30 December 2013

NFC East CHAMPS, Bitches!

Eagles 24, Cowboys 22, Sunday, December 29, 2013

I would rather have enjoyed a nice relaxing blowout win like the Eagles had over the Bears a week ago, but apparently, the Chipster and the boys in green thought it would be more fun to give me a heart attack. Hey, at least they won, and I will not be the first - or last - to say that I definitely didn't see 10-6 and the divisional title coming.

Stud of the week: Should I go with Mychal Kendricks, who had a forced fumble AND a pick? What about Connor Barwin who batted down the 4th-and-1 conversion AND, if I recall correctly, also batted down the two point conversion pass attempt that would've tied the game? Or Brandon Boykin, with the pick that sealed the game for the Birds?

Yeah, those are all good choices, but on a night when he took the rushing title and TWO Eagles
franchise records (most rushing yards from Wilbert Montgomery and most all purpose yards from Brian Westbrook), I think I'm contractually required to go with Shady. Who actually didn't have a huge night - 131 rushing, 3 receiving, 1 TD. The Cowboys game planned well for him, keeping him pretty well contained for the most part. But he's had an OUTSTANDING season, and definitely deserves his 2013 three-peat as SotW.

The game was a nail-biter. The Eagles didn't play all that well. Nick Foles was running for his life all night and was sacked about 1,434,536 times (actual number: 5, which is still a lot). Kyle Orton? Sacked ZERO times. The Birds' smoking hot offense had an uncomfortable number of three-and-outs. The Cowboys clearly cast some sort of miasma over Nickfolesian Dynamite. He was not great, but he was good enough. The defensive scheming was not good, and BGN explains why really well.

On the up side, Brent Celek made a few key plays, including a TD. Jason Avant (Jason Avant sighting!) had a critical catch. Bryce Brown also had a few key plays on the series that led to his TD that put the Birds ahead for good. Donnie F-ing Jones AGAIN with the clutch punting. DeMarco Murray only had 51 yards. (Let's not talk about Jason Witten, OK?)

As Tommy Lawlor put it:
The Eagles made more plays than Dallas. The Eagles protected the ball better than Dallas. The Eagles were smart.

Finally, you know I'm not one to fuss about the officiating, but I have a hard time believing that the Cowboys didn't commit a SINGLE penalty all game long. Oh, I didn't forget the muffed play clock loss of five yards for delay of game mess. Believe me. Cris Collinsworth wouldn't SHUT UP about it. He's probably still whinging. I actually had to leave my Eagles womancave and go watch the rest of the game on a different TV with the sound off to keep from putting my foot through a wall. Let's not even talk about the two personal foul hits out of bounds (on Celek and Avant), the (at least) one pass interference (Celek again), the blow to the QBs head after he'd given himself up, holding all over the damn place (pretty sure Riley Cooper would have something to say about that), or the spearing call (isn't that a FINEABLE offense you committed there, DeMarco Murray?) that weren't made on the Cowboys. Oh no - none of that matters. All that matters was the TRAVESTY that led to a FIVE YARD PENALTY. You know Cris, despite your apparent belief that the delay of game was a worse miscarriage of justice than Dred Scott, OJ Simpson, and George Zimmerman combined, it was FIVE MEASLY YARDS. So no, Cris, that doesn't mean the Cowboys are automatically owed a TD (although apparently Patrick Chung thought so, too). Stabby. Very, very stabby.

On to hosting a playoff game! 

And really, a year after 4-12, the firing of a head coach with 14 years' tenure (and the entire rest of the coaching staff, pretty much), a change of QBs, a change of offensive schemes, a change of defensive schemes, new players, new culture, new everything (Tommy has a good summary of exactly how much is new), at this point, everything else is icing. We already got the cake last night, and oh baby, did it taste good!

26 December 2013

2013 Week 17 Picks

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that the NFL now has all divisional games the final week of the regular season. Rivalries, playoff spots on the line, likelihood of wackiness - it's got it all.

The big news for 2013's week 17 is that two NFC divisions are "win and in" matchups, with the Bears hosting the Packers and the Cowboys hosting the Eagles. You knew one of those games would get flexed, and I'm psyched it was Eagles/Cowboys.

The Eagles have had a wild ride this year: new head coach, new coaching staff, new defensive scheme, QB controversy, you name it. They shocked everyone by killing the presumptive NFC East front runner Redskins on Monday Night Football to open the season (yeah, the final score was relatively close, but the game itself wasn't), followed by two close losses, then the trouncing by the Broncos that may have been the low point of the season.

Actually, I take that back. The low point of the season was the home loss to Dallas when Mike Vick was out with the hamstring, Foles went down, and Matt Barkley threw 4,356,273 picks. The following week, the Eagles lost to the totally sad-sack Giants and were standing at 3-5. And I was starting to think that my hopes of an 8-8 season were a little optimistic.

The following week, Nick Foles had an historic game in Oakland. Since then, the team has gone 6-1. The defense is playing much better. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are both having outstanding seasons. Riley Cooper has come out of nowhere to be a stud #2 receiver. Zach Ertz is looking like a genius early second round draft pick up. Trent Cole finally adjusted to the 3-4 and is playing great. DeMeco Ryans is turning into an excellent field general for the D. The offensive line has been playing amazingly well. Nick Foles is f-ing on fire. BRANDON BOYKIN (maybe my next jersey)! Donnie Jones for Grand Pooh-Bah of the punting universe!

Oh - and did you hear? Tony Romo's totally not going to play on Sunday. Yeah, I know Jason Garrett is publicly hedging his bets, but Tony's out and Kyle Orton is in. You heard it here, well, not first. About 234th. And Dez Bryant is iffy. And Sean Lee is probably out.

Thing is, none of that matters. To quote Cary Williams: "We’re on a mission and they’re in our way." The Eagles are going to KICK ASS in Allas (because they have no D).

In the other matchups:

There are a LOT of games with playoff implications, which makes picking a little crazy. That said...

Panthers at Falcons: Did you hear that if the Panthers win, they win the NFC South AND get a first round bye? And they're facing a team that's 4-11? Yeah, I'm going with the Panthers.

Ravens at Bengals: Did you hear that if they Bengals win, they ALSO get a first round bye? The Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot, but I don't think it's going to matter. Bengals.

Jaguars at Colts: Nothing is at stake here. Well, actually, that's not true. If the Colts win and the Bengals lose, the Colts will get the #2 seed in the AFC. And they will. But it won't matter (see above).

Jets at Dolphins: If the Dolphins and the Ravens both lose, and the Chargers win, the Chargers will sneak into the playoffs. Which is, I think, exactly what's going to happen. Jets.

Lions at Vikings: Can you believe the Lions blew it AGAIN? Nothing's at stake here, and they're playing in Minnesota, but I have to go with the Lions playing for the tattered remnants of their pride.

Redskins at Giants: OH, THE HUMANITY.  Don't watch this game. If it's the only game playing in your area, Sunday would be an excellent time for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon. Or drinking until you pass out. EVERYONE has the Giants, but I think the Redskins will pull off the upset and just maybe get Kirk Cousins an offer somewhere else.

Browns at Steelers: Another upset pick in what is essentially a meaningless game, since a MIRACLE has to happen for the Steelers to make the playoffs. Browns.

Texans at Titans: Damn it, I'm picking the goddamn Texans. So there.

49ers at Cardinals: The 49ers will win to try to jump the Seahawks, which they won't, of course, but they will do their part.

Packers at Bears: Did you hear that ARodg is back? And did you also hear that the Bears have NO DEFENSE AT ALL? Yeah, the Bears are dead meat, and the Packers are going to win the NFC North. After which Jim Schwartz and all the Lions will start DRINKING HEAVILY.

Bills at Patriots: I'm picking another upset - the Bills. Hey, Chef Spouse and I got knocked into third place in his company's pick 'em league, and this is my LAST chance to make up some ground.

Buccaneers at Saints: Saints. Superdome magic, and the #6 seed.

Broncos at Raiders:  Nothing at stake, so John Fox may rest his starters, but it's the Raiders. Broncos.

Chiefs at Chargers: I think the Chargers have this - as you already know, since above I said that the Chargers would sneak into the playoffs.

Rams at Seahawks: Also with the homefield, and because the Rams are NOT the Cardinals, Seahawks.

23 December 2013

"We're From Philadelphia and We Fight"

Eagles 54, Bears 11, Sunday, December 22, 2013

Well that was unexpected.

A week after laying an egg in the Metrodome, the Eagles came out in a game that was, for them, meaningless (thanks to the Redskins who literally cannot do a single thing right this year), and utterly dismantled the Bears, who only had the NFC North title on the line.

Stud of the week: man are there a lot of candidates, but I think I'm going to have to go with my boy
Brandon Boykin who, after suffering a concussion last Sunday and missing most of practice this past week, came in and was his usual excellent self on special teams AND grabbed his first pick-six of the year. The points were kind of superfluous, but great game, BB!

