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.

08 December 2014

A "Sh*tty Performance"

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

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

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

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

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

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

To me, it turned on three things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

04 December 2014

2014 Week 14 Picks

The Champs are coming to town.

(cue ominous music)

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

But first: Seattle.

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks.

In the other matchups:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ravens at Dolphins: Taking the upset. Dolphins.

Colts at Browns: Colts.

Buccaneers at Lions: Lions.

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

Bills at Broncos: Broncos.

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

49ers at Raiders: 49ers.

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

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

30 November 2014

Beasts of the East, Baby!

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

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Bleeding Green Nation!

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

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

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

I kid - it was a hell of a game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



26 November 2014

2014 Week 13 Picks

Dallas Week. Thanksgiving game. Tie record.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the other matchups:

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

Seahawks at 49ers: Seahawks.

Chargers at Ravens: Ravens.

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

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

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

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

Panthers at Vikings: Vikings.

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

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

Bengals at Buccaneers: Bengals.

Cardinals at Falcons: Cards.

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

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

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

24 November 2014

Victory Monday!

Eagles 43, Titans 24, Sunday, November 23, 2014 

Helluva a lot better than "damn, we got WHUPPED" Monday like last week.

Stud of the week: Shady McCoy. First time this year. (Really? Just checked, and yes. Wow.) Even
though he pretty much didn't play at all in the fourth quarter (that I saw - hello, Chris Polk!), we saw 2013 like numbers: 21 carries for 130 yards and a TD. He was hitting the holes (there were holes to hit), he was successfully juking defenders (OK, the Titans run D is REALLY bad, but still), and he had a long run of 53 yards. Good to see you, man. Bleeding Green Nation has missed you.

Also, the Josh Huff redemption tour has officially started. Good kick off return, rookie. Now let's see if you can avoid saying anything stupid to reporters.

It's good to see The Linc maybe starting to become a place other teams fear to come. It's a long way from being Lambeau or the Superdome, but 10 home wins in a row ain't bad.  

The D played well. Other than the second quarter. Against a rookie QB. Not good enough to erase the mess that was last week, but still, it's something.

As is Connor Barwin's sack total. Did you notice that he's #2 in the NFL? Because I did.

#LOVEParkey missed a field goal, but it was from 49 and did hit the upright and had an unlucky bounce out rather than in. But I still love him. Also, SIX field goal attempts? Oh Red Zone Woes, why did you come back?

In other news, the Birds are running out of linebackers. And the secondary is still pretty sorry. What is up with Malcolm Jenkins? Where did he go? He can't go MIA. Because the rest of the secondary sucks.

And the Sanchize. Oh honey, I guess we're taking the good (that lovely TD pass to James Casey) with the bad (two picks, and while the Riley Cooper one was AT LEAST as much on Cooper as Sanchez, the one where Zach Ertz was targeted was just ugly). Not that I'm entirely certain the Birds would be better off with Nick Foles. I guess what I'm actually saying is that I'd love to have the QB situation settled. Think Andrew Luck is happy in Indy? Sigh.

On to Dallas!

BTW, Dallas sucks, in case you were wondering.

20 November 2014

2014 Week 12 Picks

OK, moving on...

This week, the Birds host the Titans.

Fact 1: Despite this year's road struggles (all three losses so far have come against good teams on the road, in case you weren't keeping track), the Eagles have been quite good at home. Where they will be on Sunday.

Fact 2: The Titans are 2-8. In the AFC South, a division that is not exactly tearing it up this year.

Fact 3: Zach Mettenberger.

Who?

Exactly - the rookie is the Titans starting QB. Which you could totally be forgiven for not knowing.

Fact 4: EVERYONE has picked the Eagles. Seriously. Everyone.

Thing is, the Eagles shouldn't sleep on this game.

As BGN points out, the Birds have never beaten the Titans.

And if the Rams' surprising win over the Broncos last week shows us anything, it's that "good" teams are definitely not immune to being upset by "bad" teams, even if Peyton Manning is involved (Mark Sanchez is NOT Peyton Manning, if you were wondering).

