As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #6: Eagles vs Giants

For a while, it looked like I would fulfill my long lost dream of leaving an Eagles game early enough to get home in time to watch the postgame show in its entirety live (as you can see, I have very high aspirations).

But with the Birds up 34-7 late in the 3rd quarter, Eagles players must have decided to start making early plans for Sunday dinner, as the Rams rallied off 21 unanswered points to cut their deficit to 34-28 and make a laughable game into a nail-biter literally and figuratively.

Along the way, Nick Foles decided to do his best impression of a school kid attempting to do a half-hearted bellyflop on one of those “Slip-N-Slides” from back in the day, as his 4th quarter fumble turned what could have been a game-ending field goal into a turnover and another Rams score.  Anthony Gargano from WIP radio (1-6 PM during the weekdays) probably described it best, stating that Foles looked like a “drunken giraffe” trying to slide.

What can we make of this team after five games?  After three games, the consensus was that they had a powerful offense and an opportunistic defense that made plays when they had to.  But over the last two weeks, the offense has been sporadic while the special teams has been just plain AWESOME.

But regardless of how they got there, the Birds are 4-1, and as legendary coach Bill Parcells once said “You are what your record says you are”.  A record of 4-1 is not too shabby considering all the injuries this team has sustained and the inconsistent play from the quarterback spot.

This week, the Birds play host to the Giants on Sunday night football in a game that will indeed be a “marquee matchup” for Week 6.  The Giants started the season 0-2 and were playing more like ants, but over the last three weeks have built a three game winning streak in which their offense has really come to life. Eli Manning has dropped his “She-li” persona and has been on a hot streak which is never a good sign for the opponent.

A win would make the Eagles 5-1 and in great shape heading into their bye week while a loss would leave the Giants tied with the Birds and possibly give Dallas sole possession of first place based on the outcome of the Cowboys-Seahawks game, which will take place on Sunday afternoon.   It’s tough to predict this game and figure out which Eagles team will show up, but the games at home against the G-Men always seem to go down to the wire.

The Linc will be loud and in a “blackout” (as the Eagles have requested from an attire standpoint) as the Birds win 34-28 in another nail-biter.

The Last Word: 

R.I.P. Bill Campbell. Mr .Campbell, at some point in his life, did play-by-play for the Philadelphia Warriors (basketball), the Sixers, the Phillies and the Eagles.  His voice was a mainstay of the previous generation and with his passing, he joins others such as John Facenda, Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn and Gene Hart in the halls of Philadelphia broadcasting icons who have left us.

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

Colts at Texans 8:25 PM CBS (Thurs)

Patriots at Bills 1:00 PM FOX

Panthers at Bengals 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Dolphins 1:00 PM FOX

Cowboys at Seahawks 4:25 PM FOX

Giants at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chargers at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

49ers at Cardinals 4:05 PM FOX

Broncos at Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns 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: Amit’s Farewell to Soccer

With NFL training camps just a few days away and the World Cup now behind us, I thought this would be the perfect time to post my “Farewell to Soccer”:

Thanks for the memories soccer!   Because of you, we were able to watch sports on TV without having to tune into 1) A woeful Phillies squad, 2) The NBA Summer League or 3) Reruns of the NFL’s Greatest Games on the NFL Network.   In addition, you helped to spur the local economy by increasing all of our bar tabs at our favorite watering holes all around the country.   And for that, we thank you.

But while we had an enjoyable “one-month stand”, complete with some good times and some laughs (albeit very little action), the time has come for me to say farewell for another four years.

You see soccer, to be perfectly honest, I never thought of you as much more than a “fling”.  Between your complete lack of scoring, your “extra time on a whim”, and your championship games which can potentially be decided entirely by luck in the form of a shootout, you’re just not attractive enough for me to keep you around for the long-term.

Sorry to be so harsh soccer, but I gotta “kick you to the curb”.   But I’m sure that you’ll end up back on your feet very soon in a place that appreciates you much more than I do – the rest of the world.

See you in 2018 soccer.  Hopefully the Phillies and Sixers will actually be worth watching by then as well.

 

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Superbowl XLVIII Wrapup

We’ve been lucky for the last six years.

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

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

But that all changed this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Superbowl XLVIII Edition

Broncos vs Seahawks  6:30 PM (FOX) – For this one, they should bring back the Kingdome and Mile High Stadium.

Bring back Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn and Steve Largent.  Bring John Elway out of the executive box and Tom Jackson out of the ESPN booth.

Bring back Chuck Knox and former Penn State great Curt Warner.  And while you’re at it,  bring back Karl Mecklenburg, the “Three Amigos”, and the “Barrel Man” (RIP Barrel Man).  And for a goof, bring back Brian Bosworth…

While the Seattle Seahawks played in the NFC west in their inaugural season of 1976 (and reside there now), they were actually in the AFC West from 1977 till the start of the 2002 season, where they faced the Broncos twice on an annual basis as division foes.

Ironically, their first ever playoff appearance came at home against the Broncos in the 1983 AFC wildcard game when, leading by 10-7 at halftime, the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points, leading to the franchise’s first playoff victory.  Did I know that info. by researching the internet?  No…I actually remember watching that game in my parents’ family room as a little tyke growing up in Northeast Philadelphia (while I frequently struggled just to get a C grade in elementary school due to lack of interest, I can recite where I was watching random NFL games from childhood with relative ease….go figure).

