31 December 2012

End of an Era

Eagles at Giants, Sunday, December 30, 2012 

This Sunday featured many exciting games with playoff implications. Sadly, the Eagles game was not one of them. The 42-7 rout was a microcosm of everything that's been wrong with the Eagles in 2012. And that's all I have to say about that.

Well, other than to point out to the gloating Giants fans: I realize that the last time you saw the Eagles in 2012 was when we beat you on Sunday Night Football at the end of September, so you might not know. But hanging 42 points on this team is nothing to be proud of. Pissing on Andy Reid's grave - which is what you're doing now - just shows a complete lack of class. And 9-7 and 4-12 will look pretty much the same next week, when both teams are watching the playoffs from their man caves. Only the Eagles scored a higher draft pick.

Now that I have that off my chest, I want to talk about Andy Reid a little.

I am, as my bio states, a life-long Eagles fan. My earliest football memory was when Dick Vermeil came to Philly. I was 5. I have fond memories of Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, hoagies in hand, cheering for Jaws, Wilbert Montgomery, Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, Herm Edwards,
the Minister of Defense Reggie White, and later on, under Buddy Ryan, Randall Scramble, Cris Cater, Andre Waters, Jerome Brown, and Seth Joyner. By that point, I was in college and used to go over to the only all-male dorm on campus every weekend to watch the games, which were on in the lounges.

And then I graduated and moved out of state for grad school. This was way before the Sunday Ticket era, and I went to grad school at a college football mad university in a town with no pro team nearby. On the upside, I missed part of the Rich Kotite and pretty much all of the Ray Rhodes years. On the downside, I lost touch with my beloved Eagles.

And then I moved to the home city of a divisional rival. And Jeff Lurie hired this unknown quarterbacks coach from Green Bay named Andy Reid, who proceeded to draft this guy out of Syracuse (not exactly a football powerhouse) Donovan McNabb.

And then: Duce Staley. Brian Westbrook. Brian Dawkins. Hugh Douglas. John Runyan, David Akers. Jeremiah Trotter. Troy Vincent. Darwin Walker. Tre Thomas. Lito Sheppard. Sheldon Brown. 

And then the rest followed: five playoff appearances in a row. Four NFC championship games in a row. The Super Bowl loss to those big cheaters, the Patriots. The 2005 disaster year. The miraculous run into the playoffs under Jeff Garcia in 2006, after McNabb went down with the sports hernia. Then McNabb down again in 2007 with the ACL tear. Then the equally miraculous run back to the NFC Championship game in 2008. Playoffs again in 2009 and 2010.

Even though - and it's a big "but" - the Eagles never brought home the Lombardi trophy, Andy Reid brought this team and this city the most sustained period of success we've ever seen. He changed expectations for all of us. He gave me back my fandom.

I hope he takes a little time off. After the past two years, which have been extremely difficult both personally and professionally, I think he needs it. After that? I wish him nothing but success wherever he goes. Godspeed, Big Red. Unless you goes to Dallas, in which case all bets are off.

I will pick the playoff matchups and recap the playoff games, even though the Eagles are out, so I'll share my thoughts about the 12 teams when I pick Wildcard Weekend. I *will* say this now: at the beginning of the season, I was thinking 49ers/Texans Super Bowl. Not anymore.

28 December 2012

2012 Week 17 Picks

This is it - the final week of the 2012 regular season.

I have plenty of complaints with the NFL (I hate Thursday night football, I wish Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would go do something - anything - else, some of the rules make no goddamn sense, and they often don't seem to be applied equally, at least not if your name is Manning or Brady), but one thing I LOVE is that the final Sunday is *just* Sunday, it's all divisional and lots of playoff scenarios are on the line, at least for the NFC. (Things are pretty settled in the AFC.)

Meanwhile, the Eagles limp to the finish (both figuratively and literally), facing the Giants in New Jersey. And the Giants don't really have much to play for, either. Don't get me wrong - they aren't mathematically eliminated, and the G-men are going to win Sunday. But it is highly unlikely that the Cowboys, Bears, and Vikings will ALL lose.

Also, I'm expecting Andy Reid to be let go first thing Monday morning. You definitely did not read that here first - EVERYONE expects Andy Reid to be let go first thing Monday morning.

Moving on:

Buccaneers at Falcons: The Falcons have nothing to play for, and I'm guessing they'll rest their starters as a result, despite recent (Colts) evidence of what a mistake that usually is. I see the Bucs winning this one.

Jets at Bills: Rex Ryan's last game at the Jets head coach? Maybe. The Jets should be able to win this one, but with the QB mess (Sanchez is benched! No, he's the starting QB!), I figure morale is at an all-time low for Gang Green, and the Bills will sneak a win. Not that it really matters.

Ravens at Bengals: I don't think either team can improve their seeding with a win - Bengals will b #6, Ravens will be #4 - and honestly, although I'm sure no one wants to play the Pats right now, facing a divisional rival two weeks in a row is even worse. With both teams likely to rest some starters and not really be that invested in the outcome, I'm going with the Bengals at home.

Bears at Lions: I know I keep picking the Lions and they keep losing. I know the Bears are fighting for a playoff spot. I'm feeling Lions, but...gotta go Bears.

Texans at Colts: The Texans have stumbled a bit of late, but the bye and possibly homefield are on the line. They'll find a way to win, even against a highly motivated Colts team at home. I think.

Panthers at Saints: Nothing to play for but pride, but the Saints don't lose at home.

Browns at Steelers: Same and same.

Jaguars at Titans: Bleh. Also, Titans. Not that ANYONE will be watching this game.

Chief at Broncos: Broncos, definitely, who also still have a shot at both the bye and homefield.

Packers at Vikings: This is going to be a great game, I think. The Pack needs the win for the bye. The Vikings need the win for a wildcard spot, and all they have to do to get it *is* win. Logically, the Pack should win, but I think the Vikes will dig deep and surprise them.

Dolphins at Patriots: Patriots.

Raiders at Chargers: The Chargers will probably win at home, but it won't change the fact that Norv is going to be be fired on Monday, too.

Rams at Seahawks: Should've listened to myself last week and NOT picked against the Seahawks at home. Not making that mistake again. Seahawks.

Cardinals at 49ers: 49ers who, if I'm right about the Pack losing, will snake that bye week right out from under Green Bay.

Redskins at Cowboys: It's for all the NFC East marbles, and the Redskins GOT this one. The Cowboys will choke. Glad Monday's a day off, because this should be a great game that I'm going to stay up to see the end of and will probably be too hyped to sleep after.

24 December 2012

How Eagles Of Them!

Eagles v. Redskins, Sunday, December 23, 2012 

I was in two minds about this game. On the one hand, it's clear this was Andy Reid's last home game, and I was hoping the team could send him on his way with a win. On the other hand, top 5 pick! And on the third hand, if I may borrow one of yours, of the remaining choices to win the division, I'd most like to see it go to the Skins, which means they have to win out.

Looks like your hand is the lucky one.

Well, at least luckier than Nick Foles, who apparently broke his hand in the loss. Guess Vick is coming back for the final game of 2012? Assuming he passed his concussion tests finally? What's Trent Edwards up to? Isn't Jason Avant behind him? Maybe we give #81 a shot next week?

Oy. It's 2005 all over again, only without the "fun" of coming off a Super Bowl loss.

Stud of the week: Jeremy Maclin who, as Bleeding Green Nation points out, is quietly having a decent season. (Also, it was good to see Shady back and feeling spry.) Mac scored one TD, and had Nick Foles put a little more zip on that final pass, would've tied up the game.

Well, not the final-final pass of the game. That would be Foles' intentional grounding muff on 3rd and goal with two seconds left and a chance to tie, leading to a 10 second run off and "the game is over."

How Eagles of them!

It's been like the f-ing Keystone Kops out there most of the season. And was a poetically apt way to finish out the home games for the 2012 season.

As has been the case in so many games this year, the team did some things right, and many more things wrong. They played well enough to stay in it, but not well enough to win. Turnovers killed them, and when it came down to it and they needed to dig deep for the extra effort to tie it up, they screwed up in a genuinely comical fashion.

Yep. Your 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.

They can't even really play spoiler next week - not that their chances of beating the Giants in New Jersey are very good - because, although not technically eliminated, it would take not one, but about 17 miracles for the Giants to make the post-season.

Or, in football parlance: "The NFL has announced that the Giants-Eagles game on December 30 will air at 1 pm."

A final note: not to take anything away from RGIII or Andrew Luck, but Russell Wilson is quietly having an outstanding rookie season in Seattle, too. In the past three games, they've put up 58 points (on the Cardinals), 50 (on the Bills), and 42 (on the 49ers' #2 ranked defense in the league). You know how the Super Bowl is all about getting hot at the right time? The Seahawks are ON FIRE right now.

20 December 2012

2012 Week 16 picks

On the road, so fast fast (no, I did not recap Eagles/Bengals. Thankfully, I as at a holiday party and missed most of the game.)

Redskins at Eagles: Redskins

Falcons at Lions: it's crazy, I know, but I've got the Lions.

Rams at Buccaneers: Rams

Colts at Chiefs: Colts

Saints at Cowboys: it pains me, but Cowboys

Bills at Dolphins: Fins (home field)

Patriots at Jaguars: Pats

Chargers at Jets: both teams are an utter disaster (and as an Eagles fan I ow from disaster), but I've got the Jets. Not that it matters.

Titans at Packers: Packers, who are playing for their seeding, over Titans, who are playing for nothing

Raiders at Panthers: Panthers, not that it matters.

Bengals at Steelers: the playoffs are on the line, and the Steelers are reeling, but I have to believe they can win at home.

Vikings at Texans: Texans

Browns at Broncos: Broncos

Bears at Cardinals: Bears

Giants at Ravens: Giants, but I think it will be a close game

49ers at Seahawks: Talk about looking at a good game! I think the 49ers have this one, but taking on the Seahawks at home is never easy.


13 December 2012

2012 Week 15 Picks

This week - tonight, in fact - the Eagles will be hosting the Bengals at the Linc.

On the one hand, the monkey's off their back - they finally won a game.

On the other hand, the Bengals don't have the worst-ranked pass defense.

Also, they are currently holding the #7 playoff spot in the AFC, looking up at slumping division rival the Steelers.

They have every reason to bring it, and I expect them to.

Bengals.

In the rest of the matchups:

Redskins at Browns: The big question in DC this week isn't the fiscal cliff or what's going on in Syria or the upcoming inauguration, or the ever-amusing local corruption. It's, "Will RGIII play Sunday?" The Skins are facing the Browns. Don't know that it will matter. Redskins.

Colts at Texans: Man, the Texans must be reeling from the ass-whupping they took at the hands of the Pats Monday night. And you know Matt Schaub is thinking, "ONE year? I get ONE year where the Colts aren't good? Goddamnit!" But I think they'll pull this one out. Texans.

Jaguars at Dolphins: Dolphins. To quote the Bleacher Report: things Nick Foles is slower than - the Jaguars selling out a home game.

Broncos at Ravens: This may be the best Broncos team we've seen since...Elway? I don't even know. They're good. REALLY good. And the Ravens are sputtering on offense. Broncos.

Vikings at Rams: I can't figure out the NFC North at all this year. The teams win when they should lose and lose when they should win. I've got the Rams at home, but who knows?

Buccaneers at Saints: The Bucs have nearly the worst defense in the league, and THE worst against the pass (see above re: last week against the Eagles), while the Saints have, well, Drew Brees. Last week the Seahawks put up 58 points on the Cardinals. Brees could do that against the Bucs in the first half, unless his arm gets tired. Saints.

Giants at Falcons: Don't pick against the Falcons at home.

Packers at Bears: See above RE: NFC North, and I'm going with the Bears because homefield, but I think this game will be close.

Lions at Cardinals: Lions. Don't think the Cards have an answer for Megatron.

Seahawks at Bills: Seahawks, who are quietly pretty damn good with their rookie QB, Russell Wilson, who's getting very little attention because Luck and RGIII, also Seattle.

Panthers at Chargers: Talk about inconsistent teams! Anything could happen in this game. I mean anything: clown cars, Rip Torn, flash mob, you name it. I think Panthers, but I wouldn't put money on it.

Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs. Also, who cares?

Steelers at Cowboys: Think the Steelers can keep the wheels on the bus long enough to beat the Cowboys? I'd like to say yes, but I really don't think so. Cowboys.

49ers at Patriots: Possible Super Bowl preview? Nah - AFC's going to be the Broncos, mark my words. The Pats are pretty hard to beat at home, which I should've remembered when picking the Texans last week, but in Kaepernick I trust. 49ers.

Jets at Titans: Bleh. I'll be in NOLA Monday night, which is great - I won't feel bad at all about skipping this one. Also, for what it's worth, Jets.


10 December 2012

They Won. #Shocked.

Eagles at Buccaneers, Sunday, December 9, 2012 

Holy shit. The Eagles actually won a game.

I know, I know, this does not help the team's draft position, and that's pretty much all that's on the line at this point.

But how nice was it to see Big Red and Howard Mudd hugging after the game. And not "bro-hugging" either, but a big old "I'm about to cry" clinch.

Stud of the week: Could it be anyone but Jason Avant? He had an amazing game. No TDs, but 7 catches for 133 yards, including an amazing one-handed circus catch. Just Google it - you'll have no trouble finding it. Shout out to Jeremy Maclin, too, for catching the game winner as time expired.

Good thing the receivers had a big day because, thanks to the Bucs' #1 ranked running defense, Nick Foles was the Birds' top rusher on the day.

Speaking of Foles, I'm still not sure he's The Guy, but I'll bet he gets a shot at the starting spot for 2013 at this point.  He played well, particularly when he needed to bring the Birds back from being down by 11 with 7 minutes left. And for once, burning the timeouts to save the clock worked, as the D, which had been up and down all day, was able to come up with a stop when they needed it, with about 3 minutes to go. And then Foles got sacked right before the 2 minute warning, and nobody panicked. Or gave up.

In the end, it doesn't change anything. The Eagles will finish at the bottom of the NFC East. Andy Reid will be fired in January. Mike Vick will not be an Eagle, and may not even be playing football. Same for King Dunlap. I'm sure someone will pick up Nnamdi Asomugha, but he won't be Philly anymore, either.

But on a day when the Bucs were honoring the team that, according to Chef Spouse's unending bile, stole the Eagles' Super Bowl from them (if I had a dollar for every time he's said "2002 was OUR YEAR!" I'd be a rich woman), it was nice to be able to savor a victory.

05 December 2012

2012 Week 14 Picks

This week, the Eagles travel to Tampa to lose to the Buccaneers.

How do I know they're going to lose?

I just know.

In the rest of the matchups:

Broncos at Raiders: Top 5 offense AND defense? Broncos.

Chargers at Steelers: Steelers. They don't lose at home.

Titans at Colts: Neither defense is anything to write home about, but the Colts offense - and Andrew Luck - are on fire. Colts.

Jets at Jaguars: Ouch. Bad versus worse, bad wins. Jets.

Bears at Vikings: Vikings, in my upset pick. Hey, crazy things happen in divisional games.

Falcons at Panthers: But not that crazy. Falcons.

Rams at Bills: Rams.

Cowboys at Bengals: Bengals. Please, please, please, please.

Ravens at Redskins: I've got the Redskins. Did I mention I'm an RGIII fan?

Chiefs at Browns: Can the Chiefs ride emotions another week? I think yes.

Dolphins at 49ers: 49ers

Saints at Giants: I'd love it if the Saints could pull off the upset, but playing in New York, I don't see it. Giants.

Cardinals at Seahawks: Seahawks.

Lions at Packers: Packers.

Texans at Patriots: Texans.

03 December 2012

Rats Fleeing the Ship?

Eagles at Cowboys, Sunday, December 2, 2012

Only Jim Washburn got fired, so it's more like rats being thrown off a sinking ship. Of course, according to all the reports I'm reading, it was long overdue. Seems like Washburn was a complete asshole. Good riddance, but it's probably two years too late (yes, for those who are bad at math, that means I think he never should have been hired in the first place).

Stud of the week: Nick Foles, who had a good game. Finally. I don't know if he has what it takes to start in the NFL. Guess we'll be seeing his 2013 audition - for the Eagles or some other team - in the next month, particularly since Big Red named him the starting QB today. But he had a solid outing last night, and that's a start.

I also have to give a shout-out to my boy Jason Avant, back in the lineup after 3 weeks out with a bad hamstring, for making some typically excellent catches and even getting some YAC (not usually his strong suit). Alex Henery kicked his 4,537th field goal in a row (really 21, a team record. Damaris Johnson had a punt return TD. I think that might be the first of the 2012 season. We saw something heretofore unknown in the NFL: King Dunlap threw a few good blocks. Riley Cooper made another circus catch TD. Bryce Brown scored two TDs again and had I think 169 yards on the ground.

Actually, the entire offense played decently.
Well, other than when Bryce Brown fumbled and Morris Claiborne ran it back 50 yards for a TD.

Gotta learn how to hold onto the football, son.