A fact in the Eagles' favor (I hope)? The Titans are not quite dead last against the run - the Giants are actually worse - but there's no time like the present for the McCoy/Sproles/Polk three-headed monster to become a thing. Seriously, guys - if not this week, then when?

There is no reasonable way the Eagles lose this game. And a win going into Dallas week would be really nice.

Eagles.

In the rest of the matchups:

Chiefs at Raiders: Yeah, yeah, the Black Hole, only it's been a REALLY long time since that scared anyone. Chiefs.

Browns at Falcons: The Browns had a surprising stumble against the Texans last week, but I expect them to right the ship this week against a weak Falcons team.

Lions at Patriots: The Lions are kicking some ass this year, but I don't think they can get past the Pats at home.

Packers at Vikings: Vikings. SIKE! Packers - now that the Vikings are playing outside, it will be almost like home.

Jaguars at Colts: Colts.

Bengals at Texans: I'm riding the Texans' D to victory.

Jets at Bills: Assuming they can even play the game (EIGHT GODDAMN FEET OF SNOW, y'all), I've got the Bills.

Buccaneers at Bears: The Bears are kind of stinking it up lately, but I think they have enough to take out the Bucs at home.

Cardinals at Seahawks: This will be the best game of the week, and I'm picking the Cards in an upset.

Rams at Chargers: Chargers.

Dolphins at Broncos: I'm going with another upset pick in the Dolphins.

Washington at 49ers: 49ers. And more agita in the DC sports media next week. Heh.

Cowboys at Giants: It would be SO helpful if the Giants could pull off the upset, but since they're not playing in Dallas, that's pretty unlikely. Cowboys.

Ravens at Saints: The Dome is no longer inviolable, and I think the Ravens' D is going to be too much for even Drew Brees to overcome.

On bye: Panthers, Steelers

17 November 2014

Reality Check

Eagles 20, Packers 53, Sunday, November 16, 2014 

Wow. That was a hot mess - or, rather, a cold mess, since it was Lambeau.

Stud of the week: I don't know who to pick. This was a total team loss. Everyone screwed up - offense, defense, special teams, coaching. About the only thing the Eagles did right was get to the stadium (and no, as we've learned this year, getting to the stadium successfully is not automatic). Although in retrospect, they might've been better off to just skip this one. Seriously. I got nuthin' here. Cody Parkey? At least he did everything that was asked of him successfully. So sure, let's go with #LOVEParkey.

Things were so bad I had to stop watching for a while in the 3rd quarter. The game was hurting my eyes. Chef Spouse wasn't sure where in the house I'd gone, so he called me on my cell to guilt me into coming back down so he didn't have to watch the unfolding disaster alone. So I came back, but switched to sort of watching the game while reading Hogs Haven to cheer myself up. HOGS HAVEN, Y'ALL! (Although if you need cheering up, I do highly recommend it.)

Oh, and whose idea was it to SINGLE COVER JORDY NELSON ALL GODDAMN DAY????

On the other hand, we all just need to calm down. Just as last week's dominating win over the Panthers does not mean the Eagles are going to win the Super Bowl, so this week's blowout loss to the Packers does not mean they'll finish the season 7-9.

May I remind everyone that the "isn't Peyton Manning DREAMY?" Broncos lost to the RAMS yesterday? And they only scored 7 points on the way to that loss? And the Packers got blown out by the Saints in the Dome a few weeks ago? And the Saints have lost their last TWO home games? Which used to be pretty much unheard of? And while three teams match the Birds' record in the NFC, the only team with a better record is Arizona?

Today, they're exactly what they were at 3 pm yesterday - a decent team with some serious flaws (sloppy mistakes, unresolved QB situation, suspect secondary) that's likely to win the division but not go very far in the playoffs. And, as BGN notes, every serious contender team has gotten blown out on the road at least once so far this year. And, as Tommy Lawlor notes, when Aaron Rodgers plays like he did yesterday, I'm not sure what they were supposed to do in response either. Although, as Kempski points out, ARodg's home passer rating actually went DOWN as a result of yesterday, which means he pretty much juts obliterates everyone at Lambeau. Yikes.

