As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #13: Eagles at Cowboys

The Eagles followed the script as expected on Sunday, winning easily, but what no one quite scripted was the start, as rookie Josh Huff took the opening kickoff and managed to run it back 107 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead before many of the fans had even settled into their seats.

The touchdown not only set the record for the longest kickoff return in Eagles history, but jump started an Eagles team that needed a win, not only to forget last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Packers, but to keep pace with the Cowboys, who defeated the Giants on Sunday night in comeback fashion.

And much like the previous two home games against the Panthers and Giants, the game was over before the “beerman” called last call, with many heading to the exits by the end of the 3rd quarter.   With their 43-24 win, the Eagles have now won ten straight at home, ironically after losing ten straight at home, a feat never accomplished in the NFL.

The win sets up a HUGE showdown this week against the Cowboys, which will determine who holds the lead in the NFC East with only a month left to play in the regular season.  And just to add some flavor and “seasoning” to the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, the game will be played on Thanksgiving Day, which is about as rare as a white Thanksgiving in these parts (which we may just have as well).

For Eagles fans, most Thanksgivings revolve around enjoying the turkey and all its trimmings and sides in a “slow and steady” manner; chilling on the sofa talking to your peeps while hopefully watching the Cowboys lose.  But this year, an Eagles-Cowboys Thanksgiving showdown will most likely alter plans for most Birds fans.

Much like Chip Kelly’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense, many in the Delaware Valley will be operating a fast-paced, no-huddle turkey food orgy, with the goal of wrapping up in time to absorb every play of the Eagles game.

I can see it now – much like the Linc crowd was chanting “We Want Dallas” on Sunday, the crowd at your house will be chanting “We Want Turkey” just as the ugly bird is placed on the table for carving purposes.  While being carved, the crowd begins to shout, “Go, go, go!” as if the first slice was the equivalent of a Darren Sproles punt return.

Without the traditional fanfare of a relaxed sit down dinner, the basket of rolls wrapped in foil is thrown across the kitchen table, hopefully not being intercepted by the family dog as if it was another ill-advised Mark Sanchez or Nick Foles pass.

But let’s be careful to “chew-chew-chew” Eagles fans (as we always say to my two year old niece), or that extra helping of stuffing may end up bottled up somewhere like the 2014 edition of LeSean McCoy behind a makeshift offensive line (somehow Darren Sproles never seems to have that problem).

No, this Thanksgiving, instead of listening to Uncle Jerry asking goofy questions or sharing the same story for the 42nd time, you will hopefully be able to watch your “Iggles” put up 42 points while the other “Uncle Jerry”, owner of Jerry’s world down in Irving, Texas, looks on as if he ate some bad cranberry sauce.

Instead of listening to your Aunt Mildred ask you when you’re gonna “settle down”, you can settle down in front of the tube and watch Tony Romo choke in the closing minutes of the game, as the “Romo-sexuals” look on in stunned disbelief.

Much like the turkey after dinner, there will only be a carcass left in Big-D, as the Eagles win 42-30 and take control of the division.

The Last Word:

Since the Birds will be playing on Thursday this week, I figured it was a good time as any for an edition of “Throwback Thursday”.

The year was 1989, which was the last time that the Eagles played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.  The Birds defeated what was then a still up-and-coming Cowboys dynasty handily, winning 27-0, in a game known to many as the “Bounty Bowl”.  In that game, Eagles coach Buddy Ryan placed a bounty on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas, who was a former Eagles kicker and was cut earlier in the season.

The night before, five inches of snow fell on the Philadelphia area, which resulted in a white Thanksgiving.  Ironically, that was the last time we had measurable snow on Thanksgiving, which seems to occur only when we play the Cowboys on Turkey Day.

Thanksgiving morning, George Washington and Archbishop Ryan high school played to a 0-0 tie in the snow in their annual “Turkey Bowl”, the first time that had ever happened.

So there you have it…this year we have one bird on the table and another on the television.  Happy Thanksgiving and go Birds!

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings (same ranking as last week for all teams):

1. Cardinals

2. Broncos

3. Patriots

4. Chiefs

5.  Packers

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

Eagles at Cowboys 4:30 PM FOX (Thurs)

Seahawks at Niners 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs)

Browns at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Chargers at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS

Patriots at Packers 4:25 PM CBS

Broncos at Chiefs 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

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As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #12: Eagles vs. Titans

If it’s not over “till the fat lady sings”, she was singing at just about the time that Eagles backup receiver Josh Huff appeared to give a half-hearted effort to make a tackle on Packers kick returner Micah Hyde.  Had Huff actually made the tackle, Green Bay would have had the ball at its own 25.  Instead, Hyde juked and jived and ended up in the end zone, giving the Packers a 17-0 lead with two minutes still left in the 1ST QUARTER.

