18 December 2014

2014 Week 16 Picks

Saturday game in DC.

We were offered tickets, even before the Washington season fell into utter chaos, but we're out of town celebrating our anniversary. It's ostensibly a road game, but I'm betting that it will be more of a home game atmosphere. BGN travels well, DC is right down 95, and the local fans are, shall we say, unenthused at the moment.

The Eagles have dropped two in a row for the first time this season. In order to have a shot at the playoffs, they MUST win out.

Fortunately, they're looking at two divisional games to end the season.

I know, I know - divisional games can be crazy, anything can happen, etc.

But I cannot envision either the team or Chip Kelly letting things go down that way. 11-5 still might not be good enough for playoffs - the Cowboys have to drop one of their final two and/or the Cardinals, Seahawks, Lions, or Packers need to stumble pretty badly.

But all they can do is win the games. Which starts this week.

Eagles

In the rest of the matchups:

Titans at Jaguars: Who gives a shit? Oh, all right - Jags (but seriously, who gives a shit? Will ANYONE be watching this game tonight? I know I won't.)

Chargers at 49ers: Two hot defenses, two under performing offenses. I think Harbaugh's eying the door (and maybe the Raiders HC job). Chargers.

Vikings at Dolphins: The Vikings are early in their whole rebuilding program yet, and the Dolphins D is also playing great. Dolphins.

Ravens at Texans: Ravens

Lions at Bears: One of my friends recently wrote a book using Marc Trestman as an example of turn-around management. If only she'd spoken to me first. Lions.

Browns at Panthers: I guess the Browns are riding Johnny Football for the rest of the season? Yeah, hope that works out for you. Panthers.

Falcons at Saints: You know, SOMEONE has to win the NFC South, even though no one really seems to want to. Maybe everyone has good January vacation plans? And the Dome has hardly been inviolable lately for the Saints. But I'm in NOLA, and I'll be cheering them on (and, as all my Saints fan friends will attest, they hate to lose to anyone, but they REALLY hate to lose to the Falcons), so I've got the Saints, who just might get to 8-8 this season to win the South.

Packers at Buccaneers: You know how it would help the Eagles if the Pack stumbled? Ain't gonna happen this week, unless they all come down with food poisoning or get confused and think it's a 4 pm game. Packers.

Chiefs at Steelers: Andy Reid's teams tend to play their best football in December, but the Chiefs are, realistically, probably out, and the Steelers are playing at home and trying to catch the Bengals. To me, that says Steelers and their red-hot offense (and how often in the history of football has anyone written THAT sentence?).

Patriots at Jets: Pats

Giants at Rams: Both teams are deeply flawed, but OBJ isn't going to have a big day against the Rams (I don't think), and since he's the G-men's entire offense at this point, Rams.

Bills at Raiders: Bills.

Colts at Cowboys: The Birds REALLY need the Colts to win this one. Factors in the Colts' favor: they're playing in Dallas (which has been the kiss of death for the 'Boys this year), DeMarco Murray is hurt, and while the Colts have the AFC South wrapped, a bye is still in reach, so I doubt they're slacking. I gotta go Colts, and cross my fingers. We are all Indy fans this week.

Seahawks at Cardinals: The Hawks need this one, their D is back to Super Bowl form, and the Cards are looking more than a little shaky. I expect the Hawks to take care of business Sunday night.

Broncos at Bengals: The Bengals have a lot more riding on this game than the Broncos, but I don't see that mattering. The Broncos are already in postseason form and looking like favorites to go to the Super Bowl again. Broncos.

15 December 2014

Outplayed

Eagles 27, Cowboys 38, Sunday, December 14, 2014 

Also "Outcoached."

And maybe "Out of the playoffs."

Stud of the week: Chris Polk. Two rushing TDs. Looks like SOMEONE was finally listening to the anguished cries of Bleeding Green Nation: "Feed it to Polk in goal-to-go situations already!"

The defensive front also did well, holding DeMarco Murray to under 100 yards on the ground again.

Other than that?

I quote one of the posters on BGN: "Play Parkey at every position!" Because, you know, he's money, and the rest of the team is looking like the sticky used candy wrappers and pennies you find in the sofa cushions.

