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 #9: Eagles at Giants

With the presidential election only a few days away, the newly formed “Rookie” party led by Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson is holding a substantial lead in all local Delaware Valley polls.

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Wentz provides “hope” for the future and a change at quarterback that “we can believe in”.  Perhaps it’s the “temperament” of Eagles campaign manager Doug Pederson or the “experience” of Eagles Secretary of Defense Jim Schwartz.

But even good campaigns go through their ups and downs.  While Doug Pederson will not be found guilty of using an email server that wasn’t secure, he has been guilty of using running backs that could not secure the football.

Then you have the wide receivers who have been “careless” when it comes to catching the football. Yet, when one of them is questioned about it (Nelson Agholor) he responds with an air of smugness or privilege as if he is “immune” to criticism.  Agholor apologized a few days later, but if this keeps up, he may have to change his name to Nelson “Awfulor”

Last but not least, you have Eagles kick returner Josh Huff, who was caught with guns and marijuana in his car, in a state (NJ) in which he was not licensed to carry a weapon.  The Eagles “justice” department responded swiftly, releasing him from the team on Thursday without the need to convene a grand jury to hear all the facts.

 

Then there is the matter of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who’s name should probably be changed to “Zach Irks”…since it irks Eagles fans how Zach is always one game away from being one game away from being one game away to having his annual breakout game of the year.  Most likely, Ertz will have his breakout game at home against the Cowboys in the last game of the season…but only if it deemed to be meaningless and the Eagles are already out of the playoffs.  Otherwise, don’t hold your breath.

Last Sunday’s game was maddening for Eagles fans, as for 3 and 1/2 quarters, it looked like the Birds would be tied for the NFC East lead by game’s end.  But questionable “campaign strategy” by Doug Pederson, in which he “elected” to have the Eagles play it safe instead of vigorously attacking their opponent, resulted in the Cowboys coming back twice from a ten point deficit in the “polls” to eventually win in overtime.

Whenever the Eagles seemed to use a heavy campaign “blitz”, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott seemed off his game and was hurried into throwing incompletions. Yet, on Dallas’ game-tying 4th quarter drive and the game winning drive in overtime, Schwartz chose to “tone down the rhetoric” and only used a four man defensive front, which gave Prescott ample time to throw the ball to an open receiver, and eventually win the game.

The Eagles 3-0 start gave us some false hope, as two of their three opening wins were against teams that are not going to qualify for the playoff “ballot” (the Browns and Bears, respectively).  But the Eagles are still a good team…much better than last year, and the easy opponents of the September “primaries” have been replaced with a grueling stretch which will determine how valid of a “candidate” they really are to win the NFC East.

If the Birds had won last week, I thought that this week’s Giants game was ripe for a letdown.  But considering the disappointment that the team experienced last Sunday, they will be prepared and focused this week against the G-Men.

Birds win 27-21.  It won’t be easy…but it never is in the swamp of the Meadowlands where Jimmy Hoffa is supposedly resting in peace.

The Last Word(s) – After Chip Kelly’s first two “terms” (years) as coach of the Eagles, we were led to believe that 1) Not only was he a good football coach but that 2) He only believed in drafting character guys for his football team.

Knowing now that Kelly failed on both of his “campaign promises” here, I wonder how long it will be till his “constituents” in the Bay Area come to the same realization.

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

Bills at Seahawks 8:30 PM ESPN (Mon) – Game of the Week

EAGLES at Giants 1:00 PM FOX

Broncos at Raiders 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #13: Eagles at Cowboys

The Eagles followed the script as expected on Sunday, winning easily, but what no one quite scripted was the start, as rookie Josh Huff took the opening kickoff and managed to run it back 107 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead before many of the fans had even settled into their seats.

The touchdown not only set the record for the longest kickoff return in Eagles history, but jump started an Eagles team that needed a win, not only to forget last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Packers, but to keep pace with the Cowboys, who defeated the Giants on Sunday night in comeback fashion.

