23 August 2016

You Blew Up the Team!

Greetings, Eagles fans. It's been many months since I posted, mostly because I was so depressed about the team by the end of the 2015 season, I just couldn't bear it any more. I didn't even recap my own record, so I'll do that now:

I ended up 158-98 on weekly picks, better than everyone at ESPN other than Jaws, Christ Mortensen, and TJ.

I had three AFC playoff picks correct, but I messed up the Chiefs' position, same with the NFC playoff picks, only I messed up the Packers' position.

In other words, a pretty normal season for me.

And then everything went nuts at the NovaCare Complex. Chip fired. Doug Pederson hired. New coaching staff. Half the team gone, potentially including Cody Parkey. Carson Wentz drafted. Sam Bradford acting like he's Tom Brady (or at least has Tom Brady's record of success). Lane Johnson and PEDs. Carson Wentz immediately breaks rib. Picking up free agents with character issues. WTFs for everyone!

With the pre-season well underway, it's time to gird my loins and start paying attention again. Also, I need something to distract me from the horrifying if extremely slim possibility that Donald Trump could become president. And I need to learn the names of a bunch of new players.

My only takeaway from the preseason so far, other than Wentz's aforementioned broken rib is that after years of the reverse, it looks like the Birds' D is going to be their strength in 2016, while the O is a BIG question mark. I haven't seen a receiving corps this talented since the days of James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, and I don't think that was what Jeff Lurie meant when he talked about getting back to the way the team was under Andy Reid. They also don't appear to have a top RB. I love Darren Sproles, too, don't get me wrong, but dude's 33, which is getting into geriatric territory for a back. Maybe it doesn't really matter. Does anyone think this team is going to win more than 8 games this year?

(crickets, coyotes howling, tumbleweed)

Yeah, we're rebuilding. Again. Still? A process that feels like it's been going on since 2010. But at least there will be football, even if it's being played at a mediocre level by a bunch of guys I don't know.

(I know, I know - I'll stop being such a Negative Nancy on or about September 8. Probably.)


02 January 2016

2015 Week 17 Picks

But first: the Chip Kelly era is over. Jeff Lurie did this just as I was in the process of trying to finish packing for an early flight to Aruba, where I've been enjoying Sun, Sea, Sand on One Happy Island for the past several days.

IgglesBlitz and Bleeding Green Nation are dissecting this move in detail, and you should definitely go there for analysis.

My main thoughts on this are: it seems like Lurie wanted to strip Chip of his GM/personnel responsibilities (and he was certainly a much poorer GM than coach), Chip said no, and Jeff said, "Bye, Felicia!" Afterwards, Chip's been all, "I was never - and never wanted to be - the GM!" which will all know is BS. It seems likely to me that he'll end up in Tennessee, and I suspect that will probably go well for him, as long as the Titans make sure they have a strong personnel team that's NOT Chip.

I can't really speak to the locker room dynamics, but there seems to be at least some evidence that, while ALL the players were shocked by the timing, more than a few were not that unhappy at the result. And that's not great.

Now we wait to see who the new head coach will be (Hue Jackson! Please, Hue Jackson! Matt Patricia is an interesting idea, too.)

On to the final week's picks:

Games with playoff implications:

Jets at Bills: Jets (who will then make the playoffs - go, Jets!)

Patriots at Dolphins: Pats (who would then be the damn top seed in the AFC AGAIN)

Ravens at Bengals: Bengals, who potentially would still have the ability to get a first round bye with a Broncos loss, which they really need to get Andy Dalton back - and yes, it's unlikely the Broncos will lose, but the Bengals can't do anything about that.

Steelers at Browns: Steelers, who could take the six seed *if* they win and the Jets lose. Prediction: they'll do what they can, although it won't be enough, because the Jets aren't going to lose.

Titans at Colts: Colts, who are still not mathematically eliminated, but it won't matter, because they need the Jets AND the Steelers to lose, and that's also not going to happen.