Shout-out also to my boy Trent Cole with THREE sacks. After a rough switch to the 3-4, Trent's definitely been picking it up in the past several weeks. And to Shady, who's like 36 yards away from breaking Wilbert Montgomery's franchise rushing record, which has stood for 34 years.

Was this the first complete game we've seen the Eagles play this year? Maybe. They were firing on all cylinders. The defense completely shut down Matt Forte and one of the most effective wideout duos in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. They had the aforementioned pick-six. Cedric Thornton forced a safety. Bradley Fletcher forced Devin Hester to fumble a kickoff return (Devin Hester NEVER fumbles, seriously). Nick Foles was 21-25, and at least two of his incompletions were intentional toss-aways. Two running backs went over 100 yards. All three running backs scored touchdowns - Shady had two, in fact. Michael Vick came in in relief in the fourth quarter, was just looking to run out the clock with handoffs, and gave it to Bryce Brown, who romped 65 yards for a TD. Hell, Alex Henery even made a 49 yard field goal.

Now it all comes down to next week in Dallas in prime time, win or go home (see above RE: totally incompetent Redskins). Bring it. The NFC East crown is coming back to South Philly where it belongs.

21 December 2013

2013 Week 16 Picks

Prime time game!

(Please don't screw up, guys.)

This is going to be a tough test for the Eagles. Although Jay "Picks" Cutler can be counted on to, you know, throw some picks, the Bears also have one of the best wideout duos in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. And, as you may recall from the previous 3 1/2 months, the Eagles secondary is not exactly lights-out.

Fortunately, the Bears defense is even worse. And the Linc is no longer poison. And the Eagles had their trap game last week. And if the Eagles can win and the Cowboys lose, the NFC East crown is back where it belongs in South Philly. And (spoiler alert!) the Eagles will know that it's all up to them by 4:30 pm Sunday.

Gotta go with my heart, and hope, and the Eagles.

In the rest of the matchups:

Dolphins at Bills: I've got the Dolphins, doing what they can to keep their playoff hopes alive...that is until....

Vikings at Bengals: Bengals. And the Fins are out.

Saints at Panthers: We all know the Saints are not as good on the road, and the Panthers have a truly outstanding defense. But the Saints need this game to grab the #2 spot in the NFC, and I think they'll bring their A game and win it.

Broncos at Texans: Broncos. Honestly, they probably don't even need to play this game to know the outcome.

Titans at Jaguars: The Jaguars have been playing a lot better, and both of these teams are eliminated from the post season, so we might see desultory play on both sides. But I've got the Titans, who are the (at least) slightly better team in all phases of the game.

Colts at Chiefs: Another "duh" pick, Chiefs.

Browns at Jets: More meaningless games from bad teams, going Browns, really, who cares?

Buccaneers at Rams: The Rams shocked the HELL out of the Saints last week. This week's win will NOT be a shock. Rams.

Cowboys at Redskins: I live in DC, so I've been able to watch the Skins train wreck of a season from court-side seats. They are TERRIBLE, their locker room is a mess, their front office is a mess, their owner is a dipshit, their coaching staff is in open revolt, and they've benched their healthy starting QB for the remainder of the season. There is NO reason they should win this game...other than the fact that Tony Romo is epically bad in December and reliable only in cracking under pressure. There's no way the Skins should be able to shut down the efficient Dallas offense or keep up, but I think they're going to and steal a win. Skins.

Giants at Lions: Speaking of messes, the Giants are going to lose to the Lions.

Cardinals at Seahawks: Seahawks at home with the #1 seed on the line? Sure, potential trap game, potential divisional wackiness, whatever. Seahawks.

Patriots at Ravens: Speaking of getting shocked, Pats at Fins last week, and I think this week will go equally badly for them. Ravens.

Steelers at Packers: ARodg is out again. I'm guessing they're holding him back on the off chance they manage to sneak the NFC North away from the Bears and Lions, which is a long damn shot. And the Packers haven't beat a good team since losing him. But they are on a two game winning streak, they're at home, and I have a good feeling about this. Packers.

Raiders at Chargers: Chargers.

Falcons at 49ers: 49ers. Bummer of a final Monday Night game.

16 December 2013

Well, THAT Sucked

Eagles 30, Vikings 48, Sunday, December 15, 2013 

Both Chef Spouse and I have managed to come down with horrible colds. Being sick during the holidays is an extra drag. Not only do you feel bad, but you miss things like holiday parties with your industry colleagues, your co-workers, longtime friends, and your fellow belly dancers. Boo! Loss of fun!

You know what's even more of a drag? Watching your team get blown out by a 3 (now 4) - 9 - 1 team WHILE coughing up a lung.

You know how I was all "no way this is a trap game"? Yeah, turns out I was wrong-wrong-wrong.

Stud of the week: DJax. 10 catches for nearly 200 yards and a TD (which would have been two other than Nicky's bad penalty). DJax is having an outstanding season. Yeah, yeah, sideline freakout, but that's part of the package with him. And Shady and Nicky are getting a lot of the press, and DJax just keeps showing up, playing great, and not trying to hog the spotlight, which is a rare thing in a wideout. Also, it cracks me up that after every play, he has to hitch up his pants. I've been to training camp, and yes, he really is that wee.

Shout out also to tight end Zach Ertz for the gorgeous endzone catch that brought the Eagles within 5, the closest they managed to get all game.

See? Gorgeous. Rookie's got a good future in Philly.

So who's at fault? Foles was not sharp, missing some open receivers and throwing another pick, and was still 30/48 for 428. Receivers dropped some balls. I have *no* idea why Shady got so few touches. The Vikings do NOT have a good rush defense. WTF?

But this isn't on the offense - scoring 30 points should be enough to win the game, even in 2013's offense-friendly world.

Let's talk D and special teams for a sec.

Special teams: I understand that Cordarelle Patterson is a playa, but squib kicking EVERY time? He's not Devin Hester, for chrissakes. And they were playing in a dome. If Alex Henery can't kick it through the end zone reliably inside a dome, the Eagles need a new kicker, stat. It felt like the Vikes were starting at the 40 all day long. That's a problem. One of the major contributors to the Eagles' recent success has been vastly improved special teams. Not this week.

Defense: OH. EM. GEE. Where do I start? 48 points? FORTY-EIGHT?!?!? To Matt Cassel and a team that was down to their third string running back and Greg Jennings? Every Vikings offensive possession should show up on ESPN's "C'mon Man!" spot this week, only they don't have that much time.

OK, sure, there was some bad officiating, too, but I'm not about to go all Bruce Arians on you and start pouting and crying into my beer. Good teams don't get undone by a few bad calls, and if they are, they aren't playing well. Which is exactly what happened yesterday.

Fortunately, the Eagles got a major gift when the Cowboys completely melted down against the Packers in the 4 pm slot. It's good to know that some things never change: I'll always bleed green, and Tony Romo will always play badly in December.

12 December 2013

2013 Week 15 Picks

First place with three to go.

This week, the Eagles travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.

Yeah, I know, Matt Cassel, Adrian Peterson, dome, those noisy Viking horn-thingies, trap game, blah blah blah.

There's no way the Vikings win this game. Their scoring defense is second only to the Redskins...in suckitude.  While they'll put up some points themselves, no doubt, particularly if AP plays, I don't see them having any success shutting down the Eagles red-hot offense. In other words, if you have any Eagles offensive players on your fantasy team, play 'em. The Vikings are in the bottom 10 in rushing defense and the bottom three in passing defense. DJax and Riley Cooper are likely to have huge days, as is Nickfolesian Dynamite.  They're so epically bad, Jason Avant might even get his mojo back.

Eagles. Take that, Cowboys! (who are probably going to win, too, but the Eagles will STILL be one game up)

In the rest of the matchups....

Chargers at Broncos: SOOOO want to pick the Chargers as my upset pick, but I just...can't. Even without Wes Welker, the Broncos should roll right over the Chargers tonight.

Redskins at Falcons: And with their 3-10 record and the benching of their supposed-to-be-franchise QB, the Skins are once again the LOLSkins. The Falcons are terrible, too, but there's terrible and then there's TERRIBLE. Falcons.

Bears at Browns: The Browns almost shocked the Pats last week, but almost doesn't count except in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Bears shocked the hell out of the Cowboys last week, and Jay Cutler is back. Also, the Bears are right in the thick of the playoff hunt and the Browns are, realistically if not mathematically, out. I know they're on the road and all, but the Bears have this.

Texans at Colts: Speaking of teams that have been eliminated (and fired their head coach already), the Colts will have no trouble with the Redskins-level dysfunctional Texans.

Bills at Jaguars: The Jags have gotten a little streak here, and the Bills don't even have cold weather to help them. Jags.