(OH MY GOD IF RILEY COOPER IS NOT GONE IN THE OFF SEASON I AM GOING TO BUST A BLOOD VESSEL AND I AM NOT KIDDING.)

Mark Sanchez is turning out to be who we all thought he was: a competent backup who can win some games for you, but who is NOT ready to stand toe-to-toe with the big boys.

The Eagles secondary remains garbage. This seriously must be addressed in the off season. It's not like what happened with Asante Samuel and DRC - it's not stud players inexplicably skiving off. It's guys who are doing their best, and their best just isn't good enough. I'm sure I'm not the only one who will be having nightmares of Dez Bryant getting open again...and again....and again...for the next few nights. "Torched" is too mild a term for what went down.

In other bad news, Trent Cole appears to have broken his hand. On the up side, Brandon Graham came in in relief and played well. But this could be Cole's last game as an Eagle, given his salary next year ($11M-ish I think), and that would be TEH SUCK as a way to go out.

I know, I know: Negadelphia.

If not for the bit of bad luck that was the first play of the game (for which even Chip doesn't blame Josh Huff, who had an OUTSTANDING 44 yard catch and run later in the game), Brent Celek's unlucky fumble (which was a KILLER), Sanchez's two picks (le sigh), and some questionable calls against Cary Williams, it would have been a different outcome. Like 3 of the Birds' 4 other losses this year (the Green Bay game was just a disaster from the word go).

So they could totally be 13-1 right now!

Yeah, I'm not buying that either.

But what I don't understand is how, in such a big game, it seemed like the team wasn't ready to play. Big stage, big stakes, and they blew it. Big time. Unfortunately, whoever was assigned to remind Tony Romo that it's December apparently fell asleep at the wheel there. You had ONE job!

So now, we all become Colts fans, because we really need Dallas to lose next week, since 11-5 might not be good enough to earn a wildcard spot, given who holds tiebreakers over the Eagles.

The problem, of course, as Tommy points out is that "[the coaches] can’t make a franchise QB or stud CB magically appear." Which does not bode well for the Birds' chances if they *do* get to the playoffs. Then again, if you tell me you thought the Eagles were going to the Super Bowl this year, whether it's Foles or Sanchez under center, Imma know you lyin.

11 December 2014

2014 Week 15 Picks

The Key West Edition (because that's where I am right now, baby!)

Dallas week, the sequel

When I was picking the Thanksgiving weekend, I called the Birds and the 'Boys to split games. I do think the Cowboys have a better shot this time than they did last. I underestimated how much the short rest would affect them, and they've been better on the road than at home this year.

The two teams are at 9-4, with the Eagles with the divisional wins tie breaker.

The Birds WILL win their final two games, so worst case scenario is that they finish the season 11-5 with one divisional loss.

The Cowboys will likely go 1-1 over their final two games (I don't see them beating the Colts, but I also don't see them dropping another game to DC). So that would give them 11-5 as well, but with TWO divisional losses.

In short, regardless of how Sunday night's game turns out, I think the Eagles have the NFC East (and 11-5 might take a wildcard spot regardless, depending on how the Lions finish and what happens in the NFC West).

But I don't see them dropping this game. Chip knows how to prep the guys for big games on big stages (prime time Sunday night), and he's been OUTSTANDING in the division so far in his tenure as head coach.

Eagles. It's Christmas week, and Bleeding Green Nation deserves a BIG present.

In the other matchups:

Cardinals at Rams:You know how nobody wants to play the Rams defense right now? Yeah, Drew Stanton would be at the top of that list. Rams.

Steelers at Falcons: Steelers.

Jaguars at Ravens: Ravens.

Packers at Bills: Taking the upset pick of the Bills. The Pack can be beaten away from home, and the Bills' D is playing great, so they may be just the ones to do it.

Buccaneers at Panthers: Panthers.

Bengals at Browns: Johnny Football's starting, it's not uncommon for QBs to win their first start, and I think he will give the Browns a spark (also, nobody has film on him yet as a pro). This week. Browns.

Texans at Colts: Colts.

Raiders at Chiefs: Chiefs.

Dolphins at Patriots: Pats.

