As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #9: Eagles at Texans

A loss on the road against a very good opponent in a hostile environment is something that most Eagles fans would have accepted.  But in last Sunday’s game in Arizona, the Cardinals basically placed a big, fat “W” in their end zone, walked to their sideline and told the Eagles “Take it…it’s yours”.  And the Birds tripped over their own two feet while trying to grab the W…

Even though the Eagles amassed over 500 yards on offense, it was the extra foot that they could not gain on their second to last drive which made all the difference in the game.  Add to that another safety gaffe by Nate Allen, who had played better over the last few weeks but was fooled by Cardinals receiver John Brown as he sped past him like a speeding locomotive.   Rumor has it that Allen could be heard singing the Geto Boys song “My Minds Playing Tricks on Me” on the way back to the sideline.

And what do we make of the quarterback?  A position that was one of strength suddenly has become an enigma as we near the halfway point of the season.

Over the last two weeks, Foles has looked amazing at times, but has also thrown two interceptions in each game as well.  No one expected the quarterback to repeat his Superman like two-interception performance of 2013.  But too often this year, Foles has failed to run into the phone booth and change into his superhero alter ego, instead looking quite ordinary and somewhat awkward as his mortal Clark Kent self.  Perhaps Nick’s excuse is that there are no longer any phone booths to actually change into…

Along with the quarterback, an offense that was running on all cylinders suddenly turns into the “Jersey Shore” offense when it enters the red zone, as if coming to a screeching halt on Rt. 42 during Friday rush hours in the summer.  On Sunday, the Birds entered the red zone (within 20 yards of the end zone) three times on Sunday, only to go without a touchdown.

Turnovers also continue to plague this team, as they are -7 in turnover differential after Sunday’s loss, ranking them 29th out of 32 teams, and one of only two to have a winning record with a negative give/take ratio (the Chiefs being the other at -2).  But through it all, they have still managed a 5-2 record and remain in the hunt for the NFC East title.

How do they do it?  By hanging around till the end and somehow managing to pull out the win. This team could easily be 7-0 with two close losses to San Francisco and Arizona, but they could just as easily have been 2-5 if not for close wins against the Colts, Redskins, and Rams, the last in which taking their foot off the pedal almost came back to haunt them.

This week, the Birds head to the lone star state to face the Houston Texans and their defensive stud, J.J Watt.  The Texans don’t scare anyone with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback, but Watt should prove to be a handful for the Eagles offensive line.  The Texans do have a good coach in former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, but not enough pieces to do any real damage in the AFC South, which is once again owned by the Indianapolis Colts.

Birds win 23-14 and get back on the winning track.

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos

2. 49ers

3. Chiefs

4. Cardinals

5. Seahawks

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

Cardinals at Cowboys 1:00 PM FOX

Chargers at Dolphins 1:00 PM CBS

Broncos at Patriots 4:25 PM CBS (Game of the Week)

Ravens at Steelers 8:30 PM NBC

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

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 #1: Eagles vs. Jaguars

We have HIGH Hopes, we have HIGH Hopes, we have, eye in the sky, apple pie hopes….

Somewhere, former Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas must be singing his favorite song, but not for his beloved Fightin’ Phils, who’s hopes for a successful 2014 season were in tatters even before July 4th had arrived…

Unlike the Phillies, who’ve been, and will continue to be, in rebuilding mode for the next few years, the Eagles took a detour on that path and turned a 4-12 season just two years ago into a ten win NFC East championship in 2013.

The start of football season in these parts always brings with it a sense of optimism and excitement, but that has been heightened considerably this year.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s first training camp was viewed almost like a circus act.  Most of us were curious to see what tricks he had up his sleeve, if only for the fact that he was considered a novelty, but an unproven novelty.

This year, there is a sense that not only does Chip know what he is doing, but that he has his team on board as well, no easy feat when you consider that he is dealing with athletes who are getting paid to do a job and are no longer college students as was the case at his previous job in Oregon.

On top of that, the NFC East is ripe for the taking just as it was in Andy Reid’s first few seasons at the helm in the early 2000’s.

The Giants seem to be an older team on the path to mediocrity.  The Cowboys needed to resort to signing Michael Sam just to get any publicity, since their season seems to be over before it even starts.  And the Redskins?  Can you say OVERRATED boys and girls?  And that goes for their quarterback (RG3) as well.  Look for Kirk Cousins to eventually take over that team.

Not only did the Eagles quick turnaround last year raise the fans hopes, but the sad truth is that they are the only game in town.