And things are at such a sad pass that I didn't even yell at the TV when he did it. It was more like, "Well, I knew disaster was going to hit sooner or later." And sure enough, that was it. The Eagles, down 10 with under 4 minutes to play, never recovered, despite the Johnson return TD. 

Of course, they also scored 33 points, and it wasn't enough.

It's the D that killed us.

Well, that and Bryce Brown's fumble.

There aren't enough negative adjectives in all the languages in all the world (including the dead ones) to express how disgusted I am with the Eagles defense from last night. It's like they aren't even aware that they're playing defense in the NFL out there. I don't know what they do think they're doing, but whatever it is, it doesn't deserve to be on prime time TV. Or even cable access. At 2 am. It was a total, complete breakdown in all facets other than Brandon Graham's 1.5 sacks.

I am starting to come around to the position many of the Eagles bloggers have taken that this team lacks a culture of winning. Whether it's too many free agents who were middling to good players on bad teams, lack of locker room leadership, coaching issues, lack of focus, I don't know. But clearly, these guys don't know what to do to win. Hopefully it's something they can learn under a new regime, or it's probably fire sale time come January.

29 November 2012

2012 Week 13 Picks

And the agony that is the Philadelphia Eagles 2012 season continues. Who will they lose to this week? Only the Cowboys in Dallas.

Now none of us enjoys it when our team loses, but I hate losing to the Cowboys more than I hate ugly shoes and cheap booze. So a lot.

Will that matter a bit?

Nope.

At least it's our annual pre-big association technology conference football party, so I'll have lots of friends and colleagues around to distract me from Teh Suck that will go down starting around 8:21 pm Sunday night.

Even worse?

Losing divisional games is a special kind of hell, and that's exactly what the Eagles face over three of the next five weeks.

I should've known that winning all four pre-season games this year was a sign of impending doom.

In the rest of the matchups:

Saints at Falcons: Grudge match on Thursday Night Football! If you're not a Falcons or Saints fan, you might not realize, but this is a HUGE rivalry. Like Any NFC East Team Who's Not the Cowboys - Cowboys level rivalry. And both teams are hot right now. In other words, if you mostly haven't been bothering to watch Thursday Night Football, this is the week to take the plunge. Also, Falcons. Game should be close, but I gotta go with homefield here.

Jaguars at Bills: Bills. The Jags are Eagles-level bad this year.

Seahawks at Bears: The Bears hold a one game lead in the NFC North. The Seahawks are clinging to a current sixth seed. The Seahakws need the win big-time, but Cutler's back, the Bears are at home, and I just don't see it happening. Bears.

Colts at Lions: They're playing in Detroit, and the Lions have to be pissed after last week's "this time it REALLY IS entirely the fault of the head coach" loss. It's a little nuts, but I'm going with the 4-7 Lions over the 7-4 Colts as my upset pick.

Vikings at Packers: Packers. They don't lose at home in December to a dome team.

Panthers at Chiefs: Ugh. Worst Game of the Week. Other, of course, than Eagles at Cowboys. I've got the Chiefs by a nose because, again, homefield.

Patriots at Dolphins: Dolphins. SIKE! That was a nice win over the Seahawks last week, but come on! Pats.

Cardinals at Jets: Even records. Statistically, the Cards are a better team. But they haven't won since Kevin Kolb went down. Then again, when's the last time Ryan Lindley basically tackled himself and gave up a pick 6? I'm going Cards on the strength of their D and the Jets complete lack of a competent QB.

49ers at Rams: 49ers, and put me down as totally on the Kaepernick bandwagon!

Texans at Titans: Texans.

Buccaneers at Broncos: The Bucs are coming into this game hot, but Peyton Manning's hotter.  Well, at least his arm. Peyton himself is pretty goofy looking. Broncos.

Steelers at Ravens: If Big Ben doesn't play, the Steelers are toast, and dropping to 6-6 won't help their playoff chances any, either. If he does play, I think they take the Ravens. So my conditional pick is the Steelers (since right now, it looks like Ben will play Sunday), but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Browns at Raiders: I've got the Raiders. Both teams, of course, are terrible. But the Raiders are (say it with me, folks) at home.

Bengals at Chargers: I'm going Bengals, who are in the thick of fighting for a playoff spot, while the Chargers, like the Eagles are basically done for the year. In other news, Norv Turner will be one of the other casualties of Black Monday, mark my words.

Giants at Redskins: The Giants should win this one. But I'm an RG3 believer. Redskins. Also, much better way to end week 13 than week 12, NFL honchos.

Oh, and if you haven't been following the hilarious fake NFL Quarterback Facebook Smackdowns, what are you waiting for?


27 November 2012

Futility

Thy name is "2012 Eagles."

Eagles v. Panthers, Monday, November 26, 2012

Stud of the week: Bryce Brown. Yes, he had two fumbles. But he also scored the Birds only two TDs and broke the rookie rushing record. Hey, the pickin's are pretty slim these days, y'all.

I was out last night, as was Chef Spouse. So, with neither of us knowing exactly when we'd get home, we set the game to record. I got in the door just as the game was starting.

You know how, when it's two teams that aren't very good and aren't even in your conference, like maybe Jaguars versus Chiefs, but you think "Yeah, but it's Monday Night Football. Last game of the week. What else am I going to watch?"

That.

Was I the only one who noticed that the Linc seemed, best case, 2/3 full? Was I the only one who noticed that the boos were already starting when the first drive resulted in a (say it with me) FIELD GOAL. AGAIN. Was I the only one who noticed that Mike Tirico and Chuckie were already talking about how great RG3 is by the second quarter? That type of meandering is usually reserved for the fourth quarter of blowouts, people!

Even worse? By late in the third quarter, when the Eagles were still up, 22-21, I said to Chef Spouse (who was home by that point but had no interest in trying to watch the game from the beginning, which is telling), "I have a big day tomorrow and I'm tired. I'm sure they'll find a way to blow it. I'm going to bed."

Which is also telling.

And, true to form, they blew it.

To back up, a friend of a friend offered to sell us his tickets to the game a few weeks ago. His excuse? Can't get out of DC (where I, also, am located) for a Monday night game. And they were good seats - club level. And he wanted face value for them ($265 a ticket).

Excuse me while I bust a gut laughing.

Thing is, other than the myriad mistakes from both teams, it was actually a relatively exciting game to watch. The lead changed five times. Bryce Brown broke the Eagles rookie single game rushing record. Mike Patterson recorded the Eagles first sack in what feels like...all season? Nah, it's not quite that bad. But it feels that way.

And now Jason Babin has been released. And in bad news, DeSean Jackson is on IR with broken ribs. And in worse news, King Dunlap still appears to be healthy.

I know I'm a broken record at this point, but it's over. The season is over. Andy Reid's tenure as head coach is over. Mike Vick's career might be over. Some of these guys are playing their last games as Eagles. Can you believe the last win was in September? At least the team gave Wolverine a good send off.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that I spend 7 months of each year thinking, "I can't WAIT for football season to start." Right now I'm thinking, "When will this end? Put us out of our misery already!" That's just sad.

22 November 2012

2012 Week 12 Picks

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. The things I'm thankful for today include the amazing Chef Spouse, my new business, and the fact that the Eagles aren't playing today and thus won't ruin what should be a lovely holiday.

What with the feast preparations, getting my picks in got a little delayed. So I'll be brief:

Panthers at Eagles for MNF: Panthers. I think it's entirely possible, maybe even likely, the Eagles don't win another game this season.

Texans at Lions: The Lions are under performing this year, and this matchup should be close. But I don't think it's going to be. Texans.

Redskins at Cowboys: I'll be rooting for the Skins, but I don't think their D is strong enough to get them the win. Cowboys.

Patriots at Jets: Pats

Vikings at Bears: With Jay Cutler? Bears, for sure. Without? I've got the Vikes in a squeaker.

Raiders at Bengals: Bengals, thanks to homefield.

Steelers at Browns: Charlie Batch is likely going to be under center, y'all. He's been good for the Steelers in the past, but I'm going with the Browns as my upset pick.

Bills at Colts: Colts

Titans at Jaguars: Are these two teams still playing? I probably shouldn't judge. The Titans have a better record than the Eagles. And they're going to win.

Broncos at Chiefs: Broncos.

Seahawks at Dolphins: Seahawks will take this one on the strength of their D.

Falcons at Buccaneers: I still think the Falcons will win this one, but I don't think it's going to be nearly as sure a thing as we all would've predicted a few weeks ago.

Ravens at Chargers: I've got the Chargers because East Coast teams tend to have a hard time going west and because I think they're desperate not to fall farther behind the Broncos.

Rams at Cardinals: Rams. The Cards D has fallen off their early season pace and their O hasn't taken up the slack.

