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

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As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #7: Eagles Bye Week

Eagles-Giants games at the Linc usually represent a tight fought, down to the wire contest that is never decided until the final gun sounds.  Last Sunday was not one of those games.

The Eagles took control from the start, playing their first complete game en route to a 27-0 spanking of the New York Giants.  It’s hard to fathom that a team that holds a 5-1 record could not have played a complete game up till now, but such is the case with the Birds, and with the NFL in general.  The days of dominating teams leading the league are behind us.

The only “hiccup” (if you could call it that) were two Nick Foles interceptions that looked awful from the moment the ball left his hand.  After six games, Foles leads the league with seven interceptions, and while no one thought he would match last year’s numbers (27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions), his tendency of throwing INT’s is a cause for concern.  In a playoff game in January, two throws like that could doom the Eagles season.

But I’ll save that for another time and be positive after a nice Eagles win against a division foe.   The Eagles will now enjoy their bye week and take some time to recharge, retreat, and relax, while this Sunday is also a good day for fans to catch up on the usual weekend chores like raking the leaves, cleaning out the garage, trips to Home Depot, etc.

In addition, if you (or your significant other) is planning on giving birth any day now, this Sunday is as good as any to do it.  At least that way, if the father of your child is yelling “Go! Go! Go!” in the delivery room, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that he’s doing it to give you moral support and not because an Eagles’ player is running into the endzone for a touchdown.

On second thought, even with an Eagles bye, there are a ton of good games to be watched starting from 1 PM eastern time and going all the way up to the conclusion of Sunday Night football.  So without further ado, here is a quick preview of this week’s marquee matchups (all games on Sunday):

Bengals at Colts 1:00 PM EST (CBS) – The Bengals always look like they are on the verge of greatness and then end up falling flat on their face.  The Colts have rebounded from an 0-2 start to win four straight and look primed to win the AFC South once again.  This will be a good test for the Bengals on the road.

Panthers at Packers 1:00 PM (FOX) – The Panthers seem to have lost their stout defense from a year ago and were lucky to get out of Cincinnati with a tie last week.  Carolina still leads the NFC South with a record of 3-2-1 (sounds more like a countdown instead of a record) but will be facing the Packers at Lambeau with Aaron Rodgers at the helm at quarterback.  The Panthers would be lucky to get another tie this week but don’t bet on it.

Chiefs at Chargers 4:05 PM (CBS) – Andy Reid’s teams are practically automatic after their bye week, but they face a tough road test against the Chargers who look to be a real threat to knock off Denver from the top of the AFC West.  Even if the Chiefs grab a big lead, Reid will probably not run the ball enough and the Chargers will come back to win it.

Giants at Cowboys 4:25 PM (FOX) – For Eagles fans, this game is the equivalent of choosing between two evils, sort of like when Darth Vader faced off against the Emperor in “Return of the Jedi”.  The Cowboys are 5-1, which no one expected, so I will be rooting for the Giants in this one (in a painful sort of way).

49ers at Broncos 8:30 PM (NBC) – This game takes the title of marquee matchup “Game of the Week” as the Niners head to the Rockies to face off against the Broncos in a rematch of Super Bowl XXIV (that’s 24 if you don’t recall your roman numerals).  In that contest, the Niners throttled the Broncos, 55-10, but not too likely that the same will occur this Sunday.

I’m betting on a 1) Broncos win and also that 2) Niners coach Jim Harbaugh will spend Saturday looking for coaching jobs at the 1) University of Colorado, 2) Colorado State, and 3) Anywhere else in the state of Colorado that will possibly hire him.  Who knows…if the Michigan job falls through, Harbaugh may even be selling marijuana at one of the state’s legal marijuana stores.  Seeing how intense and crazy he is on the field, he may need to use some as well…

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #17: Eagles at Cowboys

Last Sunday, the Eagles and their fans embarked on a “3-hour tour” (as they used to say on Gilligan’s Island) which turned out to be a roller coaster ride that swung across virtually every gamut of emotions.

On two separate occasions, it looked like the Cowboys were on the verge of losing, yet both times, Dallas managed to keep the game alive, which eventually made the difference in a 24-23 victory over the Redskins.

With Washington holding a 23-14 lead approx. midway through the 4th quarter, and the Cowboys faced with a 4th & 6 at the Redskins 40, quarterback Tony Romo completed a 20-yard pass across the middle to keep the drive alive.

More importantly, it looked like a Cowboys loss was imminent after Dallas went from a 2nd & goal at the 1 to a 4th & goal from the 10 with only 1:16 left to play.  Instead, Romo found DeMarco Murray at the 2 yard line, and, with just enough momentum to carry him into the end zone, kept the Cowboys alive for at least one more week.

Eagles fans, jubilant at the thought of clinching the division on Sunday night against the Bears when the Cowboys faced 4th & goal, must have felt as if their “buzz” turned into a hangover almost instantaneously, with the knowledge that last Sunday’s game suddenly did not mean nearly as much.  Now, the Eagles had to win at Dallas no matter what happened last Sunday night at the Linc.  And later we found out that it was Chicago who had everything to play for, while the only advantage the Eagles could gain was for seeding purposes…which only holds importance IF the Eagles win this Sunday.

