As Broad & Pattison Turns 2017: The Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports

We are more than two-thirds of the way into 2017, and the “Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports” continues with no definitive end in sight.

The four professional teams that call this city home have been, at best, mediocre, and at worst, downright painful to watch.  But unlike the Great Recession of 2008, none of these teams were deemed “too big to fail”, as evidenced by the fact that they have failed in brilliant fashion as of late.

For evidence of such a sports calamity, one only needs to look at the records of the four teams since 2013.  Nineteen sports seasons completed or close to completion (five each for the Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and four for the Eagles) have resulted in only three winning seasons (two for the Eagles and one for the Flyers).  Three winning seasons out of nineteen makes for a winning percentage of 15.79%, which is a far cry from the mean of 50%.  And for you Flyers fans who may be questioning my math, overtime losses count as losses in my book, not as their own separate category.

Contrast that with a city like Boston who, over the same span of time, has amassed fifteen winning seasons (assuming that the Red Sox can win five more games over the rest of the month), giving them a winning percentage of 78.95%.  Add three championships in that span of five years, and one can see why we’re jealous.

And while the Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports has not resulted in low interest RATES over a prolonged period of time, it has resulted in, simply, low INTEREST over a prolonged period of time, which has teams scrambling to come up with creative ways to get their fans in the stands.

Some, like the Phillies, have figured out that the best way to disguise a bad product on the field is to have enough games that offer either a 1) Bobblehead giveway or 2) Dollar Dog Night.  Not sure why, but the allure of $1 hot dogs at a baseball game is very similar to free peanuts on an airplane.

Speaking from experience, I have a jar of peanuts in my pantry that I haven’t opened in three months.  But when I get on a plane in two weeks to fly out to Kansas City for Eagles- Chiefs, the sight of a 0.5 ounce bag of peanuts being handed out will no doubt have me salivating.

Add to that the various “cultural” nights the Phillies host during the season in this era of cultural diversity and you have marketing at its finest.  Let’s just hope that the “culture” of the Phillies long term rebuilding plan is to have more nights when they score more runs than they actually give up .  Until then, I’m holding out for “Maharashtra” night and a chance to dance on the dugout during the 7th inning stretch with some famous Indian Bollywood actresses.  And the Phillie Phanatic.  Because you can’t be dancing on the dugout without the Phanatic.

Then there are the Sixers, who embarked on the Hinkie “think tank” theory, which stated that if you lose enough, you will draft enough star players to eventually start winning. Problem is, former general manager Sam Hinkie never really stated how LONG one had to lose to accomplish such a feat, and was slowly inching his way to becoming a contestant on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (for reasons other than the show’s purpose).

The NBA finally came to its’ senses and forced the team to bring in real basketball people to run the team.  But the damage had long been done, and while the team should be improved this year (as long as Joel Embiid can stay healthy), it may take some time to figure out whether there is championship material on the roster.

Meanwhile, the Sixers, in their attempts to actually get fans in the stands, keep reverting back to one of their famous ex-players for appearances at the arena during games.  And while that player brought great excitement and energy to the team for a number of years, his maturity level still remains that of your average fourteen year old, which has caused more consternation than positive feelings as of late.

The Sixers share the Wells Fargo Center with the Flyers, who are also embarked on their own rebuilding project (sense the theme here?).  The team used to spend money on free agent players faster than Donald Trump used to spend money on casinos, and while that did result in winning seasons, a championship continues to elude them.

Part of the reason was that while the Flyers used to spend on skill players, they would never spend on a top-notch goalie, even though that was the main reason they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970’s.  The team is now using a more traditional, build through the draft method of stocking their team, but much like the Sixers and Phillies, this will take time…and Philadelphia fans understandably don’t have much patience after winning only one sports championship over the last 34 years (Phillies in 2008).

Luckily for the Flyers, they still have a strong, almost cult-like following.  But even your average cult member doesn’t want to sit around forever to watch a mostly average product.