Washington at Giants: By rights, DC should be able to win this game. But I live in DC and read the DC sports media, and let me tell you, calling them a dumpster fire at this point is an insult to dumpster fires. Giants.

Broncos at Chargers: Broncos.

Jets at Titans: Neither of these teams is very good, but the Jets D should be solid enough to win them what is likely to be a VERY low scoring game. As in, I'm calling a final score of 6-3.

Vikings at Lions: Lions.

49ers at Seahawks: Harbaugh's eyeing the door, and the Seahawks are rounding into playoff form at just the right time. Seahawks.

Saints at Bears: Drew Brees has uncharacteristically struggled this year, but he should be able to put up points against the Bears' anemic defense. Saints.

08 December 2014

A "Sh*tty Performance"

Eagles 14, Seahawks 24, Sunday, December 7, 2014 

Hey, I'm just quoting Chip. Don't shoot the messenger.

Stud of the game: Fletcher Cox, who kept Beast out of Mode pretty successfully for most of the
game. Actually, the entire defensive front seven played pretty well, doing everything in their power to keep the game close, but it just wasn't enough. Shout-out to Shady, too, for taking the #1 Eagles rusher spot ahead of Wilbert Montgomery. Shame it couldn't have been as part of a winning effort. It was a throwback day all around, with The Idiot Twins remarking that Fletcher looked like Reggie White out there. They weren't wrong - for once. Mychal Kendricks had a good game too - the D was on the field for a bajillion snaps, and he made about half a bajillion tackles.

As you may recall, I had picked the Seahawks to win this game. The Eagles are who I thought they were - good enough to get into the playoffs, likely via winning the NFC East, but a team not ready to take the next step. Which is what we saw Sunday.

The thing that's irritating is that this wasn't like the Green Bay game. That was just a blowout from the word go, so, as a fan you just kind of shrug, say "nobody beats Aaron Rodgers at home," and move on.

This game was totally winnable. Which in some ways is worse.

To me, it turned on three things:

1. The offense mostly couldn't get anything going, and as a result, the defense was on the field for approximately 59 minutes and 42 seconds of the game. Those guys are in great shape, don't get me wrong, but eventually they're going to wear down and make a mistake.

2. THE FUMBLE. Shady rarely fumbles, even though he can be a little loose with the football, but he picked a TERRIBLE time to have one of his uncharacteristic fumbles right at the beginning of the second half when it was still a three point game. All of a sudden, it was a 10 point game.

3. The inexplicable pass interference call on Bradley Fletcher. He screws up plenty - hell, that's pretty much the motto of the Eagles' defensive secondary, "We screw up plenty" - but he had position on Doug Baldwin and was playing the ball. How that was *DEFENSIVE* PI I still do not know, but again, that set up the Seahawks for an easy TD when it was *back* to a three point game mid-way through the third. And that was all, she wrote.

Lots of people are blaming Sanchez, and he wasn't exactly brilliant. But he wasn't getting much help either - multiple drops from receivers and some offensive line breakdowns. And the running game wasn't taking any pressure off of him, and the Birds REALLY need that with him under center.

And when did Malcolm Jenkins develop butterfingers? Strong early season, but man, I'm about to put his picture on the side of a milk carton. With Riley Cooper's on the other side.

So it pretty much all comes down to next week. Another big audience game against the Cowboys, this time in prime time on Sunday Night Football and in OUR house. Better be ready to bring it, Birds.

04 December 2014

2014 Week 14 Picks

The Champs are coming to town.

(cue ominous music)

Actually, I'm feeling far more optimistic about this game than I was in, say, August. The Seahawks have not been quite the juggernaut this year they were last, and the Eagles....well, after beating the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving, maybe I'm starting to believe. I mean, I always believed they'd win the NFC East (well, except for a few dark moments in September), but I'm starting to believe they might actually make a little noise in the playoffs, too.

But first: Seattle.

Thankfully, they are playing in Philly. The Birds have already had their ROAD DISASTER for this season, I think.

I'm guessing it will be a low scoring game - while the Eagles are a top ranked offense, the Seahawks are THE top ranked defense. I think our boys will manage more than three points (see: the opposing team in the last two Seahawks games), but I'm worried about the Birds' red zone woes. Points will be hard to come by, and leaving four on the field is going to make me sad. And I anticipate being sad some on Sunday. And the Seahawks' offense hasn't exactly been tearing it up, and the Eagles defense is playing MUCH better.

