As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #16: Eagles at Redskins

After the Eagles pummeled the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day to commence the tough 3-game stretch that would supposedly define their season, many Eagles fans were having visions of a Super Bowl appearance dancing in their heads.

But after back-to-back losses against the Seahawks and Cowboys (two teams that are vying with the Birds for a playoff spot and preferable seeding), Eagles fans could find themselves with only a stack of coal in their football stocking come Christmas morning.

Last Sunday, they were repeatedly fed a stack of “Dez”, as in Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who ran roughshot down the field multiple times and basically treated Birds cornerback Bradley Fletcher as if he was a harmless ragdoll standing in his way.

Dallas made up for its lopsided loss at the hands of the Birds down in Dallas and let it be known that if they are to partake in another December swoon, it would not be occurring this easily or quickly.  Unlike the Eagles win down in Dallas, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked healthier, had ten days to prepare as opposed to three, and showed that given time, he can tear up the Eagles secondary, which is the major component that will likely keep the Birds from obtaining any kind of elite status this season.

And of course, there is the matter of the quarterback situation, which neither the ghosts of Christmas present or Christmas future really seem to have an answer for.

While Mark Sanchez’s mobility adds another element to the passing game (an element that Nick Foles does not possess), both quarterbacks were turning the ball over more than needed to win in this league.  But to Nick’s credit, when he wasn’t turning the ball over once or twice a game, he was actually making accurate throws, a trait that Sanchez displayed in his first few starts but has now been lost over the last few weeks.

The Eagles didn’t lose last Sunday because the Cowboys possess a great defense and there was nowhere to throw.  On many occasions, Sanchez had receivers open throughout the game and simply was off target or just didn’t see them.  More and more, it is becoming evident that his tenure with the Eagles will be a short one, as he is not the kind of player who can consistently play to a high level week after week.  When Sanchez’s playing career does eventually come to an end though, he could probably become a public relations “guru” for any NFL team, as he handles the media like an all-pro quarterback should.  If only he could play like one too…

This week, the Birds get somewhat of a respite, as after facing the Cowboys-Seahawks-Cowboys over the last three weeks, they now face the lowly Washington Redskins, who seem to display more gridlock and turmoil than their capital counterparts over in the halls of Congress.  If you think our quarterback situation is uncertain for the future, the Redskins drafted two young quarterbacks in 2012 (Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins) with the 2nd and the 102nd overall pick, respectively, and neither of them seem to be primed to hold the job for the long term.  The Redskins also acquired Colt McCoy, who was a 3rd round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010, but he isn’t the answer either.

At this point, the ‘Skins are probably looking just to finish off their season and make plans for New Years Eve in a few weeks, so this game SHOULD be an easy one, as long as the Eagles aren’t thinking about last minute Christmas shopping deals while running around on the field.

With last week’s loss, the Eagles find themselves no longer in control of their destiny, and will need help from other teams if they are to be invited to the NFL’s playoff party which begins Jan. 3rd.  So without further ado, here are the various playoff possibilities for the team (have your abacus and calculus calculator ready):

1) Birds need to win one more game than the Cowboys the rest of the regular season.  Problem is, there are only two games remaining.  Should that happen (which could occur this week with Dallas facing the Colts), the Eagles would still win their division and host a 1st round playoff game.  This is the easiest and best case scenario.

2) If the Eagles don’t win their division, they can still get in as a wildcard team, but would need to win both of their remaining games against the ‘Skins and Giants, while one of the following three teams (Seahawks, Packers, Lions) need to lose BOTH of their last two games.

Which of these is the most likely?  The Lions and Packers face each other in the last game of the season in Green Bay, so one of them will definitely have one loss (barring a tie).  The Lions face the Bears, who will be starting Jimmy Clausen instead of Jay Cutler, on the road this Sunday, while the Packers will be facing Tampa on the road and looking to rebound after last week’s loss to the Bills.

Assuming the Packers beat the Lions in their last game of the season, we should be rooting heavily for the Bears this Sunday, but they are about as done as the Redskins, and probably have a better chance with Jimmy Dean at quarterback.

The Seahawks face the Cardinals on the road this week, but even if they lose that game to a backup quarterback, they end the season at home against the Rams, a probable win.  All said, the wildcard is a long shot, but then again, stranger things have happened before (for reference, see Eagles entrance to the playoffs in 2008).