The Phillies treat their older veteran players as if they were professors with “tenure”, refusing to acknowledge even the thought that perhaps starting over with young and fresh blood is the best strategy.  And while some of the bad decisions fall at the feet of Phils GM Ruben Amaro, firing Amaro would be nothing more than a band-aid approach when cutting off the head of the dragon is really what is needed.

Phillies president David Montgomery, while a decent businessman and a model human being, seems to refuse to believe that he has a lousy scouting department, lousy farm system, etc., always implying that he’s happy with the people he has in place.  If Montgomery was the captain of the Titanic, he would probably tell you that the ship’s not sinking when half of it was already submerged under water.

Across the street, Flyers chairman Ed Snider, growing impatient with his team’s lack of a Stanley Cup since the 1970’s, has allowed his front office to sign players who, while not as “over the hill” as the Phillies current core, were a year away from being past their prime (can you say Vinny Lecavalier anyone?).  This misguided strategy has resulted in one too many first and second round playoff exits, and while the arrival of new general manager (and former Flyers goalie) Ron Hextall should change that, the rebuilding process could still take a few years.

While the Flyers Wells Fargo counterparts, the Sixers, aren’t looking to get older, they seem to be looking strictly for young and INJURED players, with the hope that one day all of them will exit the infirmary at the same time and start playing basketball together as if they were the second coming of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

This strategy is sadly, exactly what is required in a screwed-up NBA, and it unfortunately took the Sixers too long to figure this out, so now they, just like the Phillies, are light years away from contention.  Look for these two clubs to start contending just around the time that the first Walmart or McDonalds opens on Mars.

The fans in Philadelphia have been eagerly waiting for any sign of possible sports success, and this town is now the Eagles to lose.  The offense should still be a potent force even with the departure of DeSean Jackson, and the defense looks to be improved.  But the “elephant in the room”  for most of training camp was the field goal kicker…

Alex Henery, during his three years as the placekicker, became the “Bobby Abreu” of the Eagles – he had great stats, but never seemed to deliver in the clutch.  But with so few experienced kickers out there, his job seemed relatively safe until rookie Cody Parkey, who’s name sounds more like he’s the main character in an upcoming FOX show about the wild west, kicked two field goals from 50+ yards in the final preseason game, prompting the Eagles to send Henery out the door with a case of Tastykakes as a parting gift.

The message to Parkey from coach Chip Kelly basically was ‘Congrats kid, the job is yours.  We have Superbowl aspirations…no pressure though.’

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have this uneasy feeling that at some point in January/February 2015, the Eagles hopes of ending their 54-year-old championship drought will rest on Parkey’s right leg.  That could end up being his “Matt Stairs” moment…or his Scott Norwood/Bill Buckner moment, depending on the outcome.

So what happens this Sunday against Jacksonville?  This could be the first time in years where I’m leaving a game midway through the 4th quarter since the outcome is no longer in doubt.  The first time in years where I get to Broad & Pattison and the express trains haven’t started running since  the game is still not officially over.  The first time in years where I get to my car in center city and the coach’s postgame news conference hasn’t even started yet.

Birds win easily, 38-17, and get their season started on the right foot.  Whether they have the right “foot” for making clutch field goals still remains to be seen…

The Last Word:

Congrats to the Taney Dragons for a successful season.  While they did not win the Little League World Series, the fact that they made it to the tournament and went as far as they did is a testament in itself.  Even more impressive is the fact that they are actually from Philadelphia.  Not Bucks or Montgomery County, not Voorhees, Cherry Hill, or Moorestown, NJ but PHILADELPHIA.

The team as a whole seems quite humble, and their star pitcher, Mone Davis,  displays the maturity of one who is a veteran MLB pitcher and not a thirteen year old.

When the Phillies recently honored the Taney Dragons before one of their games, it was ironic that Mone’s designated “partner” to throw out the first pitch to was Phillies closer Jonathon Papelbon.  If Papelbon displayed even a quarter of the maturity that Mone Davis does, he might actually be considered likeable…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups for Week #1 (all times in EST and on Sunday unless stated otherwise):

Packers at Seahawks 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs)

Patriots at Dolphins 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Broncos 8:30 PM NBC

Chargers at Cardinals 10:20 PM ESPN (Mon)

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Conference Championship edition

After a thrilling 1st round playoff weekend where three of the four games were still in doubt going into the final two minutes, the Divisional playoff round seemed to leave a lot to be desired.  Actually, it was, to paraphrase a 16-year old girl, “Like…BORING!”.

The Saints and Seahawks contest, which many thought could be a blowout, actually ended up being one of the more competitive games, with the Saints having a chance to at least throw a hail mary into the end zone on the last play of the game to possibly tie it.   That is, until Saints receiver Marques Colston had a brain freeze, lost track of time, or just decided to play hot potato with the football, resulting in a New Orleans penalty and the end of the game.

