30 December 2014

Annual Walk of Shame Post

My overall results for the year: 164-91

(no one got the tie)

Once again, Chef Spouse did not win his office pick 'em league. He was doing a cross between my picks and Jaws's picks, and invariably, when we disagreed, he chose wrong. Oops.

As usual, I was bested by some of the professionals, but not many. ESPN should totes hire me, amirite?

On to my pre-season playoff predictions:

AFC East

I had: Patriots
Actual winner: Patriots

This one was a gimme. The AFC East is almost as bad as, well, the AFC South.

AFC North

I had: Bengals
Actual winner: Steelers

I called them over the hill. Guess not.

AFC South

I had: Colts
Actual winner: Colts

Another gimme.

AFC West

I had: Chargers
Actual winner: Broncos

I figured Peyton Manning had to start to decline sometime. I was wrong.

AFC Wildcard

I had: Chiefs and Broncos
Actual: Ravens and Bengals

I was right about all the wildcard teams coming from the same division - I was just wrong about which division.

I had four of six teams correct (Pats, Colts, Bengals, Broncos), but not all in the right positions.

On to the NFC:

NFC East

I had: Eagles (winning and going down early in the playoffs)
Actual winner: Cowboys (F#$K!)

NFC North

I had: Packers
Actual winner: Packers

Duh.

NFC South

I had: Saints
Actual winner: Panthers

In all fairness, no one has EVER repeated in the NFC South, so I think we all missed this one. Also, what happened to the Saints this year?

NFC West

I had: 49ers
Actual winner: Seahawks

It was fair to think Seahawks wouldn't repeat, but I really didn't see the 49ers blowing up the way they did.

NFC Wildcard

I had: Seahawks and Panthers
Actual: Cardinals and Lions

So I had three of six teams correct (Packers, Panthers, Seahawks) but again, mostly not in the correct positions.

And my team of destiny pick of the Bucs? They were destined, all right - destined to earn the #1 pick. You know how I'd said they'd be better than 4-12 this year? Yeah, not so much.


29 December 2014

On a Win...

Eagles 34, Giants 26, Sunday, December 28, 2014

Well, at least the Birds ended the 2014 campaign with a win. Not the "end with a win" we all hope for every year, but with *a* win. Shut up about draft position! (Could be worse - could be DC fans. Want to dispute me? Read today's Washington Post sports section. Yikes. We're down - they're f-ing suicidal.)

Stud of the week: Special teams in general. They've been outstanding all season, and Sunday was no exception. Another blocked punt for a TD - their SEVENTH special teams TD this year - and a forced fumble. And Cody Parkey broke both the Eagles' and the NFL rookie scoring record. Dave Fipp for president!

Jordan Matthews also had another solid outing, as did Zach Ertz. And more Chris Polk! In the red zone! With the TD! See, it DOES work!

On the defensive side of the ball, the run D was once again stout, although the pass rush apparently got lost on the New Jersey turnpike and never made it to the stadium, since I'm pretty sure Eli Manning is STILL standing in the pocket with all the damn time in the world to find Odell Beckham Jr. Who, of course, the secondary could NOT cover (not that we expected them to). Moving on....

Why couldn't any of the Birds defenders catch the damn ball? Nate Allen finally had a pick in the fourth quarter - and it was an important pick; it sealed the game for the Eagles - but Eli must've bounced 3? 4? 12? balls off defenders' hands. C'mon man! If the ball hits you in the hands - or the numbers - you gotta catch that shit.

10-6 last year = NFC East, and a quick exit from the playoffs

10-6 this year = no playoffs, but as I've been observing for months, it would've been a quick exit even if the Birds had gone

Two years in for Chip. What's to come? Hopefully a franchise QB, since we haven't had one since Big 5 left. And no, the Birds will not be able to trade up for Marcus Mariota, so stop fapping over there. I see you.

Lots of people are calling for Billy Davis to go. I'm not so sure - he's been using 4-3 personnel in a 3-4 scheme, and he has some problems on the talent side (as in, people like Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams don't have enough), and the D was still improved from last year. Yes, they were - don't argue with me. You should remember how shitty things were last year on D. Personnel is not on Billy - that's on Howie Roseman. Who, according to Jeff Lurie, isn't going anywhere. So hopefully he'll figure out how to fix this in the offseason.

Also lots of talk about Trent Cole playing his last game as an Eagle due to the money he's owed next year. He's been BLUNT about being open to restructuring his contract and LALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU ANYWAY. This would be like Brian Dawkins leaving. AGAIN. And I still haven't recovered from that.


27 December 2014

Week 17 Picks

Theoretically, the 9-6 Eagles should have no trouble with the 6-9 Giants.

Theoretically.

But I don't have a good feeling about this. The Eagles are in an inexplicable tailspin, and the secondary is terrible. And the Giants have this guy - you might have heard of him? Odell Beckham Jr.? Who makes regular circus catches? Bradley Fletcher won't be on him - thank God, he's been benched - but given the fact that Bill Davis *wouldn't* bench him earlier, I'm not sure Nolan Carroll is an upgrade.

I think it's going to be a long day for the Birds up in northern NJ, and I don't think they're going to turn it around this week.

