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

20170916 blog

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)

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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”…

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 #12: Packers at Eagles

“They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook!”

Such were the words of a disgruntled Dennis Green, then coach of the Arizona Cardinals, after a 2006 loss to the Chicago Bears in which his team led by 20 points.

And while Green’s tirade became one of the most well known postgame outbursts in NFL history, the same phrase he made so famous could also be used in explaining the Eagles loss to the Seahawks last Sunday.

The Birds knew going into the game that they would need to play mistake free football to beat a dominant Seattle team at home.  But knowing and doing are two distinctly different things, and there were two plays that took place in the 2nd quarter that turned the tide in Seattle’s favor.

With the Eagles leading 7-6 and the Seahawks faced with a 3rd & 16, defensive lineman  Brandon Graham was called for offsides on a play which resulted in an incomplete pass.   His offsides was totally unrelated to the play and would have resulted in Seattle having to try a long field goal or punt.  Instead, on the very next play, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, while scrambling to avoid being sacked, hit tight end Jimmy Graham  on what turned into a 35-yard touchdown to give the Seahawks a 13-7 lead.

On the Eagles next drive, the offense responded with a Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz 57-yard catch and run touchdown pass (and miraculously, Ertz never fell down while running with the football) which should have tied up the game.  Instead, wide receiver Nelson Agholor (or more appropriately, “Awful-or”) was flagged for an illegal formation penalty, nullifying the touchdown.  Once again, his penalty, like Brandon Graham’s before him, had nothing to do with the play itself, but those two plays in the span of three minutes turned a close game into a 14-point swing for the Seahawks, and the game was basically won right there.

If one did not watch the game and only saw the final score (a 26-15 Seahawks victory), they may have had the impression that the Eagles hung in till the end. But that was not the case at all…the Birds were manhandled after those two plays, and with ten minutes left in regulation, ending the misery to watch Bruno Mars on 60 Minutes seemed like a much better alternative.

But in keeping this Eagles season in perspective, and especially considering the holiday we are celebrating this week, we should be thankful that the Birds are 5-5, in a season in which not much was expected.

While Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz looked lost at times and played his worst game of the year, he will have days like that as a rookie, especially against a foe like Seattle.  Personally, I am thankful to not have to see Mark Sanchez playing quarterback in midnight green again.

So what are the Eagles playoff chances with six games left in the regular season?  Here is everything you need to know about the playoff picture as it stands right now (but were afraid to ask):

The Dallas Cowboys sit at 9-1 and hold a four game lead over the Eagles for the NFC East division lead.  The Birds have about as much chance to win the division as Melania Trump and Michelle Obama duking it out in a sanctioned boxing match on inauguration day.

The Eagles best chance to make the playoffs is by earning one of the two NFC wild-card spots, currently held by the New York Giants and Washington Redskins.  The “G-Men” hold a 2-game lead over the Birds while the ‘Skins hold a 1.5 game lead due to having one of their games end in a tie.

The Eagles would have to do no worse than 4-2 just to have a CHANCE at a playoff spot (to quote Jim Carrey from the “Dumb & Dumber” movie – “So you’re saying there’s a CHANCE??”).  Even that would require the Redskins to do no better than 2-4 and other teams to falter as well, so a 5-1 finish might be more realistic of what the Birds need to get in.

There are currently four teams on the “outside, looking in” for those two wildcard spots: 1) The Lions OR Vikings at 6-4 (one of them would currently win their respective division, 2) The Eagles at 5-5, 3) Tampa at 5-5, and 4) the Cardinals at 4-5-1 (perhaps it’s time for the NFL to just abolish tie games?).

The Eagles would greatly help their cause by winning their four remaining home games against the Packers, Redskins, Giants and Cowboys.  Doing so would not only cut the Giants and Redskins lead for the wildcard, but give the Eagles a 3-3 division record, which could factor in as a possible tiebreaker should the teams be tied with identical records at the end of the season.

The Eagles should root for the Cowboys to win their next five games.  This is not a typo….I repeat, this is not a typo.  Yes, an Eagles fan rooting for Dallas is about as likely as Bernie Sanders campaigning for Donald Trump, but in this case it is warranted.

Should the Cowboys do that, their last game of the season against the Eagles would be rendered meaningless from their standpoint.  They would probably end up resting most of their starters and play some guy named Romo at quarterback, giving the Eagles an easy shot at victory, and perhaps securing a playoff birth in the process.

Today’s Thanksgiving games will factor heavily into the playoff picture, with the Lions hosting the Vikings and the Cowboys hosting the Redskins.  Eagles fans need to root for both “hosts” (Detroit & Dallas) to secure a victory…got all that???  There will be a pop quiz right after you’ve inhaled your third piece of pumpkin pie.