49ers at Saints: If Kaepernick stays under center for the Niners, this could be a very high scoring affair. The Saints are surging and they're hard to beat at home, but I've got the 49ers.

Packers at Giants: I think this will also be a close one, but again, gotta go with homefield and the G-men.




19 November 2012

Stick a Fork in 'Em

No stud this week, but Cooper had a few good catches
Eagles at Redskins, Sunday, November 18, 2012 

That was so bad I seriously don't even know what to write.

On the upside, we had a great weekend. Chef Spouse's best friend Steelers Transplant and his new fiancee were in town, and we went out for a really nice dinner Saturday night and then spent all day Sunday hanging out cooking, talking, laughing and drinking champagne to celebrate the engagement.

The best part? Excellent distraction from the game.

The best part of the game? Uh....when it ended?

Both teams needed this game. Only one team seemed aware of the fact.

And if you're wondering, it wasn't the Birds.

Nick Foles looked OK when he wasn't throwing it or fumbling it away. Then again, how different is that than Mike Vick has played all year? And yes, the offensive line is a mess. I know. But wouldn't you think the coaches might make some adjustments to the playcalling or protection schemes as a result?

Apparently not.

The Eagles have the same defensive front four as a year ago. Last year? 50 sacks. First in the league. This year? Not quite dead last, but only the Titans, Jaguars and Raiders are worse.

Insult to injury? McCoy's concussion on a totally meaningless play.

Some of the other Eagles bloggers have theorized that part of the problem is that the locker room is full of guys who, while they're talented football players, have no tradition of winning. And no matter how good you are personally, if you haven't played on teams with the expectation of winning, you don't know how to do what it takes.

If the team was losing by a few points each week, I'd buy that. But they're not - they're getting blown out week after week at this point.

If it wasn't so pathetic, it might actually be a little funny.

Clearly, this is it for Andy Reid. I'm guessing Mike Vick goes, too, at the end of the season. Possibly Nnamdi Asomugha. And the entire offensive line. Hell, it could be a fire sale, when they blow the whole thing up and start over.

And right now, that sounds to me like just the thing.

14 November 2012

2012 Week 11 Picks

This week, the Eagles travel to DC (well, actually, Largo, MD) to take on the Redskins. As many of you know, I'm a DC resident, and I can't even count how many tickets I've been offered to this game. Some for free. Good seats, too. Steelers Transplant and his new fiancee are due in town this weekend, otherwise I'd have been tempted to take some of them. Clearly Redskins fans are equally as depressed about their team's chances as Eagles fans.

The Eagles really should be able to win this game.

The teams are running pretty even offensively, but even with their lack of sacks, the Eagles D is performing better. Or at least it was better until they fired the former O-line coach who was made the defensive coordinator in favor of a guy who, at least on paper, seems to be qualified for the job. Upon which the D promptly fell apart.

Sigh.

Then again, on paper, the Eagles should've been able to win lots of games this season - like against the Saints. And the Lions. And the Cowboys.

What the hell is wrong with these guys this year?

I really have no clue.

I have to believe that, after a week's practice with the first team offense and given that there's no real film to study on him, Foles will do better, giving the Eagles a chance to win.

So I guess I'm picking the Birds. Which either means I'm an eternal optimist - or a complete fool.

In the rest of the matchups:

Dolphins at Bills: Was last week's Fins loss a fluke? Nope. Bills.

Cardinals at Falcons: The only way the Cards would stand a chance is if they got Kevin Kolb back (yes, I went there). And they aren't getting him back, at least this week. Falcons.

Buccaneers at Panthers: The Bucs have been surprisingly good. The Panthers have been surprisingly bad. But I still have the Panthers. Hey, divisional games can be C-RAZY, right?

Browns at Cowboys: Browns. Sike! I wish. Cowboys.

Packers at Lions: Lions, I wish I could quit you. But I can't. Even with the Pack coming off their bye week, I've got the Lions.

Jaguars at Texans: Texans. The Jaguars, as a franchise, are a perfect example of one's eyes being too big for one's appetite. Why does this franchise even exist?

Bengals at Chiefs: I know I swore I wasn't picking the Chiefs any more this season. But they're playing the Bengals. THE BENGALS. Chiefs.

Jets at Rams: Rams. Wow. The Jets really are bad this year, aren't they?

Saints at Raiders: Really thinking Raiders, but the Saints are on a upswing. Then again, the Raiders are at home. Raiders.

Chargers at Broncos: Both teams have very solid D, but the Broncos D will have a much easier time shutting down Philip Rivers than the Chargers will have with the revitalized Peyton Manning. Broncos.

Colts at Patriots: Doesn't have quite the same zing as it used to, does it? Well, it might again, after this weekend. I'm going with Luck and the Colts as my upset pick of the week.

Ravens at Steelers: Divisional grudge match. But the Steelers don't lose at home. Steelers.

Bears at 49ers: Anybody know if Alex Smith is playing this week yet? If he is, and Akers gets his mojo back, I've got the 49ers. Otherwise? I think they're in trouble.

On bye: it's the final bye week, and the Giants, Seahawks, Titans, and Vikings are up

12 November 2012

Hear That?

It's the fat lady singing.

Eagles v. Cowboys, Sunday, November 11, 2012 

Stud of the week: Jeremy Maclin. Mac had a solid game, and made some clutch catches to try to help his rookie QB. He even came back into the game after getting pretty much obliterated by Charlie Peprah. Joe Buck was all, "he should've caught that." You want to hold him while I hit him, or vice versa? Shout out to Riley Cooper for the circus catch on that first drive, too.

The game started well. The Eagles opening drive was probably the best opening drive we've seen out of them this season. And remember, the Cowboys have a top 10 defense. I was feeling pretty positive.

OK, sure then the Cowboys proceeded to march downfield for a TD, taking the game to 7-7. But still, it gave me momentary hope.

And then! The Eagles had a SACK! A SACK!

Then they had ANOTHER one!

Could my typical Eagles fan pessimism be wrong, for once?

Of course not. Silly me.

Vick went down with a concussion, Foles came in and did...not much.

But wait!

Foles hit a WIDE OPEN Mac in the endzone for a TD. And then the Eagles got a field goal to go up by 7.

And I'm thinking: maybe everything is going to be OK. Maybe Vick has been the problem all along. Maybe all is not lost.

This was quickly followed by pretty much the worst 2:30 of football I've ever seen.

First the Cowboys score. Of course, it was clear they didn't actually score - Dez Bryant totally put the ball on the ground - but the PI call would've given them 1st and goal on the 1, so whatever.

Then the Eagles go 3 and out.

Then  Matt McBriar punts to Dwayne Harris, who benefits from a totally obvious and not called block in the back, to take it to the house.

Then on the next possession, Foles tosses a pick six.

OK, maybe I was right in the first place.

Thing is, Nick Foles played pretty well, particularly for a rookie who'd had no practice time with the first team offense.

Well, other than the fact that his pick six throw and fumble in the end zone were the Cowboys margin of victory.

I should say almost the Cowboys margin of victory. Let's not forget Alex Henery's missed PAT. When that happened, I burst into laughter. Because, really? A missed PAT?

And let's talk about King Dunlap for a second.  Wait, let's not. I'm pretty sure the Eagles would've been better off to just say, "Nah, we'll go with 10 guys on offense. It's cool."

And now the Eagles have signed Jake Scott. Does the phrase, "Rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg" ring any bells to you?

We got offered 3 different sets of tickets to Eagles/Redskins here in DC next week. We turned them all down. I'll still watch my boys lose, but I'd rather do it in the privacy of my own home. Sigh.

Confidential to the 49ers and Rams: yes, a game CAN end in a tie. And Akers should've remembered that.

07 November 2012

2012 Week 10 Picks

Sorry there was no recap this week. Contrary to popular belief, it's not that I offed myself or drank myself into a 2 day bender after Monday night's loss. Much more innocuous explanation: I was at retreat where I didn't have very good Internet access or TV, thus I missed most of Monday's debacle. Believe me, I am grateful.

Anyway, on to this week's picks, unadorned edition, since I'm on leg two of this business trip and on my iPad.

It's Dallas week. Am I excited? Pumped up? Out for blood?

Nope. This season is officially in the toilet.

Yeah, the teams have identical records, but it feels to me like Elvis has already left the building, the fat lady is already singing, insert your favorite metaphor, good night the party is over.

I'm calling the Cowboys. F it.

Colts at Jaguars: Colts

Giants at Bengals: G-men. Who are going to win the NFC East this year, in case you were wondering.

Chargers at Buccaneers: Bucs

Titans at Dolphins: Fins

Broncos at Panthers: did the Panthers turn their season around with the win over the Skins last week? Nah. Broncos.