Birds win this Saturday, 35-14, and then we sit back on Sunday and become Bears, Buccaneers, Cardinals, and most importantly, Colts fans…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (1)

2. Patriots (2)

3. Seahawks (4)

4. Cardinals (3)

5. Packers (5)

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

Chiefs at Steelers 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Cowboys 4:25 PM CBS

Seahawks at Cardinals 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

Broncos at Bengals 8:30 PM ESPN

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #15: Eagles vs. Cowboys

The holiday season is now in full effect, and with it, all of the various Christmas specials have started to air on television, the first of which took place last Sunday at the Linc.

Unfortunately for Eagles fans, it was appropriately titled “The Grinch that Stole a Playoff Bye”, starring Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.  Wilson, playing the role of the Grinch, ducked and weaved his way around all night, maneuvering his way around Eagle defenders before finding an open receiver or running for a first down.   And while the Birds D-line did an admirable job of keeping him in check at times, doing so for long stretches is quite difficult against a talent like Wilson, especially when the Eagles offense just couldn’t do enough to stay on the field and maintain any sustained drives.

Another item of note that became painfully clear is that the Eagles situation at quarterback is still a murky one almost two years into the Chip Kelly era.  While Mark Sanchez might be fine as a stopgap or backup, he is not much more than just another one of the reindeers and not the “marquee” reindeer (like Rudolph) that the Eagles are still looking for.

While Chip’s offense can be high octane at times, Sanchez has the ability to play great like he did against Dallas a couple weeks back or just be plain mediocre as he was against a tough defense like Seattle’s.

Sunday’s loss also displayed the unfortunate truth that while this team is trending upward quicker than anyone thought they would after Andy Reid left, they are still not “ready for primetime” and struggle when they face an elite team.

But even with last week’s loss, the Birds remain in control of their destiny for a division title, and a win at home against the Cowboys this Sunday night will be the catalyst to win their 2nd straight division title.   And while a bye is still possible, last week’s loss only means that more help is needed from other teams to jump into that 2nd seed which affords a week off and a 2nd round playoff game at home.

While many in the Delaware Valley were hoping that the Cowboys would began their December swoon once the calendar changed months, Dallas rebounded nicely from a defeat to the Birds on Thanksgiving to take their frustrations out on the lowly Bears on the road in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.

Dallas will be looking to exact revenge for the beating they suffered at the hands of their division rival, and a repeat of that game is not likely.  However, the Eagles are still more talented on offense than the Cowboys defense can probably handle, and the Birds should do just enough to get Tony Romo hearing footsteps from the likes of Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, and the Broad Street line’s most famous Monthly “Trailpass” holder, Connor Barwin.

While it won’t be as easy as last time, Birds win 30-20, and get a step closer to the playoffs with the football nation looking on on Sundayyyyyy Night Football…..

The Last Word:

The Phillies must have been seriously wheeling and dealing at the baseball winter meetings, as they just traded longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  And while it is still officially unclear as to what we are getting back, my sources tell me it is ten giant inflated beach balls.

While that might seem like an unfair trade for a player who still has a higher than average defensive prowess, if you’ve ever been to Dodger Stadium, you know those beach balls are a highly desired commodity.

I speak from experience – wear your Phillies gear to “Chavez Ravine” (where Dodger stadium is located) and you will be perfectly fine.  But take the air out of one of the beach balls being thrown around at the game and you will be treated like a Cowboys fan sitting in the 700 level at the Vet.

The Phillies didn’t stop there, continuing their clearance sale (or “cleaning house” sale depending on how you look at it) by sending lefthanded reliever Antonio Bastardo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a box of used “Terrible Towels” from the Pirates NFL counterpart, the Steelers.

Phils GM Ruben Amaro had initially asked for a box of NEW Terrible Towels in order to help the team stay below their “self-imposed” spring training salary cap for towels, but the Pirates determined that that was just too high of an asking price for Bastardo.  They did, however, throw in a sandwich from Pittsburgh’s famous “Primanti Brothers” as a gesture of good faith.