At least we can all shake this off and look forward to hosting the 2-7 Titans next week. Should be a good cure for what ails the team - I hope.

13 November 2014

2014 Week 11 Picks

This week, the NFC East-leading Eagles travel to the frozen tundra to take on the Packers at home.

Everyone thinks the Packers are going to win. No really, everyone.

And Aaron Rodgers is on a tear - like normal. And their defense is playing extremely well.

Thing is, if you look at it, the Eagles D is allowing fewer points and the Eagles O is scoring more points.

The Eagles are 7-2, but if you read Blogging the Boys, all the Eagles wins are against bullshit teams. The Packers are 6-3 and, apparently, have been playing GREAT teams. 

OK, OK: the Eagles have only beat the Jags, Rams, Giants, Texans, Panthers, DC...and the Colts. So six bad teams, and one team that will DEFINITELY win their division.

The Packers, in the meantime, have beat the Jets, Bears, Vikings, Dolphins, Panthers, and the Bears again.

Hm.

So that's one bad team twice, plus three other bad teams and one - the Dolphins - where we're not sure yet.

I'm thinking this one may not be quite as obvious as everyone seems to think it is.

I realize playing at Lambeau is not easy. And it's going to be, like, 2 degrees there on Sunday. And who knows if the rehabilitation of Mark Sanchez is anywhere close to complete.

But I'm going with my boys. And hope that they can get a quality win on the road and shut down the naysayers.

Eagles.

In the rest of the matchups:

Bills at Dolphins: Fins.

Falcons at Panthers: Falcons.

Vikings at Bears: I know both of these teams are dumpster fires, but I've got the Vikings. Also, don't watch this game.

Texans at Browns: Browns.

Seahawks at Chiefs: Chiefs. Go Big Red!

Bengals at Saints: As we've recently learned, the Saints aren't invincible at home. But they aren't going to drop two in a row. Saints.

49ers at Giants: 49ers. Speaking of dumpster fires...

Broncos at Rams: Broncos. Although I'm guessing this is going to be tougher for the Broncos than they may be anticipating.

Buccaneers at Washington: DC has this. Which definitely does not mean that people here in DC are going to quit bitching about RG3.

Raiders at Chargers: Chargers.

Lions at Cardinals:  I've got the Cardinals, although the loss of Carson Palmer is concerning.

Patriots at Colts: SOOO want to call the Colts, but I just can't. Patriots.

Steelers at Titans: Steelers.

On bye: Cowboys, Jaguars, Jets, Ravens 

11 November 2014

Monday Night Massacre

Eagles 45, Panthers 21, Monday, November 10, 2014 

(Yes, I know Tommy Lawlor used the same post title, but it's TOO OBVIOUS to pass up.)

OK, I think we all pretty much expected the Eagles to win, but I don't think anyone would have predicted the EPIC BEATDOWN that took place last night. Wow.

Stud of the week: could it be anyone other than Jordan Matthews? No, it could not. Someone get the
canapes and champagne, because that was one fine coming out party. You know how, in the offseason, Chip was all "DeSean, Shme-Sean, I want a big receiver!" and we were all like, "You sure, man? DJax is pretty good." Turns out, the Chippah may have been right. The guys over at BGN commented that the Sanchez-Matthews hookup was money in training camp, so on the night when Sanchez had his first start in, like, two years, it makes sense the rookie would BE HEARD in a big way. Lets hope that chemistry continues in the coming weeks.

Shout-out also to Connor "I eat opposing QBs for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner" Barwin. Been too damn long since we had a sack-machine linebacker. He was clearly spying Cam all night, and that running start allowed him to just bulldoze the Panthers' o-line left and right.

Speaking of, something is clearly wrong with Cam Newton, and if, as sideline reporter Lisa Salters indicated, Ron Rivera thinks he's fine, he needs to have his eyes examined. Yeah, the Panthers' o-line may be garbage, but it still shouldn't be possible to sack Cam NINE times. (Rivera just said "Cam's not hurt" AGAIN on the NFL Network. Is he nuts?)