Bills at Patriots: Pats

Raiders at Ravens: Ravens

Falcons at Saints: really want to go Saints, but I just can't see it. Falcons.

Lions at Vikings: Vikes. Also probably going to be a pretty good game.

Jets at Seahawks: Seahawks. You know what they - or at least I - say: don't pick against the Hawks at home. Particularly when your other option is the Jets.

Rams at 49ers: Niners. Also probably going to be a decent game. In fact, you might want to watch this rather than Eagles/Cowboys, which I suspect will just be depressing.

Texans at Bears: finally a good Sunday night game! I've got the Texans, but this one could easily go either way.

Chiefs at Steelers: this will not be a good game. Steelers. Also, might want to take the fam to go see Argo or something. It's getting good word of mouth, and is supposed to be exciting and suspenseful, neither of which will be able to be said about this game.

On bye: Browns, Cardinals, Packers, Redskins


01 November 2012

2012 Week 9 Picks

This week the Eagles travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints on Monday Night Football. I'll bet that sounded like a much better idea when the schedules were announced last week than it does now.

On paper, the Eagles should be able to take the Saints. Notice I said "should."

The Saints are another team in disarray. Of course, their problems stem from the whole bounty scandal and its negative effect on their access to their coaching staff.

Hm - the Eagles might actually benefit from lack of access to their coaching staff at this point. Is there any way to jump on the whole bounty thing after the fact?

The Saints are 2-5.

On the other hand, they're playing at home, and they're really hard to beat in the Superdome, even when they, as a whole, aren't very good.

And one could make the argument that they aren't very good this year.

On the other hand, Drew Brees. And the fact that the Eagles are ranked in the middle of the pack against the pass. I don't even want to talk about what's going on with sacks.

The Saints d is, well, terrible.

On the other hand, if the Eagles persist in giving away the ball ("No please, after you. I insist.") at a historically bad rate, that might not matter all that much.

In the end, I have to keep the faith that the Eagles will find a way to win this week. I have to. Because I can't give up on them or the season half way through.

Please guys, get on a hot streak and make me eat my words. Please.

Eagles.

Picking the other games:

Chiefs at Chargers: Chargers. I really am done with the Chiefs now, I swear.

Broncos at Bengals: Broncos. The old Peyton appears to be back.

Ravens at Browns: Even Ray Lewis-less, the Ravens should be able to take divisional rival and punching bag Cleveland.

Cardinals at Packers: I think the Packers will take this one, but I also think it will be close. Homefield and an improving offense should help, though.

Bills at Texans: The Bills got two weeks to prepare. Not that it's going to help them much. Texans.

Dolphins at Colts: I'm going with the Colts rookie, particularly since Tannehil might not be able to go. Colts.

Lions at Jaguars: I've got the Lions here. What? They aren't THAT bad - or maybe it's that the Jags ARE that bad.

Bears at Titans: Bears all the way, baby.

Panthers at Redskins: RGIII's offensive line is almost as bad as Mike Vick's, but I still think the Skins should escape with a win this week, not least of which because Cam Newton is on a epic bummer this year.

Buccaneers at Raiders: I've got the Raiders at home.

Vikings at Seahawks: You know how the Vikings are playing better than expected this year? Yeah, well, the Seahawks are playing at home, ergo, Seahawks.

Steelers at Giants: You know how the Steelers are unbeatable at home? They're not at home this week. But I don't think it's going to matter, because they seem to have the NFC East's number this year. Steelers.

Cowboys at Falcons: So do the Falcons.

On bye: the 49ers, the Jets, the Patriots and the Rams,


29 October 2012

Is It Over Yet?

The ONLY Eagle who flew Sunday.
Eagles v. Falcons, Sunday, October 28, 2012

No, I don't mean the game. I KNOW the game is over. Thank God, because it was truly painful to watch.

No, I don't mean Hurricane Sandy. She's just getting cranked up here in the mid-Atlantic. Stay home and stay safe, y'all.

I mean the Eagles season. Is it over?

OK, mathematically, I know it's not over. The Eagles aren't even at their halfway point, the division-leading Giants are only up 3 games, and the Birds are technically ranked second in the division thanks to beating the G-men a month ago. And no NFC division other than North looks unstoppable at this point, so a wildcard would not be not out of the question, either.

And that's all great, for what it's worth, which right now, the morning after the first post-bye week loss of the Andy Reid era (a 30-17 drubbing by the Falcons at home, in case you've been too busy watching The Weather Channel to keep up) doesn't feel like much.

What is going on at the NovaCare Complex? As Tommy Lawlor points out in detail, this team has been through bad times before under Reid and prevailed. Tommy posits that the loss of veteran leadership on the team and in the coaching staff over the past few years has produced a team where no one is left to teach the new guys the "Eagles Way."

The guys over at Bleeding Green Nation were about an inch away from pulling out the "rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg" metaphor on their way to calling out the playcalling and coaching in general, and Andy Reid specifically

I think Big Red is flailing, and I suspect Mike Vick is about to be the next scapegoat to be sacrificed. And while he hasn't played up to expectations this season, with a patched together offensive line that can't keep him from ending up on his back starting at sky and trying to ascertain if all his limbs are still attached after 50% or more of his snaps, it's hardly all his fault.

And while I do think that the problems start with Andy and, as a result, I think we're seeing his last 9 games as head coach, I have to wonder if what's really going on is that he's still grieving the loss of his son. It hasn't even been three months since Reid endured one of the most difficult losses any person will ever experience - the loss of a child.

I think it's reasonable to think that Reid may be unable to focus on the team at this time. And while I don't blame him personally - he lost his oldest son for chrissakes - if that is what's going on, I do blame him for not figuring out a way to do what is best for the team and step down or hand over some of his responsibilities.

I realize the situation was unpredictable. Garrett Reid, to refresh your memory, died at training camp just over a month before the start of the 2012 season. At the time, Andy may have thought that he'd be able to pull himself and the team together, and making a head coaching change in early August is pretty much unheard of.

Thing is, whether it's because of his grief at his loss or fear of losing his job or something else none of us can even speculate on, Reid is now hurting the team. Juan Castillo already got thrown under the bus twice - first when he was hired for a position he was totally unsuited for, then when he was fired from that same position. By all appearances, Mike Vick will be next. But I think it's Reid who needs to go.

If this weren't the final year of his contract, it's conceivable he could take a leave of absence. Since he's coaching for his job, that's probably not a possibility. But since it seems likely to me - and many other observers - that that ship has already sailed. Reid needs to look at what's best for the team, and that includes looking in the mirror.

(You'll notice there's no stud of the week. That would be intentional.)

24 October 2012

2012 Week 8 Picks

This week is going to be, to put it mildly, interesting.

The Eagles are coming off a bye week in which Andy Reid replaced his DC and there are widespread rumors of problems in the entire front office.

The Falcons, also coming off a bye, are the only remaining undefeated team.

Andy Reid has never lost the game the week after the bye, including the infamously disastrous 2005 season. 

This is a must-win game for the Eagles. We all have the sense that their season is hanging by a thread. If they come up with a win at home against the undefeated Falcons, one in which Michael Vick takes care of the football, the offense manages to put up some points, special teams doesn't give up big plays, and the defense shows improvement, I think we're all going to release a breath we didn't even know we were holding.

If, on the other hand, Andy and Marty refuse to run the ball, Mike turns it over, the receivers drop passes or can't get open, special teams continues to give up big plays, and/or the defense lets another 4th quarter lead slip away, the wheels are going to come all the way off the bus and roll across the Ben Franklin bridge into Jersey.

This game should be winnable. No, I'm not crazy. Why do you ask?

The Falcons wins have come over:

The Chiefs (1-5)
The Broncos (3-3)
The Chargers (3-3)
The Panthers (1-5)
The Redskins (3-3)
The Raiders (2-4)

So no teams with winning records.

And the Eagles backs are against the wall. I think - I hope - they pull it together and live to fight another day. Because I just can't give up on them yet.

Eagles.

Buccaneers at Vikings: Chef Spouse's best friend Steelers Transplant, who now lives in Tampa, is in DC this week and will be watching the game with us Thursday night. Sadly, I think he'll be watching his second adopted team lose. Vikings.

Panthers at Bears: And the losing streak continues for the Panthers. Bears.

Chargers at Browns: Chargers. The Browns are kind of a mess.

Seahawks at Lions: High-powered offense versus high-powered defense! And the Seahawks are not at home. I've got the Lions again, who better not let me down after taking them as my upset pick last week.

Jaguars at Packers: The Jaguars are going to get killed. They might want to see if they can get a doctor's note or something. Packers.

