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.

2016 Week #17: Eagles vs. Cowboys

For most of the season, the Eagles have been living their own version of the movie “Groundhog Day”. But unfortunately, their 2016 campaign did not include Bill Murray or Chris Elliott, and did not provide any comic relief either.

So often, their “gamedays” followed the same path – a close game in the 4th quarter with a chance to win it, yet the Eagles constantly ended up falling short.

The Baltimore game two weeks ago looked like it could be the one to end their groundhog day “funk”, but a tipped pass on the 2-pt. conversion spelled doomed, and the Eagles must have felt like they had, once again, woken up the next morning to Sonny & Cher’s hit “I Got You Babe”.

But even Bill Murray finally woke up to a different outcome, as did the Eagles after beating the Giants last Thursday night, 24-19, in the penultimate game of the season that only delayed the Giants invite to the all-important playoff party.

But while the Birds being left off the guest list was sealed before that, the win at least broke the hex that they could not win a close game at the end.  Lose that game, and that feeling would have lingered into the cold, dark offseason.  Instead, the Birds have something to build on going into 2017.

This week the Birds will end their season at home, on New Years’ Day no less, against the hated Dallas Cowboys.  Normally, the Cowboys game is always a big game at home, no matter the records of either team, but this year will be different.

If the Eagles 3-0 start had actually lead to something, Philadelphia might have had reason to hold their own “GOP” (grand old party) in anticipation of an Eagles victory and possible playoff appearance.  Instead, the Cowboys will be marching out some of their “Junior Varsity” team, while the Mummers will concurrently be marching down Broad Street.  The Mummers string bands will be performing while the Eagles will be merely playing out the string.

One should expect a lot of “backups” in this game – both on the field and in the porta-potty lines outside from all the alcohol being consumed.  And things could get ugly in the stands as well, especially if a lot of Cowboys fans show up in their jerseys.

Speaking of Dallas fans, all the “Romo-sexuals” should be happy, since it looks likely that their boy, Tony Romo, will come off the sideline and see his shadow for the first time on the playing field.

But I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised that this final game is meaningless.  Going back the last twenty years, based on the crack staff research team here at “As Broad & Pattison Turns”, the final regular season game means absolutely nothing 70% of the time.

How did I come up with 70%?

  • In the last twenty years, the Eagles have failed to make the playoffs in nine of the last twenty years (45% of the time).  In all nine of those seasons, the Eagles playoff fate was sealed before the last game of the season was played.
  • In five of the eleven years that the Eagles made the playoffs, their last game was considered meaningless, since it would not significantly alter their playoff seeding (by significantly, I mean from wildcard to division winner, division winner with no bye to a bye week, etc.)

As for predictions, the Eagles should win just based on the fact that Dallas will be resting some of their starters.  But while a 7-9 record is not a bad start to a rebuild, let’s not kid ourselves – this team needs a lot of help in many areas.  This franchise that once went to four straight NFC Championships not so long ago (2001-2004) hasn’t won a playoff game in eight years….a fact that is not lost on this fan base.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless noted otherwise):

Packers at Lions 8:30 PM NBC – The ONLY meaningful game this week for both teams

2016 Week #16: Eagles vs. Giants

‘Twas the night before the Eagles – Giants game,

And the Eagles seemed out of sync,

Could they muster up a victory,

End their losing streak at the Linc?

A 3-0 start had slowly evaporated,

A five game losing streak effectively ending their season,

Would the fans come out to watch this wretched team?

Perhaps free tickets and a good tailgate, the only reason.

Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had been erratic of late,

His interceptions were not a favorable sign,

But perhaps the return of offensive tackle Lane Johnson,

Would help to anchor a depleted offensive line.

Darren Sproles was off the concussion protocol,

The doctors had concurred that he was fully healed,

Now if only the general manager could find a receiver,

Who could actually stretch the field.

All that Eagles fans ever wanted for Christmas,

Was a Super Bowl victory from dear old Santa,

But six losses that could have been wins this year,

Had Birds fans constantly reaching for their Mylanta.

The Giants will be looking to pass the ball,

That Odell Beckham sure likes to do a lot of prancing,

Any chance that the Eagles secondary,

Can actually keep Victor Cruz from salsa dancing?

Will this Thursday night be any different?

An NFC East matchup is always a close fight,

Birds break their losing streak and win 23-20,

And to all, a good night.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless noted otherwise):

Lions at Cowboys 8:30 PM ESPN (Mon) – Game of the Week

Vikings at Packers 1:00 PM FOX  (Sat)

Ravens at Steelers 4:30 PM NFL Network

Broncos at Chiefs 8:30 PM NBC

2016 Week #15: Eagles at Ravens

If you happened to be living in a cave over the last few months and had no clue how the Eagles were doing, last Sunday’s game was the perfect microcosm of what had taken place this season.

There were flashes of greatness by their rookie quarterback, coupled with shoddy tackling by their defense and plenty of missed opportunities.  It was another game where the Eagles played well enough to win, but bad enough to lose it as well, which is precisely what they did.

Much like the cold, harsh reality of winter has arrived complete with snow, sleet, and freezing rain, the cold, harsh reality that this is nothing more than a rebuilding year has also set in for your beloved Birds, and their  3-0 start now seems like it took place in some parallel universe that only exists in one of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.

Sure, the Eagles can still mathematically make the playoffs, but it would take a calculus professor from MIT to figure out exactly how, and a major miracle for it to actually come to fruition.  No, the last three games will be all about showing improvement and ending the season on a good note, while at the same time, possibly giving playing time to some of the younger players to see how they respond in live game action.

The only certainty at this point is that sometime in January, coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman will sit down with the 53-man roster in hand, with Howie asking the all-important question:

“Well Doug-E you’ve got to let me know, should he stay or should he go”?

If Howie’s singing ability is on par with his draft picks, then a mediocre voice is to be expected, but that’s another issue entirely.  The bigger issue is, who does really stay and who does go?

The one positive for Eagles fans (if you can call it that), is that all three of the Birds remaining games are meaningful ones…at least for their opponents.  Both the Ravens and the Giants the next two weeks, and possibly the Cowboys as well in the last game of the season, are vying for a playoff spot or playoff positioning, so they will be trying to win at all costs.  Even though the Eagles reaching the playoffs is as likely as the Easter Bunny leading Santa’s reindeer, they will end the season with a chance to knock some of their fellow NFL brethen out of the playoffs, in the never coveted “spoiler” role.

That task begins this Sunday, when the Eagles face the Ravens down at M&T Bank Stadium.

It would have been nice if Baltimore had actually beaten the Patriots last week and maybe, just maybe, would have had a letdown against us before they face the Steelers on the road next week on Christmas Day.  But of course, the Patriots made our lives harder once again (just like they did by cheating in the Super Bowl in 2004… but who’s counting?)  by winning and keeping the Ravens in desperation mode.

Baltimore sits at 7-6, which is one game behind Denver & Miami for the last wild-card spot and also one game behind the Steelers for the lead in the  AFC North.

For the Eagles, going into Baltimore may be the equivalent of trying to remove a hornet’s nest without having any of the prior spray or equipment…this game could get ugly.

I think the Birds will stay with the Ravens for the first half, but by the time the 3rd quarter ends, you may be focused on that Christmas shopping you’ve been procrastinating about.

Ravens win 30-16, and for Eagles fans, ’tis not quite the season to be jolly…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless noted otherwise):

Patriots at Broncos 4:25 PM CBS – Game of the Week

Titans at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

Lions at Giants 1:00 PM FOX

Buccaneers at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC