As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #3: Eagles vs. Redskins

If old habits are hard to break, perhaps Eagles fans would be better off skipping the 1st half of their games altogether.

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Birds have scored a whopping six points combined in the 1st half, but have still managed to win both games while compiling, statistically, the #1 offense in the league.  One wonders what would happen if they actually played the whole four quarters for a change.

Things looked bleak for a while last week until Darren Sproles, who is undersized by NFL standards, performed his weekly “Popeye” act, turning into a 2nd half superhuman and propelling the Birds to victory.  One can only assume that he must have downed a can of spinach on the sidelines with the sailor man’s theme song playing in the background.

With the victory, the Birds also became the 1st team in NFL history to start the season 2-0 after being down by 14 points or more in the 2nd half of each game, a feat that speaks to their resiliency, their energy, and their ability to make adjustments on the fly.

On the negative side, the Eagles inability to soar in the 1st half is causing sales of Mylanta to soar in the Delaware Valley, as the number of fans suffering from indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux has increased considerably since Labor Day weekend.  Winning in this fashion gives a team a certain amount of confidence that they are never out of it, but can also result in a belief that the end result will always be a “W”, a thought process that is bound to come back to haunt the Birds at some point.

The Eagles were also lucky that against a good team and in a hostile atmosphere in Indianapolis, they had some calls go their way, most notably a non-call against them on a Malcolm Jenkins interception and a questionable horse collar call for pulling down LeSean McCoy.  These “lucky breaks” have a tendency to even out under the guise of the football gods sitting high above on an NFL shaped cloud somewhere, and the Birds will undoubtedly lose a game down the road due to some questionable calls going against them.   Let’s just hope that the bad karma doesn’t occur during a playoff game.

The humor of those two back-to-back calls was that while they actually got the Colts fans in arms enough to boo for an extended period of time, they did not need to result in the “covering of the ears” of any young children in attendance at the game.  One would probably not want to fathom what would have been shouted at the referees had those two calls gone against the home team here at the Linc.

This week, the Birds face the Redskins, who trashed the Jaguars last week after starting quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) went down with what could possibly be a season ending ankle injury.  Enter Kirk Cousins, who did nothing more than operate the offense as if he had been the starter for the last three years.

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson also managed to injure his shoulder last week and will be a game time decision as to whether he will play against his former team.

The Birds won a game on the road last week that they probably should not have, and are coming off of a short week with perhaps a little bit of overconfidence.  It also doesn’t help the Birds cause that Kirk Cousins will be at the helm instead of Robert Griffin III.  While  RG3 may be DeSean’s “bro”, Kirk may turn out to be the capital’s favorite “cousin”, and give the Redskins a much better chance to win in the long run.

Sorry peeps, but I think the Eagles fall short this week, 31-27.

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

Chargers at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

49ers at Cardinals 4:05 PM FOX

Broncos at Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Superbowl XLVIII Wrapup

We’ve been lucky for the last six years.

Along with the usual pomp and circumstance of a Superbowl party, consisting of wings, beer, pizza, nacho dip, crab dip, etc. (all of which can sometimes lead to certain individuals taking part in another “dip” that starts with “skinny”), we’ve been lucky to have an entertaining Superbowl which has gone down to the wire for the last six consecutive years.

Starting in 2008 when the Giants shocked the then 18-0 Patriots, and going all the way to last year, when the Ravens defeated the Niners in the “Power Outage” bowl (which should have been sponsored by the Energizer bunny), the 2nd-half suspense of the big game consisted of more than just looking at one’s Superbowl block pool to see if any money was coming your way.

But that all changed this year.

This year’s Superbowl was a flashback to the majority of the games that took place in the 1980’s, when the AFC Champion would claw its way to the top of its conference, only to become easy fodder for the 49ers, Redskins, or Giants, the big three who ruled the NFC back then.  The “big game” was big only in name and hype then, and never quite lived up to its billing once the action on the field actually commenced.

