27 October 2014

Heartbreak in the Desert

Eagles 20, Cardinals 24, Sunday, October 26, 2014

A haiku for Nick Foles:

Nick Foles, back foot throws
Excruciating to watch
Please Nick, will you stop?

Stud of the week: Jeremy Maclin. Damn, yo. Mac came to BALL OUT.  Best game of his season?
You know it! He's definitely back as in all the way back from that ACL last year. 12 receptions, 187 yards, two touchdowns (that would be BOTH of the Eagles' touchdowns), and several clutch catches at key moments, particularly during the final drive. Taking that one year deal is looking smart. He keeps playing like this, and Jeff Lurie's going to have to open his wallet. WIDE. (Did you notice that he's actually playing better than DJax? Because pretty much everyone else has, so I don't want you to be left out.)

Also, shout out to Cody "All I do is kick 50+ yard field goals "Parkey (you should see his monogram).

And then there was this:


Not only did he play great, he provided a much-needed moment of levity in an otherwise agonizing game to watch.

Actually, that's not strictly true. The D played pretty well. The Cards are leading the NFC West and the Eagles were playing them on the road. Other than the two big TD receptions (Fitz and the game winner to John Brown), they did quite a good job. That's a BIG "other than" of course, but credit where credit is due.

Of course, I also remember yelling "somebody cover Fitz!" about a million times. And by "somebody" I mean you Nate Allen. And you Cary Williams. Both of you were an embarrassment to midnight green yesterday. PARTICULARLY YOU NATE ALLEN. You BETTER be having nightmares involving John Brown for a long goddamn time.

But the offense (other than Mac). Oh my God, the offense. And it actually wasn't all of the offense. It was the red zone offense, which was dreadful. Including the final drive of the game, four trips to the red zone = three points. THREE. That is not going to cut it. The Josh Huff fumble. The Nick Foles pick. The Chris Polk TD that wasn't - and wasn't challenged (THAT WAS TOTALLY A TOUCHDOWN). I haz a sad.

Speaking of sad, I don't have enough time to talk about how bad the officiating was, other than to say that it was pretty much equally bad (11 penalties on the Eagles, 10 on the Cards), but they were throwing so many flags I'm amazed the game is actually over at this point. I was sure the teams would still by playing into Monday Night Football. I did notice that there was no replay on a number of the penalties I'm guessing BECAUSE THEY WERE IMAGINARY.

Although: how does that horse collar of Riley Cooper end up with the flag picked up? How does Deone Bucannon not get penalized, ejected, and fined? Still, I don't want to be a whiny crybaby, aka Bruce Arians.

I quote Tommy Lawlor: "Too many mistakes. Simple as that."

He's not wrong.

Also? Seriously, Nick. No more back foot throws. I am not joking.

And Chip? Maybe next time on 4th-and-goal from the less than one? Maybe try a QB sneak with your SIX AND A HALF FOOT TALL QB.

23 October 2014

2014 Week 8 Picks

The Eagles travel to Phoenix this week to take on the surprising (and NFC West-leading) Cardinals.

In the Eagles' favor: Darren Sproles seems to be OK, the patchwork O-line seems to be gelling (and Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce are getting healthy ahead of schedule), and Mychal Kendricks might be back. Also, the Cards offense has been struggling, regardless of whether it's Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton's under center. Historically, the Eagles do great the week after the bye.

In the Cards favor: Their defense is playing pretty much lights out, and they are GREAT against the run. Shady got it going against the Giants (finally), but we might see a setback this week. Historically, the Eagles don't do well going west.

This game WILL have an impact on the postseason, because both of these teams are strong contenders in the NFC and in their respective divisions.

Honestly, I could see this one going either way, and I've gone back and forth on this pick. But it's Fellow Eagles Maniac's birthday on Sunday, and she and her spouse are throwing a big party, and I just can't see the Birds letting her down.

Eagles.

In the other matchups:

Chargers at Broncos: I think people are sleeping on the Chargers this year, and I think Peyton's going to have a letdown after his big "509" game. I'm going with the Bolts and the upset.

Lions at Falcons: Lions. The NFC South is a sorry mess this year.

