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 #15: Eagles vs. Cowboys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Word:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:

1. Broncos (1)

2. Patriots (2)

3. Cardinals (3)

4. Seahawks (5)

5. Packers (4)

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

Dolphins at Patriots 1:00 PM CBS

Texans at Colts 1:00 PM CBS

Bengals at Browns 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Bills 1:00 PM FOX

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

49ers at Seahawks 4:25 PM FOX

Cowboys at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #17: Eagles at Cowboys

Last Sunday, the Eagles and their fans embarked on a “3-hour tour” (as they used to say on Gilligan’s Island) which turned out to be a roller coaster ride that swung across virtually every gamut of emotions.

On two separate occasions, it looked like the Cowboys were on the verge of losing, yet both times, Dallas managed to keep the game alive, which eventually made the difference in a 24-23 victory over the Redskins.

With Washington holding a 23-14 lead approx. midway through the 4th quarter, and the Cowboys faced with a 4th & 6 at the Redskins 40, quarterback Tony Romo completed a 20-yard pass across the middle to keep the drive alive.

More importantly, it looked like a Cowboys loss was imminent after Dallas went from a 2nd & goal at the 1 to a 4th & goal from the 10 with only 1:16 left to play.  Instead, Romo found DeMarco Murray at the 2 yard line, and, with just enough momentum to carry him into the end zone, kept the Cowboys alive for at least one more week.

Eagles fans, jubilant at the thought of clinching the division on Sunday night against the Bears when the Cowboys faced 4th & goal, must have felt as if their “buzz” turned into a hangover almost instantaneously, with the knowledge that last Sunday’s game suddenly did not mean nearly as much.  Now, the Eagles had to win at Dallas no matter what happened last Sunday night at the Linc.  And later we found out that it was Chicago who had everything to play for, while the only advantage the Eagles could gain was for seeding purposes…which only holds importance IF the Eagles win this Sunday.

But it was the Birds who played as if everything depended on the game, while the Bears looked like THEY were the ones who rested their starters and trotted out a high school junior varsity team as replacement players.

Chicago looked disinterested, disheveled, and just plain discombobulated, and by the middle of the 3rd quarter, Eagles fans, while enjoying the offensive prowess of their team, still held their collective breath, hoping, PRAYING, that LeSean McCoy or Nick Foles would not lay motionless on the field because of an injury that would take more than a week’s recovery time.

Perhaps it was to remove the bad taste out of their mouth after last week’s loss to the Vikings.  Perhaps coach Chip Kelly, after watching his team practice to play a meaningful game, wanted to give them the chance to do so.  Or perhaps it was to gain a #3 instead of a #4 seed, which the Eagles will capture if they win their division come Sunday night.

There is validity to that argument.  While both the #3 & #4 seeds play at home in the 1st round and on the road in the 2nd (assuming they win their first game), the #3 seed, in theory, plays the worse of the two wild card teams.  Win that game, and you go on the road to play the 2nd best team in your conference and not the first (again, in theory).

By holding the #3 seed, the Eagles would currently play the New Orleans Saints (an awful road team) at home in the 1st round as opposed to the San Francisco 49ers, who are more adept at playing on the road outdoors.  Win that game, and the Birds would currently go on the road to Carolina in the 2nd round (a very winnable game) as opposed to going to Seattle and its “Monsters of Rock” concert decibel level at CenturyLink Field.

Make it to the NFC championship, and the Birds could play at home if the #4 or #5 seed also advanced that far.  Start the playoffs as the 4th seed instead, and you have to hope that the #6 seed advanced just as far (not very likely) to have that same opportunity.

Sure, I’m getting ahead of myself, as the Eagles first need to win this Sunday, but why not dream a little with the way this season is going?

As for Dallas, Santa dropped a lump of coal into the Cowboys playoff stocking, when it was discovered that QB Tony Romo may be out for the game (and for an extended period of time) with a herniated disk.  But while all the “Romo-sexuals” (the Tony Romo supporters) may be crying in their eggnog at hearing such news, the Eagles would do well not to relax and take this game lightly.

