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Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 Season Opponents: Week Three vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Steelers play their first of five late afternoon games at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. Against the Eagles, the Steelers are 28-47-3. The two teams last met in 2012 at Heinz Field with the Steelers winning a close 16-14 contest.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

About the opponent:

Perhaps the biggest move the Eagles made for this season came before the 2015 season ended, when they fired head-coach Chip Kelly. Taking over the reigns is 1st year head-coach and former Chiefs offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson (not the Steelers kicker for part of the 2002 season).

Peterson has retained Sam Bradford as his quarterback, at least for now. Bradford is headed into his sixth season and his second since arriving in Philadelphia via a trade with St. Louis. The former Oklahoma star has been much maligned in Philadelphia, despite his numbers being steady. His career passer rating is 86.4 and he's tossed more touchdowns than interceptions (78-52); however, Bradford has lacked the ability throughout his career to make the big throw at the right time.

Bradford looks to be the starter after a strong showing at Eagles OTAs. That being said, he's clearly only slated to be the starter temporarily. Waiting in the wings is the Eagles' prized first round pick Carson Wentz, but Wentz is the team's future and not the present barring some unforeseen circumstance. Chase Daniel is the presumed number two behind Bradford and would probably step into the game against the Steelers should Bradford falter.

Whichever quarterback faces the Steelers, they'll be hampered by a weak receiving corps. Last season, the Eagles receivers led the league in drops with 37. They also tied for the most fumbles among wide receivers with 6. Receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are gone, leaving the team without a big play threat. The team also failed to upgrade the position in the draft.

Meanwhile, the Eagles backfield is in a similar state of transition. With DeMarco Murray now in Tennessee, the Eagles are left with six-year pro, Ryan Matthews as the starter.

Matthews is a solid back but has a history of injury. Darren Sproles provides a veteran presence as well as plenty of versatility. The team also added Wendall Smallwood from WVU in the draft.

If the Eagles are to compete this season, it will be thanks to its defense, which looks to be much more formidable. Defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz has completely overhauled the unit. He's switched to a 4-3 base designed to give players more freedom to make plays rather than simply reacting to the opposing offense.

The good news is that there's nowhere to go but up. Last season, the Eagles D ranked 28th in the league in points allowed per game.

Schwartz's attacking scheme should free up defenders like Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks, and Malcom Jenkins to make plays.

The Bottom Line:

The Eagles are clearly in a rebuilding/transition period after the failure of the Chip Kelly regime. There's an apparent "back to basics" attitude being instituted throughout the coaching staff to go along with more traditionally sound schematic approaches for both the offense and defense. Whether this translates to victories remains to be seen.

This would appear to be a game in which the Steelers will coast to victory; however, history hasn't been kind to the Steelers, particularly when playing in Philadelphia.

Since the Chuck Noll era began (considered by many to be the start of the "modern" Steelers era), the Steelers are 4-8 against the Eagles and haven't won a game in Philadelphia since 1965.

This game has "trap" written all over it, particularly given the Steelers propensity for playing down to inferior opponents during the Mike Tomlin era. While talent is definitely on the Steelers side, don't hurl your Iron City at the television should the Eagles prevail.

Steelers 2016 Schedule
Week 1 at the Washington Redskins
Weeks 2 and 15 vs. Cincinnati Bengals