Seahawks at Panthers: Seahawks, see above.

Ravens at Bengals: If the Bengals want to show they're for real, they need to win this game. Unfortunately, I don't think they will.

Dolphins at Jaguars: Aaaand the Jags winning streak ends at one. Dolphins.

Rams at Chiefs: The Rams shocked the Seahawks - and all of the football watching public - last week. Lightening is not going to strike twice. Chiefs.

Bears at Patriots: Tom Brady may be turning into a real asshole, but it seems like it's working. His team is stepping up. After a strong start, the Bears are in trouble. And the Pats are at home. Pats.

Bills at Jets: This is another one that could go either way, but I think I have to go with Jaws and Brent and pick the Jets.

Viking at Buccaneers: Same as above, Bucs.

Texans at Titans: Texans. JJ Watt could probably beat the Titans all by himself.

Raiders at Browns: I was so bummed the Browns lost to the Jags last week! Fortunately, they're getting another weak opponent against which to straighten things out this week. Browns.

Colts at Steelers: The Steelers really looked like shit against the Texans last week, until they didn't. And they're hard to beat at home. But their defense isn't what it once was, and Andrew Luck is on fire. Colts.

Packers at Saints: It pains me to do this, but I'm picking against the Saints at home. Speaking on QBs who are on fire, the Pack.

DC at Dallas: Colt McCoy and his team are toast. Cowboys, goddamnit.

On bye: 49ers, Giants

16 October 2014

2014 Week 7 Picks

You may notice that there was no game recap this week. That would be because I was on a business trip and MISSED THE FIRST EAGLES SHUTOUT IN 18 YEARS.

From the other recaps, I gather that Shady's back. Connor Barwin sacked Eli Manning approximately every other down (actually, it was a sack-fest, with just about everyone getting in on the action and THREE forced fumbles), Cody Parkey continues to be money, Nick made some puzzlingly bad decisions again but the D stepped up so they didn't matter, and a good time was had by all (well, other than Giants fans, of course). AND I MISSED IT.

Sigh.

As I remarked to Chef Spouse: If me not watching the game is the trick to easy, no-stress Eagles wins, we have a problem.

(Also, what is up with the Bengals and tie games?)

Anyway, on to the bye-week picks:

Jets at Patriots: Pats. The Jets stink this year, and nobody seems to be into it.

Falcons at Ravens: Ravens. Who are looking solid, despite all the distractions and their criminal running back.

Vikings at Bills: Bills at home.

Dolphins at Bears: Two inconsistent teams who've had great wins and inexplicable losses. I've got the Bears at home, but really, this could go either way.

Saints at Lions: Lions. The Saints are out of the Dome and are going to have trouble scoring on the surprisingly effective Lions D.

Panthers at Packers: The Pack.

Bengals at Colts: This is another one that could go either way. Two hot teams. I'm going with the Colts at home in what may be a fairly high scoring game.

Browns at Jaguars: The Jags have to win sometime, I guess, but it's not going to be this week, either. Browns.

Seahawks at Rams: The Seahawks will rebound.

Titans at Washington: I think Washington will finally win a second game. Which, of course, will immediately cue the Super Bowl talk in the DC media and fan base. Also, worst game of the week.

Chiefs at Chargers: Speaking of smokin' teams, Chargers.

Giants at Cowboys: The G-men DESPERATELY need this win. And I'd love to see them get it, not least of which to deflate the Cowboys egos after last week's win in Seattle. But I don't think they're going to get it. Cowboys.

Cardinals at Raiders: The Raiders also have to win sometime, but it's also not going to be this week. Cards.

49ers at Broncos: The Niners are banged up, and the Broncos are at home. Broncos.

Texans at Steelers: Texans, with my upset pick.

On bye: Buccaneers, Eagles

09 October 2014

2014 Week 6 Picks

Prime time game, hosting the Giants.

This game's looking like it's going to be a lot better than I thought it would be a month ago.  The Giants seem to have pulled their shit together, largely because they seem to have given up on the long pass. Which from the Eagles' perspective is a good thing, because the Birds' cornerbacks are terrible. Well, except when the Boyking is on the field, which is NOT NEARLY ENOUGH.