Dophins at Jets: I think this will be a close game, but I've got the Dolphins. I know, I know, but they are looking better and crazy things happen in divisional games.

Redskins at Steelers: I'm tempted to go with the Skins as an upset pick, but the Steelers don't lose at home, they don't lose to NFC teams, and they REALLY don't lose at home to NFC teams. Steelers.

Patriots at Rams: I've got the Pats, but I think this is going to be a closer game than most people expect. The Rams have been solid at home this year, and they'll probably be able to slow Tom Brady down, but I don't think they'll be able to stop him.

Colts at Titans: Colts all day.

Raiders at Chiefs: I'm not picking the g-d Chiefs again. But wait! The Raiders have been burning me, too! Damn it! I'm doing it. I'm going with the Chiefs, God help me.

Giants at Cowboys: I think the Cowboys are going to sweep the Giants. And much as it pains me to pick them, it will help the Eagles. So, Cowboys. Don't hate, Bleeding Green Nation.

Saints at Broncos: I *want* to pick the Saints, but I just can't. Not gonna happen. Broncos.

49ers at Cardinals: I'm bumming that K2 won't be playing. After John Skelton won the QB competition, then went down, then Kolb came in and did great, it was sad to see him get injured. It was nice to see a former Eagle doing well. It's always nice to see a former Eagle do well. And it made me happy to see that the potential Andy saw might be really be there. Oh - who's going to win the game? The 49ers, of course. But I'm still sad that K2's struggling.

On bye: Bengals, Bills, Ravens and Texans (they need to rest after the beat down they laid on the Ravens last week)

22 October 2012

Change is A-Comin'

And not just for the Eagles.

Don't worry - Snarkin' will still be here.

But I have to dial back my football obsession just a bit.

So each week, I will still pick the upcoming games. It provides me a weekly opportunity to make an ass of myself, in addition to my annual making-an-ass-of-myself preseason playoff picks post.

And I'll still recap the Eagles game (assuming it's not the bye week).

And I may make a few scattered comments about other games, although that's most likely with the other NFC East teams.

But I'm not going to be recapping ALL the games anymore. Aside from having to devote Monday evening, Thursday evening, and the entire day Sunday to watching in a focused way, it also requires a number of hours every week with the NFL Network and SportsCenter.

And nobody's paying me for this.

Plus that way, I can devote my full resources and snark and ire and vocabulary of swear words to the Eagles and only the Eagles.

17 October 2012

2012 Week 7 Picks

All I have to say at this point is: "Thank GOD for the bye week." ONE Sunday where I will not:
  • Have a coronary 
  • Give myself a rage headache 
  • Yell at the TV for 3 solid hours
  • Have to watch any games through my coat sleeve (Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom knows what I'm talking about)
  • Scare my cat and/or Chef Spouse out of the room
  • Drink myself into a state of not caring anymore
  • Exhaust my full vocabulary of English swear words and have to start looking up new ones on the Internet
  • Have to leave the house for several hours to calm down
So Juan Castillo's out and Todd Bowles is in. Feels to me like Big Red is panicking. Jeff Lurie as much as told him and everyone else "It's playoffs (and I don't mean one win, buster) or hit the pavement" this year, and it seems like Andy's taking him seriously. Thing is, firing Castillo feels a little bit like scapegoating. Sure, he was in over his head from the start, and we're all STILL scratching our heads about why Andy ever thought it would work. But, aside from blowing one lead late in the game (because, come on, I cannot bring myself to blame the defense for not being able to hold a ONE POINT lead against the Steelers at Heinz Field for nearly 7 minutes), and the much-discussed poor sack production, the defense has not been a huge problem. Usually, when a team is winning by 3 or fewer points (hello, 2012 Eagles season thus far), the defense gets praised.

To me, the MUCH bigger problems are Marty Mornhinweg and Bobby April. Shady gets 20+ touches = win. Shady gets less than 20 touches = loss. This is not complicated math. And how is it that the Eagles are ranked 27th in scoring with players like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Mike Vick, and Brent Celek?And special teams has been a disaster so far this year. A DISASTER.

But Juan was vulnerable. So out he goes. We'll see what happens against Atlanta on October 28. It will certainly be a test of the defense, with the Falcons in the top 5 in scoring. And if it doesn't go well, we all (and in "we all" I include the Eagles players and coaching staff) have to wonder: who's next. Shit. I'm already giving myself a rage headache, and the game is 11 days off.

What? You wanted me to pick the games this week? Oh, all right:

Seahawks at 49ers: Well, after last week, I think I have a new rule: never pick against the Seahawks at home. But they're not AT home this week, are they? The two teams are surprisingly evenly matched (with the Niners with an edge in offense), but the 49ers are not going to drop two in a row at home. 49ers.

Titans at Bills: Both teams are coming off upset wins, so either (or both) could be in for a let down game. But I'm going with homefield and the Bills.

Cowboys at Panthers: The Cowboys should be able to right the ship - at least for one week - against the struggling Panthers. If they don't, I think Jason Garrett gets sacked. Hey, Jerry's fired head coaches during the season before...Cowboys.

Ravens at Texans: Last week aside, and it's a big aside, 'cause they got whupped, I gotta go with the Texans.

Browns at Colts: And the Browns winning streak ends at 1. Colts. Also Joe Banner has his work cut out for him.

Cardinals at Vikings: This should be a good game. Words I never would have written two months ago. I've got the Vikings.

Redskins at Giants: Really want to pick the Redskins, not least of which to keep the Giants from extending their lead over the Eagles. (Apparently, I still have hope. Pity me.) But I just don't see it. Giants.

Packers at Rams: Two months ago, I would've figured the Packers would dismantle the Rams, homefield or no homefield. Now? I've got the Rams.

Saints at Buccaneers: The Saints. I think. Fingers crossed.

Jets at Patriots: The Jets are dead men. Patriots.

Jaguars at Raiders: Raiders. The Jags are having yet another bad season.

Steelers at Bengals: The Steelers haven't won on the road yet this season. That should end this week. Steelers.

Lions at Bears: Upset pick. Lions.

On bye: The Eagles, thank God, and the Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs (who are DEAD to me), Dolphins, and Falcons.

15 October 2012

2012 Week 6 Recap

Eagles v. Lions, Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stud of the week: Nnamdi Asomugha finally had the game we've all been waiting for. You know, the one where we all go "THAT's why the Eagles paid all that money for him!" He had a picka dn completely shut down Calvin Johnson, not an easy task. Well, that is until Juan Castillo inexplicably pulled Asmougha off Megatron. When did that happen? Remember how the team gave up a 10 point lead with 5 minutes to go? Yeah, about then.

Have you ever given yourself a rage headache? Because I was so pissed by the end of the game, after the Eagles won the toss, went three and out, and then were unable to even slow the Lions' waltz downfield for the field goal down a little, I had. I stomped into the kitchen and told Chef Spouse I was going for a walk. I returned about an hour later, able to watch both the Giants and Redskins win with some degree of equanimity.

What was Chef Spouse doing in the kitchen? Working on fish fumet and espagnole sauce, and avoiding my insane yelling at the TV.

There is SO MUCH blame to go around.

I blame the officials. There is no way that was a push-off worthy of calling back Brent Celek's TD near the end of the 3rd quarter. When it happened, I announced: "If the Eagles lose this game by fewer than 4 points, I'm blaming the officials." So there you have it.

I blame Michael Vick. He was great in the last few minutes before the half and during the third quarter. He made quick reads, ran through his progressions, made quick decisions, took what the Lions' D gave him, ran when he could, and got out of bounds without getting hit. Too bad he was getting the shit kicked out of him the rest of the game, which may have left him more than a little addled. Some of that was him - he CANNOT hold the ball so long - and some was the O-line. Regardless, someone should probably give him a concussion test, stat. And the turnovers! Oy vey iz mir!

I blame the lack of a run game. Shady had a terrible game. I don't know if that's because the O line couldn't make any holes for him (probably, since the Lions' defense spent pretty much the entire game in Mike Vick's lap), if it was because of bad playcalling so he got no touches, or if it was because of bad playcalling, insisting on running outside on the rare times the Birds actually ran the ball, when it was CLEARLY NOT working.

Maclin and Jackson had good games, but Jason Avant made a rare mental mistake and Brent Celek dropped a few balls he normally catches.

I blame the O-line. Did I mention that the Lions' D-line spent the entire game up in Mike Vick's grill? Because they did.

I blame the D-line. The names Jason Babin, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins should strike fear the in hearts of opposing QBs. Where were they yesterday? NO sacks? NONE?

I blame Juan Castillo. Aside from the Asomugha disaster mentioned above, here's the thing with blitzes. You must - and I cannot over-stress the importance of this - you MUST get there. If you don't, Matthew Stafford can feel free to pick any of the 4,873 Lions receivers running free in the secondary with no one to cover them.

