As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #6: Eagles at Vikings

We all have those days at work where we’re running around like a chicken without a head, pulling our hair out and looking up at the clock, wishing it would end sooner than later.

And then there are days (albeit rare) that go very smoothly, giving us ample time to catch our breath and reflect.

Last Sunday was one of those days for the Eagles.

In a rather relaxed atmosphere that represented a family picnic in the stands (minus the family drama), the Eagles easily disposed of the New York Jets, 31-6, at the Linc. The game was never in doubt, and halfway through the 4th quarter, many had already started to make their way to the parking lots and subway for an early ride home.

Such a scene has been a rarity for this team since their Super Bowl winning season of two years ago, when it seemed they were beating everyone at home without much fanfare or stress.

But such a result should not have been a surprise to anyone. The Jets entered the game with their 3rd string quarterback (Luke Falk) under center, and he was quickly thrown to the wolves in the form of ten sacks by the Eagles defense.

The Jets should get a much better effort going forward, especially with Sam Darnold, their 1st round pick from 2018, returning to action this week against the Dallas Cowboys. And if Darnold is the real deal as an NFL quarterback, the team may have a bright future ahead of them.

But for now, the Jets are in the midst of the football equivalent of “The Great Recession”, with their stock having to rebound greatly before becoming a “buy” for their fans.

Meanwhile, the easy day at work feeling that the Eagles had last Sunday may not be returning till after Thanksgiving, with six consecutive games against winning teams looming.

What makes it even harder is that the next three will be on the road, which makes the Birds the only team in the league to have three consecutive road games this season.

Rumor has it that the schedule makers did that with the expectation that across the street, Citizens Bank Park would be abuzz with 45,000 fans cheering on their team in the NLCS & World Series, especially after all the free agent signings the local baseball team made this past offseason. But as we all know, things didn’t turn out quite as expected (and more on that later).

But the Phillies loss is also the Eagles loss, as they will be facing the Vikings, Cowboys and Bills in consecutive weeks, before coming home to face the Bears, Patriots and Seahawks.

The Vikings are a good team, but not a great one, and their biggest threat will be running back Dalvin Cook. Cook is an evasive runner and stopping him could be the key to getting a win for the Birds.

Philadelphia will be facing a familiar foe in quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was a member of the Washington Redskins from 2012-2017 until he signed with Minnesota before the 2018 season. Cousins is 5-3 in his career against the Eagles, and was the starter for Washington in all sixteen games from 2015-2017.

The Birds will once again be without wide receiver DeSean Jackson, which will hamper their ability to throw downfield. Expect Nelson Agholor and tight end Zach Ertz to get a decent number of balls thrown their way to compensate for the loss of Jackson.

Philadelphia will also continue to be without cornerbacks Ronald Darby & Avonte Maddox. And while their loss did not play a role in the Jets game, it could be a huge factor against Minnesota, who have a great receiving tandem in Adam Thielen & Stefon Diggs.

Along with stopping Dalvin Cook, the difference in this game could come down to whether the Eagles defensive line can put enough pressure on Kirk Cousins so that he doesn’t have ample time to throw to Thielen or Diggs.

This will be a tough game in a hostile environment, and in another dome no less. And while the Eagles will return to the spot where they erased their demons and clinched their first ever championship in the modern era, that will be of no solace to them come kickoff time.

That being said, the Birds are the better team in my opinion, and will come out ahead in a close one, 24-20.

Followed by the Phillies playing in the NLCS. Oh wait…scratch that.

The Last Word:

The Phillies managing partner is a “Middleton”, which might help to explain why the Phillies have finished in the middle of the pack the last two seasons.

Their president is a “MacPhail”, and the team’s mission to get back to the playoffs and World Series has been nothing short of a supersized “MacFail”.

Their general manager is a “Klentak”, which could be a synonym for “can’t draft” in some foreign language.

Put them all together and “Dollar Dog Days” may be the only thing putting fans in the stands next season.

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

EAGLES at Vikings 1:00 PM FOX

Texans at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

49ers at Rams 4:05 PM FOX

Lions at Packers 8:15 PM ESPN (Mon)

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As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #5: Eagles vs. Jets

Three games in and the natives were understandably restless.