The Saturday nightcap between the Colts and the Patriots looked to be one which could go down to the end and go either way, but the Patriots had the game well in hand relatively early in the 4th quarter.  Luckily, due to the exciting life I lead,  yours truly was already snoozing on his couch by then.

Sunday brought us the Niners and the Panthers in what was billed as an intriguing defensive matchup, but Carolina was done in on three drives: Two 1st half drives in which they scored a total of only 3 points while having 1st and goal both times, and a 3rd quarter, 8-minute plus drive that yielded a big fat zero on the scoreboard.   The Niners took over the game in the 2nd half and never looked back, as they now head to the NFC Championship game for the 3rd consecutive year.

The Broncos and the Chargers finished up the Sunday playoff brackets, and for the 1st three quarters it looked like San Diego was ‘California dreamin’ as they looked fast asleep and lifeless in falling behind 17-0 after three quarters.  The Chargers also seemed to think that the word “Omaha” was a new synonym for “hike”, as they had a number of offside penalties caused by Peyton Manning’s signal calling (do Broncos fans play a drinking game where one drinks every time Manning says Omaha?).

So we are now down to the final four, and the teams that are still alive are who we thought they would be (to paraphrase former Vikings and Cardinals coach Dennis Green).

Conference Championship Sunday (all times in EST):

Patriots at Broncos 3:00 PM CBS – For the 15th time, future hall-of-famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will face off, and while it is the Broncos vs. the Patriots, there is no denying that Brady is Manning’s “daddy”, having won 10 of their 14 meetings.

While Peyton’s passing numbers are historically astronomical, the playoffs for Manning are like falling asleep in one of those old Freddy Krueger “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies – a nightmare.  He has a 10-11 career playoff record, and generally doesn’t play well in cold weather either.

The plus side for Peyton?  Sunday will be a balmy 60 degrees in Denver and the one time he beat Brady in the playoffs was playing at home for the Colts.

On the New England side, Bill Belichick continues to make weekly trips into his mad scientist laboratory to conjure up ways to win, and Tom Brady might as well be throwing to a CPA, an electrician, and a hot-dog vendor with all the injuries the Patriots have accumulated.

The Pats, like the Niners, will also be playing in their 3rd straight conference championship game, and I give Belichick and Brady a lot of credit for keeping the Foxboro machine going all these years (with the caveat that they haven’t won a Superbowl since Spygate was uncovered).  I’m not bitter or anything…really.

So who wins?  I was giving the nod to the Patriots initially, but Peyton Manning playing at home in spring like weather and I have a feeling he’ll manage not to choke this time.  Broncos advance…

Niners at Seahawks 6:30 PM CBS – These two teams match up so well that if this game was played on a neutral field, it could possibly go to double overtime (in which case, I vote that it be decided by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Niners coach Jim Harbaugh duking it out at midfield).

These two teams really do hate each other and for the last two seasons, the victor has been the one playing at home.  But while that does not bode well for San Francisco, trends are meant to be broken (for reference, see the Bengals losing at home in the wildcard round and the Saints winning outdoors in the cold against the Eagles).

Seattle didn’t play particularly well against New Orleans last week but managed to hold on for the win.  A similar game against San Francisco and the Seahawks will find themselves eating pizza and wings at home during the Super Bowl instead of actually playing in it.

While the 12th man gives Seattle a distinct advantage, Harbaugh will have the Niners ready to play and win.  Niners and Broncos in the Superbowl peeps…

The Last Word – Now that Chris Wheeler is no longer on the Phillies broadcast, I vote for the term “no doubles defense” to be banned from the broadcast as well.   On a serious note, with the removal of “Wheels”, the last link from the original 4-man Phillies broadcast team that many of us in the Delaware Valley grew up watching/listening to are either off the air or are no longer with us (Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, and Wheeler).

“As Broad & Pattison Turns”: 2013 Week #2 – Eagles vs. Chargers

The much-anticipated Chip Kelly “magical mystery” tour finally took off on Monday night, passing “GO” several times but not bothering to stop and collect $200 – it was going way too fast.

It didn’t bother to pick up any inexpensive properties on Mediterranean or Baltic Avenues, nor any high-end properties on Park Place or Boardwalk either.

Instead, much like the Acela Express rumbling down the Northeast Corridor, the Eagles offense rumbled through the Redskins defense as if they were a local DC Metro station that wasn’t equipped to handle them.