Buccaneers at Panthers: Panthers, who want to hold that #1 seed

Raiders at Chiefs: Chiefs

Chargers at Broncos: Broncos

Seahawks at Cardinals: Cards, who could take #1 if the Panthers lose (I think), which also means the Seahawks will go #6

Vikings at Packers: This may be the most interesting game of the week, as it will determine the winner of the NFC North. I'm calling for the upset, with the Vikings winning in Green Bay, and taking the division in the process.

Games without playoff implications:

Eagles at Giants: Giants, I hope, because the best thing the Birds can do for themselves at this point is improve their draft position. Also, note to interim head coach Pat Shurmur: PLAY THE DAMN BACKUPS.

DC at Cowboys: DC - no playoff implications here, because DC can't possibly do better - or worse - than the #4 seed in the NFC

Saints at Falcons: Falcons

Jaguars at Texans: Texans

Lions at Bears: Bears

Rams at 49ers: Rams


28 December 2015

Turn Out the Lights....The Party's Over

Philadelphia Eagles, 24, Washington Football Team, 38, Saturday, December 26, 2015

Yes, I know the season's not officially over yet, but let's be serious.



Oh my, I knew it was coming, and it was still incredibly painful to watch. The fact that we had ribs, collards, mac and cheese, apple pie, bourbon, and Lifelong Eagles Fan Mom and You-Two-Calm-Down-Or-I'm-Turning-Off-the TV Dad with us helped, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

The Eagles lost, and they lost in the most 2015 Eagles-ish way possible:

Sam Bradford fits a perfect pass into a tiny window! (See: his very first completed pass, to Nelson Agholor)

San Bradford and DeMarco Murray BOTH fumble on the same play!

As I posted on the private Eagles Facebook group I'm a member of: "First Sproles drops the punt, then Bradford AND Murray both drop the ball on the SAME play, then Murray drops the ball AGAIN. Ladies and gents, your 2015 Philadelphia Eagles."

And then Sam fumbles again! (And DeAngelo Hall recovers for the WFT TD)

Zach Ertz has a great catch!

Sam Bradford overthrows a WIDE open Zach Ertz with nothing in front of him but green, green grass!

Zach Ertz fumbles and WFT recovers!

Zach Ertz drops one that's right in his hands!

DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP DROP

(Were the Eagles #1 in wideout drops this year, or did it just feel that way?)

Malcolm Jenkins rocks! Only why does he appear to have big slabs of uncarved maple for hands?

Fletcher Cox....well, he was actually awesome all night. Which is why he's going to the Pro Bowl.

Why, why, WHY could NO ONE cover Jordan Reed? SRSLY PPL.

WHY CAN"T KIKO ALONZO DO ANYTHING RIGHT?

Sam Bradford nearly gets killed. Sam Bradford nearly gets killed. Sam Bradford nearly gets killed. Sam Bradford nearly gets killed.

HELLOOOOO? Anyone got an offensive line?

(Hey Chip: the offensive line is actually important in professional football. FYI.)

How did our D manage to make Tom Brady look like Kirk Cousins a few weeks ago, and make Kirk Cousins look like Tom Brady Saturday night? I do not know, but there you have it

As Tommy said: "This is the most inconsistent Eagles team in a long time. They were up and down all year long. You would think one area was a strength and a few weeks later it was a major liability. The polar opposite would happen to some other part of the team. You could never figure out what was real…what was the foundation of the team." PREACH.

What. A. Mess.

Here are a few things that are clear:

Chip the GM needs to be fired. Chip the coach *may* get another shot.

The three-headed running game did not work. DeMarco Murray needs to go back to the Cowboys. Or to hell, for all I care. But Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews can stay. Call me! :)

The Eagles need a goddamn offensive line.

Sam Bradford is not the future of this team, but he may be the 2016 of this team.

WHY CAN'T THE DAMN RECEIVERS CATCH THE DAMN BALL?!?!?! You had ONE JOB, RECEIVERS. ONE JOB.

We miss you, Jordan Hicks.

