Friday, February 10, 2017

Eagles Well Down the NFL Futures Odds List to Win Super Bowl LII

The confetti was still flying in the streets of Boston following the Patriots' incredible overtime victory in Super Bowl LI when the futures odds to win next season’s NFL title game were first released. As expected, New England has been opened as a +500 favorite to repeat. As far as the betting odds for our beloved Philadelphia Eagles, the current outlook is not as nearly as encouraging.

It should not come as any big surprise that Philadelphia is well down the list as a +5000 longshot to win Super Bowl LII after going 7-9 in 2016, but we also have to live with the fact that the Eagles have the longest odds on the board of any team in the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys have been opened as +800 second-favorites to win it all next season after posting the best straight-up record in the NFC this year to earn the top seed in the playoffs. The New York Giants’ betting odds to win Super Bowl LII are set at +2000 and the Washington Redskins are next in the division at +4000 odds.

Looking back at Covers.com’s final football Power Rankings for the NFL this past season, the Eagles came in at No. 23 on the list, so there is some serious ground to make up in the NFC East in light of Dallas being ranked second and the Giants coming in at No. 7. Washington contended for the division title for most of the season, but it faded to No. 20 on Covers' list with just two victories in its last six games.

The good news for tortured Eagles’ fans is that the precedent for a worst-to-first run in the division has already been accomplished three times in the past five seasons. The Redskins pulled off this feat in 2012 and in 2015 and more recently Dallas went from worst to first this past season. The Cowboys sunk to 4-12 in 2015 before a pair of rookies propelled them to the top of the heap with this season’s 13-3 run. What’s to say that Eagles’ vice president Howie Roseman and second-year head coach Doug Pederson do not cook up a couple of hot free agent deals along with some more wheeling and dealing on draft day to add the necessary player personal to quickly turn things for the Birds next season.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Green Bay Aims to Eliminate the NFC East from Postseason Play

The Green Bay Packers will put their seven-game winning streak on the line this Sunday afternoon against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. They advanced to this round by hammering the New York Giants 38-13 last Sunday in the Wild Card Round while the Cowboys earned the week off as the top seed in the NFC. The Cowboys may be listed as 4.5-point home favorites in this matchup, but you have to believe that they will have their hands full against one of the hottest teams in the league.

Before the 2016 NFL regular season got underway, I had the Packers winning the NFC this year. Things did not look all that promising when they slipped to 4-6 after their first 10 games, but once Aaron Rodgers got hot he never cooled down which is one of the main reasons why Green Bay is just one more victory away from a trip to the conference title game.

The big story in Big D all season long has been the exceptional play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott. The big question for both of these players is how they handle playing their first game on the biggest stage of their young careers. You know I will be rooting hard for both of these newbies to falter under all the added pressure given my utter dislike of their team as a whole. There is nothing better in the world then to see team owner Jerry Jones burying his head in his hands on national TV when Dallas loses. I would love to see this weekend's loss be at the hands of the Eagles, but for now I will be pulling hard for that other team in green to send the Cowboys packing to complete the NFC East sweep!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Eagles Look to End Their Season on Strong Note Against Big D

The Eagles' 2016 season will come to a close on Sunday regardless of the outcome of their game against Dallas in what was a thrill ride on a roller coaster that started with some really big highs before cascading downward into the lowest of lows.

A perfect 3-0 run to start this ride raised expectations through the roof and heading into a Week 8 showdown against the Cowboys at 4-2 it all started to unravel. One can only speculate how things might be different if Philly could have somehow managed to win that overtime game against Dallas as opposed to coming up on the wrong end of a crushing 29-23 loss. From there things only got worse with just one more win in the Birds' next seven games and by the time they did manage to upset the New York Giants last Saturday at the Linc the damage had been done.

This Sunday's home game against the Cowboys is completely meaningless for either team as far as the final standings. An Eagles' victory would get them to a more respectable seven wins on the year to match Chip Kelly's record last season in his final year as head coach. Dallas has already locked up the top seed in the NFC so its main goal in this NFC East clash in keeping everyone healthy.

The oddsmakers have Philly listed as a 4.5-point favorite in this game given the fact that its motivation to end the season on a winning note will be much higher than a Cowboys' team that will simply try and get out of the hostile environment at the Linc in one piece. It does not look like first year head coach Doug Pederson's job is on the line, but a strong showing on Sunday would not hurt his job status heading into another long offseason.

There is no doubt that some big changes need to take place over the next several months to get Philadelphia on the same level as the rest of the competition in the NFC East. Even Washington can qualify for the playoffs with a win against New York this week, so it is painfully obvious that the current gap is way too wide.

