As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #8: The Bills Mafia

When the schedule makers anointed the Eagles as the only team in the NFL to have three straight road games during the 2019 season, we all knew that this part of their schedule could be a treacherous one.

Two games in and it has been nothing short of a house of horrors.

The easiest (and best) explanation of this is that the team is dressed up in Halloween costume as a lifeless, low on talent football team, playing out the string on the way to double-digit losses and the hope of a high draft pick.

But if it were that simple, all it would take for the Birds to return to winning would be to remove the costume and show their true colors as a possible Super Bowl contender.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Games are won and lost in the trenches, and in that respect, both the Eagles offensive and defensive lines have been abysmal and downright scary over the last two games.

While the offensive line gave up three sacks (not great but not awful either), Carson Wentz seemed to be hurried and forced from the pocket every time he dropped back to pass. Conversely, while the Eagles defense registered three sacks, Cowboys quarterback Zak Prescott had all kinds of time to throw, and was rarely hurried or knocked down, which explains why the Cowboys were able to drive up and down the field at will.

Perhaps all the Eagles offense will need will be the return of someone to stretch the field a la DeSean Jackson. But if “D-Jax” will be out for an extended period of time, perhaps the trade deadline will be a place to find a suitable fill in.

But the Eagles defense is where most of the issues lie. Aside from the line’s struggles, the secondary has not impressed, and the return of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby may not do enough to turn the tide.

Linebacker is another area that seems deficient. The Eagles cut Zach Brown because he was giving the Vikings bulletin board material, but didn’t head coach Doug Pederson do the exact same thing when he stated that the Eagles would win last Sunday against the Cowboys?

Zach Brown was not the second coming of Seth Joyner or Jeremiah Trotter, but when Nathan Gerry was getting pushed out of his gap assignments on a regular basis last Sunday, the tune that the “Zach Brown band” was playing sounded quite melodious in comparison.

The Birds now head to Buffalo, where the outcome might play a pivotal role in deciding the course of their season.

Should they come out victorious, 4-4 at the halfway point, while not anything to write home about, would mean that there is still hope, and perhaps a trade to improve the team before Tuesday’s trade deadline (much like they did last year, acquiring Golden Tate from the Detroit Lions).

But a loss could mean that Howie Roseman, much like the Phillies brass at the trade deadline this past summer, decide that it’s not worth giving up draft picks for a team that’s just mediocre.

A record of 3-5 and perhaps the fans turn their attention to the winter sports teams (Flyers and especially the Sixers) while we’re still in the Fall.

Last year, the Birds stood at 4-6 before turning their season around. And while it became a memorable one with a trip to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, a repeat of a bad start is not a good trend, being that they’ve already made it a bad habit of starting that way in games.

The Bills, while not a powerhouse, are 5-1 and actually have the 2nd best record in the AFC (second only to the 7-0 Patriots). And while their offense still struggles with 2nd year QB Josh Allen, their defense is top notch under former Eagles defensive coordinator and current head coach Sean McDermott.

I have to think that the Birds win, if for nothing else than the fact that I’ll be in the stands and don’t want to venture the thought of going to Western NY to see a loss. Either way, expect the “Bills Mafia” (the name given to hardcore Bills fans) to be in full force, and smashing tables pregame (which is their specialty). Win or lose, they still booze in Orchard Park.

Birds win 16-9.

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

EAGLES at Bills 1:00 PM FOX

Panthers at 49ers 4:05 PM FOX

Raiders at Texans 4:25 PM CBS

Packers at Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #11: It’s Dallas Week!

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The bye week not only gives a football team a much needed break from the physical rigors of a 16-game regular season, but the chance to mentally get away from the game as well.  And while we don’t really know how most NFL players are spending their free time (nor should we), one can probably guess that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz spent last weekend out on the prairie of North Dakota (or in the NJ Pinelands perhaps) hunting for whatever he considers to be “wild game”.

And while he is probably quite capable of capturing whatever he sets out to hunt, the hunt to capture a Super Bowl trophy for the city of Philadelphia has eluded all those who have tried thus far.

But with seven games left in the regular season, the Eagles will now dive headfirst into what are uncharted waters for this young team, as for the first time since 2004, they have the best record in the NFL this late in the season and are on track to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Of course, there are games that must be played and actually won to get this team to where they want to go.  And with four of their next five games on the road, the Eagles will surely get a chance to show that they are for real.  If not, the Saints, Rams, and Vikings are all knocking on their doorstep, with all three teams owning a record of 7-2 and only one game behind the Birds.

But first things first – the Eagles need to win the NFC East before bigger and better things can be achieved.  And for that, they need to start by beating a Dallas Cowboys team that is on life support when it comes to staying alive for a division title.

Things were so much easier for the ‘Boys last season.  Even after losing their starting quarterback, Tony Romo, for much of the season, they managed to go 13-3 as rookie Dak Prescott took the league by storm and led Dallas to the #1 seed in the NFC.

All that went for naught, however, when Aaron Rodgers dashed the Cowboys hopes by throwing a sideline pass to tight end Jared Cook with seconds remaining in a tie game, which then enabled kicker Mason Crosby to kick a game -winning 52-yard field goal and break the Cowboys fans hearts again.

The above should be a warning for the Eagles and their fans that even if they manage to attain the best record in the league and all the playoff advantages that come with it, NOTHING is guaranteed.  This is precisely why the thought of facing the Saints and Drew Brees in the playoffs, even at home at the Linc, scares the hell out of me.

As for the Cowboys, this season has not been as promising as the last.  They sit at 5-3 and a loss would, for all intents and purposes, mean that Dallas would have to hope for a wildcard spot in order to be invited to the playoff  dance.

A win for the Eagles Sunday night and they would have a four game lead in the division with only six games to play, which would practically guarantee them the division title, barring a collapse.

This blogger suspects, as many do, that the Birds might be a little rusty in the first half tomorrow, which would keep the Cowboys in the game and give them hope of pulling out a win.

But after halftime, the team would get into gear and roll off another victory, 27-23, with visions of some turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes on their minds.  And the Enchanted Season continues….

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:

Titans at Steelers  8:30 PM  NBC/NFL Ntwrk  (Thurs)

Rams at Vikings  1:00 PM  FOX

EAGLES at Cowboys  8:30 PM  NBC

Falcons at Seahawks  8:30 PM  ESPN  (Mon)