Bryon Maxwell is not a #1 cornerback. He may not be a #3 cornerback.

WHY CAN'T THE DAMN D TACKLE? THIS IS NOT A COMPLICATED FOOTBALL CONCEPT. USE YOUR DAMN ARMS.

Get your mock draft ready, and hope that no one important gets hurt next week.

And on the up side, I won't have to interrupt my tropical vacation in Aruba to watch a game that's now meaningless.

PS Ex-Navy Cheesehead: ever missed, never forgotten

24 December 2015

2015 Week 16 Picks

Happy Holidays, y'all!

I know we're all not getting our number one wish this year - a Super Bowl win - but I'm hoping that the non-football parts of your year and celebrations have been good.

We're down to the last two games, both divisional. The Eagles, as we all know, "control their own destiny." Win out, and THEY get to lose a home playoff game to the Seahawks. Lose either one, and that NFC East wildcard round loss will happen in DC.

But first, the Birds themselves have to face the Washington football team, at home, night game, Boxing Day.

Can the Eagles pull off the win? I dearly hope so, but Washington has been playing a lot better lately. The two teams' defenses rank about mid-pack equal, but the DC offense is playing much better than Chip Kelly's boys, and that will likely make all the difference. That, and the fact that DC is gunning for only its fourth divisional title this millennium.

Sadly, I think I'm picking DC. So start thinking about your draft previews, people.

In the other matchups:

Chargers at Raiders: Raiders

Patriots at Jets: Pats

Texans at Titans: Texans

Browns at Chiefs: Chiefs

Colts at Dolphins: I think Dolphins, which is the same thing I said last week v the Chargers and I was wrong about that, so who knows?

49ers at Lions: Lions

Cowboys at Bills: Bills

Bears at Buccaneers: Bucs

Panthers at Falcons: Panthers. One more to go!

Steelers at Ravens: Steelers

Jaguars at Saints: Saints (even after Monday's game, I still believe...that they won't lose to my perennial whipping boy team)

Rams at Seahawks: The Seahawks will get it done to hold on to the #5 NFC playoff spot.

Packers at Cardinals: Cards

Giants at Vikings: I know Odell Beckham Jr. is benched this week, but the Giants are still fighting for their playoff lives, too, and Eli Manning seems to play best in dire situations. I know everyone has the Vikings, but I'm taking the Giants as my upset pick.

Bengals at Broncos: This is a tough one - the Bengals are guaranteed a playoff spot, but they don't have their division wrapped yet. The Broncos are still leading their division, but could easily slip behind the Chiefs or even out of the playoff picture entirely. Both teams have issues at QB, and the Bengals desperately need that first round bye if they hope to have Andy Dalton back for a playoff run. I think his team will deliver, and I'm *still* keeping the flame alive for a Bengals/Panthers Super Bowl. Bengals.

16 December 2015

2015 Week 15 Picks

With three weeks to go, we have a three-way tie for first (I use that term loosely) in the NFC (L)East.

And everyone has at least one divisional game remaining, which means this will be an exciting end to the season for all of us - well, other than the Cowboys, who are the only team who are pretty much out of it at this point (and it occurs to me that, even at 4-9, they may not be mathematically eliminated. Wait: is that possible? Yes, it is, at least as of Wednesday, December 16. Yikes.)

Two of the Birds' remaining games are against NFC East rivals: DC and, to end the season, the Giants. I also think it may be the case that, regardless of what happens this weekend, as long as the Eagles win both of those games, they win our sorry-ass division. Which, for those who are bad at math (or at least at counting), would be wining the division at 8-8. Which may happen.

Double yikes.

So what do I think will happen this weekend, as the Eagles take on the Cards in prime time?

After beating the Pats, anything is possible.

But (say it with me) if I pick them to win, they lose, and if I pick them to lose, they win.

So I'm picking the Cardinals, and hoping for a 9-7 finish to spare us the shame of a .500 divisional winner.

(Hey, it's been working so far....)