Fast forward to this year’s game, where the Broncos played as if they were on a drinking binge for the last two weeks and woke up with a major hangover just moments before the national anthem played.  The Seahawks, meanwhile, were sharp and played with a purpose, and being one of the youngest Superbowl winners ever, they will probably be near the top of the mountain for years to come.

Seattle went from 7-9 just two years back to Superbowl champion due to drafting well the last few years, including in the later rounds, a strategy that other teams would do well to emulate.   Of course, everyone has the desire to draft well, but having the right people in place to do so is another story.

The Eagles were 4-12 in 2012 mostly due to awful drafts in 2010 & 2011.  But surprisingly good drafts the last two seasons helped them rebound to a 10-6 record in 2013, and another year or two of solid drafts will be needed if the Birds hope to win the first Superbowl in the team’s history.

As for the Superbowl “extras”, my  favorite commercial was the Audi “Doberhuahua”, featuring a hybrid dog which was part doberman and part chihuahua.  Aside from the dog’s humorous antics, the “huahua” part somehow got me hungry for a Wawa hoagie…even though it was acting more like a “hotdog”.

Coming in 2nd was the Geico gecko “cheesesteak shuffle”, if only for the fact that it centered around Philadelphia.  In the commercial, the Geico gecko is doing his own cheesesteak shuffle to celebrate the fact that a cheesesteak is available just as readily as Geico insurance.

While I would still take the “Ickey Shuffle” (courtesy of former Bengals running back Ickey Woods) over the cheesesteak shuffle, my question is – since the gecko is doing the dance across from Geno’s, does that mean that he’s really a Pat’s Steaks fan??

These are the questions that go through my mind during a one-sided Superbowl.   That, along with my commentary that the 2013 Eagles would have given the Seahawks  a much better game than the Broncos did (even though, technically, the Birds can never play the Seahawks in the Superbowl being that they’re both in the same conference).

The Last Word:  The end of another football season is upon us, and with it, the winter of our discontent has begun.  Sundays in February leave a void that is not filled for me until April, when the Phillies start their season and a possible Flyers playoff run may commence.  Add to that, a colder and snowier winter than usual and April cannot come fast enough (I know there is March madness, but last time I watched, and was interested in, college basketball was during the Clinton Administration).

The end of football season also usually coincides with me going into writing hibernation and not coming out of my hole till Eagles preseason has begun.   However, this year, I do plan to write at least once a month about the various goings on in the Philadelphia sports scene, as Broad & Pattison is still occupied even when the Eagles are not one of the inhabitants.   Until then, stay warm everyone…pitchers and catchers report in just under two weeks.

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 #14: Lions at Eagles

Like a cheetah, they move faster and in short bursts than anyone else on the field, lining up quickly after the last play has ended.  Fleet of foot, much like the Road Runner in those “Looney Tunes” cartoons, they leave the opponent gasped and often in the wrong place at the wrong time, moving up and down the field at will.

And then, suddenly, after three quarters of football has ended, like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, they transform, not into a pumpkin, but into a little old lady (or old man so that I’m not being gender-biased) driving 25 miles per hour in the left lane of the highway with frustrated motorists honking their horns and shouting obscenities  at them.

Is this one of those Snickers commercials where someone is acting different when they’re hungry?   No, this is your Philadelphia Eagles during their recent 4-game winning streak, which they will try to extend this Sunday when the Detroit Lions visit the Linc.

While the Birds have given life to their season and hope to their fans, going from a 3-5 start to a current 7-5 record, the team has been unable to score a single point in the 4th quarter during their last four games, which makes it even more remarkable that they were all victories.

Against the Raiders, the Eagles held a huge lead and had no reason to score any points and run up the score.

Against the Packers, they controlled the ball and ran out the clock to conserve a 27-13 victory.

But the last two weeks, against both the Redskins and the Cardinals, the Eagles have managed to let what was a comfortable lead slip away into a one score affair, before holding on and winning thanks to their defense, which bends constantly in yardage but doesn’t break and allow points.

