensive rookie of the year award last season – former Chargers and current Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen? WIN

Bowen: I’ll take Justin Herbert in the matchup with his former offensive coordinator. Asante Samuel Jr. intercepts Jalen Hurts. LOSS

» READ MORE: One writer thinks the Eagles are a front-runner in the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes. Could it actually happen? | Early Birds

Smith: I am a believer in Justin Herbert. Combine him with a scary duo of edge rushers and a deep, talented secondary, and I don’t see this going well for the Eagles. LOSS

Week 10, Nov. 14: Eagles at Broncos, 4:25 p.m.

McLane: Is it possible Aaron Rodgers ends up in Denver? There’s still time. But the Eagles will likely be facing Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock, a more preferable matchup for a team in need of a victory. WIN

Domowitch: The Eagles’ fourth road game in six weeks trumps the fact that the opposing quarterback is Drew Lock. LOSS

Bowen: After the trade for Aaron Rodgers, this matchup will look different. But that hasn’t happened. So we’ll pretend the Eagles are gonna face (examines roster) Drew Lock. WIN

Smith: The Broncos’ secondary figures to overmatch the road-weary Eagles. If Denver has Aaron Rodgers, its offense will do the same. LOSS

Week 11, Nov. 21: Saints at Eagles, 1 p.m.

McLane: It’s been 18 years since the Eagles faced New Orleans without Drew Brees. The quarterback then? Aaron Brooks. The Birds won that day but have gone 3-7 vs. the Saints since. Sean Payton should have enough for another W. LOSS

Domowitch: Jalen Hurts rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries in his first-start win over the Saints last year. But he’s going to need more than 167 passing yards to beat them this time. WIN

Bowen: I do not foresee sustained Jalen Hurts dominance over Sean Payton’s team. But, Jameis Winston? Tough call. LOSS

Smith: Jalen Hurts’ first start came against the Saints last year, and he did pretty well. The Drew Brees hangover and Hurts’ familiarity with the Saints evens the playing field this year. WIN

Week 12, Nov. 28: Eagles at Giants, 1 p.m.

McLane: The first of back-to-back treks to North Jersey starts a stretch in which the Eagles face divisional foes in five of their last six games. The Giants may offer the Birds their best chance to win in the NFC East. LOSS

Domowitch: The addition of Kenny Golladay and the return of Saquon Barkley are going to make a big, big difference in a Giants offense that finished 31st in scoring last year. LOSS

Bowen: As bad as the Eagles were last season, I was astonished that they lost to the Giants. Everybody seems to like the Giants’ offseason. We’ll see. WIN

Smith: Either DeVonta Smith gets to show the Giants what Howie Roseman swindled them out of, or Adoree’ Jackson makes Roseman regret the Giants swiping him away in free agency. I’ll pick the former. WIN

Week 13, Dec. 5: Eagles at Jets, 1 p.m.

McLane: The additional game comes before what is likely to be a much-needed bye. The Jets, rebuilding as well, could view this contest as one of their best opportunities to score a victory. WIN

Domowitch: Does it get any better than two trips up to the Meadowlands in two weeks? Love me some 12-hour-old Molly Pitcher rest-stop burgers. WIN

» READ MORE: New Eagles running back Kerryon Johnson says getting waived was ‘scary,’ and he’s out to validate the Birds’ faith in him

Bowen: This arduous two-week Eagles road trip to North Jersey could exact a toll. Let’s hope the Eagles’ bus has E-ZPass. WIN

Smith: The upgrade from Robert Saleh to Adam Gase is significant, but I’ll need to see the Jets actually turn the corner before picking them to do real damage this season. WIN

Week 14: BYE, finally

McLane: The Eagles haven’t had a bye this late into the season in more than 20 years.

Domowitch: 4-11-1 teams get no freaking respect.

Bowen: A late bye is better than a really early bye, I guess. Unless the Eagles are contenders, scheduling the bye here is only helpful for Christmas shopping.

Smith: Hug your loved ones and do those house projects you’ve been putting off this weekend.

Week 15, Dec. 18 or 19: Washington Football Team at Eagles, TBD

McLane: The Football Team may be without a new nickname, but Ron Rivera appears to be building a new identity for a moribund franchise. Still, he lacks a long-term answer under center. WIN

Domowitch: In his last two starts against the Eagles, Ryan Fitzpatrick has a 129.8 passer rating, including seven touchdowns. LOSS

Bowen: You don’t have Nate Sudfeld to kick around anymore, Football Team! WIN

Smith: Ryan Fitzpatrick may have owned Jim Schwartz, but I’m not super worried about that with Gannon in charge. What does worry me is Washington’s defensive front, which could be the best in the league. LOSS

Week 16, Dec. 26: Giants at Eagles, 1 p.m.

McLane: A mini winning streak is possible considering the late-season competition. The health of the Eagles will factor into their success or failure. Could their recent hard luck with injuries end? WIN

Domowitch: The last time the Giants swept the Eagles was in 2007. LOSS

Bowen: Right now I can’t envision the Eagles sweeping anybody, so … LOSS

Smith: By this point in the season, Daniel Jones will have either proved himself as a quality starting quarterback, or he’ll be a dead man walking. I’m guessing the latter is more likely. WIN

Week 17, Jan. 2: Eagles at Washington Football Team, 1 p.m.

McLane: Well, at least the Eagles are assured of playing into January. The first of two games in the new year may not be in the playoffs but could provide valuable information for next season. LOSS

Domowitch: Washington swept the Eagles last year but needed help from Doug Pederson and Nate Sudfeld. WIN

Bowen: I’m guessing only one of these teams will still be alive for a playoff berth. I’m guessing it won’t be the Eagles. LOSS

Smith: By this point, Washington could have the division crown within reach, while the Eagles struggle to stay in the race. I’m still going with the Football Team. LOSS

Week 18, Jan. 9: Cowboys at Eagles, 1 p.m.

McLane: It’s difficult to imagine the Eagles contending for the postseason, but stranger things have happened. The likely scenario is a losing season with some hope for the future. A predicted defeat here has the Birds finishing 7-10 in Sirianni’s first season. LOSS

Domowitch: Jeffrey Lurie likened this retooling season to 2016. Like 2016 with Pederson, the Eagles finish Year 1 of the Sirianni era with back-to-back division wins. WIN

Bowen: Can you tank a Dallas game for draft positioning? I see talk-radio mayhem. LOSS

Smith: The Eagles’ offense will likely be more equipped to play in a high-scoring game by this point in the season, but I’m still taking Dak Prescott over Hurts. LOSS