I really don't have a sense of where this game will go. Nick could have a bad outing. Eli could have a bad outing. Or one or both of them could play well. If Eli has a bad night, Malcolm Jenkins could easily have multiple picks. The Giants have been running well of late, and the Eagles aren't strong against the the run (they aren't exactly genius against the pass, either). The Giants passing D isn't exactly lighting it up, either, but their rushing D is pretty solid. But with the Birds' o-line problems, they can't get the run going nohow, so it may not matter. I'm pretty sure the Giants special teams STILL have nightmares about the Miracle at the New Meadowlands, and the Eagles special teams have been KILLING IT so far this year, so I'm betting there will be at least one special teams score.

I'd love the see the Eagles go to 5-1, particular since the Cowboys WILL lose this week (see below, RE: Seahakws). And it's a home game.

I'll go Eagles, but I'm not sold on it. 

In the other matchups...

Colts at Texans: Colts. (Yes, I know the game has already started and the Colts are leading. I had the Colts anyway, and PS, Thursday Night Football is bullshit. PPS, but I'm still watching it.)

Jaguars at Titans: Titans. I mean, I guess the Jags have to win sometime, and this week is probably one of their better chances, but I still don't think it will be enough.

Ravens at Buccaneers: Ravens.

Broncos at Jets: Oh my. That's a shame. Broncos. Also, the game voted most likely that the loser should just forfeit and save the humiliation. Plus that northern New Jersey travel can be brutal.

Lions at Vikings: I think Megatron is going to be out, which is bad for the Lions. And Teddy Bridgewater is back, and that's good for the Vikings. I seem to be talking myself into picking the Vikings, but the Lions D has been playing lights out, so the loss of Calvin may not matter. Lions.

Patriots at Bills: So want to pick the Bills and the upset, but I just can't. Pats.

Panthers at Bengals: Speaking of lights-out D, Bengals.

Browns at Steelers: Could the Browns beat the Steelers? It doesn't happen very often. The Browns have had some Eagles-level coronary-inducing games this year, and think they just might do that again this week. Browns, in the upset pick.

Packers at Dolphins: Packers. No upset here.

Chargers at Raiders: Chargers. Yeah, anything can happen in the divisional games, but the Raiders ALREADY fired their head coach. After week 4. That's some crazy shit right there.

Bears at Falcons: Should be a high scoring game, with two hot offenses and two weak defenses. I'll give it to Falcons at home, although it may actually just come down to whoever has the ball last.

Cowboys at Seahawks: 12th man, better team, Seahawks no contest. They can be beat, but not by any of the teams in the NFC East this year.

Washington at Cardinals: Carson Palmer? Drew Stanton? Lucky fan in section 236, row 5, seat 15? Doesn't really matter. Cards.

49ers at Rams: I suspect that the Rams are better than their record, but I don't think they're good enough to take out the 49ers.

On bye: Chiefs. Saints

06 October 2014

We Won, Right?

Eagles 34, Rams 28, Sunday, October 5, 2014 

Then why doesn't it quite feel like it?

Stud of the week: Cedric Thornton, no doubt. TWO recovered fumbles, one that was an immediate
TD, and one that led, after he rumbled about 40 yards and two plays later, to ANOTHER TD.  Which almost offset Nick and Shady's dreadful, momentum killing fumbles. Good thing we can count on the defense and special teams to score, right? (Dave Fipp for Mayor!)

Actually, scoring wasn't so much a problem. Well, at least through the end of the third quarter, at which point the Eagles were leading by 20 points.

And then I started having shades of the Miracle at the New Meadowlands, only the Eagles were playing the goat/Giants. Fellow Eagles Maniac was here, too, and we were pretty much clutching each other in a panic from 3 to 4 pm on Sunday.

What is with the Eagles and quarterbacks who physically can't slide? Aren't these guys professional athletes? Citizen's Bank Park is RIGHT THERE, guys, and the Phillies are not in the post-season. Just invite somebody over to the NovaCare Complex for a little afternoon clinic. Also? NICK! STOP THROWING OFF YOUR BACK FOOT! I'm a girl who never played football, and EVEN I KNOW THAT'S AN INCREDIBLY BAD IDEA.