A team that looked like it had the talent to make a run at another Super Bowl had stumbled to two consecutive losses against mediocre competition, and faced an uphill battle having to go to Green Bay on a short week against the Packers.

And when the Pack got off to an early 10-0 lead, that uphill climb seemed more like climbing Mount Everest. Aaron Rodgers, after all, was only 59-0 when his team held a double digit lead at Lambeau Field.

Perhaps the 2019 Eagles, much like the 2019 Phillies, were merely overrated and didn’t have the talent to live up to the hype that was bestowed upon them. Perhaps Doug Pederson won the Superbowl during the 2017 season because he had Frank Reich as his offensive coordinator, and with Reich moving on to the head coaching job with the Colts last season, all of Pederson’s flaws would now be exposed.

But following the Packers early ten point lead, things began to change when Miles Sanders took the kickoff 67 yards, giving the Birds great field position at the Green Bay 34. The kickoff seemed to be the catalyst the team needed to awaken them from their slumber, as five plays later, they were in the end zone, cutting the lead to 10-7.

From then on, the Thursday night contest turned into a dogfight, with Philadelphia eventually taking a 21-20 and then a 34-27 lead for good with three minutes left in the third quarter.

But twice in the final 18 minutes of the game, Green Bay countered with long drives of 78 & 86 yards, respectively, which usually generates some points on the scoreboard for your team.

On the first of those drives, the Packers actually had 1st & Goal at the 1-yard line and looked to be in great shape to tie the game at the very least. But Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur must have thought that Halloween had arrived, as it was then that he decided to do his best Andy Reid impersonation and treat running the ball as if it was a felony. The result was the Packers coming up empty after four straight incomplete passes.

But while the Eagles, to their credit, managed to get out of the shadow of their end zone following their goal line stand, moving the ball 50 yards to the Green Bay 49 before having to punt, their inability to score on that drive meant that Aaron Rodgers would get one more shot at redemption.

The final 5:02 of that game seemed like an eternity, with the Delaware Valley watching on pins and needles and biting their nails like there was no tomorrow. But much like that magical 2017 season, when it seemed that someone would always step up to secure a victory in crunch time, it was the combination of linebacker Nigel Bradham, and little used cornerback Craig James (playing in only the 3rd defensive snap of his CAREER), who made the critical tackle on Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling that resulted in the game-ending interception by Bradham.

But while the game was one for the ages, there are issues with this team that could linger for the near future.

For starters, Davante was having his way with Avonte all night (as in Packers wide receiver Davante Adams and Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox). Adams ran roughshod, catching 10 passes for 180 yards before injuring his foot late in the game. Maddox will probably be out this week, considering he was in the injury protocal after the scary hit he took last Thursday. Add to that the fact that Ronald Darby is still out and starting cornerback Sidney Jones seems to be hurt every week, and the Birds may need their mascot Swoop to play cornerback this Sunday.

The Eagles also seem to have a bad habit of getting off to slow starts, falling behind by at least 10 points in all four of their games thus far. To their credit, they’ve come back to win two of them, but this trend can’t continue.

This week, the Birds come back home to face the NFL’s version of the “Little Sisters of the Poor”, the New York Jets. The Jets are not only bad, but they’re injured at the quarterback position, with their starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, still suffering from mononucleosis, and their backup QB, Trevor Siemian, out for the year.

With all their injuries, the quarterback duties will fall on 3rd stringer Luke Falk, who has not conjured up memories of Joe Namath based on his limited action thus far.

The Birds should win this game without much fanfare, 30-20. An easy win this week will be vital, since they will then embark on a tough three game road trip which will take them to Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo.

A win this week and two of three on the road would be ideal, as that would put them at 5-3 at the halfway point of their season.

As for the Jets quarterback, with a name like Luke Falk, I suspect that he could have a brilliant career on TV’s “General Hospital” should his NFL dreams not pan out.

The Last Word:

Aaron Rodgers 59-game winning streak when leading by double digits at home was the 2nd longest streak of its kind in the Super Bowl era.

