As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #2: The “My Tutor” Game.

If NFL games were a Disney movie, last week’s Eagles – Redskins contest could best be described as “Beauty & the Beast”.

There was beauty in the fact that the Birds finally got off the “schnide” and ended their five game losing streak to the Redskins while getting their season off on the right foot. But it was still an ugly win nonetheless.

The Eagles got off to a 13-0 lead and for a while, it looked like it could be a relaxing, smooth sailing kind of afternoon.  But Washington clawed back to take a 14-13 lead which began when a tipped Carson Wentz pass led to an interception for a touchdown, cutting the Birds lead to 13-7.

Whether Wentz had an open passing lane to throw on that play could be disputed.  But there was no disputing that his first touchdown was a thing of beauty.

The elusive “wiggling Wentz” somehow managed to evade three defenders and launch a pass to a wide open Nelson Agholor, who ran it in for the Eagles first score, bringing back memories of Randall Cunningham against the Buffalo Bills and Donovan McNabb against the Cowboys (both of which were also ironically for touchdowns on the road).

But while Wentz’s elusiveness on the play will make highlight films, his play at times was ugly.

There were at least 3-4 passes he threw up for grabs that could have easily been intercepted.  And he failed to connect with wide receiver Torrey Smith on two occasions when the free agent had outrun his defender, overthrowing him on one pass and not throwing it deep enough on another.

I do believe that Carson Wentz is the real deal.  And he will only improve with experience.  But we as Eagles fans will have to endure his growing pains along the way, which is perfectly fine with me, especially considering that the alternative was having Keanu Reeves (Sam Bradford) still here as the starting quarterback.

This week we move from “Beauty and the Beast” to “My Tutor” (which no one in their right mind would ever confuse with a Disney movie).  But it is the perfect title for what awaits this Sunday, as the pupil, Doug Pederson, squares off against his former coach, Andy Reid.

Reid, or “Big Red”, as we know him in these parts, was only the 2nd coach to ever guide the Eagles to the Super Bowl.  But his clock management and penchant for throwing the ball too often eventually got the best of him, and after a successful 12-year run as coach of the Birds, he moved on to Kansas City, where he has also turned the Chiefs into a winner.

I’ve said for a while that Andy Reid is the “Marty Schottenheimer of the Millennium”, a coach that will turn a team into a winner, but, for one reason or another, just won’t win a championship.

Schottenheimer made winners of the Browns, Chiefs, and Chargers, but would always come up short in the playoffs, much like Andy has been prone to do.  Reid does seem to have a Chiefs team that’s capable of going deep in the playoffs, especially after last week’s drubbing of the Patriots, but somehow Andy, poor Andy, will probably screw it up.

What he might not screw up is this Sunday’s game, especially considering that he would have had ten days to prepare his team.  For that reason, coupled with the fact that it is the Chiefs home opener, I was pretty steadfast on going with Kansas City.  But while writing this, I’m not so sure.

While Reid does know Doug Pederson’s tendencies, that argument can actually go both ways, as “Dougie P” used to be an assistant coach for Kansas City before he took the Eagles job in 2016.  Reid also doesn’t know this Eagles team that well, having been gone for five years now.  And being only one game into the season, he does not have a lot of game footage to go off of.

Pederson has something to prove to his mentor and his team will want to put on a good show for him.  The Chiefs could also be a little too high on themselves especially following last week’s game, and may be in prime shape for a letdown.  For those reasons (and the fact that I will be in attendance at Arrowhead), I’m taking the Birds, 28-27.

Afterwards, Carson Wentz celebrates by taking his lineman hunting on the prairie and barbecuing whatever they catch.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:

EAGLES at Chiefs  1:00 PM  (FOX)

Titans at Jaguars  1:00 PM  (CBS)

Cowboys at Broncos  4:25 PM  (FOX)

Packers at Falcons  8:30 PM  (NBC)

Lions at Giants  8:30 PM  (ESPN) – Monday

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As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #1: A New Hope

Look up the word “hope” in the dictionary, and you will find its meaning to be “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”  In that sense, Eagles fans have been hoping for a very long time.