While Cowboys backup Kyle Orton may not be as elusive as Romo, he also may not have the “chokability” (is that a word?) of Romo either, who has gone 1-6 in playoff and regular season elimination games. ..nothing to write home about.

With the Eagles offense as potent as it is, if the defense can hold the Cowboys to 21-24 points, there is no reason they shouldn’t win this game and become NFC East champions for the 1st time in three years.  As long as the Eagles remember the Vikings game from two weeks back and don’t plan to sleepwalk through it…

Birds win 35-20 Sunday night and Birds fans will be singing “Fly Eagles Fly” in Old City, Rittenhouse Square, the Graduate Hospital area, and of course, Frankford & Cottman…

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

Ravens at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS – The Bengals have won the AFC North and have an outside shot at a bye.  The Ravens need a win and a partridge in a pear tree to make the playoffs.  A game still meaningful for both teams…

Niners at Cardinals 4:25 PM FOX – Had the 49ers lost to the Falcons on Monday night, this game would have been, essentially, a playoff game for both teams.  Instead, the Niners are already in the playoffs, with a chance to get a bye, and possibly home field advantage as well, for which they will need three French hens & two turtle doves along with a partridge in a pear tree.  The Cardinals need a win and have to hope that Tampa can pull off an upset in New Orleans…otherwise, the Cardinals could end up 11-5 or 10-6 and be watching the playoffs at home in the land of the cactus.

Packers at Bears  4:25 PM FOX – For the Bears sake, hopefully they can snap out of their sleepwalk just in time to get up for this regular season winner-takes-all game against the Pack, who might have Aaron Rodgers back and could make a deep run in the playoffs as the #4 seed.  If that is the case, I’ll be singing  “I’mmmmm dreaming, of an Eagles-Packers championship…just like the one in 1960″….

Eagles at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC   – Based on comments they made during last week’s Eagles-Bears Sunday night game, the NBC broadcasting duo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth seem to have a “bro-mance” going with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.  Or maybe it was the oversized picture of the Phillie Phanatic used to send in offensive signals that had them smiling?  Either way, they both do a great job, though I will always defer to putting down the sound and putting on Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on the Eagles radio network…It’s GOOOOOD!

The Last Word – From the crack staff and research department here at “As Broad & Pattison Turns” (namely, me), I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, & Season’s Greetings (the “trifecta” of famous December phrases).  And to celebrate, I leave you with a Christmas jingle sung to the tune of Wham’s “Last Christmas”:

Last Christmas, the Eagles were lousy, 

And the very next day, they fired Andy,

This year, to save us from tears,

I’d give the ball to someone like Shady,

Yes, I’m a dork I know…and to all a good night…

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

There are certain things one can always count on in the month of December:

1)  Overcrowded shopping malls.

2)  Hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on the radio.

3) Being asked 623 times “So are ya finished your Christmas shopping?”

4) Santa sliding down the chimney to deliver presents.

5) The Cowboys sliding down the NFC East standings as Tony Romo delivers another fatal interception.

Once again, just around the time that the Christmas trees are decorated and the eggnog is flowing freely, the Cowboys began to freefall, going from a contender to a pretender.  Last week, the ‘Boys held a commanding 26-3 lead over Green Bay at halftime, only to have it slip away when Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw not one, but two game-changing interceptions, eventually leading to a 37-36 fall from ahead defeat.

The last two seasons, it has been the Giants and Redskins, respectively, that have won the division as a result of the Cowboys implosion, and this year looks to be the Eagles turn as they try to make the playoffs in Chip Kelly’s first season, a feat that even the “Ghost of Christmas Future” could not foretell.

Don’t know what it is that has cursed Tony Romo…the guy puts up good numbers and can throw 5-6 touchdowns in a game, yet he’ll throw an interception at the most inopportune time, eventually leading to a Cowboys loss.