Patriots at Dolphins: Losing Gronk is a big deal, but I'm sticking with Pats, who may have another narrow escape this week, but should come out with the win.

Seahawks at Giants: The Seahawks will not narrowly escape with a win - they're going to demolish the Giants.

49ers at Buccaneers: The 49ers need this game to keep pace with the Panthers for the wildcard, and they'll get it.

Jets at Panthers: See above, also, Panthers.

Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs. I know divisional games can get wacky, but not that wacky.

Packers at Cowboys: Tony Romo tends to screw up, often badly, in December, but the Packers are still missing ARodg and the Cowboys are at home. It would really help the Eagles if the Packers pulled off the upset, but sadly, I don't see that happening.

Saints at Rams: The Rams are improved this year, and Saints aren't invincible on the road, but they'll be in a dome in cold weather and need this game to stay ahead of the Panthers. Which they will. Saints.

Cardinals at Titans: Cards, who are nipping at the 49ers' and Panthers' heels at this point.

Bengals at Steelers: The Bengals are leading an uncharacteristically weak AFC North this year. A win at Heinz Field in week 15 would be a statement. It's one they need to make, and one I think they will make.

Ravens at Lions: After last week, you KNOW the Lions are all "Dome Sweet Dome" this week, and I'm pretty sure that talking smack about Megatron being "old" is a bad way to go. I think they'll handle the Ravens at home.

09 December 2013

Snow Bowl!

Eagles 34, Lions 20, Sunday, December 8, 2013 

Five game winning streak! Can I get an "amen"?

Stud of the week: LeSean McCoy. Duh. The previously (I believe) #3 ranked run defense in the NFL,
anchored by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley held him in check for more than 30 minutes. Unfortunately for them, the game had another half, and Shady RAN WILD. 217 rushing yards. 2 TDs. Another set of 2013 Eagles game gear to Canton. It was unreal. (Oh, by the way, HUGE shoutout to the O-line, who opened up those holes with TOTAL DOMINATION.)

The whole game was, of course, totally wacky. You literally COULD NOT see what was happening in the first half in near white-out conditions. Sloppy play all over the place. Poor Nick Foles threw his first pick of the season. I'm pretty sure it was because he couldn't tell who was on which team at the time. Eagles down 8-0 at the half.

Then the third quarter started with eight minutes of nothing, and then the Lions Jerome Ross returned a punt for a TD. 14-0.

The Eagles finally caught a break with a 19 yard TD pass from Foles to DJax, another several minutes of nothing, then a great run by Shady, and all of a sudden, it's a tie game with most of the fourth quarter to go, and on the DAMN KICKOFF Jerome Ross took it to the house AGAIN.

Thing is, I never panicked. I never fussed and fumed. I never pulled my usual Negadelphia "they're going to blow it!" shit.

This is going to sound stupid, but the team looked like a bunch of kids having fun playing in the snow, and I just knew it was going to be OK.

And it was. Riley Cooper made some key catches. The defense was extremely stout again, giving up only one touchdown (the Lions' other points coming off special teams miscues). Nick Foles had a bad half and rallied. Our boys in green got down in bad weather and fought back. The coaches realized that, whatever their game plan *had* been, they were going to have to throw it out and figure it out, and they did.

Special teams? I really don't want to talk about it, other than to say that I really don't blame them (that much) for the coverage breakdowns. It's hard to change direction and tackle in eight inches of snow, particularly when the guy coming at you has a full head of steam and you don't.  Ask Shady. Heh.

Two weeks ago, the Eagles were 6-5 and the scuttlebutt was that they hadn't beat any good teams, Nick Foles was a fluke, and, if it came to it, they wouldn't be able to come from behind. In the past two weeks, I think they've answered all those critiques.

And then there was this:

Good times, people. Good times.

On to the Vikings!

05 December 2013

2013 Week 14 Picks

The Eagles enter the final push of a three game stretch against the NFC North and then the Cowboys with a home game against the Lions.

In the Eagles' favor: the weather. Sunday's supposed to be a mess, which is not going to favor a dome team. Also, Nick-folesian Dynamite. And Shady. And D-Jax. And Donnie Jones (don't under-estimate the value of field position on what's likely to be a sloppy day). And an improving defense. And snapping the homefield curse.

Then again, the Lions have Ndamukong Suh. And a top-ranked run defense. And Reggie Bush. And Calvin Johnson. Who is too tall for the Eagles' secondary to cover effectively.

Of course, the Lions are nothing if not inconsistent, and Matthew Stafford can be rattled into mistakes. Which the Eagles really, really need to do to have a shot. Which is not going to be easy. Neither will shutting down Megatron.

I *want* the Eagles to win. And the Eagles need the win to keep pace with the Cowboys, who will (spoiler alert) almost definitely beat the Bears on MNF this week. But I *think* the Lions will win.

As I look around at the experts (ESPN, SportsBlog Nation, Bleacher Report), it's pretty evenly divided.

I gotta go with my heart on this one - Eagles. (Plus, Jaws is back on the bandwagon, and that has to be good, right?)

In the rest of the matchups:

Texans at Jaguars: I had the goddamn Texans, who have become my new pick Kryptonite. (My old pick Kryptonite was the Jets.) At least Gary Kubiak got fired after last night's mess, so my schaden is all nice and freude-y today. It's one thing to lose - it's another thing to look like idiots doing so.

Vikings at Ravens: The Ravens seem to have remembered that they're the defending Super Bowl champs recently, and the Vikings...have Adrian Peterson. Which will not be enough. Ravens.

Colts at Bengals: I've got the Bengals at home. The Colts are MISSING Reggie Wayne, big time. They're lucky the Texans have completely imploded.

Falcons at Packers: ARodg is still out, but I don't think it's going to matter, because the Falcons are terrible this year. I have heard, though, that if they don't win this week, they're shutting ARodg down for 2013. That's not really a great way to motivate Scott Tolzien, but again, I doubt will really matter, because, well, the Falcons. Packers.

Browns at Patriots: Pats. Nothing to see here.

Raiders at Jets: Speaking of my former Krpytonite pick - RAIDERS.

Dolphins at Steelers: Really want to go with the Fins here, but again, the weather is going to be awful on Sunday and I think the Dolphins are going to have trouble at Heinz Field. Steelers.

Bills at Buccaneers: Bills.  Upset pick.

Chiefs at Redskins: Big Red will sweep the NFC East. Chiefs. Totally not upset pick at all.

Titans at Broncos: The Broncos cannot be beat at home. Broncos.

Rams at Cardinals: Cards.

Giants at Chargers: Chargers.

Seahawks at 49ers: You know, if your front office has to send a letter to your fans to explain to them how to properly support your team at home, that is NOT a good sign.  Seahawks. Who are scary good at this point, in case you hadn't noticed.

Panthers at Saints: The Panthers are also impressively good, but the Saints' fan need NO instruction on how to support the team. Saints, with the homefield (things might look pretty different in two weeks).

Cowboys at Bears: You already know this one - Cowboys. Damn it. 

02 December 2013

Take THAT, Jaws!

Eagles 24, Cardinals 21, Sunday, December 1, 2013 

Why did I title the post that? Because, for maybe the first time in recorded history, Ron Jaworski picked AGAINST the Eagles. And he was WRONG WRONG WRONG! Ha! The home winning streak stands at 2, which is 100% more than the previous 1!

Stud of the week: Trent Cole, baby. He had a huge game. Forced fumble and two sacks, plus a couple of tackles. Trent Cole has long been one of my favorite Eagles, and he has not been having a great year, to the point that people are speculating that he won't be an Eagle next year. After the past two weeks, maybe not. One of three things happened: one, Trent's finally figured out the 3-4; two, he figures he's playing for his job, whether in Philly or elsewhere; or three, the Cards have a serious problem on their O-line. Regardless, good to see #58 playing to form again.

Shout out to the entire defense, though. They had an outstanding game, forcing three turnovers (two picks in addition to that fumble) and five sacks, and holding the Cardinals to 21 points. That's EIGHT games in a row holding the opposing team to 21 points or less.

Shout out also to DeSean Jackson for going over 1000 yards on the season in just 12 games.

Shady had a relatively quiet day, with only 79 yards. Then again, that was against one of the top run defenses in the league.

Speaking of, I'm starting to think Nick "Napoleon Dynamite" Foles might be the real deal. He has a monster game against the Raiders, and we're all like "whatevs - they suck." Then he reels off three more wins in a row, including over the Packers (OK, sure, QB problems, but they were playing AT LAMBEAU) and the Cards (heading into to the game 7-4 and on a red-hot four game winning streak). The Chipster seems to be all in.

Also, Donnie Jones should maybe run for president. He'd get at least two votes.