Which brings us to the Eagles, who have been the most successful of the four sports franchises as of late, being the only team to post two winning seasons over the last five years.

Those two consecutive winning seasons came under the Chip Kelly regime in 2013 & 2014.   But by 2015, Chip Kelly had worn out his welcome, both by his relationship with his superiors and his team’s play on the field, and the Birds, much like the other three local teams, were “back to the drawing board” and in rebuilding mode.

But with the 2017 season now upon us, there is a “new hope” that resides with the Eagles. One that may finally end the Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports.  But more on that in my next post….

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2016 Week #15: Eagles at Ravens

If you happened to be living in a cave over the last few months and had no clue how the Eagles were doing, last Sunday’s game was the perfect microcosm of what had taken place this season.

There were flashes of greatness by their rookie quarterback, coupled with shoddy tackling by their defense and plenty of missed opportunities.  It was another game where the Eagles played well enough to win, but bad enough to lose it as well, which is precisely what they did.

Much like the cold, harsh reality of winter has arrived complete with snow, sleet, and freezing rain, the cold, harsh reality that this is nothing more than a rebuilding year has also set in for your beloved Birds, and their  3-0 start now seems like it took place in some parallel universe that only exists in one of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.

Sure, the Eagles can still mathematically make the playoffs, but it would take a calculus professor from MIT to figure out exactly how, and a major miracle for it to actually come to fruition.  No, the last three games will be all about showing improvement and ending the season on a good note, while at the same time, possibly giving playing time to some of the younger players to see how they respond in live game action.

The only certainty at this point is that sometime in January, coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman will sit down with the 53-man roster in hand, with Howie asking the all-important question:

“Well Doug-E you’ve got to let me know, should he stay or should he go”?

If Howie’s singing ability is on par with his draft picks, then a mediocre voice is to be expected, but that’s another issue entirely.  The bigger issue is, who does really stay and who does go?

The one positive for Eagles fans (if you can call it that), is that all three of the Birds remaining games are meaningful ones…at least for their opponents.  Both the Ravens and the Giants the next two weeks, and possibly the Cowboys as well in the last game of the season, are vying for a playoff spot or playoff positioning, so they will be trying to win at all costs.  Even though the Eagles reaching the playoffs is as likely as the Easter Bunny leading Santa’s reindeer, they will end the season with a chance to knock some of their fellow NFL brethen out of the playoffs, in the never coveted “spoiler” role.

That task begins this Sunday, when the Eagles face the Ravens down at M&T Bank Stadium.

It would have been nice if Baltimore had actually beaten the Patriots last week and maybe, just maybe, would have had a letdown against us before they face the Steelers on the road next week on Christmas Day.  But of course, the Patriots made our lives harder once again (just like they did by cheating in the Super Bowl in 2004… but who’s counting?)  by winning and keeping the Ravens in desperation mode.

Baltimore sits at 7-6, which is one game behind Denver & Miami for the last wild-card spot and also one game behind the Steelers for the lead in the  AFC North.

For the Eagles, going into Baltimore may be the equivalent of trying to remove a hornet’s nest without having any of the prior spray or equipment…this game could get ugly.

I think the Birds will stay with the Ravens for the first half, but by the time the 3rd quarter ends, you may be focused on that Christmas shopping you’ve been procrastinating about.

Ravens win 30-16, and for Eagles fans, ’tis not quite the season to be jolly…

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

Patriots at Broncos 4:25 PM CBS – Game of the Week

Titans at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

Lions at Giants 1:00 PM FOX

Buccaneers at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC

 

2016 Week #7: Eagles vs. Vikings

For the first three weeks of the season, the  Eagles and their fans were on a honeymoon of sorts.

