Friday, November 17, 2017

Eagles Favored to Fly High in Big D

The 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles come off last week's bye with the best record in the NFL and a three-game lead in the NFC East. They have a golden opportunity to extend that lead over one of their most bitter rivals this Sunday night with a trip to Dallas to tangle with the 5-4 Cowboys. This will be the first meeting this season with Round 2 set for the final Sunday of the NFL regular season.

The Eagles are considered to be the best all-round team in the league in any number of NFL power rankings behind an offense that is ranked fourth in the league in yards gained and second in scoring with an average of 31.4 points per game. On the other side of the ball, Philly is 10th in the NFL in yards allowed and first against the run. This defense is also tied for fourth in interceptions (11) as part of its 16 takeaways in its first nine games.

Dallas is coming off a stunning 27-7 loss to Atlanta on the road last Sunday in the first of its six games without All Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup due to his current league suspension. His absence against the Falcons directly impacted second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, who was sacked eight times in that game after getting taken to the turf a total of 10 times in his first eight starts this year. Adding to the Cowboys' injury woes heading into this crucial division showdown is the loss of linebacker Sean Lee, who has been a thorn in the side of the Eagles on a number of occasions.

The general consensus among NFL fans in this matchup leans heavily towards the Eagles running their current winning streak to eight games while putting a serious dent in the Cowboys' chances for a return trip to the playoffs. You know that I am also leaning heavily towards the Birds flying high in prime time on Sunday night. If you want to see my complete game preview and official NFL prediction for Sunday night's tilt, please check out the link below at


Saturday, November 11, 2017

How Far Can the Philadelphia Eagles Go this Season?

Sitting at 8-1 through their first nine games while taking in some much needed rest during their bye week, the Philadelphia Eagles have not only captured the full attention of their rabid fan base in the City of Brotherly Love, they are now playing to a national stage as the top -ranked team in the league according to numerous NFL power ranking polls.

On one hand, some could feel that this early and unexpected success might be a case of too much, too soon. There are some actual concerns among a few NFL so-called experts (that shall remain nameless) that Philly is peaking too early in the season. In the famous words of former Eagles’ cornerback Herm Edwards “You play to win the game”! I guess these same football geniuses would feel better if the Birds would have dropped a few more of those first nine games so they would have more to shoot for in the second half of the season. Yea, I would much rather be in the 5-3 Cowboys or the 4-4 Redskins’ shoes of being a few games back in the chase for this season’s NFC East title.

Moving on, I am already giving Philly the division title at 13-3 or possibly even 14-2. Looking at the current standings in the NFC, this should also give the Birds a first round bye in the playoffs. Dallas went 13-3 last season as the top seed in the conference and then promptly lost to Green Bay at home in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. This only goes to prove that an impressive record in the regular season only gets you a primo spot in the dance. It does not guarantee that you are going home with the trophy.

Right now it looks like Philadelphia might have to face a team like Seattle, Minnesota or New Orleans in this season’s second round. All three games are winnable on its home field, although I would be a bit leery about facing the Saints given their current form.

Being the home-town fan that I am, I will go ahead and advance the Eagles to the NFC Championship either at home or on the road. The other big surprise in the NFC this season has been the Los Angeles Rams at 6-2 through their first eight games. There is a chance that we could see a rematch of the 2001 NFC title game in which the Rams squeaked out a 29-24 victory on their way to a Super Bowl title with our buddy Dick Vermeil at the helm as head coach.

The current standings in the NFC heading into Week 10 are filled with any number of playoff scenarios given the fact that there are seven teams with a winning record and four more at an even .500 at 4-4. Regardless of which of these teams the Eagles face in the conference title game, I am putting on my homer mask again to predict that they will get to the Super Bowl in Doug Pederson’s first playoff run as head coach. It took his mentor five tries in the postseason to get to the big game, but Andy Reid did not have Carson Wentz as his quarterback.

