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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (2)

2. Cardinals (1)

3. Patriots (3)

4. Chiefs (4)

5. Lions (new)

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

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

Seahawks at Chiefs 1:00 PM FOX

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

Eagles at Packers 4:25 PM FOX

Patriots at Colts 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #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 #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: 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: 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 #3 2013: Eagles vs Chiefs

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #3 2013:  Eagles vs Chiefs

The Honeymoon is Officially Over….

Chip Kelly and the Eagles fans were on a week-long getaway to a remote resort island which included sun and fun, a plethora of activities, dinner and dancing in the evening, and romance at night.  Then, after returning home, Chip forgot to clean the dirty dishes left in the kitchen sink overnight, and chaos ensued.

Talk of a long and joyful union turned to frustration on a sun-soaked Sunday afternoon, as the Birds lost in the closing seconds, 33-30.

While the offense ran up and down the field, scoring on six drives, their three field goals that couldn’t be converted to touchdowns eventually sealed their fate due to a porous defense that couldn’t stop the Chargers for most of the day.

In Week #1, the Redskins began to mount a comeback but eventually ran out of time.  The Chargers, showing no signs of rust, ran roughshot up and down the field from the 1st quarter, as if there were only plastic tackle dummies standing in the secondary.

The good news is that the Eagles won’t have to let this loss linger in their minds for long, as the Chiefs come into town for a Thursday night affair.  The bad news is that there might not be enough time to figure out exactly what went wrong.

Not only will Thursday’s game feature the return of former coach Andy Reid, but also a ceremony to retire former quarterback Donovan McNabb’s number, which will no doubt add some intrigue to Reid’s return.

When Terrell Owens returned to Philadelphia as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, the slogan was “Get your popcorn ready”.   So perhaps this week’s slogan should be “Get your cheeseburgers ready”?

When Andy Reid was the head coach in Philadelphia, he never hid his affinity for an all beef patty on a bun, invoking memories of Wimpy from the Popeye cartoon.  And while the Birds had a great run for most of their fourteen years with Reid at the helm, whenever it came to the NFC championship, it seemed that the opponent was eating Popeye’s spinach to bypass the Eagles on the way to the Super Bowl.

And while Donovan was one of the greatest quarterbacks in Eagles history, perhaps it was the “special sauce, lettuce, cheese” that caused him to get sick during the two-minute drive in the Super Bowl, which seemed more like a five-hour drive to Boston in rush hour traffic.  Either way, those two will forever be joined at the hip, as Reid drafted McNabb and both enjoyed success together during their early years in Philadelphia.

As for the game itself, the Chiefs come in at 2-0 and are much improved from their 2-14 season of a year ago.  The Eagles have an offense that is capable of winning the Super Bowl, but a defense that is capable of going 0-16.  With only four days to prepare, the Birds will score a lot of points but will fall short, losing 37-34 to “Big Red”.  Andy Reid heads back to KC with his team at 3-0 and celebrates by enjoying some Kansas City barbecue.

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

Packers at Bengals  1:00 PM FOX – The Cheeseheads invade the Queen City in a intra-conference matchup.

Texans at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS – The Ravens probably won’t repeat as Super Bowl champions, but at least the number of statements made by a Ravens player that make absolutely no sense will decrease significantly now that Ray Lewis has retired.

Falcons at Dolphins 4:05 PM FOX – Buckhead vs South Beach.  Miami is usually a favorite hotspot for fans of the road team, but not sure if that applies to Atlanta, where Georgia Tech and any SEC team is more popular than the Falcons.

Colts at Niners  4:25 PM CBS – The coach of the 49ers plays against the team that he almost guided to the Super Bowl as a quarterback.

The Last Word:  Chris Berman of ESPN, who seems to have a “man crush” on Andy Reid, went out of his way last Sunday to mention that Chip Kelly should thank Reid for all of the playmakers he has on offense.  Berman conveniently forgot to mention that Kelly has no playmakers on defense due to a series of bad drafts when Reid was the coach of the Eagles.

“As Broad & Pattison Turns”: 2013 Week #2 – Eagles vs. Chargers

The much-anticipated Chip Kelly “magical mystery” tour finally took off on Monday night, passing “GO” several times but not bothering to stop and collect $200 – it was going way too fast.

It didn’t bother to pick up any inexpensive properties on Mediterranean or Baltic Avenues, nor any high-end properties on Park Place or Boardwalk either.