Jetting off to a tropical destination together (Aruba, Puerta Vallarta, Hawaii, name your favorite spot here), their days were spent enjoying the heat of the sun, cool ocean breezes, and sipping margaritas poolside, while their nights were filled with scrumptious dinners, dancing all night, and “other” activities which I cannot mention in a PG rated blog.

But unfortunately the honeymoon is now over, and the credit card bill has come due.

On top of that, the wife is not happy that her new hubby snores at night, and the hubby is not pleased that his wife expects him to go shopping with her on Sunday afternoons while the NFL games are on.

Such is the new “reality” of the Eagles and their fans after the last two weeks have both resulted in losses, leading to the thought that maybe this love fest isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The Birds, to their credit, were still in a position to win, both against the Lions and the Redskins with 2:00 minutes left in the 4th quarter.  But consecutive weeks of the offense and defense (minus a Malcolm Jenkins touchdown for an interception) sleep walking through the first half made their 2nd half all the more laborious.

The glass half-empty crowd would say that the 3-0 start was based on teams not knowing rookie coach Doug Pederson’s and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz’s tendencies.  But with enough film out there for teams to “hack” into the Eagles schemes (sorry Wikileaks – no credit for you or Vladimir Putin on this one), their “trade secrets” are now out on the open market for other teams to exploit.

But while that may be the case, the glass half full crowd recognizes that all is not lost.  Football is a chess game of sorts, and the ability to change your tendencies after your opponent has changed theirs is what makes the good teams successful for so long.  Even someone like Bill Belichick, who’s major success has come from having Tom Brady as his starting quarterback (and playing unfair to some extent), is a master at putting the right people in the right places to succeed.

But before I turn my blog into a leadership management course, their is still the matter of the football game being played on the field, and most notably, in the trenches. The Eagles failed in both respects last week, as their offensive & defensive lines seemed to be outmatched or simply out-muscled all day.

The suspension of Lane Johnson, who wins the NFL’s “Stupid Man of the Year” award for 2016, led to rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai having to fill in at right tackle.  And while Vaitai struggled mightily in the 1st half against  a veteran defensive lineman like Ryan Kerrigan, I thought he settled down somewhat in the 2nd half.  In this game, there was enough blame to go around all over the line.

The defense, which had been a strength of the Eagles during their 3-0 start, also seemed to look lost and just physically over matched at the line of scrimmage.  The upside is that after giving up three touchdowns in consecutive weeks in the first half, the defense seemed to adjust and gave up a total of only nine points during the 2nd half.  The downside is that putting their offense in a hole by halftime isn’t a trend that winning teams seem to want to replicate.

Some of the blame for last Sunday must also fall on Golden Boy Wentz, who had his worst game of the year in my opinion.  Initially, I thought his tendency to hold onto the ball for too long (especially during his last drive) was his only negative, but upon further review, there were many instances when Wentz had tight end Zach Ertz open for a first down, but instead seemed to be looking downfield and not noticing that one of his best pass catching options were open.  If a few of those throws are made to Wentz, the Eagles would have extended drives at various phases of the game, possibly leading to more points and eventually, a win.

So where do we go from here?  The Eagles are at a crossroads of sorts, and face what is certainly a murderous schedule coming up, with none of their next six opponents holding a losing record currently.

The first of those is the Vikings, who come into the Linc on Sunday at 5-0 and are the only undefeated team left in the league.  Minnesota’s defense has been carrying them so far, but their offense leaves much to be desired, ranked 30th in yards gained and 32nd in rushing yards.

Sam Bradford has been the best “game manager” that the Vikings could have asked for, but even he can be rattled when pressured, in which case you’ll get a goofy “Keanu Reeves/deer in headlights” look from him.

The Eagles offense may struggle to put up points, but there is no reason the Birds defense can’t stop Minnesota’s offense as well. Then again, we said that about the Redskins, and look what happened.

This is a game that the Birds need more than the Vikings do, or the wolves will certainly be howling before Halloween.  The Birds settle down,  Halapoulivaati Vaitai & Carson Wentz settle down, and the Eagles win a tough fought defensive contest, 23-9.