The Eagles' offense is in desperate need of a few playmakers at the skill positions and there are some big holes up front that need to be filled. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz did a decent job with his unit on that side of the ball, but there were still far too many stupid mistakes, bad penalties and mental breakdowns along the way to successfully compete with the stronger competition Philly faced this year.

All-in-all, to quote the words of former NFL head coach Denny Green, "They are who we thought they were....". The highlights were far and few between, but we still have fond memories of those two dominating wins against Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Carson Wentz struggled through his rookie growing pains, but you would have to believe that, at the very least, he did demonstrate the skills to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. There are some solid pieces in place on both sides of the ball that set the foundation for a turnaround in the coming years, but there is still quite a bit work to be done for team vice president Howie Roseman come free agency and the upcoming draft.

For now, we will have to be content with a two-game run to close out the 2016 season against the top two teams in the division, assuming that Philly gets past Dallas on Sunday. Another loss to the Cowboys would be hard to endure given how us tortured fans were forced to watch our arch rivals turn things around in a big way from just four wins the season before.







Friday, December 23, 2016

Eagles Play the Role of Spoiler in Win Against New York

Eagles' fans have been waiting patiently since early November to see this team end up on the winning side of a final score during its recent five-game skid, but everything finally came together in Thursday's night's 24-19 victory against the rival New York Giants. The offense got off to a hot start and the defense sealed things with a few key turnovers at the end of the game in what was a total team effort. We have gotten too use to the Birds coming up short on both sides of the ball during their recent slide, so it was good to see this team find a way to win with all three phases playing at an elevated level. The best part of Thursday night's victory was that it came against a division rival that needed to win that game to clinch a spot in the playoffs. It is highly likely that the Giants still get in as one of two wild card teams in the NFC, but they might have been exposed as pretenders as opposed to contenders in the race to Super Bowl LI.

Philly has a great shot at ending the season with another division win at home against Dallas next Sunday since the Cowboys have already clinched the top seed in the NFC as far as the postseason. A victory against the Dallas would match a projected win total of seven games. It is hard to take any comfort in that rather dubious achievement after the Eagles jumped out to an encouraging 3-0 start on their way to a 4-2 record through their first six games. Unfortunately things went downhill from there to set up another long offseason for Philly fans that are starved to see our team return to the ranks of being a legitimate playoff team in the NFL. Maybe Thursday night's win was a preview of better things to come in 2017, but I for one am getting pretty tired of looking forward to next the NFL Draft before the current season is even over.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Should Doug Pederson Be on the Hot Seat in Philly?

The only good news for the Eagles heading into a Week 15 matchup on the road against the Baltimore Ravens is that the Philadelphia Flyers are riding a 10-game winning streak into their road game this Saturday against the Dallas Stars to help deflect some attention away from their dismal play over the last four games. Even the lowly 76ers have won more games than the football team in town lately with a 2-2 record in their last four outings.

I have been touting the Birds as a legitimate playoff contender all season long based on what I saw from this team when the leaves were still green and on the trees. Playoff teams win games in November and December while the league's pretenders continue to work their way into a better position for next year's draft. The race to the postseason in the NFC is one of the best in years, unfortunately with an ugly four-game losing streak Philly is now officially on the outside looking in.

Earlier this week I read an article about which NFL head coaches are in jeopardy of losing their jobs in the wake of the Los Angeles Rams' decision to part ways with their embattled head coach Jeff Fisher. Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson was mentioned, but thought to be safe considering that it was just his first year on the job. The simple fact that he was mentioned raises a red flag in my book. On the surface, a 5-8 record for a team that was projected to win just seven games does not appear to be all that bad, but it is the way that this team has collapsed down the stretch that raises my level of concern. Rookie Carson Wentz is headed in the wrong direction after a strong start as the team's new starting quarterback on an offense that is extremely predictable. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had his unit playing at a very high level earlier in the year, but now this defense is not all that much better than the one that finished last season at or near the bottom of the league in most major statistical categories.

I am not jumping ship on the Eagles after still believing in them all the way up to last week's loss against Washington, but something has to be done about all the water this ship has taken in over the past month or so. Pederson needs to show that he can motivate this team to finish strong. Philadelphia can win in Baltimore this Sunday and it also has a chance to get a win at home this upcoming Thursday against the New York Giants. The best opportunity to show team owner Jeff Lurie that he does have what it takes to be a head coach at this level would be to knock off Dallas on New Year's Day if there is anything still on the line for the Cowboys as far as their postseason plans.

If Philly can get to seven wins this season then Pederson should keep his job. However, if this current four-game losing streak reaches seven games by year's end, I think Lurie might want to seriously think about cutting his losses and find a capable head coach that does have what it takes to guide his team.