The Redskins tried to make a game of it in the 2nd half, but luckily for the Birds, the “rustoleum” didn’t peel off of RG3’s legs until it was too late, and the much maligned secondary, held together with some bobby pins and some scotch tape, managed to hold on just long enough.

So there you have it…a team that went 4-12 last season got off to a start like no one envisioned, but one that every “Iggles” fan will gladly take.  What does this all mean?   I have no clue…one game does not a season make, and before Eagles fans start making Superbowl proclamations on WIP & 97.5, there is still ample time for the opponent to figure out exactly what Chip Kelly is doing, and also ample time for the secondary to show their true colors.

An interesting observation from our seats during Monday night’s game was watching Chip Kelly on the field an hour before his first NFL game.  When his team was initially the only one practicing, he stood and watched as any other coach would.  But as soon as the Redskins took their side of the field to practice, Chip stood at the 50-yard line, arms folded, and stared stoically at the Redskins practice for the whole 30-45 minutes they were on the field, as if he was mentally taking in every play & every formation they were running through osmosis.

I have to give credit where credit is due – it wasn’t I who observed Chip’s intense focus on the Redskins but my father, who pointed it out and quickly remarked, as a distraught Eagles fan,  “you would NEVER see Andy Reid doing that”.  Sure, I was sitting right next to him the whole time, but I was focused on other important matters, such as whether my next adult beverage would be a Hefeweizen or the lower calorie Miller Lite (I chose the Hefeweizen).

Last week’s win was very reminiscent of the season opener in 2000, when the Eagles flew to Dallas and surprisingly spanked the Dallas Cowboys, 41-14 in the famous “pickle juice game”.  However, the following week, they looked lifeless and lost in their own home opener against the New York Giants, losing 33-18.

The G-Men were the eventual NFC representative in the Super Bowl that year, losing to the Baltimore Ravens.  And while no one expects the San Diego Chargers, this week’s opponent, to be as formidable a foe as the Giants were, it would be foolhardy for the Eagles to overlook this game and look ahead to Andy Reid and the Chiefs coming to town for a Thursday night clash on a short week.

Looking into my crystal bill this week, my “alter ego”, Nostrada-mit, sees an easy Eagles victory, with the Chargers scoring late to make it somewhat respectable, 35-21.  I just hope the Chargers batteries go out before my cellphone’s does…

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

Vikings at Bears 1:00 PM FOX – The Vikings play their 2nd straight on the road, trying to avoid going 0-2 on the young season.  The Bears play their 2nd straight at home, trying to go 2-0 (also on the young season).  Then again, the Bears always seem to get off to a fast start, only to falter in the 2nd half of the season, so maybe they should lose instead?

Broncos at Giants 4:25 PM CBS – Another edition of the “Manning Bowl”.  Should be a dandy.  If big bro Peyton beats ‘lil bro Eli, and the Birds beat the Chargers, we’ll have a two game lead on the Giants two weeks into the season.  SWEET!!!

Niners at Seahawks 8:30 PM NBC – The NFC West used to be known as the “NFC Worst”, but with these two powerhouse teams vying for the NFC crown, that has now changed.  The Seahawks will try to get a leg up in the battle for the NFC West, and their home field “12th man” will surely come into play.    Won’t be a shock if the Seahawks win, but will be a shock if the sun comes out in the depressing Pacific Northwest weather.

The Last Word – This week’s blog, boys and girls, is sponsored by the number “5″ due to the following:

1)  Since 2009, the Eagles opponent in their home opener (Saints, Packers, Giants, Ravens in chronological order) has gone on to win the Super Bowl that season.  That streak will end at 5 since the Chargers will not win the Super Bowl this year.

2) After the Eagles upset victory over the Redskins on Monday night, the Birds are now 5-0 in road games that my father has attended.  Go figure….

 

Week #1 – Eagles vs. Redskins

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

While the 1963 Andy Williams hit is a popular staple during the Christmas season, and also part of a humorous advertisement by an office supplies store, it will also apply to this coming Sunday as far as I’m concerned.

On that day, I won’t walk downstairs to the kitchen but “PRANCE” (and prance is not a word I would often use unless referring to Fred Astaire).  On that day, the eggs for breakfast will taste just a little better. The sun will be shining no matter how dreary the forecast may look outside.  Even the sound of the neighbor’s dog barking won’t sound as annoying.

The start of football season, 2013 edition in Philadelphia represents an “out with the old and in with the new” philosophy.  Gone are the Nnamdi’s, the DRC’s, the Jim Washburn’s, the wide-nine, the Howard Mudd’s, and most importantly, the head coach, Andy Reid.