Unfortunately for Birds fans, the game for all intents and purposes was sealed then, and wives/girlfriends who have no interest in football were surprised to find that their significant others were actually conversing with them during the whole second half.

But sorry ladies, while you might have thought that your plan to “change” your man was actually working, it was more a result of a rather boring one-sided contest being played out on the television…something the Eagles have not seen since last year’s 52-20 blowout loss to Denver in the Mile High City.

That game took place very early in the Chip Kelly era, and the Eagles rebounded from a 1-3 record after that shellacking to go 9-3 the rest of the way and win their division, something no one expected.

This team is better than last year’s edition, and while a Super Bowl may be a reach, there is no reason the Birds should not be playing in January for more than just one weekend.  While a blowout loss is never a good mark on your resume, the Packers are this year’s Seahawks when it comes to home-field advantage, and had beaten their previous three opponents at home by an average of 31 points.

The lesson learned for the Birds is to avoid a rematch with the Packers at Lambeau Field in January, and the first step in doing so would be to win their division, which at a minimum would give them a playoff game at home in the 1st round.

Both the Eagles and the Packers currently sit with a record of 7-3, and while many permutation combinations still exist for playoff seeding with six weeks left in the regular season, the most simplified way for the Birds to avoid playing the Packers on the road again is to win more games than Green Bay the rest of the way.

If the Eagles win their division and end up in a 2-way tie with EITHER the Arizona Cardinals or the Packers for conference seeding, they would lose the tiebreaker since they’ve lost to both of those teams.  But should they end up in a 3-way tie with BOTH of those teams, the fact that they lost to both won’t matter since the Cardinals and the Packers don’t play each other this season.  In that case, the tiebreaker would be based on the conference record of each of the three teams.  Got that???  I may need an expert in calculus or statistics to figure all this out.

The one thing we can figure out is that the Birds need to win this week against a lowly Titans team and keep pace with the Cowboys, who are tied with the Eagles for the division lead.  Tennessee almost beat Pittsburgh at home last Monday night, but the Steelers seem to have a tendency of playing down to the level of their opponent.

Some have called this a “trap” game for the Eagles (in between playing Green Bay last week and Dallas on Thanksgiving) but the trap factor would have only come into effect had the Eagles actually won last week and come into this game overconfident and on a high.

The Birds should be angry after last week’s debacle and will take their frustrations out on the Titans, winning 38-20.  And then it’s onto Dallas for a friendly Thanksgiving feast with the Cowpokes…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Cardinals (2)

2. Broncos (1)

3. Patriots (3)

4. Chiefs (4) Pre-Raiders game

5. Packers (new)

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

Lions at Patriots 1:00 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Cardinals at Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX

Dolphins at Broncos 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #11: Eagles at Packers

Once upon a time, not so long ago, not in a galaxy far, far away, but just a few blocks from Broad & Pattison, there was a football team that could not win a game at home.

It was not for lack of trying, or because the home crowd was not as intimidating as they were in their former stadium known simply as “The Vet”.  No, the football team couldn’t win simply because they were bad.  They were so bad, in fact, that they had lost ten straight games at home, and had to fire their longtime coach of fourteen seasons because of it.

Their new coach had started his first year 1-3, but had rebounded by the middle of the season to get his team to 5-5. But yet, that team still could not manage to capture a victory at home for whatever reason.

And then it happened.  At home, against the Washington Redskins, the Eagles beat the ‘Skins to go to 6-5 and finally snap a 10-game losing streak at home.  That was almost a year ago (Nov. 17, 2013) and since then the Eagles have not looked back.

The 2013 Eagles finished the second half of their season 7-1 en route to a division title and have started their 2014 campaign at 7-2.  In addition, the team that could not win at home now cannot lose there, with their home winning streak at nine games after pummeling the overrated Carolina Panthers last Monday night.

While the marketing gurus over at Miller beer would have you believe that it was due to the “throwback” Miller Lite cans being served over at the Linc, it is clearly more than that.  Eagles coach Chip Kelly not only has his team on the right track, but much like vampires, they seem to be quite adapt at sucking the blood out of their opponents at home during night games.

During the Birds last three home night games, they have gone 3-0 and have defeated their opponents by a combined score of 126-32, with much of the 32 coming in garbage time when the fans were headed to the exits and the backups were in mop-up duty.

