Saturday, October 22, 2016

Unbeaten Vikings Look to Feast on a Wounded Bird

The title of this blog post might make readers think that I am a Minnesota fan, but given what we have seen from the Eagles the past few weeks there is a very good chance that the Vikings do keep their perfect record intact with another victory this Sunday afternoon at the Linc. Philly should have beaten Detroit two weeks ago; however its slow start was as big a reason for that loss as was a late fumble. Last week against the Redskins the final score did not indicate just how one-sided that game really was. If the Eagles keep playing like that, their 3-0 start will quickly become a distant memory as they sink to the bottom of the NFC East.

Too much too soon could be a good way to describe the Doug Pederson Era in Philadelphia. Heading into Week 7 of the season, his coaching prowess will be put to the test against one of the best teams in the league. It is all about making the proper adjustments at this level and if you do not get it right the losses will continue to pile up. It is pretty obvious that the Eagles are not as good as the team we watched those first three games, but they are not nearly as bad as the product that trotted out onto the turf last week at FedEx Field. It is time to find the middle ground that can still lead to a productive year for the new head coach.

I honestly believe that Carson Wentz has a very bright future in the NFL and after second thought I am really glad that the Eagles did make a very bold move to land him with the second overall pick of the draft. I also honestly believe that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is an excellent fit with this team and I think this unit will be able to plug some of the holes that were exposed in the last two games. Lastly, I honestly believe that Philly can end Minnesota's winning streak this Sunday afternoon. I went against the Birds as home underdogs against Pittsburgh and I predicted them to win those last two road games against the Lions and the Redskins as slight favorites. There is just no way that I can be wrong four weeks in a row so I am banking heavily on going against my natural instincts to take the Vikings in this game.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Eagles Face Their First Must-Win Game of the Season

Before this NFL season got underway the Eagles' projected win total was seven games with the betting odds favoring the UNDER so you would think that a 3-1 start in their first four games would be an unexpected bonus. Very few Philly fans thought that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz would even be playing at this point of the season, let alone playing at a very high level. I guarantee that nobody out there thought that new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz would have this side of the ball ranked second in the NFL in both yards allowed (266.8) and points allowed (12.8) four games into its 16-game run. Even place kicker Caleb Sturgis has exceeded expectations through his first four games with a 10 field goals in 11 attempts including two kicks from 50-yards plus.

All of this early success has been a great ride for die-hard Eagles' fans, but following a gut-wrenching loss to Detroit last week in a game that was basically decided by a late fourth quarter fumble by Ryan Matthews, this Sunday's road game against the division rival Washington Redskins almost becomes a must-win event to keep things from going off the rails. If Philly loses this game, then all of the great things that it accomplished in its first three games will simply be chalked up to beginners' luck. If the Birds win and move to 4-1 on the year, we can then begin to legitimately start dreaming about a run to the NFC East title and a long-awaited return to the postseason after a two-year absence under former head coach Chip Kelly.

I went against our beloved Birds as underdogs at home in an in-state tilt with Pittsburgh in Week 3 and they made me eat my words. I jumped right back on the bandwagon last week against the Lions when they were favored to win on the road and they let me down. Now it is time for this team to live up to the ability that almost everyone underestimated under new head coach Doug Pederson with a big win at FedEx Field this Sunday afternoon.

These are the games that Philadelphia has to win in order to keep things rolling in the right direction and I have all the confidence in the world that Wentz and Co, find a way to get it done this time around. So much so that I have loaded my fantasy team this week with the likes of Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Darren Sproules and Caleb Sturgis against my nephew Kevin, who was clairvoyant enough to add Carson Wentz to his roster in Week 3.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

High Flying Eagles Look to Remain Perfect Against Detroit

The Eagles are off to an impressive 3-0 start including a stunning 34-3 pounding of Pittsburgh its last time out before last week's bye. They will be back in action this Sunday as slight road favorites in what could be their biggest game of the year so far. This is a very winnable matchup against a 1-3 Lions team that is coming off an ugly 17-14 loss to Chicago, but you always have to keep in mind that sometimes situations such as this present a tough test for a young team trying to live up to some lofty expectations.

If Philly plays like it has so far this year it will remain undefeated through the first quarter of its games, but there is a reason why the concept of "any given Sunday" remains so relevant in every week of NFL games. Quarterback Carson Wentz may be a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors for what he has been able to accomplish on the field; however I am more impressed with the job that first-year head coach Doug Pederson as done on the sidelines. Along with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles' are doing an excellent job of utilizing the talent they have in the best way possible.