In the past two games, the D has given up two fourth quarter leads. Now the Steelers game was one thing - the Eagles had gone up by 1 with well over 6 minutes left on the road. But losing a 10 point lead at home with just over 5 minutes? Of course, it would've helped if the offense could've burned a little time. You don't need to score - you just need to burn clock and change field position. Of course, that requires a run game. See above for the problems with that.

And this has me thinking: hello, it's 2011 all over again.

But there's one more group to blame: the fans at the Linc. The Eagles are up by 10 with just over 5 minutes to go. The team is on defense at home. The stadium should be going crazy. Matthew Stafford shouldn't be able to hear his own thoughts. And, unless there was something messed up with the sound on my TV - and I seriously doubt it - the stadium was nearly quiet. The defensive players were waving their arms on the field to try to hype the crowd and...nothing. Sure, the Lions aren't nearly as bad as their 1-3 record coming into the day made it seem. But if we're not with the team, how can we expect them to give their best?

I don't have it in me to recap the rest of the games this week. I'm still too bummed - and unless the Broncos pull off a miracle (always a possibility with Peyton Manning under center, but it's not looking good with the 4th quarter about to start), I'm 3-11 this week. Bleh.

11 October 2012

2012 Week 6 Picks

Well, it finally happened. Thursday Night Football beat me to the punch. Ah well. On to the picks.

This week, the Eagles host the Lions.

Lots of people - myself included - expected good things from the Lions in 2012. So far, that's not really panning out. A 1-3 start was not what any of us expected.

On the other hand, they did beat a Rams team that's outperforming expectations so far. And, although one of their losses was to the Titans, the other two were the 49ers and the surprisingly good Vikings.

And they still have Megatron, and, as a result, are #2 in passing yards in the NFL. And Calvin hasn't even been having a great year so far.

The Lions are coming off their bye, and you know they don't want to drop to 1-4, particularly with the Bears and Vikings both coming out hot this year.

In the meantime, they are playing at the Linc. And I have to ask: are the Eagles becoming a team where playing at home matters? For a long time, it really didn't seem to. So far this year, they've played 1 bad team (the Browns) on the road, 2 good teams (the Cardinals and the Steelers) on the road, and 2 good teams (the Ravens and the Giants) at home. They beat the bad team on the road, won the two home games, and lost the two other road games.

To me, it all comes down to this: the Lions can put up points. And they have a top 10 defense. If the Eagles can manage to find another gear for the offense (try "second," guys) and figure out a way to contain Calvin Johnson, they should win this one. Those are both big "ifs." But I'm counting on homefield to help the Eagles get a narrow win (what else is new?) over the visitors.

In the other matchups...

Steelers at Titans: I don't care how banged up the Steelers are, there's no way they lose this game. The Titans have Chris Johnson and... [crickets]. See?

Raiders at Falcons: The next time I predict that the Raiders are "going to be good this year" because they're "really turning the corner," could someone please remind me of this year? And 2003-2009? Also, Falcons.

Cowboys at Ravens: The Cowboys have had two weeks to stew over getting stomped at home by the Bears on Monday Night Football. Which has got to be bad for your mental outlook. And even if they aren't already f-ed right now, they will be by 4 pm Sunday. Have you seen Ray Lewis's pre-game speeches? Tony Romo's going to be get killed. For real. Not metaphorical. Ravens.

Bengals at Browns: Poor Browns - another week, another loss. Bengals.

Rams at Dolphins: Both of these teams are outperforming expectations so far this year, but the Rams aren't going to be at home in the dome, so I've got Ryan Tannehill and Fins.

Colts at Jets: Have I mentioned lately that the Jets are f-ed? The Jets are so f-ed TO has been tweeting to try to get them to pick him up, and it's not a completely insane idea. Yes, it's that bad. And it's going to be worse after the Colts beat them at home this week.

Chiefs at Buccaneers: Call me crazy, but I'm picking the Chiefs again. Third time's the charm? Don't let me down, fellas.

Bills at Cardinals: It's the Cards turn to whip up on the Bills.

Patriots at Seahawks: Now this is an interesting matchup. East Coast teams traditionally have trouble going west, and the Seahawks are pretty damn good at home even in years when they aren't that good overall. And this year, they're pretty good overall. We have the top-ranked D taking on the top-ranked O. Which should make for an interesting game. I'm really tempted to call the Seahawks, but I don't think they're going to be able to shut down the Pats completely, and I'm not sure they can keep up. Pats.

Giants at 49ers: 49ers. They're pretty much the Terminator this year.

Vikings at Redskins: The Redskins, unlike the Seahawks and Steelers (and maybe now the Eagles?) have NO homefield mojo. And this week's not going to improve that. Vikings.

Did I just pick all the NFC East teams other than the Eagles to lose? Yes, I did. Which would be awesome, both from a standings perspective and from a picks perspective. Crossing my fingers that I'm right.

Packers at Texans: Texans all day, baby. The Packers are banged up, and it's getting worse, and the Texans defense is outstanding.

Broncos at Chargers: Broncos. Also, SECOND MNF game? Already? Could y'all stop kissing Peyton's ass for one damn second?

On bye: Bears, Jaguars, Panthers, Saints

08 October 2012

2012 Week 5 Recap

Eagles at Steelers, Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stud of the week: Of course, it's LeSean McCoy. Not only did he make Larry Foote look foolish on his TD catch and run (I quote the ONE true thing Joe Buck has ever said announcing football: "One on one against McCoy, you have no shot. I don't care who you are."), the Eagles went for it on 4th down TWICE during the drive that led to the second touchdown. Who did they give it to? Shady. Did he pick both up? Indeed he did. And he smoked Lawrence Timmons in the process. As I posted to Facebook during the game: "Shady = Superman."

People! Let's not panic!

Yes, the Eagles lost. In Pittsburgh. To a team coming off their bye week. And a QB who has lost precisely ONE home game to ANY NFC team in his ENTIRE career (and thanks to Tommy Lawlor for the stat). 

And yes, Michael Vick turned the ball over twice. But don't assume that an additional 3 or 7 points from the Eagles in the first quarter automatically means a win. It doesn't. Not that early in the game. And remember the Steelers got no points off either turnover.

The defense got no sacks on a QB who's the most sacked guy in football. And no turnovers. Mike Tomlin clearly had his guys ready for the Eagles pass rush.

Here are a few good things:

Michael Vick, after fumbling twice, led yet another clutch fourth-quarter drive to give the Eagles the lead late. Yes, I know, the defense couldn't hold, but it's not like this is the Titans we're talking about.

Andy Reid went for it on fourth down TWICE in that drive, including once when the Eagles were on THEIR OWN 30. Do they convert both at this time last year? No. Honestly, I think the fact that Big Red had the confidence in the team to do that and that they picked up both is maybe the most positive thing to take from the entire day.

And special teams wasn't a disaster. Glad to see you back Colt Anderson!

Is the team perfect? No way, man. Where are the defensive takeaways? Where are the sacks? Why aren't we seeing more big plays from DeSean Jackson (I don't fault Jeremy Maclin, as he's struggling with injury)? And speaking of injury, can I just say: offensive line? Yikes,

But Andy's teams always finish stronger than they start. Does that equal a Super Bowl? Not necessarily, although there's always the "get hot at the right time" hope. But a loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field is not a reason to jump off the Ben Franklin bridge. This was a very tough schedule to start the season. But the Eagles are 3-2 and leading the division. Hella better than last year's 1-4, am I right? And, aside from the Browns, these are not patsy teams they've been facing. The combined record of the teams they've lost to is 6-3, and they handed the Ravens their only loss so far.

In the rest of the matchups:

Rams over Cardinals: Told you so. I can't figure out the Cardinals and Kevin Kolb yet. I do, however, note that the NFC West is the only division where EVERY team has a winning record so far.  That's different. So are the Rams under Jeff Fisher. Sorry Spags.

Dolphins over Bengals: Andy Dalton did not have a good day, and that was pretty much all she wrote for the Bengals.

Colts over Packers: OK, why didn't anyone tell me the Colts were dedicating this game to Chuck Pagano? I might've picked differently. Also, the Packers just aren't the same Pack this year. Also, that was one hell of a comeback rookie Andrew Luck led.

Ravens over Chiefs: The Ravens are not the classiest group of guys in the world, and when even they're telling the Chiefs' fans that they're being a bunch of dicks for cheering when their own QB went down...well, that's saying something. Keep it classy, KC.