In is Chip Kelly, who brings a new way of thinking, and a brand new coaching staff to boot.  Like an old dishwasher that just can’t do the job any more, the Eagles of the past have been discarded and replaced with a 2013 model with all the fancy bells, whistles, and latest gadgetry.   Of course, while the packaging looks pretty and shiny from the outside, only time will tell if it actually works properly.

Most Eagles fans will unfortunately have to enjoy the Week #1 Sunday slate of games merely as an “appetizer”, since the main course, their beloved Birds vs. the Washington Redskins, won’t get underway till Monday night at approximately 7:10 PM.   But what’s an extra day when we’ve waited a whole offseason?

The 2012 edition of the Washington Redskins, like the Eagles, were both 3-6 and going nowhere fast when the two teams met on Nov. 18, 2012.  But the Redskins won that game and never looked back, winning seven straight en route to a 10-6 record and their first NFC East divisional title since 1999.

The 2013 success of the Redskins will hinge on the health of Robert Griffin, III (RG3), who tore his ACL in the wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks back in January.  Griffin has been cleared to play and will most likely start, though there is always the chance he could be quite rusty coming off such a serious injury.  If he falters, backup Kirk Cousins showed last year that he can step in and lead the team to victory.

The Eagles would do well to get a steady pass rush on RG3, which might rattle him and also help to disguise the lack of playmakers the team has in the secondary.

On the offensive side, the Eagles have the playmakers to move the ball and score, but what happens now that other teams will actually be game planning for Chip Kelly’s offense?

This will be one of only two primetime games the Eagles will have this season, (with the other coming in week #3 against the Kansas City Chiefs).  Considering that every team gets at least one primetime game (if you’re REALLY bad, the NFL Network will still put you on their Thursday night schedule at least once), a team like the Eagles that was accustomed to playing before the national spotlight multiple times every season will have to prove to the network executives that they are deserving of reclaiming that stature.

Of course, if the Eagles get off to a good start and are in playoff contention late in the season, one of their last six games could always be “flexed” (moved) to the Sunday night NBC primetime game.  But what is the likelihood of that happening?

If the Eagles finish the season at 7-9 or 8-8, it would be a noble improvement and give their fans hope for the future.

9-7 would be a pleasant surprise and a record that many fans would probably sell their soul to achieve.

Not sure what 6-10 would mean, but anything less than six wins and the offseason would be spent questioning if the Chip Kelly hire was a wise one.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy the ride of the 2013 football season.  Anything’s better than watching reruns of 1980’s sitcoms…or the Phillies.

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

Ravens at Broncos 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs) – This game is a rematch of last year’s Divisional playoff, which the Broncos had all but wrapped up until the “Nightmare at Mile High” took place and Jacoby Jones slipped past two Denver defenders to snag a game-tying touchdown with 31 seconds left, eventually leading to a Ravens victory in the 2nd overtime.

This was traditionally supposed to be a home game for the Super Bowl champions and a chance for the hometown fans to revel in the team’s prior year success. Instead, with baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and the football Baltimore Ravens having a scheduling conflict, the Ravens were forced to start their season on the road.

My prediction – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Orioles owner Peter Angelos won’t be meeting for crabs and beer in Fells Point anytime soon.

Bengals at Bears  1:00 PM CBS – The Bengals made it to the 1st round of the playoffs the last two years and are hoping to take the next step this year.  The Bears started strong the last two years but faltered in the 2nd half, missing the playoffs both years.   Being early September, at least wind should not be a major factor in the “Windy City”.

Packers at 49ers 4:25 PM FOX – An intriguing matchup pitting one veteran quarterback (Packers QB Aaron Rodgers) against another who seemed to arrive last year in 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.  But can Kaepernick deliver in 2013 now that there are actually EXPECTATIONS for him to do so?

Geographically, this game also represents the “Valley of the Wines” against the “Land of the Cheeses”.  Strange – and all this time I was told by the wine connoisseurs that wine and cheese go TOGETHER??

Giants at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC If it seems like the Cowboys are always on Sunday night during week #1 of the NFL season, you are right…they areThis year will make it three out of the last four, and when they weren’t on Sunday night last year, they still faced off against the Giants in the traditional 1st game of the season on NBC (for reference, see Ravens vs. Broncos above).

Guess that’s the exposure you get when you are labeled “America’s Team”.  But are you really still America’s Team when you keep choking in the final game of the regular season?  Or when you’ve only won one playoff game in the last sixteen seasons?

The Giants are getting older but still have a reliable Eli Manning at quarterback.  And these games are usually close contests so should be a good one.

Let the NFL season commence!