It has been fifty-seven years since the City of Brotherly Love last experienced an NFL championship.  The year was 1960, a year in which the United States had just entered the Vietnam War, and John F. Kennedy had just been elected President of the United States.

The Flintstones cartoon was shown on television for the first time, and Cassius Clay (who later took the name Muhammad Ali) would win his first professional fight and go on to become the greatest boxer of all time.

The Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers, 17-13, at Franklin Field on a cold December day that season to win the 1960 NFL Championship, in what would turn out to be the only playoff loss of legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi’s illustrious career.

Fifty-seven years is a very long time, especially when taken in the context that there are those who were crawling around and practicing the art of ‘babytalk’ on that December day who are now nearing retirement age and still haven’t experienced an Eagles championship.

And yet, Eagles fans continue to hope.  And hope.  And then hope some more, even when the team’s prospects seen daunting.

There have been Eagles coaches that have given the fans no hope, mostly during the lean years following the 1960 championship all the way up to 1975.

There were those who started out with promise, but whose early successes were merely a result of the leftover players from the previous regime (Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes, Chip Kelly).

There were those who had the roster of a championship caliber team, but who were more “bark then bite” once the playoffs arrived (Buddy Ryan).

And then there were those (Dick Vermeil & Andy Reid) who gave Eagles fans the most hope, taking them to the brink of the promise land, only to disappoint once again.

But through it all, Eagles fans continue to persevere, continue to hope, that one day, they will see the fruits of their devotion realized, much like all the other teams in their division have on more than one occasion.

The great Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Bill Lyon once remarked that Eagles fans could “teach loyalty to a dog”, which is probably the most accurate description one could give to this city’s rabid fan base.  And perhaps, they now have a  quarterback who has given them reason to believe.

The Eagles took a gamble to move up to the #2 overall draft pick last season to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz, who, on first impression, looks like he could throw an interception and, instead of cursing or yelling, would just say “AW SHUCKS!”

But one should not confuse Wentz’s small town, seemingly relaxed demeanor in any way to a lack of football acumen.  Wentz has a strong arm and seems to have a good grasp of the mental side of the game, which is essential to the success of an NFL quarterback.

Carson in his rookie season was very much like Luke Skywalker in the “Empire Strikes Back” movie.  Luke, as you may recall, was then a budding jedi knight who took his lumps (and got his hand chopped off by his father in the process)  while learning the ways of the force from master Yoda.  But Luke returned as a seasoned jedi in the sequel (aptly named “Return of the Jedi”) who could handle anything thrown his way while becoming a major force in helping the Rebel Alliance defeat the Evil Empire.

This season is Carson Wentz’s “Return of the Jedi” moment.  After one year of experience under his belt, it is now his time to be the unequivocal leader of this Eagles team.  And while he won’t have to worry about any familial violence on the field, he will have to be concerned with the pass rush from opposing defenders.

Wentz is the “New Hope” of the Eagles, and this team will only go as far as he can carry them.  To make his life easier, the front-office added some wide receiver weapons to his arsenal in the form of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, which were sorely lacking in 2016.

Assuming that the team can stay healthy, there is no reason to expect anything less than a 9-7 record at worst, and a possible playoff birth.  And while a Super Bowl may still be a couple years away, stranger things have happened in the NFL.

The Birds start the season on the right foot this Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins, 30-20, for the first time in six tries.  In the meantime, Birds fans will watch with excitement and HOPE, that maybe, just maybe, this season will end with a different outcome then so many in the recent past…

What is your prediction for this Eagles season?  Feel free to post in the comments section!

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2017: The Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports

We are more than two-thirds of the way into 2017, and the “Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports” continues with no definitive end in sight.

The four professional teams that call this city home have been, at best, mediocre, and at worst, downright painful to watch.  But unlike the Great Recession of 2008, none of these teams were deemed “too big to fail”, as evidenced by the fact that they have failed in brilliant fashion as of late.

