The NFL schedule-makers have given the Eagles a manageable first-half dance card that features just three playoff opponents and a combined 2005 winning percentage of .437.
But the second half of the Eagles' schedule is a death trap that includes five playoff opponents and a combined '05 winning percentage of .601. The combined '05 winning percentage of their last six opponents is .701, and they finish with three straight road games against the rest of the NFC East in Weeks 14 through 16 before closing at home against Atlanta.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's only the fifth time in 11 years that a team has had to play three straight games against division opponents on the road. It will be the second time in that span for the Eagles. They lost three straight, to Washington, Arizona and Dallas during coach Andy Reid's first season in Philadelphia in 1999.
"It's just the way the schedule worked out this year," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "There are a lot of factors that go into these things."
The Eagles finish the season with a hazardous six-game stretch that includes Indianapolis, Carolina, Washington, the New York Giants, Dallas and Atlanta, with all but Carolina and Atlanta on the road. Four of those teams made the playoffs last year. None had a losing record.
The good news for the Eagles is they have a chance to get out to a pretty good start. Four of their first six opponents won four or fewer games last season. They play just three 2005 playoff teams in their first eight games, and two of those are at home.
Their bye week also comes at a good time, in Week 9, which will give the Eagles a chance to rest up for their difficult second-half schedule.
- The Eagles will be bringing in about a dozen draft prospects this week for visits. The list will include Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stoval, who is a projected second or third rounder, and Penn State defensive tackle Scott Paxson, a likely second-day pick.
- The Eagles added 32-year-old Rory Segrest to their coaching staff. Segrest will replace Ted Daisher as special-teams quality control coach. Daisher left to become the special teams coach in Oakland. Segrest coached last season at Samford, but formerly worked at Auburn with the Eagles' new defensive line coach, Pete Jenkins.
- Former Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, who left to become the coach of Minnesota earlier this year, talked to quarterback Donovan McNabb last week and is confident that McNabb will be able to bounce back from last year's adversity.
"He's a prideful guy," Childress said. "He's fully aware of all the things that were said about him last year, whether it was teammates or whether it was (newspaper) articles, whatever it was. He doesn't have his head in the sand. From that standpoint, I think he'll come in with a chip on his shoulder and know that he's got to re-establish himself on the field."
- Eagles coach Andy Reid said that often-injured running back Brian Westbrook recently talked to the Giants' Tiki Barber about his training methods. Barber has spent the last few off-seasons working with a former New Jersey Strongest Man contest winner and has added nearly 15 pounds to his frame.