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

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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

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 #14: Eagles vs. Seahawks

After this past Thanksgiving, I am all in favor of one rule change for the NFL – have the Eagles and Cowboys face off EVERY Thanksgiving.

Sure, the desired result may not always be as favorable as it was this year, which could result in the carcass of a turkey being thrown at your cousin Lou, who happens to be a Cowboys fan even though neither he nor his immediate family members ever lived in or around Texas (one can only presume that such “misguided” thinking must be attributable to lack of “family values”).

But watching the Eagles “cook” the Cowboys only made the turkey taste that much better.  Watching the Cowboys on the sidelines gasping for breath with Chip Kelly’s high octane offense at full steam during their first two drives only made the pumpkin pie taste that much sweeter.

The Eagles got off to a quick 14-0 lead and never looked back, and their defense surprisingly played very well, putting constant pressure on Tony Romo.  But while I am not usually a “Debbie Downer” type, the lack of effectiveness in the red zone is a cause for concern.

During Mark Sanchez’s first few weeks as the Eagles quarterback, the Eagles were 7 for 7 in the red zone, but against Dallas last Thursday, the Birds could only manage to go 1 for 5 in the red zone, and while that did not come back to haunt them against the Cowboys, it is something that will need much improvement if the Eagles are to go far in the playoffs.

On the season, the team is ranked 29th in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns, with a success rate of less than 44%.  The good news is that while Seattle has one of the best defenses in the league, they are somehow one of the worst when it comes to allowing their opponents to score touchdowns in the red zone (64.5%).  So something has to give.

Now that we find ourselves in December, another factor that could come into play is the weather.  And while skies should be clear, the winds could be whipping, which could have an effect on the kicking game.

While I still have the Seahawks ranked higher than the Eagles due to their tougher schedule and more quality wins, the homefield advantage will aid the Birds this week, as they go to 10-3 on the season, winning 27-14.

The Last Word:

If you were to walk into the Phillies corporate offices these days, you will most likely find David Bowie’s “Changes” playing over the intercom.

– Cole Hamels is likely to be traded (along with a pound cake from Stock’s Bakery) for a package of prospects from most likely either the Dodgers or Red Sox.

–  A “deeply discounted” Ryan Howard will be available for less than that 60-inch television on December 26th.

– Rumor has it that Jonathan Papelbon was offered as a charitable donation to the 1) Salvation Army, 2) Goodwill and 3) Purple Heart, but they all politely declined.

If anything, changes with the Phillies are long overdo.  Longtime part owner John Middleton desires to be the majority owner, and will become so in time.  Middleton, who made billions in the cigar business, will put the right people in place and light a fire under them (no pun intended) to turn the Phillies back into a winner, something that never seemed to be a priority with David Montgomery as president.

While the Phillies will probably not become winners for at least a few years, just watching new and young players will be a welcome change from the old and standard “over the hill” gang, which the team trotted out over the last few years.

Ch-ch-changes….turn and face the strange….

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (2)

2. Patriots (3)

3. Cardinals (1)

4. Packers (5)

5. Seahawks (new)

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

Steelers at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS

Ravens at Dolphins 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Browns 1:00 PM FOX

Bills at Broncos 4:05 PM CBS

Chiefs at Cardinals 4:05 PM – Game of the Week

Seahawks at Eagles 4:25 PM

Patriots at Chargers 8:30 PM