The longest streak belongs to Tom Brady and the Patriots, who had an 80 game winning streak…until the Eagles beat them in Foxboro in 2015.

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

Rams at Seahawks 8:20 PM (Thurs) FOX/NFL Network

Bills at Titans 1:00 PM CBS

Buccaneers at Saints 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Cowboys 4:25 PM FOX

Colts at Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #3: Eagles vs. Lions

One by one, they started falling.

First, Dallas Goedert suffered a calf injury in warmups. Then, the dynamic duo of the “Shawns”, as in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, both suffered injuries, which meant that the Eagles top two starting wide receivers would be inactive for the night. Add Corey Clement’s shoulder and Tim Jernigan’s foot, and the blue tent on the Eagles sideline began to resemble a MASH unit.

To make matters worse, Carson Wentz took a hit to the ribs which made all of us wince when we saw it, and he ended up going through the concussion protocol before being allowed to return to the game.

But while injuries were the biggest conversation point after last week’s loss to the Falcons, the Eagles, for the 2nd straight week, failed to score any points in the 1st quarter. This continues a disturbing trend that dates back to last season, when Philadelphia was ranked 31st out of 32 teams when it came to first quarter scoring, averaging a paltry 3.2 points/game.

To the Birds credit, they bounced back, just as they had against Washington one week earlier, eventually taking the lead for the first time, 20-17, with 3:13 left in the game.

But that lead was short lived, as the Falcons, facing a 4th & 3 at their 46, managed to do what Julio Jones and the rest of his teammates could not do in the NFC divisional playoff game two seasons ago at the Linc…score the winning touchdown.

Jones caught a short screen pass, got a good block from fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu, and was off to the races, giving the Falcons the lead.

The Eagles had their chances on their final drive, going all the way down to the Atlanta 16 before a 4th & 8 pass to tight end Zach Ertz only earned them 7.9 yards (or something like that). The big play, or lack of it, on that drive was the catch that Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor didn’t make, which would have possibly been a touchdown and, at worst, put the Eagles in great field position with ample time left to take the lead.

But while it’s easy to criticize Agholor for that play, he did come up big in the absence of DeSean & Alshon, catching 8 receptions for 107 yards as the Eagles top wide receiver on the field.

Agholor may have to continue to play a bigger role in this week’s game against the Detroit Lions, as DeSean Jackson has been ruled out and is likely to miss next week’s game as well, which is against Green Bay on a short week.

With Alshon Jeffery (and tight end Dallas Goedert) also questionable, expect Mack Hollins as well as 2nd round draft pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside to see more playing time. Speaking of which, for all of the preseason, I thought his name was Ortega-Whiteside, which caused me to develop a craving for tacos with “Ortega” shells every time he touched the ball. Hopefully my taste for tacos reaches a climatic peak on Sunday, as that can only be a positive for the Eagles offense.

As for this week’s opponent, if you thought that the Washington Redskins have had a mediocre history as of late, that is still nothing compared to the Detroit Lions, who have won exactly ONE playoff game since they last won a championship in 1957.

One playoff win in 61 YEARS. And you thought watching the Phillies under Gabe Kapler was frustrating?

Detroit has had some winning seasons over the years, and have looked at times like they had the talent for sustained success. But if you’re a Lions fan, you must have a fetish for being teased…because every time you thought they had a chance, you were bound to end up disappointed.

The Eagles can help their cause on Sunday by actually getting off to a fast start for a change, and will need a much better game from guard Isaac Seumalo, Seumalo looked like a revolving door against the Falcons last week, which is great if you’re the Ritz-Carlton looking for a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, quite the opposite playing on the offensive line.

The Birds would do well to run the ball more often, especially if some of their skill position players won’t be playing in this game. Playing at home, especially with a tough Thursday night road game looming, I see the Eagles winning 27-20, on what will be an unusually hot mid-September day.

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

Lions at EAGLES 1:00 PM FOX

Ravens at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

Saints at Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS

Texans at Chargers 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #2: Birds of a Feather

Many prognosticators looked at last week’s opening day tilt between the Eagles and Redskins and felt that the Birds might be a little rusty in the first half. Unfortunately, no one predicted that the Redskins would come out looking like a well-oiled machine that could move up and down the field at will.