Instead, much like the Acela Express rumbling down the Northeast Corridor, the Eagles offense rumbled through the Redskins defense as if they were a local DC Metro station that wasn’t equipped to handle them.

The Redskins tried to make a game of it in the 2nd half, but luckily for the Birds, the “rustoleum” didn’t peel off of RG3’s legs until it was too late, and the much maligned secondary, held together with some bobby pins and some scotch tape, managed to hold on just long enough.

So there you have it…a team that went 4-12 last season got off to a start like no one envisioned, but one that every “Iggles” fan will gladly take.  What does this all mean?   I have no clue…one game does not a season make, and before Eagles fans start making Superbowl proclamations on WIP & 97.5, there is still ample time for the opponent to figure out exactly what Chip Kelly is doing, and also ample time for the secondary to show their true colors.

An interesting observation from our seats during Monday night’s game was watching Chip Kelly on the field an hour before his first NFL game.  When his team was initially the only one practicing, he stood and watched as any other coach would.  But as soon as the Redskins took their side of the field to practice, Chip stood at the 50-yard line, arms folded, and stared stoically at the Redskins practice for the whole 30-45 minutes they were on the field, as if he was mentally taking in every play & every formation they were running through osmosis.

I have to give credit where credit is due – it wasn’t I who observed Chip’s intense focus on the Redskins but my father, who pointed it out and quickly remarked, as a distraught Eagles fan,  “you would NEVER see Andy Reid doing that”.  Sure, I was sitting right next to him the whole time, but I was focused on other important matters, such as whether my next adult beverage would be a Hefeweizen or the lower calorie Miller Lite (I chose the Hefeweizen).

Last week’s win was very reminiscent of the season opener in 2000, when the Eagles flew to Dallas and surprisingly spanked the Dallas Cowboys, 41-14 in the famous “pickle juice game”.  However, the following week, they looked lifeless and lost in their own home opener against the New York Giants, losing 33-18.

The G-Men were the eventual NFC representative in the Super Bowl that year, losing to the Baltimore Ravens.  And while no one expects the San Diego Chargers, this week’s opponent, to be as formidable a foe as the Giants were, it would be foolhardy for the Eagles to overlook this game and look ahead to Andy Reid and the Chiefs coming to town for a Thursday night clash on a short week.

Looking into my crystal bill this week, my “alter ego”, Nostrada-mit, sees an easy Eagles victory, with the Chargers scoring late to make it somewhat respectable, 35-21.  I just hope the Chargers batteries go out before my cellphone’s does…

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

Vikings at Bears 1:00 PM FOX – The Vikings play their 2nd straight on the road, trying to avoid going 0-2 on the young season.  The Bears play their 2nd straight at home, trying to go 2-0 (also on the young season).  Then again, the Bears always seem to get off to a fast start, only to falter in the 2nd half of the season, so maybe they should lose instead?

Broncos at Giants 4:25 PM CBS – Another edition of the “Manning Bowl”.  Should be a dandy.  If big bro Peyton beats ‘lil bro Eli, and the Birds beat the Chargers, we’ll have a two game lead on the Giants two weeks into the season.  SWEET!!!

Niners at Seahawks 8:30 PM NBC – The NFC West used to be known as the “NFC Worst”, but with these two powerhouse teams vying for the NFC crown, that has now changed.  The Seahawks will try to get a leg up in the battle for the NFC West, and their home field “12th man” will surely come into play.    Won’t be a shock if the Seahawks win, but will be a shock if the sun comes out in the depressing Pacific Northwest weather.

The Last Word – This week’s blog, boys and girls, is sponsored by the number “5″ due to the following:

1)  Since 2009, the Eagles opponent in their home opener (Saints, Packers, Giants, Ravens in chronological order) has gone on to win the Super Bowl that season.  That streak will end at 5 since the Chargers will not win the Super Bowl this year.

2) After the Eagles upset victory over the Redskins on Monday night, the Birds are now 5-0 in road games that my father has attended.  Go figure….

 

“As Broad & Pattison Turns” August 2013

Amit ‘s “As Broad & Pattison Turns” August Edition

A month and a half of Eagles training camp and preseason football has come and gone, and with it, the anticipation of a new season is upon us.  Michael Vick and Nick Foles both displayed that they were capable of handling the quarterback position, with Vick narrowly beating out Foles for the starting job.

Vick looked errorless in his first two preseason games, but after he was anointed the starters’ job, went back to being somewhat inconsistent in the 3rd preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But that is the knock on Vick…when he is under pressure to perform and to prove himself, as he was in 2010 when he acquired the starting job after Kevin Kolb was injured in the first game of the season, he can look unstoppable and run the offense like a machine.