But it was the Birds who played as if everything depended on the game, while the Bears looked like THEY were the ones who rested their starters and trotted out a high school junior varsity team as replacement players.

Chicago looked disinterested, disheveled, and just plain discombobulated, and by the middle of the 3rd quarter, Eagles fans, while enjoying the offensive prowess of their team, still held their collective breath, hoping, PRAYING, that LeSean McCoy or Nick Foles would not lay motionless on the field because of an injury that would take more than a week’s recovery time.

Perhaps it was to remove the bad taste out of their mouth after last week’s loss to the Vikings.  Perhaps coach Chip Kelly, after watching his team practice to play a meaningful game, wanted to give them the chance to do so.  Or perhaps it was to gain a #3 instead of a #4 seed, which the Eagles will capture if they win their division come Sunday night.

There is validity to that argument.  While both the #3 & #4 seeds play at home in the 1st round and on the road in the 2nd (assuming they win their first game), the #3 seed, in theory, plays the worse of the two wild card teams.  Win that game, and you go on the road to play the 2nd best team in your conference and not the first (again, in theory).

By holding the #3 seed, the Eagles would currently play the New Orleans Saints (an awful road team) at home in the 1st round as opposed to the San Francisco 49ers, who are more adept at playing on the road outdoors.  Win that game, and the Birds would currently go on the road to Carolina in the 2nd round (a very winnable game) as opposed to going to Seattle and its “Monsters of Rock” concert decibel level at CenturyLink Field.

Make it to the NFC championship, and the Birds could play at home if the #4 or #5 seed also advanced that far.  Start the playoffs as the 4th seed instead, and you have to hope that the #6 seed advanced just as far (not very likely) to have that same opportunity.

Sure, I’m getting ahead of myself, as the Eagles first need to win this Sunday, but why not dream a little with the way this season is going?

As for Dallas, Santa dropped a lump of coal into the Cowboys playoff stocking, when it was discovered that QB Tony Romo may be out for the game (and for an extended period of time) with a herniated disk.  But while all the “Romo-sexuals” (the Tony Romo supporters) may be crying in their eggnog at hearing such news, the Eagles would do well not to relax and take this game lightly.

While Cowboys backup Kyle Orton may not be as elusive as Romo, he also may not have the “chokability” (is that a word?) of Romo either, who has gone 1-6 in playoff and regular season elimination games. ..nothing to write home about.

With the Eagles offense as potent as it is, if the defense can hold the Cowboys to 21-24 points, there is no reason they shouldn’t win this game and become NFC East champions for the 1st time in three years.  As long as the Eagles remember the Vikings game from two weeks back and don’t plan to sleepwalk through it…

Birds win 35-20 Sunday night and Birds fans will be singing “Fly Eagles Fly” in Old City, Rittenhouse Square, the Graduate Hospital area, and of course, Frankford & Cottman…

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

Ravens at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS – The Bengals have won the AFC North and have an outside shot at a bye.  The Ravens need a win and a partridge in a pear tree to make the playoffs.  A game still meaningful for both teams…

Niners at Cardinals 4:25 PM FOX – Had the 49ers lost to the Falcons on Monday night, this game would have been, essentially, a playoff game for both teams.  Instead, the Niners are already in the playoffs, with a chance to get a bye, and possibly home field advantage as well, for which they will need three French hens & two turtle doves along with a partridge in a pear tree.  The Cardinals need a win and have to hope that Tampa can pull off an upset in New Orleans…otherwise, the Cardinals could end up 11-5 or 10-6 and be watching the playoffs at home in the land of the cactus.

Packers at Bears  4:25 PM FOX – For the Bears sake, hopefully they can snap out of their sleepwalk just in time to get up for this regular season winner-takes-all game against the Pack, who might have Aaron Rodgers back and could make a deep run in the playoffs as the #4 seed.  If that is the case, I’ll be singing  “I’mmmmm dreaming, of an Eagles-Packers championship…just like the one in 1960″….

Eagles at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC   – Based on comments they made during last week’s Eagles-Bears Sunday night game, the NBC broadcasting duo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth seem to have a “bro-mance” going with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.  Or maybe it was the oversized picture of the Phillie Phanatic used to send in offensive signals that had them smiling?  Either way, they both do a great job, though I will always defer to putting down the sound and putting on Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on the Eagles radio network…It’s GOOOOOD!

The Last Word – From the crack staff and research department here at “As Broad & Pattison Turns” (namely, me), I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, & Season’s Greetings (the “trifecta” of famous December phrases).  And to celebrate, I leave you with a Christmas jingle sung to the tune of Wham’s “Last Christmas”:

Last Christmas, the Eagles were lousy, 

And the very next day, they fired Andy,

This year, to save us from tears,

I’d give the ball to someone like Shady,

Yes, I’m a dork I know…and to all a good night…

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

There are certain things one can always count on in the month of December:

1)  Overcrowded shopping malls.

2)  Hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on the radio.

3) Being asked 623 times “So are ya finished your Christmas shopping?”