But while the winning ways have continued as of late, the Eagles inability to put the opponent away in the 4th quarter is a disturbing trend which could come back to haunt them as they enter, ironically, the 4th quarter of their season.

What is the answer, short of giving coach Chip Kelly a snickers bar at the start of the quarter?  For starters, I don’t think the Birds slowing down the game and letting the play clock run down is throwing off their rhythm.  The opposing defense still can’t change personnel due to the fact that the Eagles never huddle so there still remains a possible mismatch in formation.  The difference is that teams are now lining up to stop the run in those situations, leading to LeSean McCoy carries on 1st & 2nd down that generate little or no yards.

On 3rd down, with the Eagles in a sure passing down, they either play conservative and run the ball or are forced to try to get too many yards through the air on one play.

Perhaps the Eagles need to take a risk and throw the ball downfield on 1st & 2nd down to keep the defense honest while still allowing the play clock to bleed down to 5-10 seconds as they have been doing?  If the Birds throw an incomplete pass on 1st down, that would stop the clock to their disadvantage, but they could then start the next play right away, leaving the defense unprepared for what could be a big gain on 2nd down.

While no one will be anointing me as the offensive coordinator based on my advice above, I had to put in my two cents yo!

While the Birds had it tough last week facing Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, this week, they will face even a tougher receiving threat in the form of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who’s 6 ‘5 height and frame will give defensive coordinator Billy Davis some sleepless nights heading into the game.

If this game was played on a sun-splashed Sept. day, the Detroit offense may give the Eagles defense some fits, but the possible wintry mix in the forecast for Sunday will help to disable the Lions somewhat, who are used to playing in the friendly confines of Ford Field.

Of course, that same wintry mix may disable the Eagles passing game as well, forcing LeSean McCoy to run the ball more against a Lions defense that is prone to stopping the run.

The Birds would do well to protect Nick Foles as well, as Lions defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley could make things difficult for the 2nd year passer, who has 19 touchdowns and no interceptions, and is two touchdown passes away from breaking Peyton Manning’s record (set last season) of 20 TD’s and no INT’s to start the season.

The Birds win this week 27-20, if only for the fact that the Lions always struggle playing in Philadelphia.   Of course, we made that same statement about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once, and it didn’t seem to play out in the NFC Championship….

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

Lions at Eagles  1:00 PM FOX – The Eagles are a marquee matchup for the 2nd week in a row.  At the start of the year, didn’t think they would have any in 2013…

Colts at Bengals  1:00 PM CBS – A battle of two teams both leading their respective divisions.

Seahawks at Niners  4:25 PM FOX – The Seahawks have their sights on home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  An Eagles win coupled with a Niners loss and the Birds would be holding the final wildcard spot for the time being.

Panthers at Saints  8:30 PM NBC – The winner of this game would lead the NFC South and hold the #2 seed in the NFC playoff picture.

 

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

The Eagles bye week came and went (thank god there is only one a year) and while we could not watch our beloved Birds, there were still a plethora of games played last Sunday that had an impact on the Eagles playoff chances.

With five weeks to go in the NFL season, the NFC East race is pretty clear – basically a two-team race between the Eagles and the Cowboys  with the Giants still in the picture, albeit barely.

But if the Eagles were not to secure the NFC East title, they are still in line for a possible wild-card berth, and only a game behind the Cardinals and 49ers, who are currently tied for the 2nd wild-card spot at 7-4.  Unfortunately, the picture here gets much more muddled, with seven teams vying for only two spots.

Last week’s outcomes brought about the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly.  The good (losses by both the Lions and the Bears), the bad (wins by the Panthers, Cardinals, Niners, and most importantly, the Cowboys), and the ugly being a 26-26 tie between the Packers and the Vikings.  And as we all know, a tie in football is the equivalent of kissing your sister (no offense Neelj).

This week brings us the four F’s (feast, family, friends, and football) which are always a staple of Thanksgiving, and with it, the annual trifecta of Thanksgiving NFL games, which not only help to keep us entertained at grandma’s, but also keeps us aloof from partaking in more “serious” discussions like the Obamacare health exchanges, Black Friday sales, and Uncle Louie’s new hairpiece.