Rumor has it that it was a grilled, and overcooked, Reuben…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (1)

2. Patriots (2)

3. Cardinals (3)

4. Seahawks (5)

5. Packers (4)

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

Dolphins at Patriots 1:00 PM CBS

Texans at Colts 1:00 PM CBS

Bengals at Browns 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Bills 1:00 PM FOX

Broncos at Chargers 4:05 PM CBS – Game of the Week

49ers at Seahawks 4:25 PM FOX

Cowboys at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #14: Eagles vs. Seahawks

After this past Thanksgiving, I am all in favor of one rule change for the NFL – have the Eagles and Cowboys face off EVERY Thanksgiving.

Sure, the desired result may not always be as favorable as it was this year, which could result in the carcass of a turkey being thrown at your cousin Lou, who happens to be a Cowboys fan even though neither he nor his immediate family members ever lived in or around Texas (one can only presume that such “misguided” thinking must be attributable to lack of “family values”).

But watching the Eagles “cook” the Cowboys only made the turkey taste that much better.  Watching the Cowboys on the sidelines gasping for breath with Chip Kelly’s high octane offense at full steam during their first two drives only made the pumpkin pie taste that much sweeter.

The Eagles got off to a quick 14-0 lead and never looked back, and their defense surprisingly played very well, putting constant pressure on Tony Romo.  But while I am not usually a “Debbie Downer” type, the lack of effectiveness in the red zone is a cause for concern.

During Mark Sanchez’s first few weeks as the Eagles quarterback, the Eagles were 7 for 7 in the red zone, but against Dallas last Thursday, the Birds could only manage to go 1 for 5 in the red zone, and while that did not come back to haunt them against the Cowboys, it is something that will need much improvement if the Eagles are to go far in the playoffs.

On the season, the team is ranked 29th in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns, with a success rate of less than 44%.  The good news is that while Seattle has one of the best defenses in the league, they are somehow one of the worst when it comes to allowing their opponents to score touchdowns in the red zone (64.5%).  So something has to give.

Now that we find ourselves in December, another factor that could come into play is the weather.  And while skies should be clear, the winds could be whipping, which could have an effect on the kicking game.

While I still have the Seahawks ranked higher than the Eagles due to their tougher schedule and more quality wins, the homefield advantage will aid the Birds this week, as they go to 10-3 on the season, winning 27-14.

The Last Word:

If you were to walk into the Phillies corporate offices these days, you will most likely find David Bowie’s “Changes” playing over the intercom.

– Cole Hamels is likely to be traded (along with a pound cake from Stock’s Bakery) for a package of prospects from most likely either the Dodgers or Red Sox.

–  A “deeply discounted” Ryan Howard will be available for less than that 60-inch television on December 26th.

– Rumor has it that Jonathan Papelbon was offered as a charitable donation to the 1) Salvation Army, 2) Goodwill and 3) Purple Heart, but they all politely declined.

If anything, changes with the Phillies are long overdo.  Longtime part owner John Middleton desires to be the majority owner, and will become so in time.  Middleton, who made billions in the cigar business, will put the right people in place and light a fire under them (no pun intended) to turn the Phillies back into a winner, something that never seemed to be a priority with David Montgomery as president.

While the Phillies will probably not become winners for at least a few years, just watching new and young players will be a welcome change from the old and standard “over the hill” gang, which the team trotted out over the last few years.

Ch-ch-changes….turn and face the strange….

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (2)

2. Patriots (3)

3. Cardinals (1)

4. Packers (5)

5. Seahawks (new)

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

Steelers at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS

Ravens at Dolphins 1:00 PM CBS

Colts at Browns 1:00 PM FOX

Bills at Broncos 4:05 PM CBS

Chiefs at Cardinals 4:05 PM – Game of the Week

Seahawks at Eagles 4:25 PM

Patriots at Chargers 8:30 PM

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

The Eagles followed the script as expected on Sunday, winning easily, but what no one quite scripted was the start, as rookie Josh Huff took the opening kickoff and managed to run it back 107 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead before many of the fans had even settled into their seats.

The touchdown not only set the record for the longest kickoff return in Eagles history, but jump started an Eagles team that needed a win, not only to forget last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Packers, but to keep pace with the Cowboys, who defeated the Giants on Sunday night in comeback fashion.

And much like the previous two home games against the Panthers and Giants, the game was over before the “beerman” called last call, with many heading to the exits by the end of the 3rd quarter.   With their 43-24 win, the Eagles have now won ten straight at home, ironically after losing ten straight at home, a feat never accomplished in the NFL.