Also, Bruce Arians? There were bad calls that helped/hurt both teams. Maybe you shouldn't have run around last week talking smack about Chip Kelly, but now the sour grapes just make you look petty. The down-and-distance officiating error in the Redskins/Giants game was FAR more serious - and obvious - but you don't see Mike Shanahan acting like a big baby today, do you?

Looking ahead, the Eagles are neck-and-neck with the Cowboys, only the Cowboys hold the tiebreaker thanks to those two horrible weeks when the offense completely went to sleep against the Cowboys and Giants back in October. There will be no wildcard team from the NFC East this year. The Cowboys, facing the Bears, Packers, and Redskins, could easily win all three. The Eagles will have to win their next three games (Lions, Vikings, and Bears) to stay in contention. That would leave two 10-5 teams matching up with the divisional title on the line on Sunday, December 29. And given Tony Romo's history in games like that, I think the odds will be ever in the Eagles' favor. Go Birds!

27 November 2013

2013 Week 13 Picks

On the road with iffy Internet access, so just the picks this week:

Cardinals at Eagles: Eagles (Jaws may be wrong for once, also let's keep that home winning streak going! To two!)

Packers at Lions: Lions

Raiders at Cowboys: Cowboys

Steelers at Ravens: Ravens

Buccaneers at Panthers: Panthers

Jaguars at Browns: Browns (also Worst Game of the Week)

Patriots at Texans: Patriots

Titans at Colts: Colts

Bears at Vikings: Bears

Dolphins at Jets: Dolphins

Falcons at Bills: Bills

Rams at 49ers: 49ers

Broncos at Chiefs: Chiefs (also, upset pick - I still believe, Andy!)

Bengals at Chargers: Bengals

Giants at Redskins: Giants (also, Second Worst Game of the Week)

Saints at Seahawks: Seahawks (also, Best Game of the Week)

22 November 2013

2013 Week 12 Picks

The Eagles are on bye this week, and that's one more thing to be thankful for, since it seems like about half the team has shown up on the injury report lately. The boys in green will have an extra week to rest up, heal up, and eat lots of turkey with their families and friends.

In the meantime, week 12 rages on. My picks this week include:

Saints at Falcons: I know the game already took place, but I promise you, I did have the Saints, who almost gave me heart failure when I got home in time to see the end of the 4th quarter. As bad as the Falcons are this year, and as good as the Saints are, it was pretty shocking to see the Falcons with a chance to win it at the end. But divisional rivalries are like that.

Jets at Ravens: The Jets are due a win, given their pattern this year. Unfortunately for them, the Ravens defense seems to have pulled it together lately, they're playing at home, and they have to be pissed after losing in that mess of a game to the Bears last week in overtime. Ravens.

Steelers at Browns: Like a bear coming out of hibernation, the Steelers seemed to wake up and remember that they're, you know, the Steelers last week. This week should reinforce that. Steelers.

Buccaneers at Lions: The Lions are inconsistent as hell, and the Bucs are consistent: consistently bad. Lions.

Vikings at Packers: Will Scott Tolzien get his first win as Packers (temporary) starting quarterback? Yep. Facing the worst defense in the NFL should make for a much nicer day for him than he's enjoyed in his last two NFC East outings.

Jaguars at Texans: Texans. Also, Worst Game of the Week.

Chargers at Chiefs: The Chiefs should get the winning train back on track at home against the Chargers this week.

Panthers at Dolphins: I'm going with Cam Newton and the Panthers' shut-down D.

Bears at Rams: Look for Josh McCown to make it two and keep the Bears neck and neck with the Lions.

Colts at Cardinals: The Cards need this one to try to keep pace with the 49ers, but I don't think they'll be able to take down the well-balanced Colts this week. Colts.

Titans at Raiders: Titans. Also, another lousy game.

Cowboys at Giants: Just about everyone has the G-men, who are on a hot streak right now, and they will be playing at home. Thing is, the Cowboys are coming off the bye and are, objectively, a better team. I think I gotta go Cowboys.

Broncos at Patriots: Just about everyone has the Broncos, particularly after their tough divisional win over the Chiefs last week. Thing is, Brady has pretty much always had the upper hand in the Manning/Brady face off, and the Pats are at home. (I do realize I didn't find that persuasive with the Giants above. Hey, I'm a mystery wrapped in an enigma.) I'm taking the Pats in the upset.

49ers at Redskins: No upset here. 49ers.

On bye: Bengals, Bills, Seahawks, and, of course, the Eagles

18 November 2013

The (Home) Losing Streak Is FINALLY Over!

Eagles 24, Redskins 16, Sunday, November 17, 2013 

Can I just tell you how glad I am that that monkey is off all our backs? Still, just to be on the safe side, if the Eagles *do* manage to win the NFC East and get into the playoffs (which is looking increasingly possible), do you think we can petition Roger Goodell to play the wildcard round on the road?

Stud of the week: Brandon Boykin gets a repeat. He's been doing an outstanding job as the gunner on special teams this season in general. He's playing well at cornerback when he's in. And then there was the critical pick in the end zone to seal the win. And no, I could not find a decent picture of it, so we'll have to settle for this awesome shot of him celebrating a defensive stop.

I also have to give a major shout out to Shady, who passed 1000 yards receiving this week, is still leading the league in rushing, and tacked on 73 yards receiving and two TDs. You know, just an average day for him.

And then there's this:

GIF via SB Nation.

Lots of Skins fans are complaining about Shady. Thing is, that's not just any old Redskins flag; that's a "You're In Redskins Country" flag. That numbnuts up there is waving in Shady's face. At the Linc. In Philly, where we are not necessarily known for our good manners. Dude's lucky he didn't get his ass kicked. Quit yer whining.

The Eagles DOMINATED for three quarters. Everything was clicking. Foles was throwing well and spreading it around. In addition to Shady, DJax, Brent Celek, Riley Cooper, Bryce Brown, and Zack Ertz all had big receptions. Foles had a 4 yard TD run himself and picked up an additional 40+ on the ground. The Redskins were getting some yards and long drives on the ground, but they couldn't finish and RGIII couldn't pass for shit. The defense recorded four sacks (Cole, Cole, Barwin, Goode) and a recovered fumble (Cox).

And then it was like the Eagles went to sleep and the Redskins woke up. Shoegal and Oscar were here for the game. Oscar's a big Skins fan (he's a DC native), and he and I were having the battle of the pessimists: "My team is going to blow it." "No, my team is going to blow it." "No, MY team is going to blow it." Etc.

In the end, his team blew it.

Thank God.

I *was* wearing the lucky socks.

15 November 2013

2013 Week 11 Picks

This week, the Eagles host the Redskins at the Linc.

The Eagles are on a two game winning streak with a resurgent Nick Foles under center. The Redskins are reeling from a puzzling loss to the dreadful Vikings. Both teams have suspect defenses and rely heavily and successfully on the run. Both teams score a lot of points and give up a lot of points...although the Redskins give up more, an average of about a TD more. The Redskins special teams are historically terrible, and the Eagles are actually a lot better than in recent years. RGIII has been erratic this year, throwing a lot of picks even as his knee appears to be healing. Foles has been the model of consistency, as long as we ignore his outing in Dallas.

I'd be feeling really good about this game, if they were playing here in DC. But they aren't.

I'm saying it again, and I hope it's not a jinx: the Eagles have to win at home again sometime. No time like the present, particularly with the Cowboys on bye and the opportunity to take the lead in the division. I'll be wearing my lucky socks, and Fellow Eagles Fanatic is going to be at the game. That has to be good luck right?

Eagles. By a TD. 

In the rest of the matchups, I see a lot of close games taking place this weekend:

Colts at Titans: Yes, I know it was last night, but I had called the Titans and I'm woman enough to admit it. If the officiating hadn't been so bad, I would've been right, too.

Jets at Bills: This one's almost a push. I've got the Jets, but this one could go either way.

Ravens at Bears: Same as above, and I've got the Ravens. Josh McCown? C'mon man!

(Hm - is picking the two road teams in games that are likely to be close a good idea? Maybe not...)

Browns at Bengals: I think Andy Dalton will pull his head out of his ass this week and get the Bengals back on track.

Raiders at Texans: The Texans have been absolutely puzzling this year. Their defense doesn't give up much in the way of yards, but they give up a TON of points. Their offense is good, but has trouble getting in the end zone. Terrelle Pryor still seems to be hobbled. I'm going with the Texans, and I hope they don't burn me (again).

Cardinals at Jaguars: The Jags surprised everyone (including themselves) last week with their win over the Titans, but it was a fluke. They're terrible. I could throw to Fitz and get a Cardinals win.

Lions at Steelers: The Steel Curtain has rusted, and there is no way they stop Megatron and Reggie Bush. I know I keep writing that about teams, but I also keep being right. Lions.

Falcons at Buccaneers: SOOOO tempted to go with the Bucs and the upset pick, but I still think the Falcons are marginally better.

Chargers at Dolphins: Chargers.

