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

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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 #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 #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 #14: Lions at Eagles

Like a cheetah, they move faster and in short bursts than anyone else on the field, lining up quickly after the last play has ended.  Fleet of foot, much like the Road Runner in those “Looney Tunes” cartoons, they leave the opponent gasped and often in the wrong place at the wrong time, moving up and down the field at will.

And then, suddenly, after three quarters of football has ended, like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, they transform, not into a pumpkin, but into a little old lady (or old man so that I’m not being gender-biased) driving 25 miles per hour in the left lane of the highway with frustrated motorists honking their horns and shouting obscenities  at them.

Is this one of those Snickers commercials where someone is acting different when they’re hungry?   No, this is your Philadelphia Eagles during their recent 4-game winning streak, which they will try to extend this Sunday when the Detroit Lions visit the Linc.

While the Birds have given life to their season and hope to their fans, going from a 3-5 start to a current 7-5 record, the team has been unable to score a single point in the 4th quarter during their last four games, which makes it even more remarkable that they were all victories.

Against the Raiders, the Eagles held a huge lead and had no reason to score any points and run up the score.

Against the Packers, they controlled the ball and ran out the clock to conserve a 27-13 victory.

But the last two weeks, against both the Redskins and the Cardinals, the Eagles have managed to let what was a comfortable lead slip away into a one score affair, before holding on and winning thanks to their defense, which bends constantly in yardage but doesn’t break and allow points.

But while the winning ways have continued as of late, the Eagles inability to put the opponent away in the 4th quarter is a disturbing trend which could come back to haunt them as they enter, ironically, the 4th quarter of their season.

What is the answer, short of giving coach Chip Kelly a snickers bar at the start of the quarter?  For starters, I don’t think the Birds slowing down the game and letting the play clock run down is throwing off their rhythm.  The opposing defense still can’t change personnel due to the fact that the Eagles never huddle so there still remains a possible mismatch in formation.  The difference is that teams are now lining up to stop the run in those situations, leading to LeSean McCoy carries on 1st & 2nd down that generate little or no yards.

On 3rd down, with the Eagles in a sure passing down, they either play conservative and run the ball or are forced to try to get too many yards through the air on one play.

Perhaps the Eagles need to take a risk and throw the ball downfield on 1st & 2nd down to keep the defense honest while still allowing the play clock to bleed down to 5-10 seconds as they have been doing?  If the Birds throw an incomplete pass on 1st down, that would stop the clock to their disadvantage, but they could then start the next play right away, leaving the defense unprepared for what could be a big gain on 2nd down.

While no one will be anointing me as the offensive coordinator based on my advice above, I had to put in my two cents yo!

While the Birds had it tough last week facing Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, this week, they will face even a tougher receiving threat in the form of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who’s 6 ‘5 height and frame will give defensive coordinator Billy Davis some sleepless nights heading into the game.

If this game was played on a sun-splashed Sept. day, the Detroit offense may give the Eagles defense some fits, but the possible wintry mix in the forecast for Sunday will help to disable the Lions somewhat, who are used to playing in the friendly confines of Ford Field.

Of course, that same wintry mix may disable the Eagles passing game as well, forcing LeSean McCoy to run the ball more against a Lions defense that is prone to stopping the run.

The Birds would do well to protect Nick Foles as well, as Lions defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley could make things difficult for the 2nd year passer, who has 19 touchdowns and no interceptions, and is two touchdown passes away from breaking Peyton Manning’s record (set last season) of 20 TD’s and no INT’s to start the season.

The Birds win this week 27-20, if only for the fact that the Lions always struggle playing in Philadelphia.   Of course, we made that same statement about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once, and it didn’t seem to play out in the NFC Championship….

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

Lions at Eagles  1:00 PM FOX – The Eagles are a marquee matchup for the 2nd week in a row.  At the start of the year, didn’t think they would have any in 2013…

Colts at Bengals  1:00 PM CBS – A battle of two teams both leading their respective divisions.

