Eagles play three straight road games, and it's apparently because NFL banked on Phillies making playoffs
The NFL believed the Phillies would make the playoffs, which is why the Eagles will spend all of October on the road
The Philadelphia Eagles have an October gauntlet no NFL team wants, playing three consecutive games on the road that completes the first half of their schedule. Philadelphia is the only NFL team to play three consecutive road games this season, thanks to the NFL banking on the Philadelphia Phillies reaching the playoffs. Per NBC's Peter King, Howard Katz (the league's senior vice president of broadcasting and operations) said the power of Bryce Harper caused the NFL to rethink their priorities when it comes to the schedule.
"We usually ignore the Phillies when it comes to stadium blocks. But I don't think we can this year," Katz told King back in April.
That really worked in the league's favor, as the Phillies finished a disappointing 81-81 and fourth place in the National League East. The Phillies missed the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year while the Eagles play three teams on the road that have a combined record of 10-5.
"I was excited, get on the road, three great hotels," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson joked Monday. "I mean, it is what it is, honestly. We don't get a chance to make the schedule. We know who our opponents are. We just don't know when and where we play them."
How daunting is the gauntlet the Eagles face over the next three weeks? Philadelphia travels to Minnesota to face the Vikings (3-2) this week, followed by their annual trip to Dallas to face the Cowboys (3-2) and cap off the stretch against the Buffalo Bills (4-1) in Buffalo in Week 8. While the Vikings are one game back in the NFC North, the battle with the Cowboys will certainly be for first place in the NFC East (the Eagles and Cowboys are tied for first place in the division). The Bills are tied with the Green Bay Packers for the best record of any team the Eagles face in the first half of the year.
The Eagles aren't the only team over the past several years to have this scheduling disadvantage. The Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints played three consecutive road games last year. The Oakland Raiders technically don't play three consecutive road games but played last week in London, have a bye in Week 6, then play back-to-back road games at Green Bay and at Houston. They also played Week 3 in Minneapolis and Week 4 at Indianapolis, giving them 48 days between games played in Oakland (the Raiders were the "home" team in London). The Raiders next game in Oakland is against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 3.
Per King, stadium blocks occur when NFL avoids scheduling a home NFL game in a city when league thinks MLB team will be playing the same day. If the Phillies made the postseason, there's a good chance they would have been playing a postseason home game on a Sunday (which would interfere with an Eagles game). Oakland shares a stadium with the Oakland Athletics, so there were logistics concerns if the Athletics were to reach the World Series.
The Phillies don't share a stadium with the Eagles, but play in Citizens Bank Park across the street. This occasion has occurred twice since the Phillies won five consecutive National League East titles from 2007 to 2011. In 2008, the Eagles played a 1 p.m. ET game at Lincoln Financial Field while the Phillies played in Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park. In 2010, the Eagles played a 1 p.m. ET game at Lincoln Financial Field while the Phillies played a 8 p.m. ET game (Game 2 of the National league Championship Series) at Citizens Bank Park. The NFL actually moved the Eagles primetime game against the New York Giants to Sunday afternoon to avoid conflict with the Phillies, who played in the National League Championship Series.
The NFL decided to play it safe and avoid scheduling conflicts with other teams. Thanks to the Phillies not holding their end of the bargain, the Eagles are paying the price.
The good news? The Eagles play five of their final eight games at home and don't have to travel the entire month of November. Philadelphia only has to get on a plane once in the final eight weeks of the year.
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