49ers at Saints: Saints at home? Take that bet.

Packers at Giants: A lot of the experts are picking the Giants and Scott Tolzein is not Aaron Rodgers (as Eagles fans know from last week). But the Giants, despite their impressive three game wining streak, are just not that good. Gotta go with the Pack to get back on track Sunday.

Vikings at Seahawks: Speaking of home field advantage, Seahakws. Duh.

Chiefs at Broncos: GAME OF THE WEEK! (Yes, I'm shouting - this is going to be AWESOME!) I am going with the upset here and picking Andy Reid's post-bye week good karma and the Chiefs' ability to pick off QBs (and top defenses can rattle Peyton) and run the kind of long drives that will keep him off the field. If it turns into a shoot-out, they're dead meat, because they're packing a butter knife.

Patriots at Panthers: So want to pick the Panthers' hot defense here, but it's Tom f-ing Brady. Sigh. Pats.

On bye: Cowboys, Rams

11 November 2013

It's Only Weird If It Doesn't Work

Eagles 27, Packers 13, Sunday, November 10, 2013 

Chef Spouse and I were at the Delaware shore with Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom and You-Two-Calm-Down-Or-I'm-Turning-Off-the-TV Dad celebrating Dad's recent retirement this week. One of the things that's fun about being in Eagles Country during the football season is that there's a lot more good Eagles merch to choose from - we got bupkes here in DC. Before we headed home on Saturday, Chef Spouse had swung by a local store in Fenwick, DE that was advertised as a hardware store - and it was, you could buy tools there - but they had amazing sports merch, including lots of Eagles gear.

Now here's another thing you need to know. Since I started my own business a little over a year ago, I work at home most of the time. In the summer, that means I can go days without putting on shoes. In the winter, that means there's a premium on warm socks. I now have an extensive and growing wardrobe of warm, fuzzy, crazy socks.

So Chef Spouse is in Fenwick Trustworthy Hardware, and he sees several pairs of awesome Eagles fuzzy socks. Which are now mine. One pair of which I wore on Sunday when, even without ARodg, few thought the Eagles could win. And they won.

I think I now have a pair of lucky socks.

Stud of the week: DeMeco Ryans had a beast of a day, but I think I have to go with Vinny Curry. Why, you ask? Well, he also had a pretty good day, with 3 tackles, 1 assist, and 1 monster sack that was legal and still managed to nearly decapitate Scott Tolzien. But the reason he wins is this:

GIF from FTW

Jimmy Kempski is right: this totally needs to be Curry's new sack dance.

Nick Foles is playing well. He didn't play perfectly like he did against the Raiders, but he played well enough to win, including making plays under pressure, something he was unable to do against the Cowboys on October 20. Sure, there were plenty of times I was yelling: "Do something! Do anything!" while he held onto the ball and, I don't know, filed his nails or something, but other than the early sack fumble and taking one sack that knocked the Iggles out of field goal range, there wasn't anything disastrous as a result.

The run game? 9:32 is all you need to know - that's the length of the drive the Eagles had to run out the clock and seal the win at the end of the game. Oh, one other number: 155. That's the yardage Shady racked up Sunday. Even after going basically MIA for basically a month, he's still leading the NFL in rushing yards.

Another number for you? 55. The yards DJax got on that tipped pass he showed incredible concentration in catching.

And another? 102. Riley Cooper's yards from only THREE catches that also resulted in TWO TDs. Jeremy Maclin who?

Defense? They're actually playing better. Even though the personnel was acquired for 4-3/wide 9, they seem to be adapting - finally - to 3-4, which, as Bleacher Report notes, makes it a lot harder for a QB to figure out what the D is up to pre-snap.

Special teams? I know it was windy and cold on Sunday, but if you can't count on your kicker to make a 39 yard field goal, you may need a new kicker. But the punt coverage has been vastly improved this year.

Officiating? It was off, but I don't think it unfairly benefited either team.

I know, I know - the Eagles got lucky with Aaron Rodgers out, Seneca Wallace going down at the very beginning of the game, and Clay Matthews unable to use his right hand. But it's never easy to go into Lambeau and get a win, and that's just what the boys in midnight green on Sunday, taking them back to .500 and tied with the Cowboys for the lead in their very weak division. I'll take it.

07 November 2013

2013 Week 10 Picks

Were you watching Monday Night Football? Did you see how Aaron Rodgers got hurt, and then John McCown led the Bears to the upset win?

Is it just me, or did this game suddenly get a lot more interesting?

Up until about 9 pm Monday night, I was SURE the Eagles had NO chance this week. I mean, road game, so that's in their favor, but c'mon! The Packers! At Lambeau!

Nick Foles will NOT have another game like last week, maybe ever. But the Packers are dealing with a boatload of injuries and are having a hard time defending the pass. I expect Foles to have another good game, and I don't have a ton of confidence in Seneca Wallace. I'd love to call an upset win, in fact, I almost did, but I just can't see the Eagles making up that big a gap. It could become a shoot out, but the Pack is WAY better on D than our Birds. I'd love for them to prove me wrong, but I've got the Pack at home.

In the other matchups, we're going quick picks because we're at the beach celebrating You-Two-Calm-Down-Or-I'm-Turning-Off-The-TV Dad's recent retirement, and he wants to get outta here and get some lobstah:

Redskins at Vikings: No better way to get your mojo back than against the Vikings. Redskins.

Seahawks at Falcons: No 12th man, but the Falcons are a mess this year. Seahawks.

Bengals at Ravens: Remember how I picked the Bengals to go to the playoffs this year? Looking pretty smart, huh? Well, except for that part where I said the Ravens would win the AFC North. Because they won't, nor will they win this game. Bengals.

Lions at Bears: I know Jay Cutler's coming back and all, but the Bears defense is not what it once was and it's not going to be enough to hold off Reggie Bush AND Megatron. Lions.

Rams at Colts. Colts. No comment. Move along.

Raiders at Giants: Pretty much everyone has the Giants. They are at home, they're coming off the bye, and the Raiders did get whupped by our Iggles last week. But the Raiders are objectively the better team and remember, prior to Folesanity, they had a top ranked defense. I give them the edge this week. Raiders.

Bills at Steelers: They aren't the Steelers of old, but they are at home and the Bills are still on the QB carousel, which is starting to spin so fast it's going to make everyone nauseated soon. Steelers.

Jaguars at Titans: The Jags will not go 0-16. They will, however, go 0-9. Titans.

Panthers at 49ers: I'm going with the nearly-universal pick of the 49ers, but I think this game is going to be a lot closer than most people think.

Texans at Cardinals: The Texans I was expecting to see all season showed up last week. Can they do it again? I think so, plus you know they're going to be motivated to win one for Gary Kubiak. Texans.

Broncos at Chargers: Yeah, I know, divisional away game, anything can happen, yackity-smackity. But I know one thing that can't happen - the Chargers can't beat the Broncos.

Cowboys at Saints: The Jets shocked them last week, but you know how the Saints are unbeatable at home? Yeah, that. Saints.

Dolphins at Buccaneers: Bet on it - the Bucs win their first game this week.

On bye: Browns, Chiefs, Jets, Patriots

04 November 2013

Total Domination

Eagles 49, Raiders, 20, Sunday, November 3, 2013

Who knew Nick Foles decided to go as Peyton Manning for Halloween, and then, just like in Buffy
"You're awesome!" "No, YOU'RE awesome!"
the Vampire Slayer
season 2, episode 6, "Halloween," he turned into his costume?

Stud of the week: uh, Nick Foles. Career day. Literally. Tied the NFL record for TD passes (with 7 others) and no picks (with only 2 others). Only QB ever to throw for 7 TDs AND end the game with a perfect passer rating. It was bananas. He had more TDs than incomplete passes. You know how watching Shady is often like watching Madden? Watching Foles was EXACTLY like watching Madden. Who knew that getting a concussion would turn out to be a GOOD thing? (Joking.) (Except maybe not.) (Riley Cooper had a good day, too.)

OK, I know: Raiders, right? Only they have a top 10 defense. Or they did until yesterday, anyway. I'm pretty sure they're still picking the shattered remains of their defense out of the San Francisco Bay. EVERY commentator picked the Raiders to win - well, other than Jaws, and he may not be 100% objective.

The Eagles scored 49 points - IN THREE QUARTERS. Their first punt didn't even come until late in the second quarter. The entire fourth quarter was junk time, with the starters hanging out on the sideline congratulating each other and fantasy football owners all over the land - and Michael Vick - weeping quietly into their beer. I think we've probably seen the end of Michael Vick as an Eagle.

And the defense played well, too. They were helped by Darren McFadden's hamstring injury, no doubt, but they didn't let Terrelle Pryor run (or pass) totally wild, either. 

So where does this leave the Eagles? Foles has been great against the Bucs and the Raiders. He was lousy against the Cowboys. Is he The Guy?