And it's quite clear: if the o-line can't seal the outside (and right now, they can't), Shady can't run.  If Shady can't run, there's too much pressure on Nick. Also, next receiver/tight end who drops a pass has to shave his head, OK? Riley Cooper, I'm looking at you. (Yeah, I know the Eagles won by 6 and he made a Madden-esque TD catch. Not enough to offset the drops of the past month, son.)

Also, Cary Williams and/or Bradley Fletcher is going to give me a rage-induced coronary at some point this year, mark my words. GET YOUR HEAD AROUND AND LOCATE THE BALL, DONKEY. Cary Williams is apparently this year's Patrick Chung.

Here's the thing. The Eagles are 4-1. The list of teams with that record is small: only the Eagles, Cowboys, and Chargers. The only other teams that only have one loss are the Broncos, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Bengals, all teams we could easily see in the Super Bowl this year (well, OK, not at the same time, as Chef Spouse pointed out). They may be winning ugly, but they're wining. And we're Negadelphians. Unless the team scores on EVERY possession AND shuts out the other team, we're always going to find something to bitch about.

And honestly, if the team can get to week 10 (when Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis are slated to come back) at 6-3 or at least 5-4, I feel pretty good about their chances down the stretch.

02 October 2014

2014 Week 5 Picks

This week, the Eagles are hosting the Rams. No time like the present for the Birds to get out of their funk, pull their heads out of their collective asses, and actually play a full 60 minutes of football in all three phases of the game.

Actually, this is the Rams, who haven't exactly been lighting it on fire so far this year, despite getting up on Dallas early in week 3. They probably don't need a complete game from all three phases - but they will need at least a good half from everyone.

There is no one who thinks the Rams will win this game, even the guys at Turf Show Times. Let's do this, guys.

Eagles.

In the rest of the matchups....

Vikings at Packers: Call me crazy, but I have the Vikings. What? Divisions games can be CRAZY.

Bears at Panthers: Ah, Panthers. I had such high hopes for you. Ah, Bears. Emo QB showed back up last week. I think Bears. But I really wouldn't be surprised either way.

Texans at Cowboys: Much as it pains me, Cowboys.

Bills at Lions: Did you hear EJ Manuel got benched? Yeah, Lions.

Ravens at Colts: I've got the Ravens. So does Jaws. Don't judge me.

Steelers at Jaguars: I - and EVERYONE IN THE WORLD - have the Steelers.

Buccaneers at Saints: OK, the Bucs AND the Saints f-ed me last week. I WON'T be wrong about my Saints pick this week. Dome field advantage.

Falcons at Giants: Did you notice that, now that Tom Coughlin is no longer asking Eli Manning to, you know, throw the ball downfield at all, the Giants are looking a lot better? Also, Falcons not so good against the run/short pass. Giants.

Browns at Titans: Browns (did you hear that, Queen Bee?).

Cardinals at Broncos: I've got the Cards and their YOU SHALL NOT PASS defense.

Jets at Chargers: Chargers. Geno, stop flipping off the fans. Did not work out well for Michael Vick, will not work out well for you.

Chiefs at 49ers: Chiefs. Another upset pick? Yep! Did you *see* the demolition they laid on the Patriots on Monday? Speaking of the Pats....

Bengals at Patriots: Uh, Bengals. Who could rep the AFC at the Super Bowl this year. You heard it here first.

 Seahawks at Washington: Oh DC, prime time games have not been your friend lately. Not that it matters. The Seahawks would beat you anytime, anywhere, and twice on Monday.

29 September 2014

Derpadelphia

Eagles 21, 49ers 26, Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ex-Navy Cheesehead emailed me this morning to ask what's wrong with the defense and where the o-line went.