Also! Darren Sproles AGAIN with the awesome. He's at a Devin Hester-level of "DO NOT KICK IT TO THAT GUY" at this point. RUN, LITTLE MAN, RUN! Seriously, when you see still pictures of him with the other players, it's hilarious - he's a munchkin - but even with that, he stoned a few Panthers on blocks last night, which is damn impressive for someone who's about four feet tall.

Brent Celek sighting! I'm guessing the reason he's been MIA pretty much all season is that the patchwork o-line has needed him to stay back as an extra blocker, but with the big uglies returning to form, I'm hoping we'll get to see more of him, because he is still totally unafraid to go across the middle, catch the ball, and take the big hit, and he's still good at picking up that tough but crucial extra yard or two after the catch that can be the difference between a first down and a punt.

Even Cary Williams and Nate Allen did reasonably well, with both of them recording a pick. And Bradley Fletcher! With the pick-6!

Sanchez was solid, and most importantly, no fumbles of any kind, butt or otherwise. He got lucky on an almost-pick where the defending Panther couldn't get his feet down in-bounds, but he played at least as well as Foles has been playing. He seemed - to me, anyway - to make faster decisions and be more willing to step into his throws (I didn't see back foot shenanigans). And he did have some pretty, pretty throws. Can he keep it up? Looks like we're going to find out, but on a big night on a national stage, he delivered a better-than-adequate performance and with the special teams bringing their usual AWESOME and the D bringing THE BUSINESS, that was more than enough. (Although I would like to see him clean up his screen passes. The Eagles have been a screen team since, um, FOREVER, so get on that, Mark.)

It *was* a bad night for the Birds' running game. As pretty much everyone has observed, teams can go all out to stop the run, which the Panthers did, and the Eagles will just beat them through the air. Still, Chuckie remarked that this was Shady's first TD in six weeks. He was wrong - Shady hasn't had a TD since week 2, almost two months ago. That's pretty f-ing weird.

And apparently, the refs need to start coming to practice with the Eagles, because even THEY can't keep up when the Kelly offense is moving full speed. You guys might want to get in a little more treadmill time at the gym is all I'm saying. 

But these last few are nitpicking, honestly. Let's just enjoy Victory Tuesday before we turn our thoughts to the EXTREMELY DAUNTING task ahead: the Packers at Lambeau.

Meanwhile, CHEESESTEAKS FOR EVERYONE

(Also, if you need a giggle, go to last night's game open thread on Blogging the Boys and read the comments.)

06 November 2014

2014 Week 10 Picks

Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles for Monday Night Football.

Oy.

I know, I know: "Next man up."

Still.

At least, if he's going to be the Birds' starting quarterback for a while, he's getting a relatively easy start (she says, eyeing the Packers game next week warily).

The Panthers offense is ranked 25th in points per game, which is pretty damn anemic. Meanwhile, their defense, which was their strong suit last year is, um, not. They're also ranked 25th in points allowed. In other words, they're scoring 19 and allowing 26. That is not a winning combination. And it won't be on Monday night either, even with The Sanchize under center.

Eagles.

(PS - Mychal Kendricks? Time to step up, baby.)

In the rest of the matchups:

Browns at Bengals: Bengals. Even when the Browns lose, the entire division will still be above .500. Damn, y'all!

Titans and Ravens: Ravens

Chiefs at Bills: Chiefs 

Dolphins at Lions: The Dolphins are, quietly, pretty damn good this year. The Lions, too, but I think, perhaps surprisingly, the Fins have the edge on offense (didn't see that coming, did you?) and I'm going with the Dolphins.

Cowboys at Jaguars: Cowboys (although a Jags upset would be AWESOME, just saying)

49ers at Saints: Two teams who are having difficulties this year, but Dome field advantage says Saints. Also Drew Brees seems to have remembered that he's, you know, DREW BREES.

Steelers at Jets: Big charter plane? Little charter plane? Who gives a shit? The J-E-T-S are B-A-D. Steelers.