Seahawks at Niners  4:25 PM FOX – The Seahawks have their sights on home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  An Eagles win coupled with a Niners loss and the Birds would be holding the final wildcard spot for the time being.

Panthers at Saints  8:30 PM NBC – The winner of this game would lead the NFC South and hold the #2 seed in the NFC playoff picture.

 

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.

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #8: Giants at Eagles

If I had told you before last week’s Eagles – Cowboys game that the Cowboys would score only 17 points, many in the Delaware Valley would have bet their house, their 401K retirement savings, and their kids’ college fund on an Eagles win.  But as a certain commentator on ESPN always says, “That’s why they play the games!”.

For the last game and a half, Nick Foles had been as accurate and steady as they come while filling in for the injured Michael Vick.  But at approximately the stroke of midnight Monday morning Kazakhstan time (1 PM EST), his “accuracy carriage” turned into a pumpkin, as he looked disillusioned and just plain disoriented while running the Eagles offense, resulting in a 17-3 loss that may be looked at three months down the road as the game that kept the Eagles out of the playoffs in 2013.

Come to think of it, even Kazakhstan’s favorite son, Borat, while being offensive to some, could have led the Birds to at least one offensive touchdown, causing Eagles fans to cry out “VERY NICE!  HIGH-FIVE!”

To add injury to insult, Nick Foles, who usually makes wise decisions, chose to hold the ball and get sacked on one particular play instead of throwing it away or running out of bounds, resulting in a concussion which will keep him out of Sunday’s game and possibly cause him to lose his starting job, which was his for the taking.

Rookie Matt Barkley came in to try and rally the Birds in the 4th quarter, but his three interceptions would probably have had Borat (and Eagles fans) spewing obscenities that I cannot repeat in this PG rated blog.

As Broad & Pattison turns, so does the Eagles quarterback carousel, as Michael Vick, suddenly healthy once again, gets his chance to win back the job he supposedly never lost as the Birds face the Giants this Sunday at the Linc.

Much has been made about the Eagles nine-game home losing streak, with many suggesting that the venue is to blame for the lack of a home-field advantage.  But while the rugged, blue-collar environment of the old donut-like Vet has been replaced by the wifi, the solar panels, and the EZ-Pass like concession stands at the Linc, it’s not as if the fans are sitting on their hands discussing Obamacare, the recent government shutdown, and the rise in their small-cap mutual funds while the Eagles are going for it on 4th down.

No, the reason for the Eagles woes at home is twofold – after they beat the Giants at home on Sept. 30th, 2012 to go to 3-1 on the season, they managed to win only one game the rest of the season as the team felt apart and finished 4-12.  Simply put, they were just a bad team last year…home or away.

This season, all three of their wins have come on the road but just look at the schedule and the picture is clear.  The three teams they beat this year have a combined win total of three….an average of one win each between them.

Contrast that with their three home losses, which are against teams that are averaging five wins on the season so far.  Simply put, the Eagles have faced better competition at home.

A win against the Giants this Sunday would not only snap the home loss hex, but would put the Eagles at 4-4 at the halfway point of the season…just where many thought they would be.   It’s hard to say about this game…I think the Birds will prevail, but I speak more with my heart than my head.  Birds win 24-20, but it’s not easy.   With this team, it never is.

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

Cowboys at Lions  1:00 PM FOX – Perhaps they should bring back Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders for this showdown in Motown.

Dolphins at Patriots  1:00 PM CBS – The Pats are leaking oil with all of their injuries so this may be a chance for the Dolphins to steal one.

Jets at Bengals  4:05 PM CBS – The Jets have two of their four wins on last-minute field goals after “gift” calls from the officials.  The Bengals may actually win their division this year.

The Last Word:   In the “weird stat” department, the last time the Eagles won a home game, none of the coaches of the four major sports teams in Philadelphia (Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers) held their current jobs.