As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #8: Eagles at Cowboys

Somewhere in my “wishful thinking” mind, I’m hoping that the Eagles spent their bye weekend at a Halloween party, with Sam Bradford dressed as Tom Brady and his receivers dressed as Odell Beckham.  And then, like a movie where the powers of the costume end up consuming the individual that wears it, they will return from the bye and play “in costume” for the remainder of the season.

Easier said then done I know.  But as you are all aware, Halloween coincided with the Eagles bye week this year, which is ironic considering that the Birds play at times has been nothing but frightening.  But luckily they play in the NFC East, where no team really scares anyone, so the division remains up for grabs.

This week, the Eagles began a stretch where they will play four straight winnable games against teams with losing records (Dallas, Miami, Tampa, and Detroit).  Win all four, and they would sit at 7-4, and most likely at the top of the NFC “Least” standings.  Of course, with this team, anything is possible, and they haven’t done anything to give the impression that they can actually go on an extended winning streak of any sort.

Tonight’s game pits the Birds against the Tony Romo-less Cowboys, who have loss five straight since Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks pummeled Romo into the ground back in Week #2 at the Linc in a 20-10 Cowboys victory, which happened to be the last time that Dallas actually won a game.

If the Cowboys hadn’t lost Romo due to injury, they could have easily been sitting at 6-1 instead of 2-5, and looking at the rest of the NFC East in their rearview mirror.  Instead, they’re probably lamenting the fact that they did not have a capable backup quarterback to fill Romo’s shoes, the way that the Eagles do with Mark Sanchez.

The Birds problems on offense rest not with their backup, but with their starting quarterback Sam Bradford.  Either Bradford makes bad throws, or his receivers drop good ones, which has been the theme through seven games.

When these two teams met back in September, the Cowboys were also without wide receiver Dez Bryant and defensive end Greg Hardy (due to injury and suspension, respectively).  Hardy is able to play this time around and has the ability to be a terror to the opposing teams’ offense.  Unfortunately for Hardy, he also seems to be quite a terror off the field as well, but that is a story for another time.

This game might end up being a 7-6 snoozer, with Hardy causing havoc on the Eagles offense, and Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel causing havoc on himself due to his poor play.  Rumor has it that former Phillies ace and current Texas Ranger Cole Hamels may be next in line to play quarterback if Cassel falters.  And why not?  He probably couldn’t do any worse (the Hamels comment is in jest of course).

In reality, I think the scoring improves somewhat and the Eagles win 14-10.  Wake me up when it’s over…

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

Packers at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Rams at Vikings 1:00 PM FOX

Raiders at Steelers 1:00 PM CBS

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As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #16: Eagles at Redskins

After the Eagles pummeled the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day to commence the tough 3-game stretch that would supposedly define their season, many Eagles fans were having visions of a Super Bowl appearance dancing in their heads.

But after back-to-back losses against the Seahawks and Cowboys (two teams that are vying with the Birds for a playoff spot and preferable seeding), Eagles fans could find themselves with only a stack of coal in their football stocking come Christmas morning.

Last Sunday, they were repeatedly fed a stack of “Dez”, as in Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who ran roughshot down the field multiple times and basically treated Birds cornerback Bradley Fletcher as if he was a harmless ragdoll standing in his way.

Dallas made up for its lopsided loss at the hands of the Birds down in Dallas and let it be known that if they are to partake in another December swoon, it would not be occurring this easily or quickly.  Unlike the Eagles win down in Dallas, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked healthier, had ten days to prepare as opposed to three, and showed that given time, he can tear up the Eagles secondary, which is the major component that will likely keep the Birds from obtaining any kind of elite status this season.

And of course, there is the matter of the quarterback situation, which neither the ghosts of Christmas present or Christmas future really seem to have an answer for.

While Mark Sanchez’s mobility adds another element to the passing game (an element that Nick Foles does not possess), both quarterbacks were turning the ball over more than needed to win in this league.  But to Nick’s credit, when he wasn’t turning the ball over once or twice a game, he was actually making accurate throws, a trait that Sanchez displayed in his first few starts but has now been lost over the last few weeks.