Falcons at Buccaneers: Oh Bucs, I had such hope for you this year. Not anymore. Falcons.

Broncos at Raiders: The Raiders have to win sometime - at least in theory - but it's not happening this week. Broncos.

Rams at Cardinals: You know who else is quietly very good? Yup - Cardinals.

Giants at Seahawks: The Giants just can't catch a break. Seahawks.

Packers at Bears: Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has the Packers, and divisional games can be wacky (and they're playing in Chicago), and I'm really tempted to pick an upset here, but I just can't. Packers.

On Bye: Chargers, Colts, DC Pats, Texans, Vikings 

03 November 2014

A Costly Win

Eagles 31, Texans 21, Sunday, November 2, 2014 

Stud of the week: It clearly has to be Mark Sanchez. With no reps with the first team and no warning,
he came in in relief for the (it turns out) seriously injured Nick Foles and led the team to victory. Yeah, he threw two picks (although I don't count the Josh Huff pick against him AND COULD SOMEONE PLEASE WORK WITH THE TURNOVER PRONE ROOKIE THIS WEEK, MMM-KAY? He's been mentioned here twice in two weeks for doing something BAD. Not the way to start your career in Philly, Rook), but he also threw a GORGEOUS touch pass to Jordan Matthews in the end zone, and completed two beauties to Jeremy Maclin (who, I may have mentioned, is about to GIT PAID), one for a 52 yard gain the first time he touched the ball, and the other a slick bit of QBing on that low and outside pass for Mac's second touchdown. And despite the turnovers and Jason Kelce's repeated high snaps (one, he may be a little rusty; two, Sanchez is like 4 inches shorter than Nick), he didn't get rattled. So there's that. And I don't remember seeing back foot throws, so there's also that.

Many in Bleeding Green Nation (myself included) had begun to doubt whether Nick Foles is The Guy, longterm. And The Sanchize played well enough to win yesterday. Then again, lots of backups are able to come in and have a week or three's worth of success because the other teams were planning to play the starter and aren't prepared. Although it's not as if there's no film on Sanchez.

I always felt like Sanchez didn't get a fair break. I don't think he got good coaching in New York, and the media spotlight up there is no joke. The thing is, if ole' Buttfumble was The Guy, he'd already be The Guy. The Chippah seems like a fun, decent person, but if Sanchez was playing well enough to win the starting job, he'd already be the starter. But since it looks like Nick is out until at least mid-December, I'm hoping that Sanchez can step up. And quit throwing picks. 

Perhaps more concerning is the loss of DeMeco Ryans. He is (was) a solid player on an improving defense, so losing him is bad, but even more worrisome is that he was the defensive field captain. The injury gods giveth (Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks back), the injury gods taketh away.

Speaking of taking away, the Birds' turnover differential is DREADFUL this year. Could we please, please, pretty please, stop giving the ball to the other team all the damn time? It's nice that the Birds want to share, but the other team *will* get chances, too, only it's VASTLY preferable that they get them AFTER YOU SCORE, y'all!

Anyway, back to the positive. The run game! It's back! Chris "Hit the Hole" Polk! Shady sighting! Darren "The Bowling Ball" Sproles! Guess Chip was listening to the wails of the entire fanbase all week. Plus, it's amazing what you can accomplish with a mostly healthy offensive line.

And Chip went for it on 4th and short! Twice! And they both converted! Good to see the return of the risk-taker.

Oh - and Cody Parkey hit a 45-yarder on a day when the Texans' kicker missed under 40 at home. Love that guy!

And BOTH the Cowboys and DC lost yesterday (and let's face it, no one thinks the Giants are going to beat the Colts tonight), so good week! First place baby!

30 October 2014

2014 Week 9 Picks

TIME TO BOUNCE BACK, IGGLES!

The Texans game comes down to two people:  Arian Foster and JJ Watt. (Ryan Fitzpatrick who?)

If the Birds' run D can stop or at least limit Arian (and I think they can), and if the Chippah dials up a run-heavy game to limit JJ's pass rush (time will tell), the Birds win, no contest.