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

Vikings at EAGLES 1:00 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Patriots at Steelers 4:25 PM CBS

Texans at Broncos 4:25 PM CBS

 

 

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

Somewhere in my “wishful thinking” mind, I’m hoping that the Eagles spent their bye weekend at a Halloween party, with Sam Bradford dressed as Tom Brady and his receivers dressed as Odell Beckham.  And then, like a movie where the powers of the costume end up consuming the individual that wears it, they will return from the bye and play “in costume” for the remainder of the season.

Easier said then done I know.  But as you are all aware, Halloween coincided with the Eagles bye week this year, which is ironic considering that the Birds play at times has been nothing but frightening.  But luckily they play in the NFC East, where no team really scares anyone, so the division remains up for grabs.

This week, the Eagles began a stretch where they will play four straight winnable games against teams with losing records (Dallas, Miami, Tampa, and Detroit).  Win all four, and they would sit at 7-4, and most likely at the top of the NFC “Least” standings.  Of course, with this team, anything is possible, and they haven’t done anything to give the impression that they can actually go on an extended winning streak of any sort.

Tonight’s game pits the Birds against the Tony Romo-less Cowboys, who have loss five straight since Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks pummeled Romo into the ground back in Week #2 at the Linc in a 20-10 Cowboys victory, which happened to be the last time that Dallas actually won a game.

If the Cowboys hadn’t lost Romo due to injury, they could have easily been sitting at 6-1 instead of 2-5, and looking at the rest of the NFC East in their rearview mirror.  Instead, they’re probably lamenting the fact that they did not have a capable backup quarterback to fill Romo’s shoes, the way that the Eagles do with Mark Sanchez.

The Birds problems on offense rest not with their backup, but with their starting quarterback Sam Bradford.  Either Bradford makes bad throws, or his receivers drop good ones, which has been the theme through seven games.

When these two teams met back in September, the Cowboys were also without wide receiver Dez Bryant and defensive end Greg Hardy (due to injury and suspension, respectively).  Hardy is able to play this time around and has the ability to be a terror to the opposing teams’ offense.  Unfortunately for Hardy, he also seems to be quite a terror off the field as well, but that is a story for another time.

This game might end up being a 7-6 snoozer, with Hardy causing havoc on the Eagles offense, and Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel causing havoc on himself due to his poor play.  Rumor has it that former Phillies ace and current Texas Ranger Cole Hamels may be next in line to play quarterback if Cassel falters.  And why not?  He probably couldn’t do any worse (the Hamels comment is in jest of course).

In reality, I think the scoring improves somewhat and the Eagles win 14-10.  Wake me up when it’s over…

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

Packers at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Rams at Vikings 1:00 PM FOX

Raiders at Steelers 1:00 PM CBS

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2015 Week #6: Eagles vs. Giants

The uneasy feeling that I had while sitting at my seat during last Sunday’s Eagles-Saints game was not due to being out the night before.  No, that uneasy feeling was due to watching one Samuel Jacob Bradford, supposed savior of the Eagles football franchise, try to lead his team into the end zone.

The Eagles offense actually showed signs of life for a change in the first quarter, as Sam led the Eagles on two long drives. He then culminated those drives by throwing two bad interceptions in the end zone.

Both of Sam’s errant throws were the kind that Nick Foles usually makes, but keeping Foles around was not the answer either, as evidenced by Foles throwing four interceptions for the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Luckily for Sam, and the rest of the offense, the Birds showed signs of life in the 2nd half and handily defeated the Saints 39-17, with yours truly leaving the game with over eight minutes left.

But while the Eagles temporarily saved their season and sit at 2-3 in the NFC “Least”, how many times can they continue to struggle in the first half?  It’s as if this offense, mentally, is in the parking lot tailgating with the faithful in the 1st quarter and recovering from a headache in the 2nd.

