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!