Quoting Tommy Lawlor:
No Eagles player did anything today that made your jaw hit the floor. There were no circus catches or highlight runs. Players got open. Foles got them the ball.  
And, as Tommy points out, that's a good thing. Nobody did anything really special - they all just did their jobs, and did them well. The questions is: can Foles do it consistently? I don't want to see 0 points one week and 49 the next. I want to see 25 points a game. Because if the offense can do that, the Eagles will win a lot of games, with the D holding teams to 21 points or less since the Broncos debacle.

Also: Go road games! Will the Eagles EVER win at home again? Next home game is the Redskins on Nov. 17 - keep your fingers crossed.

31 October 2013

2013 Week 9 Picks

Happy Halloween, y'all! Do the Birds have a trick or a treat in store for fans Sunday?

Well, they're traveling to Oakland to face the Raiders. Now, normally, road games are a bad thing for middling-to-bad teams like the Eagles. They need that little boost of the home crowd and home stadium to have a chance.

But not our boys. Playing on the road is actually a mark in their favor. Sigh.

And it's official: Nick Foles is back. With Vick still gimpy and Captain Turnover as the Birds' only other option, that's a good thing, too.

The Raiders have a mid-pack passing defense, but a top five rushing defense. That's a bad thing. In order for the Eagles to win, they'll need a successful rushing attack to take some of the pressure off Foles and help prevent the dreaded "trying to do too much." Help us, Shady, you're our only hope.

Fortunately, the Raiders' offense is nearly non-existent. Wait - that's actually a problem, too, since the Eagles defense has been playing relatively well lately. Well, maybe the Eagles D can shut out the Raiders, which means as long as they can get another special teams score, we're golden!

Thing is, I have to pick the Eagles this week, not least of which because it might be the last winnable game this season. Well, OK, they'll probably beat the Vikings, but still, I had the team going 8-8 this year, and there isn't a lot of time (or a lot of options) left to get those additional 5 wins.

In the other matchups:

Dolphins at Bengals: Bengals. They're good, the Dolphins aren't, end of story. Also, seasonally-appropriate uniforms!

Chiefs at Bills: Big Red, Alex Smith, and Jamaal Charles have to lose sometime, but it's not gonna be this week! Go Chiefs!

Falcons at Panthers: If you had asked me who'd win this game two months ago, I would've picked Matty Ice and the Dirty Birds. That was before the Panthers' defense started, um, dominating. Panthers.

Vikings at Cowboys: Look for the Cowboys to extend their lead in the NFC East as they take on the Adrian Petersons, who's good, no doubt, but he's also pretty much their entire team at this point, which is not good.

Saints at Jets: Chef Spouse will be happy - I'm NOT picking the Jets this week. The Saints are just too complete. This round goes to you, Rob.

Titans at Rams: Even without Sam Bradford, the Rams gave the Seahawks a scare last week, who required some last minute goal line stand heroics from their defense to hold on to their 14-9 win. Since then, the Cardinals have gone on to lose the World Series to the Red Sox (Crossing Broad best expresses my thoughts on that). I expect that to set the tone for the Rams this week, too. titans.

Chargers at Redskins: I have the Chargers here, who match up well with the Skins, but, I think, edge them slightly on both sides of the ball.

Buccaneers at Seahawks: You know how I just mentioned the last second heroics that were required of the Seahawks last week? Yeah, they won't need that this week, at home against a team that's at 0-7 and, from what I can tell, in total disarray. Seahawks.

Ravens at Browns: Here's another one that would've seemed obvious in August, and now has me looking the other way. I think Jason Campbell, who I've always liked, gives them a little mojo. And remember, their defense is quietly pretty damn good, too. Picking the upset, going with the Browns.

Steelers at Patriots: No upset here. Patriots.

Colts at Texans: So tempted to pick the Texans. They have to pull it together sometime, right? But they're a mess at QB, with a healthy Matt Schaub NOT starting, and Case Keenum vaulting TJ Yates to take the starting spot. Yes, Keenum played well against the Chiefs, but I think that was a fluke, and I think there are more cracks in the Texans' foundation. Colts.

Bears at Packers: Both of these teams have SERIOUS injury issues right now. I can't list all the players who are hurt on both teams - I don't have that much time. But the Pack still has ARodg and Lambeau provides some hard-core homefield. Packers.

On bye: 49ers, Broncos, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Lions

28 October 2013

Now is the Autumn of Our Discontent

Eagles 7, Giants 15, Sunday, October 27, 2013 

With all due respect to The Bard and apologies for the misquote, these bums are definitely "not shaped for sportive tricks...
[They are] curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before [their] time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at [them] as [they] halt by them;
(from Richard III

Stud of the week:  Zak DeOssie? After, all, it was his terrible snap that allowed Najee Goode to score
the Eagles only points of the day also preventing a shut out. OK, OK, Goode gets it by default. Mychal Kendricks and Bradley Fletcher had decent days, too.

Once again, the defense did what should have been enough to win, holding the G-men to 15 points and keeping them out of the endzone all day. Even though I would have liked to see them get to Eli Manning a little - OK, A LOT - more, this one is not on Bill Davis's guys.

As a number of people have observed, turns out, it's NOT that hard to figure out Chip Kelly's offense: without a modicum of stability at QB, the wheels come right off that bus. Michael Vick may be done for with the Eagles. He did not look healthy on Sunday even before they took him out. Nick Foles seemed promising until his epic meltdown against Dallas last week. Matt Barkley might be OK if he wasn't given to making completely boneheaded mistakes every fourth play. "Injuries and incompetence," indeed.

The Chipster's not helping his guys out, either. A few more called running plays might have been helpful, particularly once The Rookie Turnover Wonder was under center. ACTUAL running plays, that is, not read option. Look around. Do you see Michael Vick on the sideline? THEN DON'T CALL READ OPTION PLAYS. Is the guy under center a rookie playing in his SECOND GAME? THEN DON'T CALL READ OPTION PLAYS. I can't figure out his "go for it/kick a long field goal/punt" decision making on fourth downs. Oh - and there is NO WAY IN HELL I would've trusted Alex Henery with an onside kick attempt. That might be on Dave Fipp, but you know the Chipster had to sign off on it, too. Is your kicker David Akers? THEN DON'T TRY AN ONSIDE KICK.

Oh, and here's a fun fact to learn and know: although they recovered all but one, the Eagles had FIVE fumbles on Sunday. Was it a GREASED pigskin?

I honestly don't know what else to write. It was a desperately bad performance from two desperately bad teams, although the Giants were slightly less desperately bad than the Eagles, at least for one day.

Yeah, yeah, the Eagles are only one game out of first place in the desperately bad NFC East. Do you want to see these guys up against any real playoff teams, though? Me, either.

24 October 2013

2013 Week 8 Picks

Oh noes! Another Eagles home game!

How is it again that the Linc came to be cursed? Anyone got a theory?

I'm thinking it's time to take drastic measures, like maybe sacrificing a goat or something. Plus, then, tasty goat (well, depending on your religious persuasion).

You know what the LAST home win was?

Yep - over the Giants, on the night the Eagles retired Wolverine's #20, September 30, 2012.

Look, at least this year, and even with all their rather obvious flaws (the defense, scoring too fast, the defense, improved but still poor special teams play, the defense, offense that runs hot and cold, and OH BY THE WAY DID I MENTION THE DEFENSE?), the Eagles are the better team. Mike Vick will be back, although it's hard to say how healthy he really is at this point. The man is amazingly tough and knows how to play hurt (although it's hard to "tough out" a hamstring injury). If he goes down, the Eagles are pretty much f-ed, so we all have to hope for the best (and avert our eyes every time he takes off down the field, and seriously, please God, why can't someone manage to teach him how to slide? Baseball players and soccer players do it all the time. It CANNOT be THAT hard.). Oh? And the Giants? BAD against the run. Look for Shady to have a big day.

The curse has to end sometime, goat or no goat. No time like the present, against the team that provided the last home win.


In the other matchups:

Panthers at Buccaneers: Did you hear that there's a "Fire Schiano" billboard in Tampa? Yeah, that's not a good sign. I'm going Panthers, once again, on the strength of their surprising defense.

Cowboys at Lions: Earlier this week, the NFL Network was covering this game and apparently Dez Bryant thinks he's better than Calvin Johnson. I'm not convinced. I give the Lions the slight edge for two reasons - homefield and Megatron.

49ers at Jaguars: I know I've written this here before, but Jags, look, the game is probably going to be blacked out locally anyway. If you forfeit, you lose your game check, but you also only lose 1-0, and you can get right to the "drowning your sorrows over playing for such a lousy team in a market where no one cares" pretty much right now. I don't care how bad the hangover is going to be, it will still be WAY less painful than this game. 49ers (says me and everyone in the known universe)

Browns at Chiefs: Make it 8? You know it! Go Chiefs!