Back in 2006, the Cowboys were a chip shot field goal away from winning a wildcard playoff game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks when Romo, who was then the holder on field goals and extra points as well, botched the snap, leading to a Cowboys playoff loss in his 1st year as the Cowboys starter.  Who would have known then that Romo and the Cowboys would amass only one playoff win in the next six seasons?

Perhaps it’s the ghosts of “Cowboys past” that are cursing Jerry Jones and trying to get him to see the error of his ways in remaining the general manager of his football team.  It was Jones, after all, who caused former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, the only successful coach he’s had to date, to depart Dallas.  The only thing bigger than Jerry Jones ego is his stadium, and while it may hold all the technological bells and whistles, it is an awful place for the average fan to actually watch live action, and doesn’t hold any ground when compared to Lincoln Financial Field.

Meanwhile, back at Broad & Pattison, the Eagles were very much in the holiday spirit last week, as they gift wrapped a win for the Vikings.  And while Minnesota’s record was nothing to write home about, Eagles play-by-play man Merrill Reese made an interesting observation before kickoff last week that if a football game lasted 59 minutes instead of 60, the Vikings would have been 8-5 instead of 3-9-1.  This wasn’t the Houston Texans the Eagles were facing but a team that had played it close for most of their games and, if taken lightly, had the ability to beat you.  And they did just that.

But with the Cowboys loss, the Eagles received their own Christmas present of sorts, and with it, a chance to clinch the NFC East this Sunday with a Cowboys loss to the Redskins Sunday afternoon followed by an Eagles win over the Bears on Sunday night.

If both teams have something to play for, it could be a tight, close game, but by Sunday night, either one or both teams could be resting their starters for a game that might end up meaning very little (wonder if the boys over at NBC  thought this one through before they flexed this into the Sunday night game).

Here are the up-to-date, and now limited, playoff scenarios for the Birds:

– They cannot get a wild card spot, which goes to the #5 & #6 seed.

– They can only get into the playoffs as a division winner, which would give them either the #3 or #4 seed, depending on what the record of the NFC North winner is.  They cannot move up enough to capture the #1 or #2 seed (and the 1st round bye that comes with them).

– A Cowboys win against the Redskins and the Eagles would have to beat Dallas the last week of the season to win the division, no matter what happens this Sunday night.  In that case, a loss against the Bears would make it likely that the Birds would become the #4 seed instead of #3.

– For the Bears, a Lions loss against the Giants and a Packers win against the Steelers (both played on Sunday afternoon) would render the Eagles game meaningless for the same reason, as the Bears would need to defeat the Packers the following week to win their division, regardless of what they do against the Eagles.

– If the game ends up meaningless for both teams, the only thing the outcome would affect is the seeding between #3 & #4…got that??

I actually think the game will mean something for the Eagles, as the Redskins, with Kurt Cousins at quarterback, will come through and defeat the Cowboys, followed by the Birds defeating the Bears, 27-16, and giving Eagles fans an early Christmas present and an NFC East title in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach.  If that scenario plays through, Chip Kelly will indeed be Santa Claus for the next two weeks…

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

Colts at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS – While both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots, the Chiefs still have a shot at winning their division and getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Colts still have an outside shot at a 1st round bye.

Saints at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX – A win would give the Saints the NFC South title and a 1st round bye in the playoffs.  A Panthers win would put them in the drivers seat for the same, though they would still need a win or a Saints loss the following week as well.  The Saints are an offensive juggernaut when they are playing at home, but unfortunately, this game is in Carolina.

Cardinals at Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX – A win would give the Seahawks home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.  While the Cardinals future is bright under new head coach Bruce Arians, they still need some help to make the playoffs in 2013.

Patriots at Ravens 4:25 PM CBS – With neither team having clinched a playoff spot yet, and playoff seeding still in the air, this should be a dandy.

Bears at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC – While this game is currently a marquee matchup, that could change before kickoff based on how other games pan out.

The Last Word – With Christmas fast approaching, just remember – if Grandma has been drinking too much eggnog, just tell her not to go.  And make sure she doesn’t forget her medication, and stagger out the door into the snow…