For evidence of such a sports calamity, one only needs to look at the records of the four teams since 2013.  Nineteen sports seasons completed or close to completion (five each for the Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and four for the Eagles) have resulted in only three winning seasons (two for the Eagles and one for the Flyers).  Three winning seasons out of nineteen makes for a winning percentage of 15.79%, which is a far cry from the mean of 50%.  And for you Flyers fans who may be questioning my math, overtime losses count as losses in my book, not as their own separate category.

Contrast that with a city like Boston who, over the same span of time, has amassed fifteen winning seasons (assuming that the Red Sox can win five more games over the rest of the month), giving them a winning percentage of 78.95%.  Add three championships in that span of five years, and one can see why we’re jealous.

And while the Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports has not resulted in low interest RATES over a prolonged period of time, it has resulted in, simply, low INTEREST over a prolonged period of time, which has teams scrambling to come up with creative ways to get their fans in the stands.

Some, like the Phillies, have figured out that the best way to disguise a bad product on the field is to have enough games that offer either a 1) Bobblehead giveway or 2) Dollar Dog Night.  Not sure why, but the allure of $1 hot dogs at a baseball game is very similar to free peanuts on an airplane.

Speaking from experience, I have a jar of peanuts in my pantry that I haven’t opened in three months.  But when I get on a plane in two weeks to fly out to Kansas City for Eagles- Chiefs, the sight of a 0.5 ounce bag of peanuts being handed out will no doubt have me salivating.

Add to that the various “cultural” nights the Phillies host during the season in this era of cultural diversity and you have marketing at its finest.  Let’s just hope that the “culture” of the Phillies long term rebuilding plan is to have more nights when they score more runs than they actually give up .  Until then, I’m holding out for “Maharashtra” night and a chance to dance on the dugout during the 7th inning stretch with some famous Indian Bollywood actresses.  And the Phillie Phanatic.  Because you can’t be dancing on the dugout without the Phanatic.

Then there are the Sixers, who embarked on the Hinkie “think tank” theory, which stated that if you lose enough, you will draft enough star players to eventually start winning. Problem is, former general manager Sam Hinkie never really stated how LONG one had to lose to accomplish such a feat, and was slowly inching his way to becoming a contestant on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (for reasons other than the show’s purpose).

The NBA finally came to its’ senses and forced the team to bring in real basketball people to run the team.  But the damage had long been done, and while the team should be improved this year (as long as Joel Embiid can stay healthy), it may take some time to figure out whether there is championship material on the roster.

Meanwhile, the Sixers, in their attempts to actually get fans in the stands, keep reverting back to one of their famous ex-players for appearances at the arena during games.  And while that player brought great excitement and energy to the team for a number of years, his maturity level still remains that of your average fourteen year old, which has caused more consternation than positive feelings as of late.

The Sixers share the Wells Fargo Center with the Flyers, who are also embarked on their own rebuilding project (sense the theme here?).  The team used to spend money on free agent players faster than Donald Trump used to spend money on casinos, and while that did result in winning seasons, a championship continues to elude them.

Part of the reason was that while the Flyers used to spend on skill players, they would never spend on a top-notch goalie, even though that was the main reason they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970’s.  The team is now using a more traditional, build through the draft method of stocking their team, but much like the Sixers and Phillies, this will take time…and Philadelphia fans understandably don’t have much patience after winning only one sports championship over the last 34 years (Phillies in 2008).

Luckily for the Flyers, they still have a strong, almost cult-like following.  But even your average cult member doesn’t want to sit around forever to watch a mostly average product.

Which brings us to the Eagles, who have been the most successful of the four sports franchises as of late, being the only team to post two winning seasons over the last five years.

Those two consecutive winning seasons came under the Chip Kelly regime in 2013 & 2014.   But by 2015, Chip Kelly had worn out his welcome, both by his relationship with his superiors and his team’s play on the field, and the Birds, much like the other three local teams, were “back to the drawing board” and in rebuilding mode.

But with the 2017 season now upon us, there is a “new hope” that resides with the Eagles. One that may finally end the Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports.  But more on that in my next post….

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2016: Super Bowl

We’ve once again reached the pinnacle of North American sporting events, the Super Bowl.  And once again, those of us in the Delaware Valley will not have a strong rooting interest due to our beloved Birds being excluded from the party for the 49th time in 51 years.