Before the charcoal grills in the parking lot had even begun to cool from all the pregame tailgating, the Birds were already down 7-0, and it did not get any better from there.

The ‘Skins tacked on a field goal, and a 69-yard bomb from Case Keenum to wide receiver Terry McLaurin had the visitors from the nation’s capital up 17-0 with just under 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.

Save for a Wentz to DeSean Jackson touchdown pass, the Birds were down 20-7 at halftime, and the natives were already starting to get restless.

When the Eagles struggle in the 1st half at home, it is usually the halftime entertainment that suffers the wrath of the disgruntled fan, and last Sunday was no different.

The Eagles had hired an artist to render a painting at halftime, and fans could be heard yelling comments such as:

1) “THIS is the halftime entertainment?”.

2) “Wonder what Jeff Lurie is paying for this?”

3) “This is as bad as the Eagles”.

Even when the artist was finished, no one in the stands could make out exactly what he was rendering. That is, of course, till he turned his painting around to reveal a beautifully drawn Eagle.

The irony was that for most of the first half, no one could figure out what the Eagles of the football variety were doing either. But they turned it around in the 2nd half, scoring 24 unanswered points before Washington scored a meaningless touchdown with six seconds left when the game was no longer in doubt.

In the 2nd half, the Birds showed flashes of what we thought they were, as the Redskins reverted back to what we thought they were as well, which is mediocrity at its finest. The 32-27 victory, though too close for comfort to start, was a good win in what will be a tough first half of their season.

This week, the Eagles travel to Atlanta to take on another type of bird for the Sunday night NBC game. But while the Eagles have soared over the last few years, it is the Falcon that has had its wings clipped more often than not.

Three seasons ago, the Falcons were on the verge of defeating New England and winning their first ever Super Bowl. That is, until Atlanta’s offensive coaches tried to outsmart themselves, and the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit to win, which became the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

While we all remember fondly the Eagles 2017 Super Bowl winning season and the great win over the Patriots, the “Philly-Philly” play, etc., it was actually the Falcons who came the closest to beating us that postseason.

Atlanta had a 4th & Goal at the 2 in the final minute of the game when an incomplete pass to Julio Jones gave the Birds a divisional playoff victory at home. If Julio catches that pass, the curse of the Eagles never winning a Super Bowl most likely lingers on today.

Instead, it is Atlanta who is still trying to climb to the mountaintop for the first time in its history. The Falcons had an injury riddled 2018, and finished with a 7-9 record to show for it. And when they were soundly defeated by Minnesota last week 28-12 (including being down 28-0 at one point), many wondered if the Falcons were for real.

If Atlanta loses this game, they will be down 0-2 and the rest of this season will be an uphill climb for local Philadelphia native and Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons not only have the advantage of playing at home this week in a dome, but it will be their home opener and they want to show their fans that they are for real, especially after last week’s drubbing.

The Eagles are definitely the better team in my opinion. But the better team does not always win. For that reason, I think the Eagles keep it close but lose 28-27, especially with their suspect secondary.

But all is not lost. The Birds should still have a successful season barring major injuries. And who knows…believe it or not, the predictions of “Nostra-damit” have been proven wrong before. ūüėČ

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

Colts at Titans 1:00 PM CBS

Seahawks at Steelers 1:00 PM FOX

Vikings at Packers 1:00 PM FOX

Saints at Rams 4:25 PM FOX

As Broad & Pattison Turns: From Hapless to Hopeful

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe just how many times this team has been on the verge of playoff extinction.

On Nov. 25th, as running back Saquon Barkley raced down the field en route to a touchdown, the Eagles season was on the verge of playoff extinction.

One week prior, the Birds were throttled by the Saints, 48-7, in a game in which they were never in it from the start and looked totally overmatched.
And while injuries played a big part in the Eagles lack of success that day, it was hard to believe just how hard and fast the defending Super Bowl champions had fallen.

Now, the Birds faced a 19-3 deficit against the New York Giants, with one more Giants score basically ending the game and rendering the last five games meaningless as far as most of the fans were concerned.