4) Santa sliding down the chimney to deliver presents.

5) The Cowboys sliding down the NFC East standings as Tony Romo delivers another fatal interception.

Once again, just around the time that the Christmas trees are decorated and the eggnog is flowing freely, the Cowboys began to freefall, going from a contender to a pretender.  Last week, the ‘Boys held a commanding 26-3 lead over Green Bay at halftime, only to have it slip away when Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw not one, but two game-changing interceptions, eventually leading to a 37-36 fall from ahead defeat.

The last two seasons, it has been the Giants and Redskins, respectively, that have won the division as a result of the Cowboys implosion, and this year looks to be the Eagles turn as they try to make the playoffs in Chip Kelly’s first season, a feat that even the “Ghost of Christmas Future” could not foretell.

Don’t know what it is that has cursed Tony Romo…the guy puts up good numbers and can throw 5-6 touchdowns in a game, yet he’ll throw an interception at the most inopportune time, eventually leading to a Cowboys loss.

Back in 2006, the Cowboys were a chip shot field goal away from winning a wildcard playoff game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks when Romo, who was then the holder on field goals and extra points as well, botched the snap, leading to a Cowboys playoff loss in his 1st year as the Cowboys starter.  Who would have known then that Romo and the Cowboys would amass only one playoff win in the next six seasons?

Perhaps it’s the ghosts of “Cowboys past” that are cursing Jerry Jones and trying to get him to see the error of his ways in remaining the general manager of his football team.  It was Jones, after all, who caused former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, the only successful coach he’s had to date, to depart Dallas.  The only thing bigger than Jerry Jones ego is his stadium, and while it may hold all the technological bells and whistles, it is an awful place for the average fan to actually watch live action, and doesn’t hold any ground when compared to Lincoln Financial Field.

Meanwhile, back at Broad & Pattison, the Eagles were very much in the holiday spirit last week, as they gift wrapped a win for the Vikings.  And while Minnesota’s record was nothing to write home about, Eagles play-by-play man Merrill Reese made an interesting observation before kickoff last week that if a football game lasted 59 minutes instead of 60, the Vikings would have been 8-5 instead of 3-9-1.  This wasn’t the Houston Texans the Eagles were facing but a team that had played it close for most of their games and, if taken lightly, had the ability to beat you.  And they did just that.

But with the Cowboys loss, the Eagles received their own Christmas present of sorts, and with it, a chance to clinch the NFC East this Sunday with a Cowboys loss to the Redskins Sunday afternoon followed by an Eagles win over the Bears on Sunday night.

If both teams have something to play for, it could be a tight, close game, but by Sunday night, either one or both teams could be resting their starters for a game that might end up meaning very little (wonder if the boys over at NBC  thought this one through before they flexed this into the Sunday night game).

Here are the up-to-date, and now limited, playoff scenarios for the Birds:

– They cannot get a wild card spot, which goes to the #5 & #6 seed.

– They can only get into the playoffs as a division winner, which would give them either the #3 or #4 seed, depending on what the record of the NFC North winner is.  They cannot move up enough to capture the #1 or #2 seed (and the 1st round bye that comes with them).

– A Cowboys win against the Redskins and the Eagles would have to beat Dallas the last week of the season to win the division, no matter what happens this Sunday night.  In that case, a loss against the Bears would make it likely that the Birds would become the #4 seed instead of #3.

– For the Bears, a Lions loss against the Giants and a Packers win against the Steelers (both played on Sunday afternoon) would render the Eagles game meaningless for the same reason, as the Bears would need to defeat the Packers the following week to win their division, regardless of what they do against the Eagles.

– If the game ends up meaningless for both teams, the only thing the outcome would affect is the seeding between #3 & #4…got that??

I actually think the game will mean something for the Eagles, as the Redskins, with Kurt Cousins at quarterback, will come through and defeat the Cowboys, followed by the Birds defeating the Bears, 27-16, and giving Eagles fans an early Christmas present and an NFC East title in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach.  If that scenario plays through, Chip Kelly will indeed be Santa Claus for the next two weeks…

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

Colts at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS – While both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots, the Chiefs still have a shot at winning their division and getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Colts still have an outside shot at a 1st round bye.

Saints at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX – A win would give the Saints the NFC South title and a 1st round bye in the playoffs.  A Panthers win would put them in the drivers seat for the same, though they would still need a win or a Saints loss the following week as well.  The Saints are an offensive juggernaut when they are playing at home, but unfortunately, this game is in Carolina.

Cardinals at Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX – A win would give the Seahawks home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.  While the Cardinals future is bright under new head coach Bruce Arians, they still need some help to make the playoffs in 2013.

Patriots at Ravens 4:25 PM CBS – With neither team having clinched a playoff spot yet, and playoff seeding still in the air, this should be a dandy.

Bears at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC – While this game is currently a marquee matchup, that could change before kickoff based on how other games pan out.

The Last Word – With Christmas fast approaching, just remember – if Grandma has been drinking too much eggnog, just tell her not to go.  And make sure she doesn’t forget her medication, and stagger out the door into the snow…

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!