So the next question becomes, whom to root for?  The Patriots are not well liked in these parts, which is rare for a team which we only face once every four years.  But add in stolen signals, deflated balls, and the fact that Bill Belichick looks like Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars movies, and one can understand why.

But while we hold a certain disdain for the Patriots, their opponents, the Atlanta Falcons, do not endear a “warm and fuzzy” feeling either. They’ve only made the Super Bowl once (and lost) which could cause many to give them the sympathy vote, but their fan base doesn’t seem to be starved for a winner, as the city of Atlanta seems to be more about college football than following any of their four major sports teams.

The one thing that could swing the likability factor in favor of the Falcons is their quarterback, Matt Ryan.  Ryan is a local kid who played at Penn Charter High School and went from Boston College to the big time of the NFL as the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft.

While Patriots quarterback Tom Brady always seems to be in the news for various reasons, (four-game suspension he served earlier in the year, his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, etc.),  Ryan has become a bonafide NFL starter who seems to be grounded with a solid work ethic.  He seems like a guy you want to root for.

As for the game itself, I’d like nothing more than to see a competitive game first and foremost.  Eight of the ten playoff games this season were thoroughly one-sided, something which does not bode well for the NFL, whose ratings were hurting in the regular season to began with.  A closely played Super Bowl would help to remind fans just what it is that they enjoy about this sport so much.

New England comes in with a ton of Super Bowl experience, while Atlanta comes in with none.  The Falcons are a very young team and the first five minutes of the game will say a lot about the direction this contest goes.

If Atlanta allows the pomp and circumstance of the pregame to get to their psyche, this game could be over long before Lady Gaga begins her halftime performance.

But if the Falcons can remain composed and don’t turn the ball over early (and better yet, manage to score on their first drive), they will be in it for a full 60 minutes and have the firepower offensively to outscore the Patriots.

Falcons do just that, and win 31-24.  And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is spared from having to present Tom Brady, whom he suspended for four games this season, with the Super Bowl trophy.

The Last Word – Some Super Bowl fun facts:

  1. There have been fifty Super Bowls played, and in only five of them (10%) has there been a lead change in the last two minutes of the game.
  2. There has never been a Super Bowl that has gone into Overtime.

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2016: Conference Championship edition

After four Wildcard and two Divisional playoff games, many of us were scratching our heads as to the lack of any competitive football being played.  Six games had resulted in six blowouts with the loser often looking like they did not belong in the playoffs to began with.

Then came last Sunday and the Packers-Cowboys and Steelers-Chiefs contests helped to make NFL playoff football great again.

The Packers-Cowboys contest was one for the ages, with the game tied at 28-28 with four minutes left.  Both teams then traded field goals of 50+ yards, but unfortunately that still left Packers QB Aaron Rodgers with 35 seconds left.

What amazingly followed was not only a perfect pass from Rodgers to Jared Cook which set up the Mason Crosby game-winning 51-yard field goal, but the fact that on the preceding play, Rodgers was sacked and somehow managed to hold onto the ball.  A Rodgers fumble at that point in time, and the Dallas Cowboys would have been set up to kick a game winning field goal themselves.

While the game itself deserved five stars for entertainment value, the outcome meant that the lone star on Jerry Jones’s party bus had once again fallen off on the way to another playoff victory, much to the delight of Eagles fans everywhere.  Misery does, indeed, love company…

Then there was the Steelers – Chiefs game, in which Kansas City rallied to score a touchdown in the final minutes, only to fail to score a tying 2-point conversion when offensive lineman Eric Fisher was called for a holding penalty on the play.

The Chiefs had a chance to get the ball back had they been able to hold Pittsburgh to a 3-and-out and punt the ball.  But a 3rd down completion from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown ended that possibility and the Steelers advanced.

Andy Reid is definitely a good coach as he, once again, has taking a bad team and turned them into a winner.  But other coaches who have had some success but failed to win a championship learned from their mistakes and did some things differently in their next jobs.

Dick Vermeil, Tom Coughlin, Bill Belichick – they all changed some aspect of their coaching to win a Super Bowl with their 2nd team.  But while Reid has taken his team to the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, the ghost of Andy Reid’s playoff pasts continue to haunt him.