It’s hard to say what went through the players’ minds at that point, but the Birds drove down the field to score a touchdown and then, with the Giants driving once again, Malcolm Jenkins made what may have been a season saving interception.

Stepping in front of Odell Beckham at the 2-yard line, Jenkins interception not only prevented New York from going back up by two scores, but catapulted the Birds to a comeback victory.

A win the following week against the Redskins put the Eagles at 6-6 for the season, but a loss in Dallas the following Sunday, in a game in which both Lady Luck and the referees seemed to conspire against the team, made their playoff chances a precarious one at best, especially with tough games against both the Rams and the Texans looming.

But the Birds surprisingly defeated the Rams on the road, and then, facing a one point deficit against Houston with 2:04 left and starting a drive at their own 11-yard line, drove down the field with Jake Elliott kicking a 35-yard field goal with no time left to give the Eagles the victory.

Elliott seems to miss the kicks that any good kicker should regularly make. Yet, he is as clutch as they come when it counts, and his game winning field goal had, once again, prevented the nail from being driven into the Eagles coffin.

With one week left to go in the regular season, and facing the Washington Redskins, a team that was now on its 3rd string quarterback, most had no doubt that the Eagles would be victorious.

But a victory alone would not be enough, as the Birds needed a Bears win over the Vikings in order to keep their season going into January.

Luckily, Chicago still had a shot to earn a bye on the final week of the season, should the 49ers upset the Rams. But what if the Rams got off to a big lead? Would Bears coach Matt Nagy decide to rest his players in the 2nd half, knowing that he had nothing to play for?

The Eagles did their part, and the Bears played most of their starters in the 2nd half, even when it was evident that their victory would be for naught.

Perhaps it was because Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Bears coach Matt Nagy are friends, having both worked on Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City?

Whatever the reason, the Birds and the Bears had hooked up and conceived a playoff birth for the City of Philadelphia. Who needs those bees anyway…

The Eagles knew that to reach the Super Bowl again, they would have to take a much more difficult path this time, needing three straight victories on the road. And the first stop was, ironically, Chicago, to face the same team that helped them get an invite to the playoff party in the first place.

And once again, the Birds faced a one score deficit late in the 4th quarter with Nick Foles needing to drive them 60 yards for the go-ahead score. And once again, the team was one play away from their season ending when they faced 4th & Goal at the 2.

Enter Golden Tate, who had been acquired in a mid-season trade, which many questioned as a bad move. But on this day, it was Foles pass to Tate that resulted in the go-ahead touchdown.

But a short kickoff gave the Bears a great opportunity to drive down the field from their own 42, and with 10 seconds left it was up to Bears kicker Cody Parkey to win the game.

And as the kick went up and straight down the middle, the Eagles season seemed to finally have come to an end. But wait…Doug Pederson had called a timeout to ice the kicker right before the kick took place. Surely, that stuff never actually works does it?

But as Parkey kicked again following the timeout, this time, the ball did not go straight down the middle but started to slice to the left. And as a tri-state area watched with bated breath, the ball hit the goalpost and started to make it’s way downwards.

There was still the chance that the ball could fall in, away from the end zone side of the lower post, resulting in a Bears win. A few inches here and there would make the difference, but as the ball bounced back toward the end zone, Philadelphia exhaled.

Once again, the Eagles had avoided the nail in their coffin and had survived to see another day. And a fan base which had finally witnessed its first Super Bowl victory in amazing fashion just last season started to wonder if lightening could strike twice.

But the next hurdle to be overcome for the Birds will not be easy. The Saints may be the toughest test the Eagles will face should they continue this amazing journey, and the crowd inside the New Orleans Superdome will do everything in its power to make sure the Eagles next game is their last.

The Birds are an improved team, and a healthier one, from when they faced New Orleans back in Week 11. But the Saints are well rested having earned a bye last week, and motivation will not be a factor in playoff time.

If the Eagles 2018 party were to end down in the “Big Easy”, no one would be surprised. This team, after all, has been playing with house money for some time now.

