Five must-see games on Eagles schedule: Doug Pederson’s return will be just as big as Brian Dawkins

While the Philadelphia Eagles are still in a transition period, the franchise has raised high expectations as it heads into the 2022 season. Jalen Hurts’ development led to a surprising playoff appearance last year, where the Eagles took advantage of their offseason moves.

Philadelphia acquired AJ Brown over draft weekend, making Hurts a #1 wide receiver the franchise hasn’t had in years. Brown and sophomore wideout DeVonta Smith form one of the best wide receiver duos in the game, which is what it takes for Hurts to take his game to the next level. Add to that last season’s No. 1 hasty attack and one of the best offensive lines in football and the Eagles’ attack is a massive force.

The defense also got a facelift with the off-season signing of Haason Reddick and the draft picks of Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, giving Philadelphia three cornerstones on defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s revamped unit. Brandon Graham is back from an Achilles tendon injury and Josh Sweat continues to grow as a pass rusher. Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Darius Slay also return to a unit transformed last season.

The Eagles improved their roster this off-season, while the Dallas Cowboys fell back from the pack in the NFC East. In what should be an exciting divisional race, the Eagles are expected to compete for the NFC East title and return to the postseason this year.

There are quite a few exciting games scheduled for 2022 — five in primetime — because the NFL thinks the Eagles will be a team to watch all year round. These are the five games that Eagles and NFL fans should not miss on the calendar.

5. Week 8: vs. Steelers (Sun. Oct. 30, 1 p.m., CBS)

The Eagles will face off for a week against their cross-border rival, the first match-up between the teams since 2020. Thanks to the 17th game on the schedule, the Eagles will face the Steelers as a result of NFC East teams that are scheduled to face the AFC North (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh finished in the same place in their respective divisions last year).

Bragging rights are at stake, especially since the Steelers won the last game between the Keystone State teams. Pittsburgh always seems to be in trouble in Philadelphia, as the Steelers haven’t beaten the Eagles in Philadelphia since 1965—when both teams played each other twice a year.

What the Pittsburgh team shows to Lincoln Financial Field is decided, but the Eagles will face a fierce battle against a team that is always competitive. This will be a fun matchup for two teams who don’t play against each other much.

4. Week 6: vs. Cowboys (Sun. Oct. 16, 8:20 p.m., NBC)

If the Eagles want to make a statement in the NFC East and showcase their young talent to the league, beating the Cowboys at home in prime time is a must. Dallas was the team that played against Philadelphia last year, beating the Eagles three times in a row.

Philadelphia has its first of two “Sunday Night Football” games of the year against its division rival, the first real test for a team that has made enough moves to compete for the NFC East title. Eagles-Cowboys is always a great primetime game, a matchup that has been a night game every year since 2003 (only in 2000 and 2003 it has not been a night game twice this century).

The crowd will be loud at Lincoln Financial Field, hoping the Eagles can live up to the off-season hype. This isn’t a “must-win” game for Philadelphia, but it will feel like the Eagles want the NFC East.

3. Week 4: vs. Jaguars (Sun. Oct. 2, 1 p.m., CBS)

Normally, a game against the team with the NFL’s worst record from last season isn’t a matchup worthy of being on the calendar. This one will be different as Doug Pederson returns to Lincoln Financial Field as the Jaguars coach.

Pederson won the Eagles their first Super Bowl title, wiping out a 57-year championship drought dating back to 1960. Eagles fans starved for their franchise to win the Super Bowl, a feat great coaches like Dick Vermeil and Andy Reid couldn’t accomplish in the city (but did elsewhere). Pederson did it.

There is a statue of Pederson in Lincoln Financial Field discussing the “Philly Special” with Nick Foles, showing how legendary the coach is in Philadelphia. That huge banner of the Super Bowl champions in the stadium doesn’t exist without Pederson.

Pederson will receive an ovation as loud as Brian Dawkins when he returned to Philadelphia in 2009 in a different uniform. Eagles fans won’t forget what Pederson has done for the city and the impact the 2017 Eagles made on one of the most passionate fan bases in the league.

2. Week 10: vs. Commanders (Mon. Nov. 14, 8:15 PM, ESPN)

Carson Wentz is finally returning to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since asking for an exchange from Philadelphia. The former Eagles franchise quarterback has suffered an epic demise since a torn ACL and LCL derailed his MVP campaign — and his ability to lead the franchise to the Super Bowl title — in 2017.

Just three years later, Wentz was benched in favor of Hurts. Two months after the benching, Wentz was out of Philadelphia and got a fresh start with the Indianapolis Colts. That didn’t go as planned, so Wentz has a chance to save his career in Washington — he faces the Eagles twice a year.

While the Eagles take on the Commanders in Week 3, that game will take place at FedEx Field. Wentz will have to wield the demons at Lincoln Financial Field in prime time, while the fans keep an eye on every move on the field. This reunion won’t be as hot as Pederson’s.

1. Week 16: at Cowboys (Sat. Dec. 24, 4:25 p.m., Fox)

This is the game to determine the NFC East title, a Christmas Eve battle for a home game. Philadelphia and Dallas are the two favorites to conquer the East and should be battling for the playoff position by the time these two teams face off in the rematch of the week 6 showdown at the start of the season.

Dallas defeated Philadelphia last season, including a 41-21 week 3 defeat on Monday Night Football. The Eagles have not won at Dallas since their 2017 Super Bowl championship season.

If Hurts can lead the Eagles to victory at AT&T Stadium, the franchise and fans will receive two early Christmas gifts. First would be a clear path to the division title, and second – a franchise quarterback. Not like the Eagles have ruined the Dallas holiday season before (see Jeff Garcia on Christmas Day in 2006).

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