As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #5: Carson Takes over Carson

In a city ironically named Carson, it was the quarterback with the same first name who showed why the Eagles moved up in the draft to pick him #2 overall.

Carson Wentz methodically moved the offense up and down the field last Sunday, changing the plays at the line of scrimmage when needed and looking more like a seasoned 10-year veteran than a player who is only in his 2nd season and still learning the ropes of playing quarterback.

The result was a 26-24 victory, putting the Birds at 3-1 on this young season.  And while skeptics may point to the fact that this team had the same record last season before going 4-8 the rest of the way, this team does have a different look about them.

In 2016, after defeating the Chicago Bears in their first road game of the season, the Eagles managed to lose their last seven road games.  This year, the team has already surpassed last year’s road win total, going 2-1 thus far.

Last season, six of the Birds final eight losses were in games that were lost by a touchdown or less.  Change the result of a play here or there and perhaps the Eagles finish at 10-6 instead of 7-9.  But that was a young team that still had not learned HOW to win.

This season, the Birds are 2-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less, defeating the Giants and Chargers in consecutive weeks after a close loss to the Chiefs in Week 2.  It is not only the quarterback that is growing before our eyes but the rest of the team around him as well.

And then there is the coach, who claimed he was still “learning” the world of coaching after the loss to the Chiefs in which he threw the ball much too often, much like his mentor, Andy Reid, was known to do.  Many predicted then that Doug Pederson’s coaching career would not only be a failure if he continues down this path, but that he would get his young quarterback knocked out of the game in the process.

But give Pederson credit.  He adjusted and started to use his horses in the running game more often over the last two weeks, resulting in a new “three headed monster” in the backfield consisting of LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and rookie (and local product) Corey  Clement, who continues to shine when given the ball.

Much like the trio of Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter, and Brian Westbrook before them, these three all offer a different dimension of the running game and fresh legs in the backfield.  Add to that a rejuvenated offensive line which gets to be on the attack in the running game, and you now have an offense which can use the run to setup the pass, as they did successfully last week.

The other intriguing part of last week’s contest was the crowd itself.  In a stadium designed for soccer but housing football, it also became a stadium meant for Chargers fans but housing Eagles fans.  The announced crowd was 25,000, of which approximately 15,000 were Birds fans.

A sport played in the wrong type of venue, fans cheering for the wrong uniform, and a team in the wrong city.  Not quite a three headed monster, but more like a “three headed misfit”.

One can only surmise that the NFL must have hired some consulting firm to do a study,  and that they came to the conclusion that football in Los Angeles would be a rousing success.  But then again, I’ve never heard of a consulting firm telling their client that their idea is completely stupid, have you?   Sort of like an insurance agent telling you that you don’t need life insurance…these things just don’t happen.

This week, the Birds return from the “CaliLinc” to the real “Linc” to face the Arizona Cardinals, a team that currently sits at 2-2 in the NFC West.

The “RedBirds” enjoyed a streak of three consecutive winning seasons until last season, when they finished 7-8-1.  And while they have a good coach in Bruce Arians (who also coached Temple football once upon a time), their quarterback, and the rest of their team, is quickly aging.  And not aging like fine wine, but aging like that half-gallon of milk in your refrigerator which you should have thrown out five days ago.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer can still be dangerous though, and still has weapons like wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is a class act and most likely, a hall-of-famer one day.

What should also be interesting to watch is the Eagles running game against the Cardinals run defense, which is one of the stingiest in the league.

The Birds would do well to not overlook this opponent, especially considering that they have a quick turnaround, with a Thursday night game coming up against the Carolina Panthers.  This contest will be close in the first half but Birds will win, 27-17.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:

Patriots at Buccaneers  8:30 PM  CBS/NFL Ntwrk (Thurs)

Panthers at Lions  1:00 PM  FOX

Ravens at Raiders  4:05 PM  CBS

Packers at Cowboys  4:25 PM  FOX

Chiefs at Texans  8:25 PM  NBC

Advertisements

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?