I don't think Beast Mode is going to come into play a lot on Sunday, but I worry about The Sanchize throwing picks to Richard Sherman, and Russell Wilson's running ability. Can the Eagles wear down the #1 defense like they did the Cowboys on Thanksgiving? Well, probably not to that level - the Cowboys' D looked gassed during the coin toss - but maybe a little. I hope.

Interestingly, the pundits are pretty much split on this one.

My heart says Eagles, but my head says Seahawks. Much as I'd love to see the Birds win out, that's just not likely, and I'd much rather see them lose to Seattle than the Cowboys next week.

Seahawks.

In the other matchups:

Cowboys at Bears: I really WANT the Bears to win. It would be so helpful for taking a little pressure off the Birds. But that's extremely unlikely to happen. Look for DeMarco Murray to have 1,453,327 yards tonight (yes, the Bears' rushing defense is THAT BAD). Cowboys. Le sigh.

Steelers at Bengals: Speaking of having a big game, if you happen to have Big Ben on fantasy team, you should DEFINITELY start him. Steelers.

Rams at DC: DC. They have to win a game sometime, right?

Giants at Titans: Giants. Also, worst game of the week.

Panthers at Saints: OH MY GOD THE NFC SOUTH IS TERRIBLE. Also, Saints.

Jets at Vikings: Speaking of worst games of the week, maybe THIS is the worst game of the week. Also, Jets. Not gonna save Rex Ryan's job, though.

Ravens at Dolphins: Taking the upset. Dolphins.

Colts at Browns: Colts.

Buccaneers at Lions: Lions.

Texans at Jaguars: Wait. Maybe THIS is the worst game of the week. Texans.

Bills at Broncos: Broncos.

Chiefs at Cardinals: The Cards *should* win this game, but I think they're starting a Cowboys-level December swoon. Chiefs.

49ers at Raiders: 49ers.

Patriots at Chargers: Taking the upset here, too - Chargers.

Falcons at Packers: And the ARodg home juggernaut continues. Packers. Also, probably not worth watching. Think the Pack can put up triple digits? I'm thinking maybe yes.

30 November 2014

Beasts of the East, Baby!

Eagles 33, Cowboys 10, Thursday, November 27, 2014 

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Bleeding Green Nation!

This late recap brought to you by much celebrating with Lifelong Eagles Fan Mom, You-Two-Calm-Down-or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad, Dorkman, the Lovely Ms. Dorkman, and their Wild Bunch (plus assorted other relatives). Much turkey was eaten, much football was watched, many bad jokes were told (I'm looking at you, Dad, and you, Chef Spouse), many thanks were given, many hugs were exchanged, and a good time was had by all. Hope you & yours had the same.

Stud of the week: Hold on to your hats. Being mentioned on Snarkin' in a positive light for maybe the
first time ever, Nate Allen. Hey, he had a recovered fumble AND a pick. And wasn't complete garbage in pass coverage. (Although as several Eagles bloggers have already pointed out this season, with ole Nate, it's not a lack of effort, it's a lack of talent. He's doing the best he can with what he's got.) Way to go, Nate! Not sure you'll still be an Eagle next year (then again, great safeties aren't exactly a dime a dozen), but we sure appreciated the effort this week.

Was this the first complete game we've seen from the Eagles this year? I'd argue no, in that (other than #LOVEParkey) special teams had a bit of a down day. Punting and punt coverage was solid, but they gave up a few decent kick returns and didn't break any big returns on offense. And no special teams TDs! Come on, guys! No slacking! (Oh - and Riley Cooper? Want more snaps? Then CATCH THE DAMN BALL AND DO WHAT YOUR QB TELLS YOU TO, donkey. Shut the F up, or GTFO. Your choice. )

I kid - it was a hell of a game.

Did you notice the old Shady appears to be back? Funny what a little consistency on the o-line can do for the running game. Seriously - is this the first time this season that the Eagles have had the same five guys on the line for two ENTIRE games (plus the weeks of practice in between) in a row? It might be. And even with some down games early on, I think he's still the #2 rusher in the NFL, right?

