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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds win 16-9.

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

EAGLES at Bills 1:00 PM FOX

Panthers at 49ers 4:05 PM FOX

Raiders at Texans 4:25 PM CBS

Packers at Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #2: Birds of a Feather

Many prognosticators looked at last week’s opening day tilt between the Eagles and Redskins and felt that the Birds might be a little rusty in the first half. Unfortunately, no one predicted that the Redskins would come out looking like a well-oiled machine that could move up and down the field at will.

Before the charcoal grills in the parking lot had even begun to cool from all the pregame tailgating, the Birds were already down 7-0, and it did not get any better from there.

The ‘Skins tacked on a field goal, and a 69-yard bomb from Case Keenum to wide receiver Terry McLaurin had the visitors from the nation’s capital up 17-0 with just under 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.

Save for a Wentz to DeSean Jackson touchdown pass, the Birds were down 20-7 at halftime, and the natives were already starting to get restless.

When the Eagles struggle in the 1st half at home, it is usually the halftime entertainment that suffers the wrath of the disgruntled fan, and last Sunday was no different.

The Eagles had hired an artist to render a painting at halftime, and fans could be heard yelling comments such as:

1) “THIS is the halftime entertainment?”.

2) “Wonder what Jeff Lurie is paying for this?”

3) “This is as bad as the Eagles”.

Even when the artist was finished, no one in the stands could make out exactly what he was rendering. That is, of course, till he turned his painting around to reveal a beautifully drawn Eagle.

The irony was that for most of the first half, no one could figure out what the Eagles of the football variety were doing either. But they turned it around in the 2nd half, scoring 24 unanswered points before Washington scored a meaningless touchdown with six seconds left when the game was no longer in doubt.

In the 2nd half, the Birds showed flashes of what we thought they were, as the Redskins reverted back to what we thought they were as well, which is mediocrity at its finest. The 32-27 victory, though too close for comfort to start, was a good win in what will be a tough first half of their season.

This week, the Eagles travel to Atlanta to take on another type of bird for the Sunday night NBC game. But while the Eagles have soared over the last few years, it is the Falcon that has had its wings clipped more often than not.

Three seasons ago, the Falcons were on the verge of defeating New England and winning their first ever Super Bowl. That is, until Atlanta’s offensive coaches tried to outsmart themselves, and the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit to win, which became the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

While we all remember fondly the Eagles 2017 Super Bowl winning season and the great win over the Patriots, the “Philly-Philly” play, etc., it was actually the Falcons who came the closest to beating us that postseason.

Atlanta had a 4th & Goal at the 2 in the final minute of the game when an incomplete pass to Julio Jones gave the Birds a divisional playoff victory at home. If Julio catches that pass, the curse of the Eagles never winning a Super Bowl most likely lingers on today.

Instead, it is Atlanta who is still trying to climb to the mountaintop for the first time in its history. The Falcons had an injury riddled 2018, and finished with a 7-9 record to show for it. And when they were soundly defeated by Minnesota last week 28-12 (including being down 28-0 at one point), many wondered if the Falcons were for real.

If Atlanta loses this game, they will be down 0-2 and the rest of this season will be an uphill climb for local Philadelphia native and Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons not only have the advantage of playing at home this week in a dome, but it will be their home opener and they want to show their fans that they are for real, especially after last week’s drubbing.

The Eagles are definitely the better team in my opinion. But the better team does not always win. For that reason, I think the Eagles keep it close but lose 28-27, especially with their suspect secondary.

But all is not lost. The Birds should still have a successful season barring major injuries. And who knows…believe it or not, the predictions of “Nostra-damit” have been proven wrong before. 😉

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

Colts at Titans 1:00 PM CBS

Seahawks at Steelers 1:00 PM FOX

Vikings at Packers 1:00 PM FOX

Saints at Rams 4:25 PM FOX

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #2: Tampadelphia

While the threat of lightening before last week’s much anticipated season opening “raise the championship banner” game never came to fruition, lightening did strike once again in the closing seconds of an Eagles – Falcons game at home.

Much like the divisional playoff game last January, Atlanta managed to drive the ball all the way down inside the Eagles 10-yard line with time winding down, causing a lot of nail biting with the faithful who had come out on a surprisingly humid early Sept. night.

But once again, it was the Eagles defense that came up big when a pass that was intended for Julio Jones was ruled incomplete due to being caught out of bounds, and the local Birds escaped with a win in the opener that kept the “feel good” positive atmosphere that has surrounded  this team since last February alive for at least one more week.

That’s not to say that there isn’t work to be done.  The offense struggled, just as they did in last year’s playoff game, but managed to keep it close and score when needed.  But games like this on a consistent basis will not a Super Bowl repeat champion make.

On the positive side, the Eagles defense looks to be its strength, at least for now.  And there is no reason why Nick Foles cannot improve his play, just as he did in the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl.  The Birds really have no choice until Carson Wentz is cleared to play, which could be as early as next week at home against the Colts.

But first, the team must travel to Tampa for a contest that initially looked like a day at the beach (Clearwater beach to be exact).  But that was before the Buccaneers went down to the Big Easy and gave a spanking to the New Orleans Saints, who many had picked as their Super Bowl favorite.

Tampa quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has journeyed around the NFL more than Anthony Bourdain has journeyed around the world, ran roughshod over the Saints defense last week in a 48-40 Tampa win.

But while the “Fitz” hasn’t met a barber he actually likes, it seems that he does have a duo of quality receivers that get his beard all tingly, most notably Mike Evans and former Eagle DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles defense will have to come to play, and cannot afford to take Tampa lightly.  On the plus side, even though this is technically a road game, count on a “Tampa Takeover” as Eagles fans will be coming in from both near and far to soak in the sun and suds, and support their team like very few fans can.

Much like the Chargers game last year, there could very well be more Eagles fans than Bucs fan at this game, which would make it a surreal situation when a chorus of boos roll out when the home team is introduced.

But along with the Eagles strong travel contingent (including yours truly who will be attending a wedding in Sarasota the night before), there is already a legion of Eagles fans who are transplants from the Delaware Valley who get together every Sunday to watch their beloved Birds at the Crowne Plaza Tampa Westshore (near the airport).

The group is appropriately known as “Tampadelphia”, and when I was visiting Tampa last December and looking for a place to watch the Eagles – Giants game with fellow Birds fans, I happened to find this group with the help of a local Eagles fan.

Things got a little scary at the end of the game, but the Birds pulled it out by preventing the Giants from scoring after having 1st & Goal from the Eagles 9 (quite similar to last week’s Falcons game as well), which caused the Tampadelphia crowd to erupt…

While I think that the Eagles will face a tougher test this week than originally thought, they are still the better team, and should come out ahead, 31-17.

Let’s hope the sun shines on the Birds this Sunday.  Meanwhile, if the sun shines a  little in these parts as well, that wouldn’t be so bad either.  Six straight days of cloudy weather is getting to me…

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

EAGLES at Buccaneers 1:00 PM FOX

Panthers at Falcons 1:00 PM FOX

Chiefs at Steelers 1:00 PM CBS

Dolphins at Jets 1:00 PM CBS

Chargers at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Patriots at Jaguars 4:25 PM CBS