But just as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady needed some good fortune bestowed on them on the way to three Lombardi trophies in four years (2001-2004), perhaps it is Doug Pederson and Nick Foles that are now riding the wave of good fortune?

If anyone can pull off an upset, it is this Eagles team that somehow, someway, always seems to escape elimination.

A team that looked hapless just a few weeks back is now hopeful that this amazing journey will continue.

E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES.

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #11: Difficult task in the Big Easy

The Philadelphia Eagles, one year removed from their first ever Super Bowl title, have been doing a lousy job of defending their status as champions.

A record of 4-4 halfway through the season, with three of their four losses coming in excruciatingly painful fashion, have the faithful pulling their hair out and wondering if 2017 was simply a mirage that never really happened.

With the team opening up the 2nd half of its season against the Dallas Cowboys, a team that has been mired in mediocrity not only this season but basically since the turn of the century, this matchup seemed like the perfect tonic for whatever has been ailing the Birds.  And the oddsmakers must have felt the same way, as the Eagles were seven point favorites going in.

But when Philadelphia went on offense to start the game and promptly went three and out, I couldn’t help but think of Han Solo in those classic Star Wars movies looking over at Chewbacca and stating, “I’ve got a BAD feeling about this”.

That bad feeling continued for the first thirty minutes as the Eagles went into halftime down 13-3.¬† This team’s ineptitude at the beginning of games is puzzling, as they have now scored a total of 21 points during the 1st quarter all season, with 14 of those points coming in one game against the lowly New York Giants.

The Birds did manage to crawl out of their hole to start the 3rd quarter and eventually tied the game at 13-13.¬† But on the two occasions that they clawed their way back into a tie, Dallas’s offense, which was held in check for most of the first half, would drive down the field without much resistance to retake the lead.¬†

Down 27-20, the Birds reached the Dallas 30 yard line at the two-minute warning of the 4th quarter.  But on 3rd & 2, a swing pass to Corey Clement was sniffed out for a 5-yard loss, and the following play, a pass to tight end Zach Ertz, fell just one yard short of the first down. 

And while the Eagles did get the ball back with 38 seconds left, it was too little, too late.¬† That’s the kind of season it’s been my friends.

This team, instead of resembling a Super Bowl champion, looks very much like the 7-9 team of two years ago.¬† That was Doug Pederson’s first year as head coach, and that team also had the habit of losing close games that they could have won had one or two plays gone the other way.

Sitting at 4-5, the Eagles now find themselves heading to New Orleans to face the Saints, who just happen to be the top team in the NFC, a spot that the Birds held for most of last season.

Add to that the fact that the New Orleans Superdome is not an easy place to play, and the Saints feature one of the best current coach/quarterback combinations in Sean Payton & Drew Brees (second only to Tom Brady & Bill Belichick in my opinion), and one can see why the Eagles started off as nine-point underdogs.

The good news (if there is any) is that the Birds should be able to score on this defense.  The bad news is, can they actually stop the Saints offense?

Both starting cornerbacks for the Eagles (Ronald Darby & Jalen Mills) are out, with Darby out for the remainder of the season.  2nd year man Sidney Jones will return this week, and will have to earn his paycheck as the starting outside corner for the first time since his college days against a dangerous Saints offense.  Opposite him will be his fellow 2017 draft pick Rasul Douglas, who allowed eight catches last week in his first starting gig.

For some reason, I think that the Eagles will play with a lot of pride, and actually keep it close.  The question is, is this team good enough to win?

Birds lose this game, 28-24.¬† And let’s hope the Redskins & Cowboys do as well.¬† Otherwise, we may be throwing the 2018 Eagles season out with the trash on Monday morning.

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

Texans at Redskins 1:00 PM CBS

Vikings at Bears 8:20 PM NBC

Chiefs at Rams 8:15 PM ESPN (Mon.)

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #10: America’s “Mediocre” Team Comes to Town

On Tuesday, voters flocked to the polls to determine the balance of power in Congress.

Meanwhile, the race to determine the balance of power in the eastern division of the NFC conference is also heating up.

With two months to go, two of the four “candidates” are locked in a virtual dead heat, while a third’s poll numbers have been slipping as of late.