With all of the history then, this is, in essence, a “Back to the Future” sort of Superbowl.   And while Peyton Manning would do an admirable job of playing “Biff” the bully, it would be his brother Eli, instead of Seattle QB Russell Wilson, that would be a better fit to play the role of “Marty McFly”.

While the main focus in the NFL usually centers on the quarterbacks, the conference championship games showed us that football is still a team sport, and losing one piece of the puzzle on your team can lead to devastating consequences.

In the AFC Championship game, New England seemed to keep Peyton Manning in check until Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib went out with a knee injury.  After that, it was as if the border patrol went out to lunch and never returned, as Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas suddenly began to get open against a mismatched secondary, ending with seven receptions for 134 yards.

In the NFC title game, even with all the talk of Russell Wilson & Colin Kaepernick, it was Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman that made the defining play, followed by a defining rant that has gotten more played out than those annoying Progressive Insurance commercials with “Flo” (personally, I prefer “Jan” from the Toyota commercials).

So who wins this Sunday?  Peyton Manning was lucky to play in 63-degree weather at home in the AFC Championship, but it will most likely be much colder than that come kickoff Sunday night.   The Seahawks are used to playing in dreary weather in the Pacific Northwest so the conditions should suit them just fine.

The matchup pitting Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas against Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will be the most intriguing one to watch.  Unless the Broncos get lucky again by way of the opposing cornerback going out with an injury, think the Seahawks will take this one and win their first ever Superbowl.

Superbowl XLVIII will also be one of “firsts” – the first one where the price of admission gets you the sight of your own breath for three plus hours, plus a set of handwarmers and lip balm (as opposed to sunscreen given to attendees in Tampa a few years back).  Considering the price of the ticket, hope that it’s at least Chapstick brand…

The Last Word:   Superbowl XLVIII will be the first in 19 years featuring two teams that reside west of the Mississippi River, and the first in 14 years that will not have a participant from the Eastern Time Zone.

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 Week #13: Cardinals at Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raiders over Cowboys (DUH!)

Bucs over the Panthers

Vikings over the Bears

Rams over the Niners

Redskins over the Giants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

While I’m not at all in favor of the NFL’s desire to start a new franchise in London (sorry Brits), I am totally in favor of the NFL moving the Eagles remaining four home games to London, Mumbai, or even Guam for that matter.  Perhaps that’s what it will take to salvage the season.

What seemed like an anomaly has now grown into a “scarlet letter” of sorts for this franchise…ten straight losses at home, a feat not even accomplished during the lean years of the 60’s and early 70’s when this writer was not even part of the world population.   With each loss, the ire of the fans grows, as the Eagles approach the NFL record of fourteen straight losses at home.

On Sunday, the Eagles continued their offensive ineptitude, moving slower than an automobile trying to meander its way down the hairpin turns of San Francisco’s Lombard Street.   If you’re keeping score, the offense has scored exactly three points in two games, and even that was because of a gift DeMeco Ryans interception that gave the Birds the ball at the Cowboys 30 yard line.

The recent scoring drought not only has Eagles fans frustrated, but has prevented the faithful at the Linc from singing their fight song, “Fly Eagles Fly”, on a regular basis (after each touchdown).  Perhaps we need to follow Jacksonville’s lead (since they rarely score touchdowns either) and come up with a jingle for every first down like “Move those Chains! Move those Chains! Move those Chains, Whoo!”

Yes, that is the actual Jaguars song (whatever Jacksonville marketing guru came up with that should be fired), second only to their “We Are….Jaguars” chant.  No wonder they’re a losing franchise (personally, I’ll stick with my alma mater’s “We Are..Penn State” chant).

But going back to the Birds, what was once a promising situation at quarterback has now turned into a conundrum.  This past offseason, after fourteen seasons with Andy Reid at the helm, the Eagles decided on a “No Reid option”,  vying instead for Chip Kelly and his “read-option” offense.  But over the last two weeks, this so-called progressive offense has morphed into “read-optionless-injured”, with one QB hurt (Michael Vick), one recently concussed (Nick Foles), and one inexperienced (Matt Barkley).

Speaking of Barkley, while I give him a pass for not having much NFL experience, I don’t give him a pass for stating that he played “okay”.  One plays okay when the offense scores 14 or 17 points, not when you score zero points and you’re the quarterback for three quarters…OKAY???

So what happens when the Birds visit the “black hole” that is Oakland’s Almeda County Stadium this Sunday?  Of course, the Birds win with my man Nick Foles at quarterback.

That’s right…even after my whole diatribe above, the Eagles salvage the season and win this Sunday as long as Foles remains healthy enough to start.

Remember, you heard it here first peeps.  Of course, if I’m wrong, it could be a long flight back from the Bay Area for the Green Legion and its members.  At least there’s always Fisherman’s Wharf and some adult beverages from Napa Valley to  help dull the pain…

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

Bears at Packers  8:40 PM ESPN  (Mon) – This is the perfect Sunday to finally rake the leaves that have been building up in your yard, as there is only one marquee matchup on the docket this weekend, and that is not till Monday night.  The Bears started out 3-0 this season but have come back down to earth as of late (don’t they always?), losing three of their last four games.  The Packers, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, are quietly leading the NFC “Snowbelt” division at 5-2.  My prediction – there will be frost on the cheese.