In the other matchups:

Buccaneers at Rams: Bucs

Jets at Cowboys: Jets

Bears at Vikings: I think Vikings, but this one could go either way. The Bears have been playing better lately, and divisional games - who can tell?

Falcons at Jaguars: The Falcons have really fallen off a cliff after a hot start, but I just can't see them losing to the Jags. Then again, I didn't think the Colts would get beaten like a red-headed stepchild by the Jags last week, either, so who knows? But I am going with the Falcons, which may be a mistake.

Texans at Colts: Texans.

Panthers at Giants: The G-men have a history of getting hot late in the season, but I'm pretty sure they're about to run into an ice storm called Cam Newton/Luke Kuechly and slide right off the road (that metaphor ended up a mess, didn't it?). Panthers.

Titans at Patriots: Pats

Bills at DC: I've got the Bills, and not just because it would REALLY help out the Birds, although that, too.

Chiefs at Ravens: Chiefs

Browns at Seahawks: Seahawks

Packers at Raiders: Packers

Broncos at Steelers: Steelers

Dolphins at Chargers: This is another one that could go either way, and there's definitely more than a bit of "who cares?" to this matchup, but I'll go Dolphins.

Bengals at 49ers: Rough week last week, and Andy Dalton being out at least for a few weeks is a big problem. Can the Bengals rally without him? At least they have an easy one this week, where even if AJ McCarron (WHO????) has a tough time adjusting, their defense should be able to take care of business pretty much single-handedly. Bengals.

Lions at Saints: We're actually going to be in New Orleans for this game, and we thought pretty seriously about getting tickets, but then we realized we'd probably have more fun at a sports bar in the Vieux Carre. Plus, can't miss that street party when the Saints win!

10 December 2015

2015 Week 14 Picks

This week, Shady McCoy returns to Philly.

DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA.

We all know that Shady was traded, unwillingly, in the off season for Kiko Alonso (looking like a big mistake at this point) and replaced by DeMarco Murray (same) and Ryan Mathews (less so, at least when he's able to play).

We also all know that the trade did not go down as smoothly as at least the Eagles' Front Office would've liked.

So now, the week of the game, we've got drama around "would Chip shake Shady's hand?" (yes) and "would Shady shake Chip's hand?" (apparently, no, even if he was on fire and shaking Chip's hand was the only way to activate the sprinkler system)

FFS, Shady, it's not like Chip is Hitler - or, worse, Donald Trump!

And then there's this bit of unhingedness, courtesy of Herm Edwards:

So yeah, apparently, amidst all the yelling, there will also be a football game played Sunday.

Which I need to pick.

When I pick the Eagles to win, they lose.

When I pick the Eagles to lose, they win.

Our shitty division is still very much in reach. Whichever team wins it is going to get annihilated in the wild card round, but whatever. That's not for, like, a month!

You know what that means: I'm calling the Birds to lose. So they can win.

Because logic.

Bills

In the other matchups:

Vikings at Cardinals: Cardinals

49ers at Browns: Anyone know who's playing QB for *either* of these teams at this point? Does it even matter? The 49ers will probably win, because their defense isn't entirely dreadful, which is about the best I can say about any aspect of either of these teams at this point.

Lions at Rams: Rams (me and Chris Mortensen, lone wolfing it)

Saints at Buccaneers: Bucs

Titans at Jets: Jets

Steelers at Bengals: The is a big test for the Bengals, and I think they're going to pass. Bengals. Ginger power!

Colts at Jaguars: Colts

Chargers at Chiefs: Chiefs

DC at Bears: I suspect DC will win this one, just to prolong the agony in the NFC East

Falcons at Panthers: Panthers go 13-0, baby!

Seahawks at Ravens: I was having drinks with a former coworker who's a big Ravens fan last night, and he pointed out that 8 of the Ravens 11 offensive starters are out at this point. That explains a lot. Seahawks

Raiders at Broncos: Will Peyton be back? Who cares? That new guy is looking pretty solid! Besides, the Broncos are going to keep riding their defense to wins, and Sunday will be no exception. Broncos.