Reid’s misuse of timeouts and his clock management on the Chiefs last drive meant that he was left with only one timeout and short of time when the Steelers were trying to run out the clock. And while having a full complement of timeouts would not have guaranteed anything, it was another situation where Reid’s shortcomings could have played into the outcome of the game.

So while the Chiefs & Cowboys head home and ponder what could have been, we move on to the NFL’s Final Four, and hopefully, more competitive games to follow.

Packers at Falcons 3:05 PM FOX – The sexy pick in this game is to go with the Green Bay Packers, and why not?  The Pack have won eight straight games after starting the year 4-6, and Aaron Rodgers should be in the conversation as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

But even sexiness eventually starts to show some wrinkles, and the Atlanta Falcons are not some “also-ran” who were lucky to get in to the playoff dance.  I’m picking the Falcons to advance to the Super Bowl.

Steelers at Patriots 6:40 PM CBS – Should we really be surprised that either of these teams are playing in this game?  New England will set an NFL record by playing in their 6th straight AFC Championship today, breaking the record of five straight set by the Oakland Raiders during the 1973-77 seasons.

One of these two teams have played in the AFC Championship game in 13 of the last 14 seasons, which is remarkable in today’s parity driven NFL.  But the key to success in the NFL is having consistent quarterback play, and all four teams that have made it this far have top notch QB’s (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers).

As for the game itself, when these two teams met in the regular season, the Steelers were without “Big Ben” and it showed in a 27-16 loss.  Pittsburgh gets their revenge today and moves on to the Super Bowl to face Atlanta.

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Divisional Playoff Weekend 2016

If you were hoping to spend a cold and snowy weekend staying in and watching good, quality NFL playoff football last weekend, you were surely disappointed.  Four games played and all of them were complete duds to say the least (unless you were one of the lucky ones who’s actually a fan of one of the four teams that advanced).

For starters, the Texans  – Raiders game became somewhat of a joke even before the opening kickoff, considering that the Raiders were another quarterback injury away from having the Dr. Pepper vendor at Houston’s NRG Stadium become their next starting QB.

The Texans are nothing to write home about, but even their starter, Brock Osweiler, looks good when compared to the other team’s 3rd string rookie.

Next, it was on to the Saturday nightcap in the “Cars vs. Computers” bowl (Detroit vs. Seattle).  The game was actually close for three quarters, before the Seahawks turned it into a romp, but this contest was boring from the start and totally lacked pizzazz, technology and innovation.  The Lions, after being 9-4 at one point, ended their season with four straight losses and looked like they’re in dire need of an economic bailout.

The following day brought sunshine to the weather but still a dreary day on your television screen.  The Miami Dolphins walked out of the tunnel at Heinz Field, saw their breath, and probably thought, “Well folks, it’s been fun…maybe we should head back to South Beach and hang out with Justin Bieber instead?”  And why not, the guy must be feeling lonely since all of the New York Giants receivers left him.

The Steelers took full advantage, winning easily in a blowout.  The game got so bad that at one point, I sincerely considered switching over to C-SPAN to watch classic congressional hearings from the Jimmy Carter era.

Speaking of those New York Giants receivers, they left the sun and fun of South Beach for the frozen tundra of Lambeau field and its hotshot gunslinger host, Aaron Rodgers, in the Sunday marquee matchup.

Rodgers showed why Wisconsin is considered “flyover country”, as his passes flew over the Giants countless times for completions in a 38-13 victory, including a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half.  Rodgers has become an expert in the Hail Mary, and it will only be a matter of time before it is renamed to the 1) Hail Aaron or the 2) Buck Rodgers….or something like that.

We now move on from the Top Twelve to the Elite Eight of the NFL, and for the fans sake, even one competitive playoff game would make for a better weekend than the last one.

Seahawks at Falcons 4:35 PM FOX (Saturday) – Rumor has it that the only reason Falcons fans will be at this game at all today is because they were tricked into believing that Georgia Tech was playing in another bowl game.