But once Vick has the security of knowing that he is the man at the helm, he goes back to his bad habits of holding onto the ball too long and having a bad penchant for turnovers.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly did the right thing by not handing over the starting job to Vick at the outset of training camp.  Hopefully, if Vick struggles, Chip won’t hesitate to give the job back to Nick Foles, who doesn’t have the natural ability of Vick but may prove to be better at avoiding mistakes in the long run.

The rest of the offense and the special teams look to be quite formidable and have the ability to make big plays, except when running back Bryce Brown and kick returner Damaris Johnson hold the ball as if they were playing “hot potato”.

The defense, on the other hand, is this team’s “Achilles Heel”, and will be a work in progress for most of the season.  A wretched defense from 2012 cannot be turned over completely in the span of a year, and it may take some time to figure out who the keepers will be on that side of the ball.

The pass rush may turn out to be decent, and it will have to be to mask what is an unknown and unproven secondary.     Bad draft picks from the recent past such as safety Nate Allen and linebacker Casey Matthews may have their days numbered as Eagles, though Allen may be kept, just for the lack of available and experienced bodies out on the field.

The final preseason game against the Jets turned out to be a night off for the starters, but represented “one last hurrah” for those on the bubble in danger of being cut.   Who is kept and who goes will also largely depend on what players are released from other teams that may be of some help to the Eagles.  Stay tuned…

PHILLIESLast month, I stated that we would lose interest in the Phillies by Sept. 1st.  Unfortunately, I was wrong – most of us had lost interest by August 1st, as the team lost 19 of 24 after the All-Star break, prompting management to fire manager Charlie Manual.

The writing was already on the wall that Charlie would be gone after the season, but with the Phillies resurrecting the role of “Dead Man Walking”, something had to be done to revive what was a team without a pulse.

While Manuel was never quite the baseball strategist, and seemed to struggle with the “double switch”, I give him credit for guiding the 2008 team to its first World Series in twenty-eight years.

On Sept. 10th of that season, the Phillies, coming off a 7-3 loss to the Marlins, were 3.5 games behind the division leading Mets, four games behind the wildcard leading Brewers (whom they were about to start a 4-game series at home against), and in danger of missing the playoffs once again.

The Phillies swept Milwaukee in that series, going 13-3 the rest of the way, and had a magical run through the playoffs, culminating in a World Series clinching victory in Game 5 against Tampa Bay which took two nights to complete due to the game being suspended in the middle of the sixth inning (which I was lucky enough to attend on both nights).

During that magical run, Charlie Manual kept throwing out J.C Romero in the 7th inning, Ryan Madson in the 8th, and closer Brad Lidge in the 9th….and it happened to work every night from mid-September onwards, while he allowed his talented core of offensive players to perform on the field without screwing it up.

But while I give Charlie his due, can someone PLEASE explain to me when exactly he 1) Eradicated polio from 3rd world countries and 2) Saved ten children from a burning building??  Since that is the kind of recognition he has received AFTER being released from the Phillies.

New manager Ryne Sandberg  has gotten the team playing energized baseball once again, which bodes well for 2014, since there doesn’t seem to be much room to change what is an aging core whose best days may be behind them.  The Phillies should still have a good 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation next year with Cole Hamels & Cliff Lee, but past that, who knows?  Unfortunately, for the 2nd straight year, the “Bank” shall be silent come October…

SIXERS – If the Sixers ownership and management were the Founding Fathers of our country, it would have taken them ten years to write the Declaration of Independence and another five years to announce to the British and the “New World” peeps that we had declared independence.

Actually, on the day that they were to declare independence, they would have instead announced that the local general store, which coincidentally happened to be owned by one of them, was having a 2 for 1 sale on horse and buggy supplies.

But such is the nature of the NBA in Philadelphia these days – bad basketball and bad ownership.  If the Sixers plan eventually works (which is quite possible) and they acquire the right players, the fans will come back.  But in the meantime, some positive P.R from the owners’ box wouldn’t hurt.

Then again, perhaps 1) Public Relations and 2) Analytics just don’t mix?

FLYERSNothing much to report here, expect that Claude Giroux’s golf game isn’t going quite as planned.

The Last Word:

While it’s great that we join a gym in order to get/stay in shape, why do we drive around for ten minutes in the gym parking lot to find a closer parking spot instead of just walking the extra few feet?