The win sets up a HUGE showdown this week against the Cowboys, which will determine who holds the lead in the NFC East with only a month left to play in the regular season.  And just to add some flavor and “seasoning” to the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, the game will be played on Thanksgiving Day, which is about as rare as a white Thanksgiving in these parts (which we may just have as well).

For Eagles fans, most Thanksgivings revolve around enjoying the turkey and all its trimmings and sides in a “slow and steady” manner; chilling on the sofa talking to your peeps while hopefully watching the Cowboys lose.  But this year, an Eagles-Cowboys Thanksgiving showdown will most likely alter plans for most Birds fans.

Much like Chip Kelly’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense, many in the Delaware Valley will be operating a fast-paced, no-huddle turkey food orgy, with the goal of wrapping up in time to absorb every play of the Eagles game.

I can see it now – much like the Linc crowd was chanting “We Want Dallas” on Sunday, the crowd at your house will be chanting “We Want Turkey” just as the ugly bird is placed on the table for carving purposes.  While being carved, the crowd begins to shout, “Go, go, go!” as if the first slice was the equivalent of a Darren Sproles punt return.

Without the traditional fanfare of a relaxed sit down dinner, the basket of rolls wrapped in foil is thrown across the kitchen table, hopefully not being intercepted by the family dog as if it was another ill-advised Mark Sanchez or Nick Foles pass.

But let’s be careful to “chew-chew-chew” Eagles fans (as we always say to my two year old niece), or that extra helping of stuffing may end up bottled up somewhere like the 2014 edition of LeSean McCoy behind a makeshift offensive line (somehow Darren Sproles never seems to have that problem).

No, this Thanksgiving, instead of listening to Uncle Jerry asking goofy questions or sharing the same story for the 42nd time, you will hopefully be able to watch your “Iggles” put up 42 points while the other “Uncle Jerry”, owner of Jerry’s world down in Irving, Texas, looks on as if he ate some bad cranberry sauce.

Instead of listening to your Aunt Mildred ask you when you’re gonna “settle down”, you can settle down in front of the tube and watch Tony Romo choke in the closing minutes of the game, as the “Romo-sexuals” look on in stunned disbelief.

Much like the turkey after dinner, there will only be a carcass left in Big-D, as the Eagles win 42-30 and take control of the division.

The Last Word:

Since the Birds will be playing on Thursday this week, I figured it was a good time as any for an edition of “Throwback Thursday”.

The year was 1989, which was the last time that the Eagles played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.  The Birds defeated what was then a still up-and-coming Cowboys dynasty handily, winning 27-0, in a game known to many as the “Bounty Bowl”.  In that game, Eagles coach Buddy Ryan placed a bounty on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas, who was a former Eagles kicker and was cut earlier in the season.

The night before, five inches of snow fell on the Philadelphia area, which resulted in a white Thanksgiving.  Ironically, that was the last time we had measurable snow on Thanksgiving, which seems to occur only when we play the Cowboys on Turkey Day.

Thanksgiving morning, George Washington and Archbishop Ryan high school played to a 0-0 tie in the snow in their annual “Turkey Bowl”, the first time that had ever happened.

So there you have it…this year we have one bird on the table and another on the television.  Happy Thanksgiving and go Birds!

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings (same ranking as last week for all teams):

1. Cardinals

2. Broncos

3. Patriots

4. Chiefs

5.  Packers

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

Eagles at Cowboys 4:30 PM FOX (Thurs)

Seahawks at Niners 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs)

Browns at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Chargers at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS

Patriots at Packers 4:25 PM CBS

Broncos at Chiefs 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #12: Eagles vs. Titans

If it’s not over “till the fat lady sings”, she was singing at just about the time that Eagles backup receiver Josh Huff appeared to give a half-hearted effort to make a tackle on Packers kick returner Micah Hyde.  Had Huff actually made the tackle, Green Bay would have had the ball at its own 25.  Instead, Hyde juked and jived and ended up in the end zone, giving the Packers a 17-0 lead with two minutes still left in the 1ST QUARTER.

Unfortunately for Birds fans, the game for all intents and purposes was sealed then, and wives/girlfriends who have no interest in football were surprised to find that their significant others were actually conversing with them during the whole second half.

But sorry ladies, while you might have thought that your plan to “change” your man was actually working, it was more a result of a rather boring one-sided contest being played out on the television…something the Eagles have not seen since last year’s 52-20 blowout loss to Denver in the Mile High City.