The Eagles have gone to two Super Bowls in franchise history with losses to Oakland in the 1980 season and to New England following a 13-3 run through the 2004 season. While there is a very good chance that Philly could draw the Patriots again in Super Bowl LII this February, I am going with a flair for the dramatic by predicting an in-state showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would be cool to see the Eagles get another shot at Reid’s Chiefs in the biggest game of the year, but I do not see Kansas City advancing out of the gauntlet that both New England and Pittsburgh present in the AFC.

This epic Hollywood plot would star Big Ben as the grizzled veteran gunslinger trying to take down the new kid in the Keystone State in what could very well be the last game of his highly successful NFL career. The plot thickens in light of the fact that this new gunslinger from Wenztlvania via the great state of North Dakota is obviously stronger, sharper and quicker to the draw then his counterpart 300 miles to the west on I76.

It is far too early in the movie to reveal how everything does play out in this ultimate dream showdown, but this blog post should officially serve notice that I am ‘All In’ when it comes to the question of how far Philly can go this season.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Eagles Go All-In for a Run at a Super Bowl Title

Most football experts had Philadelphia finishing third in the NFC East this season with slight move upward to 8-8 after winning seven games last season in Doug Pederson’s first year as head coach and Carson Wentz’s rookie year as the team’s new starting quarterback.

Flash forward to this Sunday’s home game against Denver as solid favorites, the 7-1 Eagles have rapidly accelerated the program with a chance to match that projected win total in Week 9. Pederson has shown the right temperament to reach all of his players, while building a coaching staff that knows how to do their job. Philly is firing on all cylinders in every phase of the game as the most balanced team in the NFL.

How far this current ride lasts is anyone’s guess, but with the best record in the NFL the Eagles control their own destiny when it comes to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Home field throughout the postseason is the quickest and easiest route to earn a trip to the Super Bowl, but there is still quite a bit of work to be done to turn this dream into reality.

One of the main reasons for this rapid reversal in fortunes is the Eagles’ front office led by team vice president Howie Roseman with the financial support from team owner Jeff Lurie. The fact that Carson Wentz is playing like a 10-year veteran also helps along with Jim Schwartz’s shutdown defense and some of the best special teams play in the league under the direction of Dave Fripp.

Even the best quarterback in the NFL cannot reach his potential without having the right personnel to run the ball, catch his passes and protect him in the pocket. A top-notch coaching staff can only squeeze so much out of their players. The biggest reason why teams win Super Bowls in the NFL is talent across the board. This starts with the NFL Draft to build depth through the ranks. It continues with the right free agent signings to fill the right holes and lately in the league it revolves around a few key trades here and there to push a team even further towards the ultimate goal of winning a word title.

The Eagles’ front office has excelled in all three of these categories since Philly beat Dallas in the last game of the 2016 season and it is starting to pay some huge dividends in the team’s performance through the first half of this year’s campaign.

The recent addition of running back Jay Ajayi proves the point. This guy ran for over 1,200 yards last season in Miami and he comes to the Eagles with 465 yards rushing in seven games this year. LeGarrette Blount was brought in as a free agent to get the Birds’ ground game back on track and heading into Sunday’s game against the Broncos, the offense was ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing with an average of 129.2 yards per game.

The prevailing attitude among every member of this organization that good is not good enough is another big reason why the Eagles have gone all-in to make that improbable run from the bottom of the division last year to the best team in the NFL at the halfway point of the 2017 season.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Eagles Relied on an Old Recipe to Cook Up some New Success

The Philadelphia Eagles had not won more than seven games for nine-straight seasons including a 5-9 record in 1975. The team’s owner at the time was Leonard Tose and he decided to shake things up by hiring a head coach with no prior NFL experience.

Dick Vermeil came to Philly from the West Coast as the former head coach at UCLA. After winning just four games in his first season at the helm, he decided to shake things up by trading for Ron Jaworski to be his new starting quarterback. The Eagles won five games that season before things came together in Vermeil’s third year on the job with a 9-7 record in 1978 and the team’s first trip to the postseason since it won the old NFL title back in 1960. Vermeil led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1980 before leaving the team before the 1983 season.

