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

One by one, they started falling.

First, Dallas Goedert suffered a calf injury in warmups. Then, the dynamic duo of the “Shawns”, as in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, both suffered injuries, which meant that the Eagles top two starting wide receivers would be inactive for the night. Add Corey Clement’s shoulder and Tim Jernigan’s foot, and the blue tent on the Eagles sideline began to resemble a MASH unit.

To make matters worse, Carson Wentz took a hit to the ribs which made all of us wince when we saw it, and he ended up going through the concussion protocol before being allowed to return to the game.

But while injuries were the biggest conversation point after last week’s loss to the Falcons, the Eagles, for the 2nd straight week, failed to score any points in the 1st quarter. This continues a disturbing trend that dates back to last season, when Philadelphia was ranked 31st out of 32 teams when it came to first quarter scoring, averaging a paltry 3.2 points/game.

To the Birds credit, they bounced back, just as they had against Washington one week earlier, eventually taking the lead for the first time, 20-17, with 3:13 left in the game.

But that lead was short lived, as the Falcons, facing a 4th & 3 at their 46, managed to do what Julio Jones and the rest of his teammates could not do in the NFC divisional playoff game two seasons ago at the Linc…score the winning touchdown.

Jones caught a short screen pass, got a good block from fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu, and was off to the races, giving the Falcons the lead.

The Eagles had their chances on their final drive, going all the way down to the Atlanta 16 before a 4th & 8 pass to tight end Zach Ertz only earned them 7.9 yards (or something like that). The big play, or lack of it, on that drive was the catch that Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor didn’t make, which would have possibly been a touchdown and, at worst, put the Eagles in great field position with ample time left to take the lead.

But while it’s easy to criticize Agholor for that play, he did come up big in the absence of DeSean & Alshon, catching 8 receptions for 107 yards as the Eagles top wide receiver on the field.

Agholor may have to continue to play a bigger role in this week’s game against the Detroit Lions, as DeSean Jackson has been ruled out and is likely to miss next week’s game as well, which is against Green Bay on a short week.

With Alshon Jeffery (and tight end Dallas Goedert) also questionable, expect Mack Hollins as well as 2nd round draft pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside to see more playing time. Speaking of which, for all of the preseason, I thought his name was Ortega-Whiteside, which caused me to develop a craving for tacos with “Ortega” shells every time he touched the ball. Hopefully my taste for tacos reaches a climatic peak on Sunday, as that can only be a positive for the Eagles offense.

As for this week’s opponent, if you thought that the Washington Redskins have had a mediocre history as of late, that is still nothing compared to the Detroit Lions, who have won exactly ONE playoff game since they last won a championship in 1957.

One playoff win in 61 YEARS. And you thought watching the Phillies under Gabe Kapler was frustrating?

Detroit has had some winning seasons over the years, and have looked at times like they had the talent for sustained success. But if you’re a Lions fan, you must have a fetish for being teased…because every time you thought they had a chance, you were bound to end up disappointed.

The Eagles can help their cause on Sunday by actually getting off to a fast start for a change, and will need a much better game from guard Isaac Seumalo, Seumalo looked like a revolving door against the Falcons last week, which is great if you’re the Ritz-Carlton looking for a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, quite the opposite playing on the offensive line.

The Birds would do well to run the ball more often, especially if some of their skill position players won’t be playing in this game. Playing at home, especially with a tough Thursday night road game looming, I see the Eagles winning 27-20, on what will be an unusually hot mid-September day.

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

Lions at EAGLES 1:00 PM FOX

Ravens at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

Saints at Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS

Texans at Chargers 4:25 PM CBS

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