That game took place very early in the Chip Kelly era, and the Eagles rebounded from a 1-3 record after that shellacking to go 9-3 the rest of the way and win their division, something no one expected.

This team is better than last year’s edition, and while a Super Bowl may be a reach, there is no reason the Birds should not be playing in January for more than just one weekend.  While a blowout loss is never a good mark on your resume, the Packers are this year’s Seahawks when it comes to home-field advantage, and had beaten their previous three opponents at home by an average of 31 points.

The lesson learned for the Birds is to avoid a rematch with the Packers at Lambeau Field in January, and the first step in doing so would be to win their division, which at a minimum would give them a playoff game at home in the 1st round.

Both the Eagles and the Packers currently sit with a record of 7-3, and while many permutation combinations still exist for playoff seeding with six weeks left in the regular season, the most simplified way for the Birds to avoid playing the Packers on the road again is to win more games than Green Bay the rest of the way.

If the Eagles win their division and end up in a 2-way tie with EITHER the Arizona Cardinals or the Packers for conference seeding, they would lose the tiebreaker since they’ve lost to both of those teams.  But should they end up in a 3-way tie with BOTH of those teams, the fact that they lost to both won’t matter since the Cardinals and the Packers don’t play each other this season.  In that case, the tiebreaker would be based on the conference record of each of the three teams.  Got that???  I may need an expert in calculus or statistics to figure all this out.

The one thing we can figure out is that the Birds need to win this week against a lowly Titans team and keep pace with the Cowboys, who are tied with the Eagles for the division lead.  Tennessee almost beat Pittsburgh at home last Monday night, but the Steelers seem to have a tendency of playing down to the level of their opponent.

Some have called this a “trap” game for the Eagles (in between playing Green Bay last week and Dallas on Thanksgiving) but the trap factor would have only come into effect had the Eagles actually won last week and come into this game overconfident and on a high.

The Birds should be angry after last week’s debacle and will take their frustrations out on the Titans, winning 38-20.  And then it’s onto Dallas for a friendly Thanksgiving feast with the Cowpokes…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Cardinals (2)

2. Broncos (1)

3. Patriots (3)

4. Chiefs (4) Pre-Raiders game

5. Packers (new)

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

Lions at Patriots 1:00 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Cardinals at Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX

Dolphins at Broncos 4:25 PM CBS

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

Once upon a time, not so long ago, not in a galaxy far, far away, but just a few blocks from Broad & Pattison, there was a football team that could not win a game at home.

It was not for lack of trying, or because the home crowd was not as intimidating as they were in their former stadium known simply as “The Vet”.  No, the football team couldn’t win simply because they were bad.  They were so bad, in fact, that they had lost ten straight games at home, and had to fire their longtime coach of fourteen seasons because of it.

Their new coach had started his first year 1-3, but had rebounded by the middle of the season to get his team to 5-5. But yet, that team still could not manage to capture a victory at home for whatever reason.

And then it happened.  At home, against the Washington Redskins, the Eagles beat the ‘Skins to go to 6-5 and finally snap a 10-game losing streak at home.  That was almost a year ago (Nov. 17, 2013) and since then the Eagles have not looked back.

The 2013 Eagles finished the second half of their season 7-1 en route to a division title and have started their 2014 campaign at 7-2.  In addition, the team that could not win at home now cannot lose there, with their home winning streak at nine games after pummeling the overrated Carolina Panthers last Monday night.

While the marketing gurus over at Miller beer would have you believe that it was due to the “throwback” Miller Lite cans being served over at the Linc, it is clearly more than that.  Eagles coach Chip Kelly not only has his team on the right track, but much like vampires, they seem to be quite adapt at sucking the blood out of their opponents at home during night games.

During the Birds last three home night games, they have gone 3-0 and have defeated their opponents by a combined score of 126-32, with much of the 32 coming in garbage time when the fans were headed to the exits and the backups were in mop-up duty.

While the other Philadelphia teams continue to try to find an identity, the Eagles know theirs and are a force to be reckoned with.  The only question is, how far can they go?

This week provides a good test as the Eagles head to Lambeau to face the Packers.  The Birds were fortunate to play there last year and not have to face quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was out with an injury, but this year will be quite different.