Flash forward to 1999 following a 3-13 record the previous season when the team’s current owner Jeffrey Lurie went back to that old formula but with a twist. Instead of dipping into the college ranks, he decided to hire an assistant coach from one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. Andy Reid worked under Mike Holmgren at Green Bay, who earned his first NFL head coaching job with the Packers under the tutelage of Bill Walsh while an assistant coach in San Francisco.

Reid made an immediate impact on the Eagles’ fortunes by using the second pick of the 1999 NFL Draft to land Donavan McNabb after a stellar career as Syracuse’s quarterback in college. Philly went from three wins to five in Reid’s first year, but things turned around dramatically from there. It started with an 11-5 record in 2000 followed by four-straight trips to the NFC title game and one trip to the Super Bowl in 2004. All told, he coached the team from 1999 to 2012 and posted nine trips to the playoffs in those 14 seasons at the helm. Reid and McNabb never could bring home that highly coveted Super Bowl title, but it was one incredible ride over all those years.

After toying with the idea that a college coach could be successful in the NFL, Lurie dug out the origial recipe from 1976 one more time to try and get his team back on top as one of the elite franchises in the NFL. After the Chip Kelly experiment failed miserably, the Eagles went back to a much more reliable recipe to turn things around by tapping Reid’s new coaching staff in Kansas City to hire Doug Pederson as their new head coach. The lineage back to Walsh continued to the next generation in hopes that lightning could strike twice in the City of Brotherly Love.

Pederson’s first move as head coach along with team vice president Howie Roseman was to trade up to the second pick of the 2016 draft to select former North Dakota State standout Carson Wentz as their new franchise quarterback. The first season of Pederson and Wentz as the new coach and quarterback tandem in Philly went pretty much as expected with a record of 7-9. Pederson made some questionable calls at times and Wentz sprinkled in some excellent play while looking like a rookie quarterback in the NFL for much of the year. The big takeaway from last season was that two of the biggest pieces for success in this league appeared to be in place.

While even with this year’s fantastic 6-1 start, it is far too soon to make any direct comparisons to Reid and McNabb’s success over all of the years. That being said, you still cannot help from getting excited over the prospect of what the next decade or so of pro football in Philly might hold.

It has quickly become apparent that Pederson learned what he needed to learn from Reid, who learned from Holmgren after his mentor payed close attention to what Walsh had to say all those years ago. Some of the best recipes around are the ones handed down from generation to generation.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Redskins Invade the Linc in a Monday Night Football Matchup

In what will be an excellent chance to open up some real breathing room in the NFC East Division title race, the 5-1 Eagles play host to the 3-2 Washington Redskins this Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Their current winning streak stands at four games following a big victory in prime time on the road against Carolina back Oct. 19. With home games against San Francisco next Sunday followed by a inter-conference matchup against Denver before a Week 10 bye, Philadelphia has positioned it self as the clear front-runner to claim its first division title since 2013.

The Eagles opened this season on the road against Washington and they were able to end a five-game skid against their division rivals with a 30-17 victory. Their only loss of the season was the following week at Kansas City and through the first six games they have outscored their opponents 165-122. The Redskins went onto to beat the Los Angles Rams at home and the Oakland Raiders on the road before they also came up short against the Chiefs. Last Sunday, Washington held on to beat the 49ers by two points to post its third win in five games.

In a divisional clash between two evenly matched teams, Monday night's game will probably come down to a couple of big plays just like it did in Week 1 when Fletcher Cox scooped up a Kirk Cousins' fumble and ran it in for a score to put things out of reach late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles probably have the over all edge in this game because of their highly opportunistic defense, but you still cannot ignore Washington's dominance in this series over the past few years.

Please check out the link below at for my complete game preview & free game pick.