Dolphins at Patriots: Pats. The Dolphins have had success this season, but they have too many weaknesses on both sides of the ball to withstand the Pats, particularly on the road in what's likely to be the first really chilly game of 2013. Patriots.

Bills at Saints: You know how the Saints are unbeatable at home? Yeah, that. Saints.

Jets at Bengals: Chef Spouse is going to kill me, but I'm going with the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! (then again, my picking of the Jets has been one of the reasons we're currently leading his office pick 'em league, so maybe he should just stop giving me a hard time and make me another cocktail, hm?)

Steelers at Raiders: Both of these defenses are, actually, not too bad. Meanwhile, both offenses are, um, putrid. I'm going Steelers, 6-3, or possibly 3-0.

Falcons at Cardinals: The Falcons are having a surprisingly rough year, but I think they'll handle the Cards, who won't be able to keep up on offense. Falcons.

Redskins at Broncos: So here's the question about this game - is RGIII back? That 45-41 win over the Bears seems to indicate so. Then again, the Bears defense is pretty depleted and Jay Cutler got knocked out. Not that Josh McCown did a bad job, but he brought a knife to a gunfight, so to speak. And the Redskins are NOT the Colts. Yeah, I gotta go with Peyton at home. That was a real nice 1 game winning streak you put together, there Skins. Broncos.

Packers at Vikings: You know, if the Vikings could keep a QB healthy for more than one game at a time, they might not be the disaster that they are. Earlier this week on the NFL Network, Jerome Bettis advised Adrian Peterson to sit the rest of the season out. He's not wrong. Packers.

Seahawks at Rams: San Bradford is done for the year and the Rams are so desperate they were talking to Brett Favre. BRETT F-ING FAVRE. WHO IS APPROXIMATELY NINE MILLION YEARS OLD. (yes I'm shouting - it's that ridiculous) Do I even need to say it? Seahawks.

On bye: Bears, Chargers, Colts, Ravens, Texans, Titans

21 October 2013

Did The Offense Go to the Wrong Stadium or Something?

Eagles 3, Cowboys 17 

That's the only explanation I have. I mean, I recognized those guys - Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz - or at least guys who looked like those guys, but they were playing like they didn't realize the game had started or something. Wow, was that sorry.

Stud of the week: DeMeco Ryans, who was pretty much the only bright spot in the game. He had a pick that led to the Eagles only points in the game, plus a sack on Tony Romo that was one of the few bright spots in the game.

Actually, I have to give credit to the entire defense. Two weeks ago, the Cowboys hung 48 points on the Broncos. The only team that's held them to fewer points (16) this season was the Chiefs, widely recognized as one of the best defensive units in the entire NFL. The defense did their job. Holding the opponents to 17 points at home should be more than enough to secure the win.

Unfortunately, as I already pointed out, the offense played like they had a big cooler full of Xanax. Nick Foles couldn't hit the side of a barn. When he did manage to get a pass off and get it somewhere in the vicinity of a receiver, the guys caught as if they had big, meaty sausages tied to their fingers. Jason Avant dropped multiple passes. JASON AVANT PEOPLE! Shady was running like someone tied his shoelaces together. When Foles went down, Matt Barkley came in and apparently couldn't remember what team he plays for, since he kept throwing to Cowboys.

And can we talk about Alex Henery for a moment? Can't fault him for missing at 60 yard attempt, but he almost botched a 31 yarder. We were watching the Colts take down the Broncos Sunday night, and Chef Spouse almost teared up when Adam Vinatieri hit that 52 yarder. That guy is not reliable.

Oh and Nick Foles's injury? Concussion. The Eagles are running out of quarterbacks, particularly since Matt Barkley is not ready for prime time. He's not even ready for Good Morning America. Hell, he's not ready for the 5 am early morning broadcast, when only crazy people are up. Anybody know what Vinny Testaverde is up to these days?

17 October 2013

2013 Week 7 Picks

This Sunday, the Eagles host Cowboys for first place in the NFC East.

Well, OK, first place not even halfway through the season. In a division that could very well be won at 8-8, or maybe even 7-9.

Get excited.

The Eagles are still missing starting QB Mike Vick,  although we were all one big happy family at the joint Foles/Vick presser today. Sort of.

Those smiles look a little pasted on to me, no?

Anyhow, Foles is starting.

On the Cowboys side of "who's hurt this week?" both DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware may be out. I suspect Ware is the bigger loss, since the Cowboys offense has - so far - been pretty pass-oriented. Which is not good news for the Eagles dreadful secondary.

Weirdly, the two teams are not only both at 3-3, but nearly have identical records. By "identical" I mean: they've both beat the Redskins and Giants, and both lost to the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers. The Cowboys managed to beat the 3-3 Rams at home, and the Eagles beat the 0-5 Buccaneers on the road.

Have I mentioned that the Eagles haven't won at home in a million years?

Still, I have a good feeling about this game (which may be a bad sign). Assuming the defense can force a few mistakes from Tony Romo (not usually that tough a task), and that Foles can attack their Ware-less defense, I think the Eagles can win this one.  Hey, they have to win at home again eventually, right?

In the rest of the matchups

Seahawks at Cardinals: The Seahawks are mortal when they aren't at home. Except against the Cardinals, who won't be able to score on their ferocious defense or contain Russell Wilson and Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch. The Cards have been averaging under 100 yards rushing allowed per game. I don't think that's going to hold up tonight. Seahawks.

Buccaneers at Falcons: Can the Falcons right their struggling team against a rookie quarterback at home? I think so, even without Julio Jones. Falcons.

Rams at Panthers: Last week, the Rams shocked the Texans (and most of the football-viewing world) with an upset win in Houston. Can they do it again? I don't think so, and not because of Cam Newton but thanks to their quietly very good defense. Cardinals.

Bengals at Lions: The Bengals have a top 10 defense against both the pass (Megatron, I'm looking at you) and the rush (Reggie Bush, same). I think they pull out the upset win as a result. Bengals.

Chargers at Jaguars: You know, if the Jaguars had any real offense to speak of, they could probably win this game. Sadly, they do not. Chargers.

Bills at Dolphins: Bills. I know, I know - the Bills are running through QBs at such a furious pace they actually had to sign Matt Flynn this week (oy vey). But Thad Lewis is making his second start this week, and they have a pretty decent receiver, maybe you've heard of him, Marquise Goodwin? I think they can pull out a win against a well-known divisional opponent.

Patriots at Jets: One of my cousin's friends was chatting with me about his fantasy picks for week 7. He has both Tom Brady and Nick Foles, and made a strong case for sitting Brady and starting Foles. As my uncle pointed out, all Tom Brady does is win games, and that's true (sometimes with a little help from his friends, otherwise known as "the officials"). Of course, it's pretty damn hard to score on the Jets defense these days, and I think that's the difference maker in this game. Despite their surprising loss to the Steelers last week, and in full knowledge that Chef Spouse is going to kill me, I'm going with the (upset pick alert!) Jets.

Bears at Redskins: Both teams are deeply flawed at this point, but Jay Cutler has a decent O-line and is getting the ball out fast, which means he should be able to gash the Redskins pretty badly. Call it a road win for the Bears, keeping pace with the Packers.

49ers at Titans: The Titans are quietly putting together a pretty good season, and the 49ers are not exactly lighting it up this year. I think this will be a low-scoring defensive battle, but I give the slight edge to the 49ers ball hogging, high-scoring secondary. 49ers.

Browns at Packers: Packers. Brandon Weeden is, as some have pointed out, not good, so the fact that Clay Matthews is out for a while shouldn't matter.

Texans at Chiefs: The Texans really should be winning some games. Even with Matt Schaub's struggles, their defense is still stout. Does Big Red make it 7 in a row? Looking at the stats, they say no, but I'm going Chiefs in another upset pick. That's three!

Ravens at Steelers: You know, this used to be a widely anticipated game, where two defensive powerhouses could be counted on to whale on each other for 60 minutes, every yard and point hotly contested, the winner being decided by who could both inflict and withstand the most punishment. Now the people who watch this game are the ones who are going to be punished. It will, no doubt, be a typically low-scoring affair, but only because both teams are so bad at this point. I'm going with the Steelers, because I believe Heinz Field still creates a homefield advantage, contrary to what we've seen so far this season.

Broncos at Colts: Great. Another week of the sports commentariat carrying Peyton's jock day and night. Look, we get it: he's a talented quarterback. He played for both teams. He won a Super Bowl with the Colts. Thanks largely to the excellent year he's having, the Broncos are putative favorites for this year's Super Bowl. Well, to hell with all of that. I'm going with the youngster who plays for the more balanced team. Colts. (Chef Spouse says I'm just picking them because I think Peyton will get confused and throw to the wrong team.)