Giants over Browns: You know, for about 10 minutes it looked like the Browns might pull off an upset win. And then there was the rest of the game. Poor Browns. Maybe drafting a rookie who can almost collect Social Security wasn't your best choice ever.

Falcons over Redskins: OK, not that I'm happy that RGIII has a "minor" concussion (whatever that is), but you should hear the weeping and wailing about him taking hits here in the DC! NFL Game Day Morning actually did a retrospective on Mike Vick taking hits where they're late, or he's getting driven into the ground intentionally, or hit in illegal ways (and not when he's a runner). What was the common theme? NONE of them were called. Does this feel like the Donovan McNabb or Randall Cunningham years all over again? Hellz yeah. And no matter how much you scream for your QB to "protect himself," as long as their are different rules for guys named Manning, Brady, Rodgers, and Brees than everyone else, it's not going to do any good. Short version: Skins fans, stop your whining and get used to it.

Seahawks over Panthers: OK, the theory was that the Seahawks allowed that safety intentionally. If so, that was too clever by half. Cam did not have a good day. Sophomore slump? Yep, looks like.

Bears over Jaguars: Ouch.

Vikings over Titans: Also ouch.

Patriots over Broncos: The final score actually makes the game look closer than it was. It was really never in question for the Pats. Everybody makes a big deal about the Manning-Brady quarterback rivalry. Considering the fact that Tom is 9-4 over Peyton, maybe people are thinking of the wrong Manning?

49ers over Bills: Another game that was painful to watch. Everybody gets to whip up on the Bills this year, it seems.

Saints over Chargers: Apparently, I underestimated how the rest of the Saints would respond to Drew Brees's record-breaking night. Oops. 

The Texans are currently leading the Jets 23-14, and I'm 10-3 so far in my picks. Gonna be another good week!
 

04 October 2012

2012 Week 5 Picks

This week, the Eagles travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers. One order of Keystone Bowl, coming up.
The Eagles are 3-1.
The Steelers are 1-2.
And the Steelers, while still a top 5 defense (at least so far) are aging. And the Eagles FINALLY had a turnover free outing, against a team that's not too bad at causing turnovers. 
That should give us a solid indication of what might happen Sunday.
But....
The Steelers are REALLY good at home. REALLY good. And the Eagles, after an emotional night last Sunday, are due for a let down. And Troy Polamalu and James Harrison are both back. And the Steelers are coming off their bye week.
In sum: Steelers.
In the rest of the matchups...
Did you notice I went 13-2 last week? That's some good pickin'. I even had the RAMS, yo. Makes up for the previous week, when I went 5-11. Ouch.
Cardinals at Rams: Speaking of the Rams, I think they're going to have another good week and take down the Cardinals. I'm guessing it will be a close game, but it's hard to play on the road in a dome.
Packers at Colts: The Colts are also coming off a bye. And play inside. And the Packers have been struggling so far. But come on! Gotta go Pack.
Browns at Giants: The Giants are pissed and likely to take it out on the poor Browns, who will go winless at least one more week. Giants.
Falcons at Redskins: The Falcons will get by the Skins, but it's gonna be a shoot-out.
Dolphins at Bengals: Call me crazy, but I've got the Dolphins here.
Ravens at Chiefs: I'm picking the Chiefs, even though they did me wrong against the Chargers last week. But they can put up points, and they're at home.
Seahawks at Panthers: Again, the Seahawks are mortal away from home, but I think their stifling defense will be able to shut down the Panthers.
Bears at Jaguars: Da Bears. Who are probably feeling pretty frisky after Monday night.
Broncos at Patriots: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning renew their rivalry on Tom's turf. I want to call Broncos, but I just can't. Patriots.
Bills at 49ers: Speaking of stifling defenses, the Bills are dead meat. 49ers.
Titans at Vikings: The Vikings are shocking the hell out of everyone so far this year. Can they do it again? I think they can. Vikings.
Chargers at Saints: I think this will be a bittersweet week for the Saints, as Drew Brees breaks Johnny Unitas's streak of games with a TD, and the Saints lose anyway. Hey, they had to replace large chunks of the team with holograms in order to pay Drew, so there you have it.
Texans at Jets: Did I mention that the Jets have now lost their two best players for the season? And are in serious trouble? Like, SERIOUS? Texans.
On bye: Buccaneers, Cowboys, Lions, Raiders




01 October 2012

2012 Week 4 Recap

Eagles v. Giants, Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stud of the week: Brian Dawkins. Duh. He came out of the tunnel Full Wolverine, and we were all yelling, "Put him in!" "Get him some pads!" "No, he doesn't even need pads! Just get him a helmet!" 13 seasons with the Eagles, 16 seasons total. 26 career sacks. 28 career forced fumbles. 37 career interceptions. Next stop: Canton. THAT was the way to honor a legend.

Also, LeSean McCoy had a really good game. Well, he had a good second half. But see, when you keep TRYING to run it throughout the game, it starts to work in the second half.  Andy, take notes.

Actually, everyone had a really good game. Including the coaching staff, who did an excellent job of game planning, and an even better job of in-game adjustments. And I have to assume that someone gave the team one hell of a halftime speech. BDawk perhaps? There was one bad series by the defense - you know the one, that horrible series mid-way through the 4th quarter where Cris Collinsworth basically commented that he'd NEVER seen the Eagles play such bad D - but other than that, really solid game all around. Well, other than the special teams who were short-bus special this week. Colt Anderson and Akeem Jordan, we miss you!

Of course, that final series about gave us all heart attacks. Pass interference on DRC: maybe. Maybe. Pass interference on Nnamdi. Whole lotta BS. Which even Al and Cris admitted. Thank you, Ramses Barden, for evening the score with that complete gangsta-level mugging of Nnamdi, putting your kicker out of his range. Of course, Big Red nearly blew it by trying to ice the kicker, but since Lawrence Tynes missed TWICE, I guess he was successfully iced. Still not a fan of the practice, though.

And did you notice? The Eagles committed not ONE SINGLE turnover. NOT ONE. Here's the crazy thing. On the NFL Network's Game Day Morning show, the commentators were all making their "Bold Predictions." Not only did Michael Irvin pick the Eagles to win (alone of the entire team), but he also predicted that they'd have...no turnovers.

Spooky.

You know what's even more spooky? The woman who runs Chicks in the Huddle, where this blog is syndicated, did an interview with me for HLN TV last week. Not only did I predict that the Eagles would pull out the win, I also predicted that they'd win....19-17. I am not shitting you.
 
Spooooooky.

Then again, it is October.

So now what for the Eagles? Well, they're facing the Steelers next week, and I guess we'll take it one week at a time. Still 3-1 is a lot better than last year's 1-4.

Around the rest of the NFL:

Ravens over Browns: Well, sure. Also Chef Spouse seems to have a mancrush on Ray Lewis. Also, the Browns have been in every game they've played so far. They'll get a win sooner or later (hopefully sooner, against the Giants next week).

Falcons over Panthers: Much closer game than I expected. The whole thing really turned on the Cam Newton fumble and that amazing final drive by the Falcons.

Patriots over Bills: I hope the Pats enjoyed their biannual stomping of the Bills. Sigh. If you recall, I predicted that it would be "closer than most people expect." Well, at least it wasn't 52-0.

Vikings over Lions: Hm, did I not give the Vikes enough credit pre-season? Then again, I don't know that anyone saw them playing this well at this point.

Texans over Titans: SportsCenter this evening was debating: are the Texans the best team in football? Yes. Next question.

Chargers over Chiefs: I just cannot get excited about the AFC West this year. Which is so incredibly unusual, I know.

49ers over Jets: The Jets, without Darrelle Revis and now possibly Santonio Holmes, may be utterly screwed. Wait. Scratch the "may be." Replace with "are."

Rams over Seahawks: Ha! I was right!

Cardinals over Dolphins: I'm amazed it took the Cards OT to take care of the Fins, but they're now 4-0. With Philly reject Kevin Kolb at QB. Of course, the fact that he gets to throw to Fitz doesn't hurt, but still, putting things in perspective, it does seem a little...unusual.

Broncos over Raiders: Peyton bounced back after a bad week last week. Maybe he will get his old magic back. You know, up until the playoffs.

Bengals over Jaguars: Yep. One of these days, the Jags might be good. But not today.

Packers over Saints: Stick a fork in the Saints, man. I think they're done.

Redskins over Buccaneers: Easy to be calm when it's not your team, but I knew the Skins would pull this one out. Did I mention that RGIII is the real thing? Did I mention that the Shanahans are doing a better job adjusting to play to his strengths than I expected?

(Also, on the topic of DC, congrats to the Nats on their first NL East win. And I have to giggle a little that the Phils STILL beat them and they took the NL East due to a Braves loss.)