And much like the previous two home games against the Panthers and Giants, the game was over before the “beerman” called last call, with many heading to the exits by the end of the 3rd quarter.   With their 43-24 win, the Eagles have now won ten straight at home, ironically after losing ten straight at home, a feat never accomplished in the NFL.

The win sets up a HUGE showdown this week against the Cowboys, which will determine who holds the lead in the NFC East with only a month left to play in the regular season.  And just to add some flavor and “seasoning” to the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, the game will be played on Thanksgiving Day, which is about as rare as a white Thanksgiving in these parts (which we may just have as well).

For Eagles fans, most Thanksgivings revolve around enjoying the turkey and all its trimmings and sides in a “slow and steady” manner; chilling on the sofa talking to your peeps while hopefully watching the Cowboys lose.  But this year, an Eagles-Cowboys Thanksgiving showdown will most likely alter plans for most Birds fans.

Much like Chip Kelly’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense, many in the Delaware Valley will be operating a fast-paced, no-huddle turkey food orgy, with the goal of wrapping up in time to absorb every play of the Eagles game.

I can see it now – much like the Linc crowd was chanting “We Want Dallas” on Sunday, the crowd at your house will be chanting “We Want Turkey” just as the ugly bird is placed on the table for carving purposes.  While being carved, the crowd begins to shout, “Go, go, go!” as if the first slice was the equivalent of a Darren Sproles punt return.

Without the traditional fanfare of a relaxed sit down dinner, the basket of rolls wrapped in foil is thrown across the kitchen table, hopefully not being intercepted by the family dog as if it was another ill-advised Mark Sanchez or Nick Foles pass.

But let’s be careful to “chew-chew-chew” Eagles fans (as we always say to my two year old niece), or that extra helping of stuffing may end up bottled up somewhere like the 2014 edition of LeSean McCoy behind a makeshift offensive line (somehow Darren Sproles never seems to have that problem).

No, this Thanksgiving, instead of listening to Uncle Jerry asking goofy questions or sharing the same story for the 42nd time, you will hopefully be able to watch your “Iggles” put up 42 points while the other “Uncle Jerry”, owner of Jerry’s world down in Irving, Texas, looks on as if he ate some bad cranberry sauce.

Instead of listening to your Aunt Mildred ask you when you’re gonna “settle down”, you can settle down in front of the tube and watch Tony Romo choke in the closing minutes of the game, as the “Romo-sexuals” look on in stunned disbelief.

Much like the turkey after dinner, there will only be a carcass left in Big-D, as the Eagles win 42-30 and take control of the division.

The Last Word:

Since the Birds will be playing on Thursday this week, I figured it was a good time as any for an edition of “Throwback Thursday”.

The year was 1989, which was the last time that the Eagles played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.  The Birds defeated what was then a still up-and-coming Cowboys dynasty handily, winning 27-0, in a game known to many as the “Bounty Bowl”.  In that game, Eagles coach Buddy Ryan placed a bounty on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas, who was a former Eagles kicker and was cut earlier in the season.

The night before, five inches of snow fell on the Philadelphia area, which resulted in a white Thanksgiving.  Ironically, that was the last time we had measurable snow on Thanksgiving, which seems to occur only when we play the Cowboys on Turkey Day.

Thanksgiving morning, George Washington and Archbishop Ryan high school played to a 0-0 tie in the snow in their annual “Turkey Bowl”, the first time that had ever happened.

So there you have it…this year we have one bird on the table and another on the television.  Happy Thanksgiving and go Birds!

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings (same ranking as last week for all teams):

1. Cardinals

2. Broncos

3. Patriots

4. Chiefs

5.  Packers

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

Eagles at Cowboys 4:30 PM FOX (Thurs)

Seahawks at Niners 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs)

Browns at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Chargers at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS

Patriots at Packers 4:25 PM CBS

Broncos at Chiefs 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #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 #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!