Dear God, Nick, can you please figure it out this week? Even if "figure it out" = "just hand off the goddamn ball to Shady, then Darren, then Chris Polk, then start over again with Shady."

Also, the team really needs the win.

Also, Jason Kelce might be back (THANK GOD AND THE SWEET BABY JESUS).

Also Earl Wolff might be starting in place of Nate Allen. Yes, that's probably an upgrade - not that the secondary really matters against the Texans (see above RE: Ryan Fitzpatrick).

Gotta go with (crossing my fingers) the Birds.

In the other matchups:

Saints at Panthers: OK, the Saints have been mortal even at home this year, but, even though he's not playing at his normal level, still, Drew Brees. Saints

Jaguars at Bengals: Bengals. Duh.

Buccaneers at Browns: Browns

Cardinals at Cowboys: Man, this is a tough one to call. Still, the Cards' run D is FOR REAL, the Cowboys' O basically = DeMarco Murray, and all the games the Cowboys have lost this year have been at home. And they're playing in Dallas. Cardinals.

Jets at Chiefs: So Michael Vick is starting for the Jets now, and I'm sure he'll be happy to see Andy Reid, which will likely be the only good thing about his day Sunday. Chiefs.

Chargers at Dolphins: Chargers

Washington at Vikings: RG3 is coming back. You may recall that Kirk Cousins was benched in favor of Colt McCoy last week, who went on to lead the upset win against the Cowboys in, of course, Dallas. Now partway through that game, Tony Romo went out with a back injury, and backup QB Brandon Weeden came in and played great. And Romo insisted on coming back, despite the fact that DC DC Jim Haslett was dialing up the blitz on, like, EVERY SINGLE PLAY, and Romo's mobility was clearly going to be limited. And the Cowboys lost. Maybe they should've stayed with the hot hand. Which is maybe what DC should be doing this week. Which is a long way of saying: Vikings.

Rams at 49ers: The 49ers are under-performing this year, but they aren't going to screw up this badly. 49ers.

Broncos at Patriots: Broncos. Heh. F Tom Brady.

Raiders at Seahawks: See above, about the 49ers. Seahawks.

Ravens at Steelers: Big Ben played AMAZEBALLS last week, and the Steelers are at home. But the Ravens are just better this year, across the board. Ravens.

Colts at Giants: Colts. Also, Monday night is looking good for catching up with American Horror Story: Freak Show, amirite?

DC - RG3 is back - go with the hot hand - Cowboys game

On bye: Bears, Bills, Falcons, Lions, Packers, Titans (wow - that's a lot)

27 October 2014

Heartbreak in the Desert

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

A haiku for Nick Foles:

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

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

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

And then there was this:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He's not wrong.

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

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

23 October 2014

2014 Week 8 Picks

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

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

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

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

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

Eagles.

In the other matchups:

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

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

Seahawks at Panthers: Seahawks, see above.

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

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

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

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

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

Viking at Buccaneers: Same as above, Bucs.

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

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

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

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

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

On bye: 49ers, Giants

16 October 2014

2014 Week 7 Picks

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

Anyway, on to the bye-week picks:

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

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

Vikings at Bills: Bills at home.

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

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

Panthers at Packers: The Pack.

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

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

Seahawks at Rams: The Seahawks will rebound.

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

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

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

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

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

Texans at Steelers: Texans, with my upset pick.

On bye: Buccaneers, Eagles

09 October 2014

2014 Week 6 Picks

Prime time game, hosting the Giants.

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

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

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

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

In the other matchups...

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

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

Ravens at Buccaneers: Ravens.

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

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

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

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

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

Packers at Dolphins: Packers. No upset here.

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

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

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

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

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

On bye: Chiefs. Saints

06 October 2014

We Won, Right?

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

Then why doesn't it quite feel like it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02 October 2014

2014 Week 5 Picks

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

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

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

Eagles.

In the rest of the matchups....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 September 2014

Derpadelphia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUT.

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

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

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

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