The Eagles didn’t lose last Sunday because the Cowboys possess a great defense and there was nowhere to throw.  On many occasions, Sanchez had receivers open throughout the game and simply was off target or just didn’t see them.  More and more, it is becoming evident that his tenure with the Eagles will be a short one, as he is not the kind of player who can consistently play to a high level week after week.  When Sanchez’s playing career does eventually come to an end though, he could probably become a public relations “guru” for any NFL team, as he handles the media like an all-pro quarterback should.  If only he could play like one too…

This week, the Birds get somewhat of a respite, as after facing the Cowboys-Seahawks-Cowboys over the last three weeks, they now face the lowly Washington Redskins, who seem to display more gridlock and turmoil than their capital counterparts over in the halls of Congress.  If you think our quarterback situation is uncertain for the future, the Redskins drafted two young quarterbacks in 2012 (Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins) with the 2nd and the 102nd overall pick, respectively, and neither of them seem to be primed to hold the job for the long term.  The Redskins also acquired Colt McCoy, who was a 3rd round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010, but he isn’t the answer either.

At this point, the ‘Skins are probably looking just to finish off their season and make plans for New Years Eve in a few weeks, so this game SHOULD be an easy one, as long as the Eagles aren’t thinking about last minute Christmas shopping deals while running around on the field.

With last week’s loss, the Eagles find themselves no longer in control of their destiny, and will need help from other teams if they are to be invited to the NFL’s playoff party which begins Jan. 3rd.  So without further ado, here are the various playoff possibilities for the team (have your abacus and calculus calculator ready):

1) Birds need to win one more game than the Cowboys the rest of the regular season.  Problem is, there are only two games remaining.  Should that happen (which could occur this week with Dallas facing the Colts), the Eagles would still win their division and host a 1st round playoff game.  This is the easiest and best case scenario.

2) If the Eagles don’t win their division, they can still get in as a wildcard team, but would need to win both of their remaining games against the ‘Skins and Giants, while one of the following three teams (Seahawks, Packers, Lions) need to lose BOTH of their last two games.

Which of these is the most likely?  The Lions and Packers face each other in the last game of the season in Green Bay, so one of them will definitely have one loss (barring a tie).  The Lions face the Bears, who will be starting Jimmy Clausen instead of Jay Cutler, on the road this Sunday, while the Packers will be facing Tampa on the road and looking to rebound after last week’s loss to the Bills.

Assuming the Packers beat the Lions in their last game of the season, we should be rooting heavily for the Bears this Sunday, but they are about as done as the Redskins, and probably have a better chance with Jimmy Dean at quarterback.

The Seahawks face the Cardinals on the road this week, but even if they lose that game to a backup quarterback, they end the season at home against the Rams, a probable win.  All said, the wildcard is a long shot, but then again, stranger things have happened before (for reference, see Eagles entrance to the playoffs in 2008).

Birds win this Saturday, 35-14, and then we sit back on Sunday and become Bears, Buccaneers, Cardinals, and most importantly, Colts fans…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (1)

2. Patriots (2)

3. Seahawks (4)

4. Cardinals (3)

5. Packers (5)

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

Chiefs at Steelers 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Cowboys 4:25 PM CBS

Seahawks at Cardinals 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

Broncos at Bengals 8:30 PM ESPN

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #15: Eagles vs. Cowboys

The holiday season is now in full effect, and with it, all of the various Christmas specials have started to air on television, the first of which took place last Sunday at the Linc.

Unfortunately for Eagles fans, it was appropriately titled “The Grinch that Stole a Playoff Bye”, starring Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.  Wilson, playing the role of the Grinch, ducked and weaved his way around all night, maneuvering his way around Eagle defenders before finding an open receiver or running for a first down.   And while the Birds D-line did an admirable job of keeping him in check at times, doing so for long stretches is quite difficult against a talent like Wilson, especially when the Eagles offense just couldn’t do enough to stay on the field and maintain any sustained drives.

Another item of note that became painfully clear is that the Eagles situation at quarterback is still a murky one almost two years into the Chip Kelly era.  While Mark Sanchez might be fine as a stopgap or backup, he is not much more than just another one of the reindeers and not the “marquee” reindeer (like Rudolph) that the Eagles are still looking for.

While Chip’s offense can be high octane at times, Sanchez has the ability to play great like he did against Dallas a couple weeks back or just be plain mediocre as he was against a tough defense like Seattle’s.

Sunday’s loss also displayed the unfortunate truth that while this team is trending upward quicker than anyone thought they would after Andy Reid left, they are still not “ready for primetime” and struggle when they face an elite team.

But even with last week’s loss, the Birds remain in control of their destiny for a division title, and a win at home against the Cowboys this Sunday night will be the catalyst to win their 2nd straight division title.   And while a bye is still possible, last week’s loss only means that more help is needed from other teams to jump into that 2nd seed which affords a week off and a 2nd round playoff game at home.