Such is the nature of all professional sports in Atlanta.  While the Seahawks have the “12th man”, the Falcons fans decibel level will probably be at “minus 12”.  No wonder why Dan Reeves, when he was coaching the Falcons in a home playoff game, actually had to incite the crowd to get loud.

The Falcons win because they’re playing at home, but frankly, Atlanta doesn’t deserve a Super Bowl championship, and much less a playoff victory.

Texans at Patriots 8:15 PM CBS (Saturday) – Fear not if you have plans on Saturday night – this game is set to kickoff at 8:15 PM, but will probably be over by 9:00 PM, giving you ample time to hit the 1) Hair O the Dog, 2) Harp & Crown, 3) Plough & the Stars 4) Name your favorite bar/event here.

Okay, so the “Hair O the Dog” was last week but you get the picture.  This game may give you flashbacks to the 2011 Divisional Playoff game when the Patriots walloped the Broncos (with Tim Tebow at quarterback), 45-10, which coincidentally was also a Saturday night 8:15 game.

Brady and the “Emperor” (Bill Belichick) move on and continue to build the Death Star.

Packers at Cowboys 4:40 PM FOX (Sunday)  – This week’s marquee matchup features the old school Packers and the new school Cowboys, in what is a traditional rivalry from the days of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry.

The Packers have won seven straight and are poised to make another Super Bowl run, much like they did in 2010.  Last time the Cowboys were in a playoff game, they lost to these very same Packers at Lambeau Field in this very same round two years ago, on what was a controversial call at the end of the game.

The Cowboys have had a great season and have a strong nucleus that the Eagles need to be weary of going forward.  But the ‘Boys are not yet ready for Primetime, and the Packers advance.

Steelers at Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC (Sunday)  – This game was originally scheduled for 1:05 PM Sunday, but an ice storm that is blanketing the Kansas City area pushed it back to Sunday night.  At least this means that Al Micheals can say “Sundayyyyyyy Night Football” one last time this season.

The Steelers pushed aside the Dolphins last week as if they were melting snowmen in searing heat.  This week should prove to be a much tougher test since they are on the road, but it’s hard to decipher the Chiefs.

Kansas City is a good team, and Andy Reid is a good coach, but in my opinion, he is the millennium version of Marty Schottenheimer.  Schottenheimer, as some of you may recall, always had the ability to make a bad team good, but always seemed to come up short in the playoffs.  And Andy Reid is no different…

Something inexplicably happens and Reid’s teams always fall short.  Often, as it was with the Eagles, the playoff losses could be blamed on strategy, play calling, or clock management..all things that fall upon the head coach.

But while Reid always fell short of his ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl, he also won a ton of playoff games.  He adds to that total today as Kansas City advances.

Enjoy the games everyone.  Let’s hope that last week’s “Wildcard duds” turn into this week’s “Divisional playoff dandies”…

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Wild-Card Weekend 2016

The first week of the New Year can only mean three things:

  • The New Years’ “Resolutioners” will clog up your local gym
  • The San Francisco 49ers will fire another coach
  • Eagles tight end Zach Ertz will have his annual “breakout” game

All three occurred this past week as we moved ahead to 2017, but unfortunately for the Eagles, it also represented another season  which will not end in a championship for your local football team.

But keeping with the New Years’ tradition theme, the Birds did continue their three year “tradition” of playing in, and winning, their final regular season game which once again had no impact on their season.  While the Super Bowl continues to evade them, they would easily be distinguished champions of the “Mediocre & Meaningless Bowl.”

What was more disturbing is that, for the 3rd straight season, the Eagles walked off the field acting as if another meaningless win was going to be a stepping stone to a successful season in 2017.  Perhaps they forgot to look at recent history and realize that their prior two regular season finale victories in 2014 & ’15 were followed up by consecutive 7-9 seasons.