As for the Eagles, they will look to rebound this Monday night at home against the Packers, who are playing themselves out of the playoffs due to various injuries on their defense.  The Eagles are a perfect 4-0 at home this season and will continue that this week, keeping the playoff race interesting with a 30-20 victory.

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

Redskins at Cowboys 4:30 PM FOX (Thurs) – Game of the Week

Vikings at Lions 12:30 PM CBS (Thurs)

Chiefs at Broncos 8:30 PM NBC

The Last Word:

Be thankful for what you have.  You may not think your life is ideal, but there is someone out there who would gladly trade places with you in a heartbeat. Happy Thanksgiving!

2016 Week #8: Eagles at Cowboys

Last Sunday’s Eagles game could best be described as one of the strangest, most bizarre games in the team’s history.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that Halloween was only a week away, with both teams handing out turnovers in the 1st half the way that one hands out candy on Halloween night.

First, it was Carson Wentz throwing out some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the Vikings to snatch up, which put them in perfect position to score the game’s first touchdown at the Eagles two-yard line.  But Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, wanting to show how much he appreciated his former Eagles teammates, admirably played the role of “Mr. Goodbar”, giving the ball right back to the Birds by throwing his first interception of the year.

The follies continued with a muffed handoff between Wentz and running back Darren Sproles, leading to another turnover, which was immediately followed by Sam Bradford being stripped of the ball and the Eagles recovering, which was followed, a few plays earlier, with another Wentz interception.

If you were keeping track at home (and possibly pulling your hair out all at the same time) that was a total of five (count ’em, FIVE) turnovers within the first ten minutes of the game.  Eventually both teams realized that the “season of giving” is not upon us quite yet and settled down somewhat, registering only three more turnovers (I use the phrase “only three” very loosely) in total the rest of the game in what eventually resulted in a 21-10 Eagles victory.

Amid all the sloppy play, the Eagles returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown courtesy of Josh Huff, resulting in the first time in their history that they’ve accomplished the feat in consecutive games. Now, if only Huff would stop acting like he’s leading the Penn State Blue Band and not end his touchdown runs with a somersault.

Both lines, which struggled mightily against the Redskins the week prior, also redeemed themselves well on Sunday.  The defense was putting constant pressure on Sam Bradford, and the offensive line, including rookie tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, did a very good job against a formidable Vikings defense.  Vaitai, or “Big V”, as he is known, was called for a false start on the Eagles second offensive play of the game, but his name was never heard again, which is actually a good sign when you’re an offensive lineman.

Lost somewhat in all the turnovers was the fact that the Eagles defeated a very good team.  The Vikings were not only the last remaining undefeated team in the league…they are a team that has a Super bowl caliber defense.

It’s hard to decipher what the Birds are at this point.  They’ve beaten two quality teams at home thus far in the Steelers and the Vikings, but their two other wins have come against bad competition in the Browns & the Bears.

The tough schedule they face the next few weeks will be very foretelling about how good this team really is, and this week’s Sunday night contest against the Dallas Cowboys will be HUGE.

Lose, and the Eagles are in a two game hole for the division lead with the Cowboys  having a game in hand.  Win, and they’ll share the same record with the Birds holding the tiebreaker.  An Eagles-Cowboys game is always big no matter the record, but with so much at stake so early in the season, it doesn’t get much better than that.

With Halloween the following night, this game should be a “Thriller”, unlike last Sunday’s turnover fest, which had many quoting John Lennon, “Nobody told me there’d be days like these…strange days indeed”.

As for the outcome, I went out on a limb last week and picked the Eagles to win 23-9, which wasn’t too far off from the final score of 21-10.  But this week seems much harder to predict.

Unlike the Vikings, the Cowboys strength is not their defense, but their offense, and their offensive line is stacked and will be much harder to deal with then the Vikings were.

The Cowboys have not lost since Week 1 against the Giants so perhaps they are due?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is what I’m banking on – Birds win 28-21.  Buckle your seat belts for Sunday night…’cause no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike…

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

Patriots at Bills 1:00 PM CBS – Game of the Week

Lions at Texans 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Falcons 4:25 PM FOX

EAGLES at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC

The Last Word  – It’s good to see that this year’s World Series winner will be one who’s fans have been starving for a championship for quite some time (The Cubs haven’t won since 1908 & the Indians since 1948).

But while the Cubs seem to be everyone’s darlings this year, I hope that the Indians can pull it out.  They are a small market team with a small market payroll, yet they built a team basically with platoon players who seem to be put in the right situations to succeed.

While there are no guarantees, the Cubs should be in the mix for the next few years.  The Indians – not so certain of that.  After years of futility, I’d like to see Cleveland experience it’s 2nd championship of 2016.

 

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