Vikings at Giants: Will the Giants finally snap their losing streak? I think so, and at home, and on Monday Night Football. Pull it together, Eli. Giants.

On bye: Raiders, Saints

14 October 2013

Let's Make It Two!

Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20, Sunday, October 13, 2013 

Two in row! Winning streak! At .500!

And I think I figured out the key to Eagles wins in 2013:  they just have to only play teams that have no wins yet. That shouldn't be *too* hard, right? There are a whole...three teams with no wins! And the Eagles get to play...one of them! Woo?

Stud of the week: Did you know that the Eagles have a guy named Riley Cooper at wideout? I can understand if you didn't, because, as Jimmy Kempski points out, in weeks 1-5, Riley had 8 catches for 93 yards and 1 TD. Yesterday, he had 4 catches for 120 yards and a TD. Two of his catch and runs were for more than 40 yards. Where has that guy been for the past month? And can we keep him?

Honorable mentions go to DJax for his two TDs, and to Shady for 171 total yards and for putting the game away for the Eagles, eating up nearly 5 1/2 minutes with a series of runs that resulted in the field goal that put the game out of the Bucs' reach.

Nick Foles had quite a good game too - not flashy, but efficient. And he even had a touchdown run! Well, OK, amble. He's not exactly zippy. Then again, no picks or turnovers and a QB rating of 133.3. Not too shabby, there, Nick.

As usual, the black cloud was the defense. They didn't exactly make rookie Mike Glennon look like Peyton Manning, but they also made him look a lot better than third round guy who wasn't even supposed to play this year (much) starting his second pro game without one of his top receivers has any right to look.

Then again, the Bucs defense is pretty well ranked, and they not only couldn't stop the Eagles, they committed the cardinal sin of jumping offsides on fourth and short when they HAD to know it was coming. And it was when the Eagles were trying to put the game away. You know, normally, the Eagles have been on the OTHER side of that equation, committing the boneheaded penalty that makes loyal fans stomp out of the room muttering under our breath.

Speaking of penalties, did you notice how FEW the Eagles racked up? Only 3 for 31 yards! Is it just me, or do the Birds seem to be doing better there this year? Let's go to the tape:

v. Giants - 8 penalties for 88 yards. OK, that's not so good.
v. Broncos - 8 for 62. Better.
v. Chiefs - 9 for 65
v. Chargers - 9 for 77
v. Redskins - 8 for 65

OK, not exactly historically low numbers, but better than last year for sure. Step one to being a better team: stop making so many damn mistakes. Maybe someone's been thinking about that?

Oh and Revis? DJax was right - you can't run with him. Sorry, homes (not really).

10 October 2013

2013 Week 6 Picks

This week, the Nick Foles-led Eagles travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers.

The Bucs have historically been trouble for the Eagles, whether it's booting them from the playoffs (2003) or kicking a historically long field goal at the buzzer to win the game (2006).

And while the Bucs are 0-4, they have to win a game sometime. And this week, at least rookie Mike Glennon now has full game under his belt. And their defense is pretty good, unlike the Eagles. Glennon should have an easier day this week (although he did get to play against the also-not-good-on-D Cardinals in his first game, so maybe not).

One big question for this week will be the running game. Without the threat of Michael Vick taking off, defenses can devote a lot more energy and people to stopping Shady McCoy. But I think DJax is right - Revis Island CAN'T run as fast as he can. In the end, though, I don't think the Bucs are going to be able to shut down the Eagles or keep them from scoring, and I think that's what this game is going to come down to, particularly with the efficient if not flashy Nick Foles under center.


In the other matchups:

Giants at Bears: This has trap game written all over it, particularly with the Bears dealing with an additional loss on D (Nate Collins). But with both Eli Manning and Jay Cutler struggling, I'm going to have to go with the Bears at home on the short week.

Packers at Ravens: Speaking of defensive injuries, Clay Matthews is a HUGE loss for the Pack. Then again, they do still have Aaron Rodgers, and I don't think the Ravens' struggling D will be able to stop him. Packers.

Bengals at Bills: The Bills are starting their practice squad guy (Thad Lewis, and I had to look it up, too) against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Yeah, that'll end well. Bengals.
Lions at Browns: Both of these teams are surprising this year, but I give the (slight) edge to Browns, assuming Megatron can't go. I reserve the right to change this pick based on Sunday morning's injury reports.

Rams at Texans: If Matt Schaub can't get his confidence back at home against the Rams, who have only had three takeaways all year, the Texans should pack it up for 2013. Texans.

Raiders at Chiefs: 6-0 for Big Red? You know it! Chiefs.

Panthers at Vikings: Panthers, on the strength of their defense rather than Cam Newton's arm. Also, if Josh Freeman *does* go in, they know what they're facing.

Steelers at Jets: Jets. When do we start talking about "is Mike Tomlin's job in danger?"

Jaguars at Broncos: Chef Spouse's pick 'em league has several tie breaker mechanisms. One of them is which team will score the most points and the fewest points each week. This week, we'll get them both in one game, as I (and everyone else) predict the Broncos ANNIHILATE the Jaguars. The Jags don't have the WORST D in the NFL (that "honor" would go to the 'Skins, closely followed by our hapless Iggles), but they aren't good. It's not going to be pretty.

Titans at Seahawks: The Titans have also been surprising this year, but the Seahawks are too well-rounded AND they've got their 12th man back.

Saints at Patriots: Geaux Saints! They have it going ON on both sides of the ball. Their defense is going to feast on the inexperienced Patriots receivers, and trust Drew Brees to pick apart the Pats' average secondary.

Cardinals at 49ers: The 49ers have been far from transcendent so far this year, but the Cards just have no chance at all in this one. Actually, they might have the lowest score this week, as it's entirely possible the 49ers shut them out.

Redskins at Cowboys: I'm guessing this is going to be another high scoring game, seeing as neither defense is very good (unless Tony Romo's still tired from the shoot out with the Broncos). And the 'Skins do have the advantage of coming off the bye, and two more weeks for RGIII to heal. Still, I think Romo will pull his head out of his ass long enough to get the divisional win at home. But don't expect it to be pretty.

Colts at Chargers: Colts. Andrew Luck's certainly not feeling the sophomore blues, helped by a strong rushing offense, which the Chargers have, thus far, shown no inclination to stop.

One bye: Dolphins, Falcons

07 October 2013

Finally a Win!

Eagles 36, Giants 21, Sunday, October 6, 2013 

Not only did the Eagles manage a win Sunday, they're now officially leading the sorry-ass NFC East...with a losing record. This is definitely karmic payback for all the smack I talked about the NFC West in 2010. The Eagles are the best of the worst (at least temporarily)! Yay?

Stud of the week: Brandon Boykin, who circus-caught one of the most beautiful picks I've ever seen, wrestling the ball away from the much larger Victor Cruz, who he was tasked with covering all day (and did quite a good job on).  To quote BGN, it was "badass." Yes, it was. (Oh, and Victor? It's not PI every single time you fail to make a catch. Get over it.)

The game was overall sloppy. And the officiating was terrible, but it was evenly terrible. The zebras totally muffed Cedric Thornton's safety on David Wilson. Then they gave LeSean McCoy a catch that was clearly NOT a catch and cost the Giants two timeouts. They missed hits to the head on both Eli Manning and Mike Vick. They hit Brandon Boykin with a fair catch interference penalty when he never touched Rueben Randle. They missed obvious blocks in the back by both teams on punt and kick off returns. Bad all around. Replacement ref bad.

The big story for Eagles fans is Michael Vick going down with the hammy. Anyone else flash on DMac tearing his ACL running out of bounds against the Titans in November of 2006?  Then Nick Foles came in and did good! QB controversy? Hell if I know, but I will say that, recent evidence perhaps to the contrary, I think Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to win...when he's healthy. Which he's not at the moment, and may not be for a while. Show us what you've got, Foles (and, perhaps, Barkley).

You know who didn't do good after Vick went down? Shady. That's a problem. Also Jason Avant, Mr. Hands, actually missed some catches. That is NOT normal.

But it was a weird day. Brent Celek made a GREAT TD catch, which has NOT been the case so far this year, and Pat Shurmur dialed up a fade route in the back of the endzone to a guy who's four feet tall...AND IT WORKED. And Alex Henery, who I have not been high on, was 5 for 5 on field goals.

Then again, the Giants are so decimated by injury they've had to get a oil change for their cart, so a win against them is not saying much. And Eli Manning is a mess this year. Trying to do too much - maybe he and Tony Romo can start a support group.

Then again again, the Eagles could go on a hot streak, facing teams in October who are currently 0-4 (Bucs), 2-3 and BEHIND THEM IN THE DIVISION (Cowboys), and the Giants again. Which would be nice, but doesn't mean, even if they manage to win the shitty NFC East this year, that they're going anywhere in the playoffs.

Still, win, so: good.