The fourth candidate, from the NY/NJ/CT district, is so far behind in the polls that they have already conceded defeat in this election, and are formulating a strategy to regroup and energize their “base” in order to have a better showing next year.

In Congress, the political party of the President usually does not fare well in mid-term elections, losing an average of 30 House seats since World War II (the President’s party lost approx. 35 this year, which falls right in line with historical trends).

In the NFC East, being the “incumbent” does not fare well either, as there has not been a repeat champion in the division since the Eagles of the Philadelphia district won four straight elections from 2001-2004.¬† With half of their season still left, the Birds are hoping to buck that trend and get into the playoffs as a division winner, though they are too far behind in the “bye/homefield advantage” poll to end up as a #1 or #2 seed.

In addition, the Birds schedule does not help their cause.  While the Redskins remaining eight games feature only one opponent that currently has a winning record, the Eagles have two road games left against the top two teams in their conference (the Saints & Rams) as well as the Houston Texans at home in late December, which may not be as easy as it once looked.

Assuming the Eagles lose on the road against the Saints & Rams, they would have to win their six remaining games just to go 10-6, which, with the exception of the Texans game, are all against divisional foes (two each against the Redskins & Cowboys, one against the Giants).

If they were to win five of those six, they would end up at 9-7, which may or may not be enough to win the NFC East.  In such a scenario, they would probably have to sweep the Redskins to win the division with only nine wins.

While the Eagles defense was criticized in their close losses (giving up two long 4th down conversions which resulted in the team being 6-2 instead of 4-4 will do that), the defense is not playing any worse than last season when it comes to points scored against them.¬† It’s actually the offense that has regressed.

Last season, the Birds averaged 30.5 points/game (excluding the last regular season game, in which they had nothing to play for).

This season, the team is averaging only 22.3 points/game, which represents a significant  drop of more than 8 points/game from last year.  With the exception of the Giants game, they have not scored 30 or more points all season, something that they did nine times in 2017.

The arrival of Golden Tate from Detroit in a trade should help those anemic offensive numbers somewhat. Tate has averaged 93 catches per season over the last four years, and his presence on the field should help to open up the ball to other pass catchers as well.

The injury bug continues to plague the Birds, however.¬† Darren Sproles, who seems to have the longest nagging hamstring in the history of the NFL, is out once again, and injuries in the secondary to cornerbacks Jalen Mills & Sidney Jones won’t help matters either.

Interestingly enough, this will actually be the first relevant Eagles РCowboys contest at home in three years.  Both in 2016 & 2017, they faced each other on the last week of the season, in a game that was irrelevant to both teams.

In ’16, the Cowboys had already clinched home field advantage and were using the game to get Tony Romo back up to speed after recovering from injury.¬† The Birds won that game and finished up their season 7-9, heading into the offseason with questions about whether their coach, Doug Pederson, was NFL quality caliber.¬† We all know how that turned out.

In ’17, it was the Cowboys playing out the string and winning the game, while the Eagles were using it to figure out whether Nick Foles was good enough to get them through the playoffs and to their first Super Bowl title in team history.¬† We all know how that turned out.

Dallas is in a more precarious position than the Birds are.  They lost at home to Tennessee last Monday night, and come to the Linc on a short week and on a short lifeline, with a record of 3-5 on the season.

But while the Cowboys have been struggling this season,¬† they are still hated in these parts with that stupid “America’s Team” label, which really needs to change to “America’s Mediocre Team”, being that they haven’t been relevant for most of this century.

Being a Sunday night game, the crowd will have had all day to feast on tailgate food and drink, and thus, will be thrusting for blood by the time the 8:20 PM kickoff rolls around.

I expect the Eagles to come out looking much better on offense, and with the addition of Golden Tate, to win this game, 34-20.

I also predict that the stoic, confused look on Jerry Jones’s face will be shown often on national television, with the Sunday night broadcast team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth continuing to kiss his “gluteus maximus” instead of being critical of his football decisions in any aspect.

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

Panthers at Steelers 8:20 PM NFL Network/FOX (Thurs.)

Saints at Bengals 1:00 PM FOX

Patriots at Titans 1:00 PM CBS