But much like the old Sunkist orange soda commercial from the 1980’s, the Eagles seem to be singing along to the tune of  “Good Vibrations” while their fellow NFC East brethren, the Giants and Cowboys, march on to bigger and better things like playoff victories and Super Bowls.  Let’s hope that the Birds made a New Years resolution to still be playing in January next year.  Then again, resolutions are made to be broken – just ask all those new members at your gym who will no longer be around by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around…

So while your Eagles miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight year, and haven’t won a playoff game since the 2008 season, here’s a rundown of the NFL games that make up Wildcard weekend:

Raiders at Texans 4:35 PM ESPN (Saturday) – Go back three weeks ago and the Raiders had not only clinched their first playoff appearance since 2002, but also had a very good shot at a division title and a possible #1 overall seed in the AFC.  But Christmas Eve brought nothing but coal in their stockings, as starting quarterback Derek Carr went down with a season ending knee injury.

The Raiders were forced to start former Penn Stater Matt McGloin in the season finale, who also managed to suffer a shoulder injury, knocking him out of the game.  With rookie Connor Cook having to take his place, Oakland ended up losing to the Broncos, which caused them to fall from their #2 seed all the way down to #5 and having to start the playoffs on the road.

Cook will be the starter in the playoffs, with McGloin most likely the backup, a rather precarious situation when you’re “one and done” in the playoffs.

The Texans situation is not much better, as starter Brock Osweiler, who was signed as a free agent from the Broncos, has not lived up to expectations, forcing Houston to play backup Tom Savage the last few weeks.

But similar to the Raiders calamity, Savage also got hurt last week, forcing Houston to go back to the much maligned Osweiler.  So you basically have a matchup that features a rookie 3rd stringer versus a free agent bust who has lost his job.  This game may be the least anticipated  quarterback matchup in NFL history.  For the Raiders sake, perhaps Connor Cook can do his best Dak Prescott impersonation?

With all the backup QB’s, this game would probably have more scoring if the Oakland A’s played the Houston Astros instead.

Raiders win 3-2 on a sacrifice fly in the 9th inning.

Lions at Seahawks 8:15 PM NBC (Saturday) – Those poor, poor Lions.  Last week, they were a win away from their first division title (and first home playoff game) since 1993, and along comes Aaron Rodgers once again to remind them that he is still their “Daddy”.

The Lions are very much like Charlie Brown trying to kick that elusive football.  Every time you think that they will actually be successful, along comes Lucy to prevent them from doing so.

A Detroit win last week would have had them playing in the friendly confines of Ford Field indoors against the New York Giants.  Instead, they must now venture to the Great Northwest, where a stadium labeled as the loudest in the land awaits them, along with a Seattle Seahawks team that has struggled the last few weeks but is still superior to the Lions.

The Seahawks advance and the Lions are left to ponder what could have been…

Dolphins at Steelers 1:05 PM (Sunday) – Once upon a time, a Dolphins-Steelers matchup featured two of the top teams in the NFL.  But while the Dolphins have struggled to regain that status in the millennium, the Steelers keep chugging along, winners of five division championships and two Super Bowls in the last eleven years.

Miami has played well under first year head coach Adam Gase, who led them to a 10-6 record.  But much like the Raiders, the fish will have to go with backup Matt Moore and hope for the best with starter Ryan Tannehill being injured.

This is also a revenge game for the black and gold, who lost 30-15 to the Dolphins in Week 6 down in Miami.  My predictions:

1) There will be no fish or shrimp served at Heinz Field on Sunday.

2) The Steelers get their revenge and move on to the divisional round.

Giants at Packers 4:40 PM FOX (Sunday)

In the most intriguing matchup of Wildcard weekend, the Giants travel to the “Frozen Tundra” to face the Packers.  And the tundra, which was practically balmy and above freezing two weeks ago, will be back to its normal self, with temperatures expected to be around 14 degrees at gametime.

The Pack were left for dead after a 4-6 start, but a six game winning streak that started by beating the Eagles on a Monday night at the Linc has turned them into NFC North winners and a chance to host a first-round playoff game.

Ironically, when the Giants won the Super Bowl in both the 2007 & 2011 seasons, they had to beat the Packers on the road in the playoffs to advance.  But while they are hoping that such a winning tradition continues, the 3rd time will be a charm for Green Bay.

No victory for the G-Men this time, and no sight of Tom Coughlin on the sideline with his nose glowing like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from the cold.