And while none of the Thanksgiving day games could be classified as marquee matchups, two of the three (Packers at Lions, Raiders at Cowboys) will have an impact on the Eagles playoff picture, while the night game features the Steelers at the Ravens in the “Mediocre Bowl”, sponsored by the 1) turkey leftovers in your refrigerator and 2) La-Z-Boy recliners.

To get you set for Thanksgiving and for Week #13 of the NFL season, below is a “cheat sheet” of who Eagles fans need to root for this weekend. Feel free to print out and place on the living room center table right next to the Macy’s and Best Buy holiday circulars…

Lions over the Packers (why you ask? Lions have an inside track to their division while the Packers could be battling the Birds for a wild-card spot)

Raiders over Cowboys (DUH!)

Bucs over the Panthers

Vikings over the Bears

Rams over the Niners

Redskins over the Giants

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

Cardinals at Eagles  1:00 PM  FOX  – The Eagles are a marquee matchup for the first time since October 2012, and face what could be their toughest test of the remaining five games against a Cardinals team that has won four straight and could present a major headache for the Birds defense with wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald & Michael Floyd, coupled with the improved play of quarterback Carson Palmer, who will be making his first ever visit to play the Eagles in Philadelphia.

I’d like to say that the Eagles will prevail over the Cardinals simply because eagles are “large, powerfully built birds of prey” (at least that’s what Wikipedia says) while a Cardinal keeps trying to come through my office window being too dumb to realize that there is glass there.

But unfortunately, this is a very tough game to predict.  While the Eagles defense will be tested, there is also the factor of teams from the West Coast not winning very often in games played at 1 PM on the East Coast.  In that respect, it was a good thing that this game did not get “flexed” to Sunday night football.

In addition, the Cards are generally a dome team, and will be playing outdoors in the elements of temperatures in the high 40’s.  For that reason, I see the Birds winning 30-24, and extending their winning streak to four games.  A win will also give the Eagles the tie-breaker should these two teams end up tied at the end of the season for a playoff spot.

Broncos at Chiefs  4:25 PM  CBS – Both teams sit at 9-2 and the winner will have the inside track to home-field advantage in the AFC.

Saints at Seahawks  8:40 PM  ESPN – Much like the Broncos-Chiefs, this game will go a long way to determining the #1 seed in the NFC.

The Last Word – Rumor has it that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro will be spending Thanksgiving Day visiting 1) 55+ communities, 2) assisted living centers and 3) nursing homes.  No, he won’t be there to visit family or friends, but to look for potential free agents to sign for the 2014 Phillies season.  Perhaps 86-year old Oscar in the long-term care center could challenge John Mayberry Jr. for an outfield spot?

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #11: Redskins at Eagles

The Nick Foles “magic carpet ride” continued last Sunday, and while Foles did not match his record breaking performance from the previous week, he still went 12 for 18 on the day and threw three touchdown passes, as the Birds defeated the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, 27-13.

On the season, Foles now has 16 touchdowns without an interception, which is tied for 2nd in NFL history when it comes to touchdowns thrown to start a season without throwing an interception (some guy named Milt Plum did it back in 1960) and only four behind Peyton Manning’s record of 20, accomplished last season.

But while Foles’ numbers have been eye-popping, Eagles fans still have their doubts as to whether he is the answer and the future at quarterback.  It’s almost as if we are waiting for the day when he comes crashing back to earth and has a serious of awful games similar to the Cowboys game at home.

Why is it that in “Foles we do NOT trust”?  Here are my five theories:

1. Michael Vick dazzled us for 11 games in 2010 until he came back down to earth for good.

2.  Donovan McNabb, while the best quarterback in modern Eagles history, generally fell short in conference championships and his one Super Bowl appearance.

3.  Bobby Hoying had three gangbuster games to start his NFL career in 1997 before he became just an “average Joe” and disappeared into the crowd of working stiffs.