Cowboys at Packers: Now the pressure is off Matt Cassel, it should be smooth sailing from here on out, right? SIKE! Packers (who are also struggling with injury this late season, but let's be serious)

Patriots at Texans: Did the Eagles provide the blueprint for bad teams to beat the Pats? Well, Tom Brady certainly doesn't like to be harried, and JJ Watt LOVES to harry QBs. Is that enough? Probably not, because you do have to be able to put points up to beat the Pats, which the Texans have not shown themselves to be particularly adept at doing so far this season, so while it would be great to see the Pats lose three in a row, it also seems pretty unlikely. Pats (but Go JJ!)

Dolphins at Giants: What's with all the primetime NFC East games the past few weeks? Did someone in the NFL scheduling office lose a bet? Speaking of prolonging the agony, the G-men are likely to win this one, too. Oh NFC East, why do you torture us so? Giants.


07 December 2015

Even a Stopped Clock Is Right Twice a Day

Philadelphia Eagles 35, New England Patriots 28, Sunday, December 6, 2015

OK, that headline is not entirely fair to the Birds, who played a great game yesterday. A great game that NO ONE saw coming. Literally the only person I know of who picked the Eagles was this one nutty guy in Chef Spouse's work pick 'em league who intentionally picks the craziest things he can each week. And I'm pretty sure even HE was like, "OK, this seriously is too improbable to happen."

Chef Spouse and I were decorating for the holidays this weekend, and we intentionally planned to be working on the tree during the game because we figured we'd need the distraction. So we made some nog from scratch (including the raw eggs, because we're crazy like that) and settled in for what we assumed would be a MASSIVE DRUBBING.

Oh, lordy, were we wrong.

Stud of the week: Chris Maragos. Wait - who? After all Sunday's fireworks, Chris WHO? Special teams ace Chris Maragos, who, as the first half was winding down, and the Patriots had mis-managed the clock and had to punt, came through the line with the key block that Najee Goode scooped up to tie the game at the half, which swung the momentum pretty much permanently. THAT Chris Maragos.

Although, really, many people could've qualified for Stud this Week. Najee Goode, for scooping up the Maragos block and scoring, rather than just falling on it. Darren Sproles with the 83 yard punt return TD and a great game on both the running and receiving sides. SO GLAD to see the coaches using him more. You know what's better than Darren Sproles? MORE DARREN SPROLES. Walter Thurmond for batting the pass that Malcolm Jenkins grabbed for the 99 yard house call. Brandon Marshall with the pick in the end zone. Brandon Graham with two sacks. Connor Barwin with two sacks. The entire D for pressuring Tom Brady into happy feet. Sam Bradford with NO PICKS (on a night when Touchdown Tom threw TWO) and three truly outstanding throws: the Zach Ertz TD, the Jordan Matthews TD, and the key completion to Riley Cooper for a first down as the Birds were trying to hang on. Riley Cooper for using his two brain cells to bat the THIRD Pats onside kick attempt out of bounds. Lots of outstanding play from a team no one believed in (including me).

Not everything was perfect. Sam got lucky on a few passes that weren't picked but that could've been. DeMarco Murray continues to disappoint. Miles Austin was benched last night and cut today, and THANK GOD. It's about damn time. Someone tell rookie Kenjon Barner that he needs to get BOTH arms on the ball at the end of the game. Truly, had Gronk not been out when that turnover occurred with just over a minute left, the Pats would've tied the game and who KNOWS how things would've gone down in OT (probably not well for the Birds).

But this truly was, as the players pointed out on Twitter, a team win.

I also have to give credit to Pats fans, much as it kills me. I have several close peeps who are Pats fans, and they were universally great on social media. To quote one: "Any given Sunday, people. Philly deserved it." And then there's this. Pure class.

So where do we go from here? Damned if I know. But for now, just enjoy the win (and root for the Cowboys tonight, which...well, at least root against DC). First time for everything, including the Birds beating the Pats at home while Tom Brady is the QB.