Regarding the defense, although it's never been the same since we lost Jim Johnson, this loss is NOT on them.  They were on the field for what certainly felt like the ENTIRE game (actual time: 42 minutes and change which, for all practical purposes, *is* the entire game), and they were put in some BAD situations, like Zach Ertz's fumble that gave the ball back to the 49ers just outside the red zone and The Chippah's inexplicable acceptance of the penalty on 4th-3. They had four sacks, they forced five punts, they only allowed two touchdowns, holding the 49ers to field goals four times, and they played nearly 3/4 of the game. Not their fault.

Speaking of, Stud of the Week: Malcolm Jenkins. Three picks in three games, including a pick-6 this
week? Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am to the Saints for letting the Eagles snatch two outstanding players at a relative bargain? Four weeks - three stud of the weeks to former Saints. I think I owe Mickey Loomis a King Cake a week from his favorite bakery all 2015 carnival season long.  (Shout out to special teams, too, particularly Darren Sproles for his punt return TD and Trey Burton and Brad Smith for teaming up on the blocked punt/recovery for a TD.)

Let's deal with the officiating. Yes, there were inexplicable calls (that blocking downfield call on Riley Cooper? the pick play that wasn't a pick play that benefited the Eagles?) and missed calls (I don't have enough time to talk about all the missed holding calls), but it seemed pretty evenly bad to me (not that I was keeping formal stats). Compared to the dumpster fire that was the officiating in the Packers/Bears game, it was practically perfect.

On to the o-line. Ex-Navy Cheesehead also asked me where they'd gone. Oh I know where they are: Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce are injured (so is second-stringer Allen Barbre), and Lane Johnson has just ended his four-game suspension for using PEDs. And not a moment too soon. Jason Peters has been the only starter playing in his usual position (since Todd Herremans slid from tackle to guard), and he's a Pro Bowler and really good and all, but there's only so much one man can do. They HAVE to get better, or this is going to be a LOOOONG season.

Moving on Nick Foles, he was not good. Yeah, his receivers were not helping him (OH MY GOD RILEY COOPER CATCH THE GODDAMN TOUCHDOWN YOU DONKEY), but he had plenty of derp all on his own - holding the ball too long, overthrowing guys, missing open guys.  Two (?) months ago, someone had asked Donovan McNabb if he thought Foles was the next franchise quarterback. McNabb said, in a nutshell, that it's too early to tell. OK, he said it in a much more self-centered and self-pitying way (and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD could someone please get him some media training already to try to put the kibbosh on his foot-in-mouth disease?), but he was right. It is too early to know. Foles had a great partial season last year. He's had one good game so far this year (out of four, in case you've lost track, or you're still too hungover to do the math). That's not going to be enough.

Where have you gone, LeSean McCoy?
Bleeding Green Nation turns its lonely eyes to you
(woo-woo-woo)
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Shifty Shady has left and gone away
(hey-hey-hey)
(hey-hey)

Yes, o-line bad = BIG problem for the run game. BIG problem for the run game = REALLY REALLY BIG problem for Chip Kelly's offense. GARGANTUAN.

BUT.

Shady does not appear to be himself. Now some of it is that he likes to bounce outside and look for the home run, rather than taking the three up the middle the defense is offering, and with the current o-line, he needs to just take the three. But he also seems to have lost a step. He's too young for it to be age, so maybe there's an injury there they're not telling us about? Or with both Foles and McCoy, is lack of confidence in the o-line taking a toll on their confidence in themselves? You know, you get into that bad mental place where you take the snap (or the hand off) and you're thinking, "Why am I even bothering? I'm about to get obliterated regardless." I don't know, but I sure hope it gets fixed soon.

Here's the thing: before the season started, you KNOW you had this one marked down as a likely loss. Don't lie. I know you did, because I did, too. And don't let their early season struggles fool you - the 49ers are legitimate Super Bowl contenders this year, and the Eagles are a couple-three years out (I think). Plus all the 49ers "must-win" stuff I talked about in this week's picks post.

But losing the way the Birds did was just painful. Like "I'm really glad this is a 4 pm game rather than an 8 pm game, because I'm going to have to go get drunk IMMEDIATELY to erase the memory, and I'll need time to sober up because I have to go to work in the morning" painful.

The Birds should be able to right the ship at home against the Rams next week, and 4-1 should calm everyone down. But right now, this just feels bad.