Sanchez looked great. There were a few drives the Birds didn't finish, but he looked sharp, played smart, and didn't make mistakes. He even scored a running TD for the first time in, I think, three years. And with #LOVEParkey hitting everything from everywhere, we know we're at least getting three if the offense get past the 30, so there is that. Three ain't gonna cut it in the playoffs, although it's like to help get the Eagles there.

DeMarco who? Dez what? The defense shut down BOTH the pass AND the run. Of course, the fact that Tony Romo is clearly NOT right, despite what the Cowboys' front office might claim, really helped. Any time any Eagles' defender got anywhere near him, he just went down, resulting in four sacks (only four? felt like more than that). But those guys were ON FIRE. It was particularly striking in comparison the play of the Cowboys' defense, who seemed gassed from the very first play.

To quote the Philly Daily News: "Dear Cowboys, We enjoyed Thanksgiving at your house."

How's that crow taste by the way, Cowboys' fans, and most of the sports media, who've been all over how awesome they supposedly are all season?

Speaking of, the big story on Blogging the Boys is that things will be totally different in two weeks at the Linc. They *do* know that the Eagles have retaken the Linc as significant home field advantage, right? Maybe they have some sort of master plan to get their fatass defensive players in shape to keep up with Chip's up-tempo offense in two weeks? Because if they do, they should publish that workout plan - lots of people would be interested.You'll have to forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical, though.

On to the Seahawks (who, by the way, are mortal this year, particularly on the road).



26 November 2014

2014 Week 13 Picks

Dallas Week. Thanksgiving game. Tie record.

Families - including mine - gathered to watch the battle for the NFC East. 

Let me start by saying that I expect the Eagles and the Cowboys to split their games. The teams are pretty closely matched - good in a number of areas, but ultimately with some major flaws. I've talked at length about the Eagles flaws this season. The Cowboys flaws come down to over-reliance on DeMarco Murray (one of these weeks, the wheels WILL come off that bus) and a defense that is still not great. They aren't as epically bad as they were last year, but that was, like, historically bad, so at least some level of improvement was virtually guaranteed.

The Cowboys have been bad at home this year. Unfortunately, the Eagles have been bad on the road. So that's a wash.

To me, this game comes down to DeMarco Murray, and whether or not the Eagles can stop him (or is this the week). And the Birds are not terrible against the rush - they aren't, like, the Lions, but they're not bad.

It also comes down to how many mistakes Mark Sanchez makes. Hopefully not that many, but I'm not crazy - there's no way it's none at all. And the Cowboys WILL take advantage.

Just about everyone has the Cowboys, and I think I probably have to go with them. This week. Week 15 is going to be a COMPLETELY different story.

In the other matchups:

Bears at Lions: I've got the Lions, particularly their OUTSTANDING defense.

Seahawks at 49ers: Seahawks.

Chargers at Ravens: Ravens.

Browns at Bills: Bills. And they'll even be able to have a home game ACTUALLY at home!

Titans at Texans: Texans. Not that it really matters.

Washington at Colts: RG3? Colt McCoy? It could be Batman and not make a difference in the dumpster fire that is the DC football team. Colts.

Giants at Jaguars: Awwww! The Giants will get to win a game! How nice for them!

Panthers at Vikings: Vikings.

Saints at Steelers: Steelers. The NFC South is going to be won at 6-10 this year, mark my words.

Raiders at Rams: In which the Raiders winning streak ends at one. Rams.

Bengals at Buccaneers: Bengals.

Cardinals at Falcons: Cards.

Patriots at Packers: Oh man. ARodg does nothing but tear up opposing teams at home. But I think the Pats are actually the better team at this point, at least a little. Regardless of who wins, this will be one of the best games of the week (if it wasn't Dallas Week, it would be THE best game of the week). I think I'm going with the Pats, but neither outcome would surprise me. Well, actually that's not true - a blowout either way, or a 6-3 win would surprise me. But nothing else.

Broncos at Chiefs: I've got the Chiefs. Call it irrational exuberance. Or I got into the Thanksgiving wine early.

Dolphins at Jets: Oh, poor Jets. Dolphins for sure.