While the other Philadelphia teams continue to try to find an identity, the Eagles know theirs and are a force to be reckoned with.  The only question is, how far can they go?

This week provides a good test as the Eagles head to Lambeau to face the Packers.  The Birds were fortunate to play there last year and not have to face quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was out with an injury, but this year will be quite different.

The Packers are 6-3, only a game behind the Eagles when it comes to the conference standings, and are almost impossible to beat at home.  The Eagles are coming off a short week and have to travel on the road, which is a disadvantage for any team off the bat.  So conventional wisdom dictates that the Eagles will understandably lose.

But this team, following the lead of their coach, is anything but conventional.  Chip Kelly is like mad scientist “Bunson Huneydew” from the Muppets, sitting in a lab somewhere with his sidekick Beaker (played by defensive coordinator Billy Davis), conjuring up a gameplan from the “Kelly method” to defeat the cheeseheads and their loyal “Wis-can-sin” faithful.

My predictions:  1) Birds win on Sunday in frigid Lambeau field, 34-31, with Cody Parkey getting the game winning kick.  2) On the plane ride back, the Birds are listening to T-Pain’s “Can’t Believe it”.  No need to buy me a “mansion in Wiscansin” though…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (2)

2. Cardinals (1)

3. Patriots (3)

4. Chiefs (4)

5. Lions (new)

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

Bills at Dolphins 8:30 PM NFL Network (Thurs)

Seahawks at Chiefs 1:00 PM FOX

Lions at Cardinals 4:25 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Eagles at Packers 4:25 PM FOX

Patriots at Colts 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #10: Eagles vs. Panthers

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The broken record that has symbolized the 2014 season of Nick Foles goes something like this – some great crisp, on the mark passes followed by one or two bad “throwing off his back foot” passes that result in a couple interceptions each game.

That trend continued last Sunday, as Nick went 9 for 12 with a touchdown but also throw another bad pick.  Unfortunately for Foles, his day ended prematurely when he was sacked on two of his last three plays by Whitney Mercilus, the latter resulting in a broken collarbone that will keep him out for most likely what will be the remainder of the regular season.

Enter Mark Sanchez, golden boy of USC, once on the cover of GQ, the next Joe Namath, and prized owner of the infamous “butt-fumble” (on Thanksgiving night no less which probably made most Jets fans spit out their pumpkin pie).

Sanchez had been signed as insurance on a 1-year contract, and the time had come to file a claim on his policy…for better or worse.  And to his credit, he filled in admirably, going 15 for 22 with two touchdowns, but also a very Nick Foles like two interceptions.

Losing Foles for the reminder of the regular season may not be the worst thing for the Eagles.  The Birds got to 5-2 with their quarterback having a very mediocre season, and with good weapons and an decent offensive line around him, Sanchez should do no worse.  He was able to guide the Jets to the AFC championship in his first two seasons when he had a solid running game and a good defense on his side.  When the Jets team around him crumbled, Sanchez did as well.  But put him into a good system like Chip Kelly’s, and the Eagles should be fine offensively.

What WILL hurt the Birds is the loss of DeMeco Ryans, who was their quarterback on defense.  Ryans went down  early in the 4th quarter on a non-contact play in which he made an interception and then fell awkwardly to the ground, rupturing his Achilles tendon and sidelining him for the remainder of the season.  With Casey Matthews having to pick up the slack, the Eagles will now have their own “Achilles heel” on the field.

The Birds have to wait till Monday night this week when they face the Carolina Panthers, who won the NFC South last year but seem to be “one-hit-wonders” (sort of like that Thomas Dolby “She Blinded Me with Science” song from the ’80’s).  Their defense seems to be a shell of what it was last season, and Cam Newton, while big in stature, may turn out to be a big time fraud.

Better get the “Under Armour” ready – gonna be a cold night at the Linc boys and girls.  No worries on the game though…Birds spank the Panthers, 38-20.

The Last Word:

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants and their ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner for winning the 2014 World Series.  Bumgarner basically carried his team on his back during the World Series and it’s quite ironic that the guy has the word “Bum” in his last name, since he is anything but.

With the victory, the Giants have won the World Series three out of the last five years, something the Phillies might have been expected to do after 2008.  The local baseball team down at Broad & Pattison might be wise to look at and follow the formula that the Giants used to build a winning team for the long haul…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Cardinals (4)

2. Broncos (1)

3. Patriots (New)

4. Steelers (New)

5. Chiefs (3)

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

Browns at Bengals 8:30 PM NFL Network (Thurs)

Chiefs at Bills 1:00 PM CBS (Game of the Week)

Dolphins at Lions 1:00 PM CBS