Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 NFC East Preview & Predictions

It has come to that time of the year when I have to make my official pick for the NFC East in terms of which team will rise to the top of the heap in 2015. Not that I am giving anything away, I honestly think that our beloved Birds have positioned themselves to go deep into the playoffs this season if all of their new moving parts come together and perform like a well-oiled team.

If you go back to the NFL labor situation heading into the 2011 regular season when a player's lockout delayed the start of free agency until the month of August, you might remember Eagles' owner Jeff Laurie opening-up the checkbook. The Eagles went on to sign a couple of high-profile and high-priced players that were brought in to tip the scales for a Super Bowl run following a 2010 season that ended with a heart-breaking 21-16 loss to Green Bay in the Wildcard Round. The Packers went on to win the Super Bowl that year. The plan failed miserably and the Eagles went 8-8 that year, which marked the beginning of the end for the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia.

Chip Kelly took Reid's place in 2013 and he promptly led the team to a 10-6 record and a NFC East title in his first season at the helm. Philly matched that win total last season, but it actually took a step backwards with a late season collapse in losses against Dallas and Washington that cost it the 2014 division title.

This past offseason, Kelly took matters into his own hands as the newly appointed director of player personnel and completely reshaped this team with an unprecedented number of major moves. Through two games of the preseason, things appear to be headed in the right direction with two lopsided victories over playoff contenders Indianapolis and Baltimore by a combined score of 76-27. Ironically enough, the Eagles will play Green Bay this Saturday night in Week 3 of the preseason and if they blow-out the Packers on the road then we might be on to something.

I am happy to report that I will once again be covering the NFC East on a weekly basis for Doc's Sports and to get things rolling I have created a link to my 2015 preview and picks for the division in an article that was posted earlier this week.

2015 NFC East Predictions with Betting Odds and Expert Picks

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

NFL Preseason Week 2 Preview

It is time to start getting serious about the NFL preseason heading into Week 2 of a four game schedule. This week the starters for all 32 teams should see more playing time so at least for the first half of the games we should get our first taste of what to expect in the regular season.

Last week the Eagles did a good job moving the ball against Indianapolis with both Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow taking the majority of the snaps at quarterback. This Saturday night we will get our first look at Sam Bradford in a home game against Baltimore. I would have to presume that if he is healthy enough and stays that way over the next few weeks that he will be the team's starting quarterback in Week 1 of the regular season against Atlanta. Mark Sanchez is probably still in the mix to fill that role, but I am really looking forward to seeing just how well Bradford can run this high-powered Eagles' offense.

The one conclusion that I did draw from that Week 1 win was that Philadelphia should be just fine without its No. 1 receiver from last season Jeremy Maclin. Both Jordan Matthews and rookie Nelson Agholor made a couple of nifty catches including Agholor's 34-yard touchdown reception from Sanchez towards the end of the first quarter that gave the Eagles a lead they never relinquished. We are still waiting for the debut of running back DeMarco Murray, but the Birds also did a good job running the ball last Sunday with 123 yards rushing on 32 carries.

The Ravens' defense should provide a much better test against the new-look Birds so it will interesting to see how well this offense can move the ball on Saturday night.

I just starting writing weekly articles for a new site so the following is a link to my preview and picks for a few of the better matchups on this week's preseason slate including the Ravens vs. Eagles game.

NFL Preseason Week 2 Preview & Predictions

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Eagles Preseason Week 1 Thoughts and Musings

The Eagles will share the spotlight with the Indianapolis Colts as the featured Sunday game in Week 1 of the 2015 NFL preseason. I have already stated in numerous preseason articles that Philadelphia without a doubt is the most intriguing team in the league heading into the new season.

All 32 NFL teams have made numerous changes to their roster this past offseason in pursuit of a Super Bowl title, even the reigning champion New England Patriots. The Eagles took that task to a whole new level over the past few months behind the Wizard of Broad Street, Chip Kelly ( I am hoping that nickname sticks beyond just my blog). You would think that a team that won 10 games in each of its last two seasons would look to tweak things a bit with its roster to try and add those two to three more victories that would probably result in home field advantage for the playoffs.

Not Kelly, not by a long stretch. He decided to blow things up by trading away his starting quarterback and All-Pro running back while letting his top receiver sign with another team. He has also reassembled his offensive line, linebacking corps and defensive secondary. He probably even changed ball boys and cheerleaders behind the scene.

All I can say is that I am pumped to see what the Wizard has come up with! This Sunday will not show us all that much with the starters seeing little action, but I do predict that the Eagles will still score more points on their own than the total score in almost every other preseason game this week. My bold prediction for the game is that Tim Tebow throws and runs for a score (remember you read it here first).

Kelly has put the FUN back in football and he could care less what anyone else thinks. Eagles fans have not seen the likes of this type of swagger from a head coach since Buddy Ryan roamed the sidelines at Veteran Stadium. When Reid was in town the time was ours. Kelly knows that the time is his and he is hell bent on making the most of it!

Friday, August 7, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football the Eagles' Way

Training camps all over the NFL are in full swing and the preseason schedule gets underway this Sunday with the annual Hall of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio. That means it is time to get serious about drafting your fantasy football team for the 2015 season. I managed to finish dead last in my league last year with a healthy dose of Eagles on my roster, but that is not going to stop me from loading-up this year's squad with a few of the top fantasy football players that are new to the nest for 2015.

The top-ranked Eagle on FantasyPros list heading into the 2015 fantasy football season is running back DeMarco Murray at No. 15. Interestingly enough the back he replaced, LeSean McCoy is just two spots lower at No. 17 so it should be a great back-and-forth battle between these two players all year long. I missed out on drafting McCoy last season as one of the top three players on the list, but I should be able to get Murray with my first round pick.

The next Eagle on the list at No. 37 is wide receiver Jordan Matthews. As a rookie in 2014, he caught everyone's attention as the team's second-leading receiver with 67 receptions for 872 yards and eight touchdowns. The receiver ahead of him on the stat sheet was Jeremy Maclin, but he decided to jump ship to Kansas City to be reunited with Chiefs' head coach Andy Reid. This makes it a no-brainer to take Matthews with my second pick since he should still be on the board.

Current Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly decided to trade away last season's starting quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for their starter Sam Bradford. Looking at the rankings for this season there are 16 quarterbacks ahead of Bradford on the list, but that is not going to stop me from adding him to my fantasy football team as my starter.

I will definitely try and add tight end Zach Ertz and possibly even Ryan Mathews as a back-up running back. When it comes to picking a defense I can almost guarantee the Philadelphia will still be available in the later rounds. If you are going to be the ultimate homer then you might as well go all the way.

The one thing I never liked about fantasy football was having to root against your favorite team because you had the opposing team's quarterback as your starter. My draft strategy may ensure another last place finish in my league, but you cannot call yourself a die-hard fan if your do not walk the walk no matter how much money is on the line.