2016 Week #6: Eagles at Redskins

Surely, the fairy tale couldn’t last forever?

Surely, the folklore going around that Carson Wentz could 1) Save the country’s burgeoning debt crisis, 2) Cure every form of cancer, 3) Be the perfect husband for your sister/daughter AND 4) Never throw an interception could not all be true?

The last theory was debunked last Sunday in Motown when Wentz, with enough time to lead his team down the field for a winning field goal, threw an ill-advised pass downfield to Nelson Agholor who, when in tight coverage with a defender for a pass, looks more like he’s doing the “limbo dance” than actually fighting for the ball.

As the Lions celebrated and their fans, who seemed comatose and disinterested for most of the game, actually came to life, Wentz walked off the field presumably humming the Human League’s 1986 hit song “Human” playing in his head (cause frankly, he’s only human…of flesh and blood he’s made).  The throw was young Carson’s first interception of the year and negated what had been an Eagles comeback from two scores down in the 2nd half to take the lead, before Ryan Mathews fumble on 3rd &2 eventually led to Detroit kicking what was the eventual winning field goal.

No one expected the Birds to go 16-0, and it’s not necessarily a surprise that they lost a close game to the Lions.  But it was more HOW they lost it that hurt the most.

If the Eagles were not coming off a bye, the Lions contest could have easily been labeled a “trap” game, considering that they were coming off a big win against the Steelers and facing a division foe in the Redskins this week.  But I thought the bye would work to negate any kind of letdown against a Lions team that has not won anything of significance since the 1950’s.  I was wrong.

Perhaps this kind of wakeup call is exactly what the Birds needed.  The expectations for this season have changed significantly after four games, and a 8-8 season will no longer be considered a success as it was before the Eagles took the field against the Cleveland Browns on opening day.

The Birds face a tough test on the road this week.  The Redskins have rebounded from an 0-2 start to win three straight and are in the thick of the NFC East race at 3-2.  Don’t look now, but the NFC “Least” is currently the best division in football, with three of the four teams (Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins) with winning records, and the Giants not far behind at 2-3.

The Eagles would do well to run the ball against the ‘Skins, who possess the league’s 30th ranked run defense.  Last week, both Wendell Smallwood & Kenjon Barner looked like they had been placed in the witness protection program by coach Doug Pederson, as both seemed to be conspicuously absent from the running game. Mixing in both Smallwood & Barner into the running back rotation would help to keep Darron Sproles & Ryan Mathews fresh as well, especially as the game wears on.

Any division game the Eagles play always seems to be a tough game no matter the record of either team.  But I don’t think the Redskins are as good as their 3-2 record suggests.  And coming off a tough loss to the Lions, the Eagles will not take Washington lightly.  Birds win 27-17 and the “ying and yang” is in balance once again in “Eagleville”.

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

Eagles at Redskins 1:00 PM FOX

Cowboys at Packers 4:25 PM FOX – Game of the Week

Falcons at Seahawks 4:25 PM FOX

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

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”: 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….