While many in the Delaware Valley were hoping that the Cowboys would began their December swoon once the calendar changed months, Dallas rebounded nicely from a defeat to the Birds on Thanksgiving to take their frustrations out on the lowly Bears on the road in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.

Dallas will be looking to exact revenge for the beating they suffered at the hands of their division rival, and a repeat of that game is not likely.  However, the Eagles are still more talented on offense than the Cowboys defense can probably handle, and the Birds should do just enough to get Tony Romo hearing footsteps from the likes of Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, and the Broad Street line’s most famous Monthly “Trailpass” holder, Connor Barwin.

While it won’t be as easy as last time, Birds win 30-20, and get a step closer to the playoffs with the football nation looking on on Sundayyyyyy Night Football…..

The Last Word:

The Phillies must have been seriously wheeling and dealing at the baseball winter meetings, as they just traded longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  And while it is still officially unclear as to what we are getting back, my sources tell me it is ten giant inflated beach balls.

While that might seem like an unfair trade for a player who still has a higher than average defensive prowess, if you’ve ever been to Dodger Stadium, you know those beach balls are a highly desired commodity.

I speak from experience – wear your Phillies gear to “Chavez Ravine” (where Dodger stadium is located) and you will be perfectly fine.  But take the air out of one of the beach balls being thrown around at the game and you will be treated like a Cowboys fan sitting in the 700 level at the Vet.

The Phillies didn’t stop there, continuing their clearance sale (or “cleaning house” sale depending on how you look at it) by sending lefthanded reliever Antonio Bastardo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a box of used “Terrible Towels” from the Pirates NFL counterpart, the Steelers.

Phils GM Ruben Amaro had initially asked for a box of NEW Terrible Towels in order to help the team stay below their “self-imposed” spring training salary cap for towels, but the Pirates determined that that was just too high of an asking price for Bastardo.  They did, however, throw in a sandwich from Pittsburgh’s famous “Primanti Brothers” as a gesture of good faith.

Rumor has it that it was a grilled, and overcooked, Reuben…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (1)

2. Patriots (2)

3. Cardinals (3)

4. Seahawks (5)

5. Packers (4)

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

Dolphins at Patriots 1:00 PM CBS

Texans at Colts 1:00 PM CBS

Bengals at Browns 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Bills 1:00 PM FOX

Broncos at Chargers 4:05 PM CBS – Game of the Week

49ers at Seahawks 4:25 PM FOX

Cowboys at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC

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

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #8: Eagles at Cardinals

Now that the annual bye week has ended, the sight of Birds fans trembling and suffering through withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of an Eagles game this past Sunday should start to subside.  And with it, the anticipation of what could become another NFC East title and hopefully at least one playoff victory (or two or three) on the horizon.

But while we had to make do without Eagles football last week, there was more than enough exciting NFL action to go around.

The Panthers and Bengals continued to flounder, the Packers fans are now “relaxed” (as Aaron Rodgers requested), and the St. Louis Rams defeated the world champion Seahawks with more trickery and antics than either David Copperfield or the Barnum & Bailey circus could ever muster.

The Giants came up short in helping us out while Peyton Manning became one of the greatest quarterbacks statistically speaking (though I would still take Tom Brady over him in a big game).

While the Eagles are 5-1, their schedule is not very favorable as they have two consecutive tough road games against Arizona and Houston followed by a Monday night at home against Carolina, which then leads into facing the Packers and the Cowboys on the road two of the following three weeks, including a Turkey Day affair with the ‘Boys.  Suffice to say, if you have family members who don’t like football and want to discuss your personal life on Thanksgiving while waiting for dessert to be served, this is not the year to invite them over.

While the Eagles – Cardinals contest is not a Sunday night affair or the FOX game of the week this Sunday (CBS actually has the doubleheader this week and thus, has the “official” late afternoon game of the week), it is indeed a “marquee” matchup and the 2nd best game on the schedule this week (Chargers – Broncos being #1).

The Birds face another 5-1 team which has played surprisingly well since Bruce Arians took over as their coach last year.  Hard to believe he was the same guy who coached a woeful Temple team back in the 1980’s when Michael Jackson was creating music video masterpieces and A-Ha was singing “Take on Me” with cool synthesizers playing in the background.

Arians has also revived the career of quarterback Carson Palmer, who looked to be done after he was traded to the NFL “over the hill” retirement community known as the Oakland Raiders.