4.  Randall Cunningham was a human highlight reel, but looked like Clark Kent in the playoffs, going 1-4 during his time with the Eagles.

5. Ron Jaworski, while a solid NFL quarterback with the Birds, chose Super Bowl XV against the Raiders to have one of his worst games, much to the delight of Raiders linebacker Rod Martin.

The quarterback in Philadelphia is like the woman whom you get a great vibe from when you’re being aloof.  But start showing interest in her and boom…you’ve got no shot.

So perhaps that’s it…perhaps, as Eagles fans, we find it hard to trust, to BELIEVE, that maybe, just maybe, Nick Foles is not just another quarterback riding the magic chariot before the stroke of midnight arrives, and he turns into a pumpkin (a.k.a clipboard holding backup).

Perhaps the thought of having a mid to late round draft pick who becomes the next Russell Wilson or even the next (gulp) Tom Brady is something that we feel is never meant to happen in Philadelphia?  Perhaps it’s our recent sports history that creates a lack of confidence in our teams?

We are usually the ones that give up on talent in error or can’t seem to get the lucky lottery pick.  There’s Nic Vucevic’s success with the Orlando Magic, the inability of the Flyers to draft Patrick Kane, or giving up on young players such as JVR, Jeff Carter or Mike Richards (in hindsight too early).  Surely, if anyone can screw it up, it’s our “four for four”( to borrow an Anthony Gargano phrase) sports teams right??

If only the Eagles had chosen to go 4-12 in 2011 instead of 2012, maybe we would have acquired Andrew Luck or RG3.  And if only the Phillies had never traded a guy named Ryne Sandberg…

Being sandwiched between New York and DC, we as Philadelphians already have an inferiority complex.  But add to that only one championship in a span of thirty years, while the New Englanders and their clam “chowda” have celebrated eight just in this decade doesn’t help matters any.

But maybe this time will be different.  Just as the curse of Billy Penn was broken in 2008 because of a six-week magic carpet ride by the Fightin’ Phils, perhaps Nick Foles will turn out to be a real “franchise” quarterback, and not just a quarterback who advertises for a franchise on Broad Street but can’t bring a parade down it.

But first things first, there is still the matter of the “elephant in the room” known as the Eagles losing streak at home, which must be overcome.

The Redskins come into Lincoln Financial Field this weekend at 3-6, which was exactly their record last year at this point before they ran off seven straight victories and won the NFC East (ironically, they started that streak by beating the Eagles at home).  Robert Griffin (RG3) is healthier than he was in the Monday night opener, but the Eagles defense is also an improved bunch from that first game as well.

If the Eagles are to make a run at the NFC East, the home losing streak has to end this week.   And it will – Birds finally prevail at home, 27-20, and Eagles chants once again prevail on the Broad Street line heading home…

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

Niners at Saints  4:25 PM FOX – The Niners laid an egg last week at home against the upstart Carolina Panthers and must now travel to the Big Easy, where this game will be anything but.  The good news?   Po-Boy sandwiches and Hurricanes to wash them down are in walking distance…

Chiefs at Broncos  8:30 PM NBC – “Whoa Nelly…this one’s gonna be a dandy” (as former ABC college football announcer Keith Jackson used to say) as this game features two teams with a combined record of 17-1.  But while the Chiefs, at 9-0, are the only remaining undefeated team left, truth is, they haven’t beaten a single team with a winning record.   This game will be a good benchmark for “Big Red” and his squad, not only because of the quality of the opponent, but because of 80,000 screaming Broncos fans in the light air of Mile High.

Patriots at Panthers  8:40 PM  ESPN – What looked like a “dud” a few weeks back is now a Monday night marquee matchup, featuring the Panthers defense against a potent Patriots offense.  Anyone know the over/under on compliments that Jon Gruden will throw out to both teams?

The Last Word – They needed to go shopping for a monster at the plate and a cheetah on the basepaths.  Instead, the Phils brought home an aging Byrd???