Sam’s two 1st half INT’s would have cost the Birds if they were actually playing against a more formidable opponent, but against the Saints, who’s best days with Drew Brees are behind them, they were able to recover and come back.

After five games, this team is still an enigma.  At times, they have shown flashes of brilliance and can move the ball at will. Other times, this offense looks like it is saddled in traffic on the Schuylkill.

Luckily, if the rule of “what goes around comes around” holds true, it might actually benefit the Eagles this season.

Last year, the Eagles won ten games but still failed to make the playoffs due to both wildcard teams having a record of 11-5.  This season, in the aforementioned “NFC Least”, this team could go 9-7 and make the playoffs as a division winner and possibly win a 1st round game at home.  But while the fans would be happy to see Chip’s first playoff victory, the expectations were much more than a “one and done” scenario.

But perhaps WIP radio’s Ike Reese had it right.  Reese commented that all of the changes the Eagles made before the season would pay off not this season, but in 2016.  Ike’s opinion was that next year, when this team has a full season of playing together, would be the year when this offense truly jells and plays to what it is capable of.

Personally, I’m fine with that if it happens.  Perhaps a winning record and a competitive team in a mediocre division is what our expectations should be for 2015.  Let Sam Bradford work out all the kinks now.  Let this offense take the whole season to realize that the game does actually START in the 1st quarter and not the 3rd.

Perhaps watered down expectations for 2015 is what we should adhere to.  And why not?  We’ve waited 55 years for a championship – what’s another year or two?

This week, the Birds face the Giants in what is a critical contest for supremacy (if you can call it that) in the NFC Least.  The Giants eked out a win against a bad 49ers team at home last week, and are a surprising 3-2 on the young season.  Injuries have hampered both teams, but being a Monday night game, both teams will want to impress under the lights.

Hopefully the Eagles offense will pass on the sausage sandwich and Miller Lite being offered by Gino in Lot K, and actually succeed in scoring some points in the 1st quarter.

Birds win 28-14, and the Eagles have at least a share of the division lead at 3-3.  Welcome to life in the NFC Least…

The Last Word:

Don’t tell anyone, but I was actually rooting for the Mets to beat the Dodgers in the NLDS.  I know, I know…being from Philadelphia I’m supposed to hate all New “Yawk” teams (and the Cowboys as well), but the Mets put together their team the way that I hope the Phillies do within the next few years….with homegrown talent.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, are trying to be the Yankees of the 90’s in my opinion – by buying their way in.

Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins were both major contributors during the Phillies 2007-2011 run, which resulted in one World Series championship and two National League pennants.  But Utley’s slide into 2nd base the other night (or better yet, lack of a slide), was a dirty play, and Rollins is stealing money, just as he did with the Phillies during his last few seasons here.

Neither Utley or Rollins deserve another championship as far as I’m concerned.  There – I said it.

As for the NLCS, I’d like to see the Cubs win if only to rid them of their postseason misery.  And on the AL side, let the Royals success continue…the Jays can wait another year or two…or twenty.

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

Bengals at Bills 1:00 PM CBS – Game of the Week

Cardinals at Steelers 1:00 PM FOX

Patriots at Colts 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2015 Week #5: Eagles vs. Saints

In honor of Halloween, Chip Kelly is planning to produce a horror film entitled “Nightmare on Broad & Pattison”.  And coincidentally, he has all the right characters to make it a success.

For starters, the first thing every horror movie needs is a good victim.  Enter Sam Bradford, who has already starred in Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis classic, “Assault on the Arch”, in which Bradford was the victim of season ending injuries and constant mediocre play around him.  Luckily, Sam does not have to deviate much from character in Chip’s film, since he has to deal with the constant fear of being pummeled by oncoming defensive lineman every time he drops back to pass.

