The700Level

Is Week 1 against Washington already a 'must-win game' for the Eagles?

No, Week 1 in Washington is not a "must-win game" for the Eagles, in either the literal or figurative sense of the term -- but as opening days go, this is about as pivotal as it gets.

If the Eagles lose on Sunday, their season is far from over. One game in September isn't going to cast a pall over the locker room for the rest of the year, or lead to a mutiny against the head coach. The team will be fired up and ready to play the following week. All of their goals will still be attainable.

That's not a must-win by any definition.

There are certainly some long-term ramifications. Washington is a division opponent and owns a five-game winning streak against the Eagles. The club also posted a 1-7 record on the road last season, a trend that desperately needs to be reversed. The schedule doesn't get any easier from here, either, with a trip to Kansas City in Week 2, then the home opener against rival Giants.

The significance of an opening-day loss is only magnified if you assume the worst -- that the Eagles might be flying across the country off of an 0-3 start to play the Chargers, with a second meeting against Washington set for Week 7.

Seems a bit pessimistic, but that's one possibility. It just goes to show the mindset is between beginning the season 1-0, and starting in the hole 0-1. 

"I think they're all must-wins, quite honestly," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday.

"The opener is a very important game. It kind of can set the tempo for the rest of the season and this first part of the year. I talked to our guys about starting fast, and that goes without question how we start the season."

Forgetting the extreme worst-case scenario that a loss could set the Eagles on a path to go 0-7 out of the gates, this game *is* more important than most. It's an NFC East opponent, so that should go without saying.

Of course, during the course of a 16-game season, few contests are ever inconsequential. A win or loss is going to impact the standings. Anything beyond that is looking way too far ahead.

"Every game is big," Pederson said. "We treat it one week at a time, and this is no different. It just happens to be our opener, on the road -- we know we didn't play well last year on the road -- and it's a division opponent, so it's a great test for our ball club to find out where we're at."

It's just one game. It's a big game, but it's also the first game -- and it's not necessarily predictive of the future for the rest of the season.