Giants. Ugh.

In the rest of the matchups (hopefully I have the various playoff scenarios straight here):

Browns at Ravens: The Ravens will take care of their business but will still end up on the outside (see below, RE: Chargers/Chiefs).

Cowboys at Washington: Cowboys (Although, since the DC football team helped wreck our season last week, it would be really nice if they could do us a solid and send the Cowboys into the playoffs on a down note. But I doubt that will actually happen.)

Colts at Titans: Their #4 seed is assured, so the Colts don't have much to play for and will probably be resting their starters, but the Titans are really bad. Colts.

Saints at Buccaneers: Oh man, Saints, you broke my heart last week. Nothing sadder than being in New Orleans for a Saints loss, particularly when it means that they also threw away winning their terrible division. The Saints should be able to win this, seeing as the Bucs D is also terrible.

Bills at Patriots: With homefield locked up, over/under on how much playing time Tom Brady sees?  I've got "coin toss." Pats should win handily anyway.

Jaguars at Texans: Texans. Not that it matters.

Chargers at Chiefs: The Chargers need this to grab the #6 seed, and the Chiefs are decimated by injury, with Alex Smith out as well. Even though they're playing in KC, to me, that says Chargers.

Jets at Dolphins: Dolphins

Bears at Vikings: Vikings

Raiders at Broncos:  Broncos have the division, but are still playing for the bye. Which they should nail down handily this week.

Cardinals at 49ers: Bye versus wildcard for the Cards. And it's gonna be wildcard. 49ers.

Lions at Packers: Same for both teams. And the Pack don't lose at home. Packers.

Rams at Seahawks: Also bye versus wildcard. The Seahawks will take care of business at home, and are likely to take the #1 seed in the process.

Panthers at Falcons: It's official. The NFC South divisional winner will be under .500. Bleh. It's the Panthers to lose, but I expect them not to. Panthers.

Bengals at Steelers: Another bye versus wildcard matchup. I think the Steelers are going to sneak the AFC North right out from under the Bengals. Steelers.

22 December 2014

Sayonara, Playoffs

Eagles 24, Washington 27, Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sorry it took me this long to post a game recap - I was getting over the two-day drunk brought to you by the Eagles' epic collapse.

OK, OK, that's not strictly true. I've been in NOLA with Chef Spouse celebrating our anniversary, and I didn't want to harsh my buzz by dealing with this bullshit. But now we're in Louis Armstrong airport waiting for our flight back to DC and I haz a sad anyway, so I might as well write about the game.

Stud of the Week: Clearly, it was Zach Ertz. Catching a team record (for a tight end) 15 passes for 115 yards, DC knew the ball was going the sophomore tight end's way and they still couldn't stop it.

Unfortunately, the same thing happened with DeSean Jackson - the Eagles knew the ball was going his way, and they still couldn't stop it. I know, I know - "Bring me the head of Bradley Fletcher on a plate!" And he did eventually get benched for Nolan Carroll, but the thing is putting him one-on-one with DeSean all game and expecting him to be successful is not on him - that's a bad coaching decision (Bill Davis, I am looking at you).

Speaking of the D, let's talk penalties. Yes, two of them were relatively bogus roughing the passer calls on DC's final drive, and that did make a difference in the game, but the yardage there is only a small dent in the over 100 yards of penalties the Birds racked up all together. Particularly dispiriting in the last few weeks has been the defense's continuing inability to get off the field on third down, made worse by the penalty situation, in which the D too often hands the opposing team a first down.

Speaking of, the story at BGN for the last three weeks has been: "Worst game of Chip's coaching career." Has he been hitting a new low each week? I'm not sure, but all three losses have been pretty freakin' awful. This may have been the worst, though - at least, it's the first loss to a bad team of the 2014 season, so that's an indicator.

Who knew Thanksgiving would be the high point of the season? The best teams get better as the season goes along. Someone clearly should've mentioned to the Birds that they were STILL PLAYING in December.

And my secret kicker boyfriend (or is that cradle robbing?) Cody Parkey picked the WORST possible moment to have a case of rookie jitters. Or the law of averages catching up to him. Or his groin injury getting worse. Not sure which, but when you lose a game by 3 points and your kicker misses two field goals, that's pretty painful.

I've heard it said that football is a chess match that often comes down to who makes the most mistakes. On a day when the Eagles were healthy and had MUCH more on the line than DC, they were the ones who created weak pawns and didn't pay attention to king safety, so to speak.

And we're left where we've been for most of the season. The Eagles are good but not great. They need an actual professional football defensive secondary and an authentic starting quarterback. And those guys don't necessarily grow on trees.

As a final note, Chef Spouse and I watched the game at a really terrific little sports bar in The Quarters next to a Browns fan who was in his fantasy league playoffs, and a mixed marriage couple: he a Cowboys fan, she Packers. As the final drive was going down - when it was clear the Birds were going to lose - we got into a very funny conversation with him about which of our teams sucks worse. At the time, he was convinced the Cowboys would find a way to blow it and lose the NFC East to the Eagles (which, of course, we now know will not happen). But as we all pointed out to Ms. Packers fan, neither team can beat the Pack at Lambeau, so it's not going to matter much anyway.

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.