The Packers are 6-3, only a game behind the Eagles when it comes to the conference standings, and are almost impossible to beat at home.  The Eagles are coming off a short week and have to travel on the road, which is a disadvantage for any team off the bat.  So conventional wisdom dictates that the Eagles will understandably lose.

But this team, following the lead of their coach, is anything but conventional.  Chip Kelly is like mad scientist “Bunson Huneydew” from the Muppets, sitting in a lab somewhere with his sidekick Beaker (played by defensive coordinator Billy Davis), conjuring up a gameplan from the “Kelly method” to defeat the cheeseheads and their loyal “Wis-can-sin” faithful.

My predictions:  1) Birds win on Sunday in frigid Lambeau field, 34-31, with Cody Parkey getting the game winning kick.  2) On the plane ride back, the Birds are listening to T-Pain’s “Can’t Believe it”.  No need to buy me a “mansion in Wiscansin” though…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (2)

2. Cardinals (1)

3. Patriots (3)

4. Chiefs (4)

5. Lions (new)

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

Bills at Dolphins 8:30 PM NFL Network (Thurs)

Seahawks at Chiefs 1:00 PM FOX

Lions at Cardinals 4:25 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Eagles at Packers 4:25 PM FOX

Patriots at Colts 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #10: Eagles vs. Panthers

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The broken record that has symbolized the 2014 season of Nick Foles goes something like this – some great crisp, on the mark passes followed by one or two bad “throwing off his back foot” passes that result in a couple interceptions each game.

That trend continued last Sunday, as Nick went 9 for 12 with a touchdown but also throw another bad pick.  Unfortunately for Foles, his day ended prematurely when he was sacked on two of his last three plays by Whitney Mercilus, the latter resulting in a broken collarbone that will keep him out for most likely what will be the remainder of the regular season.

Enter Mark Sanchez, golden boy of USC, once on the cover of GQ, the next Joe Namath, and prized owner of the infamous “butt-fumble” (on Thanksgiving night no less which probably made most Jets fans spit out their pumpkin pie).

Sanchez had been signed as insurance on a 1-year contract, and the time had come to file a claim on his policy…for better or worse.  And to his credit, he filled in admirably, going 15 for 22 with two touchdowns, but also a very Nick Foles like two interceptions.

Losing Foles for the reminder of the regular season may not be the worst thing for the Eagles.  The Birds got to 5-2 with their quarterback having a very mediocre season, and with good weapons and an decent offensive line around him, Sanchez should do no worse.  He was able to guide the Jets to the AFC championship in his first two seasons when he had a solid running game and a good defense on his side.  When the Jets team around him crumbled, Sanchez did as well.  But put him into a good system like Chip Kelly’s, and the Eagles should be fine offensively.

What WILL hurt the Birds is the loss of DeMeco Ryans, who was their quarterback on defense.  Ryans went down  early in the 4th quarter on a non-contact play in which he made an interception and then fell awkwardly to the ground, rupturing his Achilles tendon and sidelining him for the remainder of the season.  With Casey Matthews having to pick up the slack, the Eagles will now have their own “Achilles heel” on the field.

The Birds have to wait till Monday night this week when they face the Carolina Panthers, who won the NFC South last year but seem to be “one-hit-wonders” (sort of like that Thomas Dolby “She Blinded Me with Science” song from the ’80’s).  Their defense seems to be a shell of what it was last season, and Cam Newton, while big in stature, may turn out to be a big time fraud.

Better get the “Under Armour” ready – gonna be a cold night at the Linc boys and girls.  No worries on the game though…Birds spank the Panthers, 38-20.

The Last Word:

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants and their ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner for winning the 2014 World Series.  Bumgarner basically carried his team on his back during the World Series and it’s quite ironic that the guy has the word “Bum” in his last name, since he is anything but.

With the victory, the Giants have won the World Series three out of the last five years, something the Phillies might have been expected to do after 2008.  The local baseball team down at Broad & Pattison might be wise to look at and follow the formula that the Giants used to build a winning team for the long haul…

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Cardinals (4)

2. Broncos (1)

3. Patriots (New)

4. Steelers (New)

5. Chiefs (3)

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

Browns at Bengals 8:30 PM NFL Network (Thurs)

Chiefs at Bills 1:00 PM CBS (Game of the Week)

Dolphins at Lions 1:00 PM CBS

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…