Every good horror movie has some element of monsters, and in this case, the Eagles have a “3-headed Monster” in the form of Murray, Mathews, and Sproles, which is supposed to provide security and support for the beleaguered quarterback. Instead, it remains underutilized, which only intensifies the problems of this offense.

You want ghosts? The ghosts of the 2011 Dream Team linger with the way this team has started, and the nagging fear is that Byron Maxwell has been possessed by Nnamdi Asomugha, who was the Eagles 2011 prized free agent cornerback but ended up being a bust.

Ladies and gentleman, such is the state of your 2015 Philadelphia Eagles one-quarter into the season.  A season that held promise going in is turning into a house of horrors on a weekly basis.

In search of a silver lining, many will point to Chip Kelly’s first season in 2013, when the Eagles started off 1-3, but rebounded to go 9-3 the rest of the way and earn an NFC East title.  But that team was very fortunate during its 9-3 run, as their opponents included a 1) Putrid Oakland Raiders team that went 4-12, 2) A victory over the Green Bay Packers without having to face an injured Aaron Rodgers, and a 3) Win against the Cowboys on the last week of the season to win the division without having to face an injured Tony Romo (and that game was a close affair).

For me, this season is a parallel universe (in sticking with the Halloween theme) of 2012, when the Eagles started off 3-1, winning their first three games by a combined total of four points (the first time in NFL history that has ever happened).

That 2012 team was using “Just for Men” to cover its grays’ and dentures to hide the fact that it had no bite.  But once their flaws were exposed, that team quickly disintegrated, winning only one game the rest of the year en route to a 4-12 record and the eventual firing of Andy Reid after fourteen years as the Eagles head coach.

The 2015 Eagles are a polar opposite (at least record wise) of the 2012 team.  While their record is only 1-3 and they do have problems that need to be addressed, this team could have easily won three of their four games had a few things turned out differently.

Against both the Falcons and the Redskins, the Eagles offense showed up for only two quarters of football, yet both games were very close at the end. What happens if the offense plays well for even 2 1/2 quarters of football instead of just two?

In both of those losses, the Eagles kicking game let them down, missing crucial kicks which might have made the difference between a win and a loss.   Perhaps a healthy Cody Parkey gets them a 3-1 record instead of 1-3?

An inconsistent offense does not a Super Bowl team make, and this team will win nothing if this offense continues to play the way they have through four games.  But a 1-3 record when your team is getting blown out is one thing…this team, even with its deficiencies, could have been 3-1.

The silver lining is that maybe this team corrects its problems and plays a little more consistently on offense. Perhaps new kicker Caleb Sturgis redeems himself and starts to make some kicks that make the difference between victory and defeat?

Is this a possible Super bowl team like we thought before Labor Day?  Absolutely not – but beggars can’t be choosers. Let’s choose to hope for a competitive team that will give us a reason to watch every Sunday.

The Eagles face a crossroads of sorts when they face the Saints at home this Sunday.  This team has rebounded from a 1-3 start in the past to make it to the playoffs, just as they did two years back.  But they have NEVER started the season 1-4 and made the postseason,  a fact that makes this game even more crucial.

Regardless of the outcome, the Eagles offense, more so this Sunday than any other time this season, REALLY needs to get off to a fast start.  If this team can, at the very least, put a field goal on the board on its opening drive, it would give the fans some hope that this offense can actually move the ball BEFORE the halftime pomp and circumstance takes place (a field goal would also give their kicker a much needed boost of confidence).

But start the game with another “three-and-out” and the “wolves” from the stands will understandably be howling with anger, tired of the horror show about to be played out before them once again.

If the Eagles can pull out a win against what is a bad Saints team, there will still be an interest in watching the sequel of the 2015 season.  But lose, and the 2015 season becomes just another bad horror film…

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

Patriots at Cowboys 4:25 PM CBS – Game of the Week

Rams at Packers 1:00 PM CBS

Steelers at Chargers 8:30 PM ESPN

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