The Eagles should have starting linebacker Mychal Kendricks back from injury for this game, and the possibility of Darren Sproles playing would be huge, especially on punt returns.

Even so, I think the Birds lose this week on the road, 34-27.  But no worries…the season still looks bright.

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Cowboys (don’t be hatin’)

2. Broncos

3. Seahawks

4. Chiefs

5. 49ers

I know my “Top 5” list is bound to create some controversy.  For starters, the Eagles are not on the list, while two teams with records of 3-3 are (Seahawks and Chiefs).  But both Kansas City and Seattle have played a murderous schedule to date, while the Eagles are 5-1 on a relatively easy schedule.  That should change over the next few weeks as the Eagles face some tough opponents, and some quality victories would help to get them more R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

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

Chargers at Broncos 8:25 PM (Thurs) CBS  (Game of the Week)  

Seahawks at Panthers 1:00 PM CBS

Ravens at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS

Eagles at Cardinals 4:05 PM FOX

Colts at Steelers 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #7: Cowboys at Eagles

“We want Dallas, Dallas, we HATE you…Dallas!”

Most likely, the scruffy, bearded man on the classic NFL films video had probably downed one too many Schmidt’s beers in the Veterans Stadium parking lot before professing his disdain for “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys.  Or maybe he could have been drinking Schlitz or Miller High Life as well.  But his statement echoes the sentiments of many in the Delaware Valley…we just love to hate the Cowboys.

The feeling is really not mutual.  On the two occasions that I’ve been to Dallas (once at the old Texas Stadium in 2004 and again in 2009 at the new Cowboys Stadium), the fans have been nothing but nice, though the detractors would say that it is really a “phony” kind of nice.  I’ve never hung around in the “Metroplex” (as the Dallas – Ft. Worth area is called) long enough to know which opinion is accurate.

So why do we hate Dallas?  Perhaps it is the smugness with which the Cowboys conduct business.  Perhaps it’s Jerry Jones and his larger than life persona (though we hated the ‘Boys in the days of Tex Schramm and Tom Landry as well, when Jones was still a young tyke poking his head in the ground and searching for oil).  Or perhaps it’s the title of America’s Team, coined by NFL Films Editor Bob Ryan when working on the team’s 1978 highlight film.

Which begs the question…are you really America’s Team when you’ve only achieved one playoff win in the last sixteen seasons? During that same stretch, the Eagles have won ten playoff games if you’re keeping count.   I know, I know, the ‘Boys have five Super Bowl rings while we still have a big , fat goose egg, but if you haven’t won a Super Bowl in the last ten years, how many you had in the past is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.

But whatever the reason may be, on January 11, 1981, the Eagles exercised their demons and years of futility by beating Dallas in the NFC Championship game, 27-10, which to this day remains the only time the two teams have faced off in the NFC Championship game.  It is also the Eagles only postseason win (out of four tries) against the Cowboys.

And while we are only in Week 7 of the NFL season, this week’s game will be huge, if only for the fact that the winner will be in 1st place in the NFC East with a 4-3 record, in a division where 8-8 could win it.

While the Eagles, with Nick Foles at quarterback, have the ability to actually score in the red zone, the downside is that the defense will be hard pressed to stop Tony Romo, who is a far cry from facing a rookie like Tampa QB Mike Gleason, or an error prone Eli Manning.

But with the home fans at the Linc hungry for a win and in a frenzy, and the accuracy of Nick Foles continuing, the Birds win this Sunday, 37-34.

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

Seahawks at Cardinals  8:25 PM NFL Ntwrk (Thurs) – The Land of the Sun welcomes the Land of the Clouds in a rare Thursday night marquee matchup, though I’m coming around to the idea that weekly Thursday night football is not such a good idea.

Bengals at Lions 1:00 PM CBS –  An intra-conference battle as the Queen City visits Motown.  Though coincidentally, did you know that many Chryslers are made in Ohio?

Niners at Titans 4:05 PM  FOX – Wonder if Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh will don cowboy hats and visit a country western bar after the game.

Broncos at Colts  8:30 PM  NBC – Peyton Manning goes back to where it all began, and where he won only ONE Superbowl.  Andrew Luck has the Colts thinking Super Bowl earlier than anticipated.

The Last Word – Speaking of the fans, the Eagles have lost eight straight games at home dating back to last year.  To put that in perspective, an Eagles season ticket holder who’s made a financial investment in the team over the course of the last year (which usually covers eight home regular season games) has ZERO wins to show for it.  Let’s change that this Sunday peeps!