Former head coach Chip Kelly had his multitude of schemes and then proceeded to force the round pegs into the square holes to try and execute his sometimes convoluted game plan. That only worked so long before he lost his player's confidence in his ability to run this team. Pederson has already proved that he is a student of the game as well as players coach and he has benefited greatly from his association with another former Philly coach Andy Reid.

I will be the first one to admit that I blew the call against the Steelers, but in all honestly how many of you out there saw that one coming. As a tortured Eagles fan, we are always waiting for the next shoe to drop and more times than I care to remember our team obliged by losing a game it was supposed to win. Detroit this week and the Redskins on the road next Sunday present a golden opportunity for a perfect 5-0 start before welcoming Minnesota to town in Week 7 in what could be a battle of unbeatens. My confidence level remains high that Wentz and Co. will get it done this Sunday at Ford Field to keep things rolling in the right direction.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Eagles Need a Big Effort on Defense to Remain Undefeated

Carson Wentz has been the big story in Philadelphia this season behind the Eagles' surprising 2-0 start. He is the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to win his first two NFL starts without throwing an interception. With the favored 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers coming east on the PA Turnpike for a late Sunday afternoon in-state showdown at the Linc, Wentz will most likely need his best effort to date to keep the Eagles perfect on the year.

The main reason why the Eagles will either stun the Steelers with another win as underdogs or go down in defeat to their cross-state rivals will hinge on the play of Philadelphia's defense. This unit was one of the worst in the league last season in almost every major category; however with Jim Schwartz at the helm as the new coordinator, the Birds are currently sitting at a very lofty second in the NFL in points allowed and fourth in total yards allowed.

Granted, Cleveland and Chicago are hardly offensive juggernauts in this league, but Pittsburgh is. In victories over Washington and Cincinnati, the Steelers have racked up an average of 31 points and 405.5 yards a game. Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and playing at a high level and the combination of Antonio Brown and Sammy Coates have hauled in 16 receptions for 318 yards and two scores. The only plus is that running back Le'Veon Bell is still out of the lineup due to a league suspension.

If the Eagles can hold Pittsburgh to 24 points or less they have a real good chance to win this game. Unfortunately, I do not see things playing out quite like that in a 27-17 loss at home.

A Few Other Bold Predictions

Wentz throws his first NFL interception

Wendell Smallwood has a big return on special teams

Backup tight end Trey Burton has another productive day in place of an injured Zach Ertz

Monday, September 19, 2016

Eagles Look to Go 2-0 with a Monday Night Win in Chicago

I was reading an article earlier today clearly spelled out the benefits of going 2-0 to start the season in the quest to make the playoffs. According to Odds Shark, of the past 75 teams that started the new season 2-0, 44 went on to qualify for the postseason which equated to over 58 percent of the time. The opposite end of the spectrum paints a pretty bleak picture for any team going 0-2 to start the season. Going back over the last 75 teams to lose their first two games, just seven were able to turn things around and make it into the postseason.

Earlier this year when the new NFL team schedules were first released, I did pencil this game in as a win in anticipation of a loss to Pittsburgh the following week at home. I felt a 2-1 mark heading into a Week 4 bye would actually not be all that bad. However, that was when Sam Bradford was still the starting quarterback for this team. Now that first year head coach Doug Pederson has turned the keys to the offense over to rookie Carson Wentz, we could be in for a wild ride almost every single week.

Wentz looked good last week against Cleveland, but there is a reason why the Browns are widely considered to be the worst team in the league this year. I do not put all that much weight on those kind things considering that the "Any Given Sunday" syndrome appears to be alive and well with both favorites and underdogs hovering right around .500 through the first two weeks of games in head-to-head play.

Chicago did look pretty bad against Houston last week on the road, so the Eagles might catch a break in what has been a pretty tough road venue to play in over the years. I am actually more interested to see how the Eagles' defense plays against Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler, who was intercepted once and sacked five times in the 23-14 loss to the Texans in Week 1. Houston actually trailed 14-10 in that game at the half before outscoring Chicago 13-0 in the second half.

A Few Bold Predictions for Monday Night

-Eagles win 27-16

-Carson Wentz throws for more than 250 yards and he runs for more than 25 yards

-Backup tight end Trey Burton has at least one catch in place of an injured Zach Ertz

-The Eagles' defense comes up with at least one interception and one fumble recovery against the Bears' offense

Enjoy the Game!!!