Sunday, December 17, 2017

Eagles - Giants Takeaways: Winning Pretty Ugly

For the next little while at least
Today's game was watched from a recumbent bike seat, as I attempted to make up for lost time on fitness goals for the year. It's fun to translate nervous energy over your team looking for all the world like they peaked at the wrong time into burned calories!

And with that, on to the most salient points to my eyes from this slog.

> HC Doug Pederson needs to understand that (a) QB2 Nick Foles isn't going to get you those automatic sneak first downs the way the late lamented Carson Wentz did, and (b) RB LeGarrete Blount has been secretly terrible in short yardage most of the year. I'm all for aggro play calling on fourth down but know your personnel.

> This was the third straight game that the defense made the opposition look like world beaters, and I'm starting to really worry about this unit. Was November just a matter of home cooking against terrible QBs? Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Eli Manning have all gone for big numbers, and you can't even blame Game Script or Prevent Defense on it. If the pass rush doesn't get there, the secondary is getting beat.

> The team doesn't escape with this win without the oft-maligned special teams. A blocked PAT, a blocked FG, and a blocked punt really make that much of a difference and kept Big Blue from settling for a last-minute figgie to re-take the lead. To go 12-2, you need some breaks, and some of them, you also create.

> It's rare that you win a road game while getting out-gained by 160 yards, but that was just the way this one went. Every time you thought the Eagles had gotten past their early snooze, the refs or Blue would make a play, mostly the same stupid slant play they made a couple of dozen times before. I miss the early season secondary.

> Blue had 23 carries for 65 yards today, which sounds bad but really isn't for these slugs. Giving up 29 points to a team whose best pass-catching threat is a butter-fingered rookie TE really doesn't speak for playoff hopes.

> The other big reason an 11-2 team was able to get past a 2-11 one: red zone offense. Nick Foles was great at this today, following the Wentzian model of sharing the wealth. When Blue had to have it late, QB Eli Manning couldn't deliver.

> Really rough day for CBs Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Neither man looks hurt or gun-shy, but both guys were really bad in this one, with sloppy tackling, repeat penalties, and overall shakiness. This team is going to need a lot more from both guys if it's going to take advantage of its seed.

> With the win, the Eagles clinch a first-round bye as no worse than the #2 seed in the NFL, but keeping the foot on the gas is necessary due to the Vikings beating the garbage out of a, well, garbage Bengals team today. Philly has Oakland and Dallas left, while Minny goes to Green Bay and finishes with Chicago. If both teams win out, the Eagles are the 1 seed, and it's looking more and more critical to be that, frankly.

> If Giants CB Eli Apple is in the NFL in 2 years, I'm an airplane. Dude just doesn't want to tackle and isn't nearly good enough to make up for that critical failing.

> Great day for the Eagle offensive line on downfield blocking. C Jason Kelce especially seemed to be spry and useful at destroying DBs which is honestly not something you expect a center to have the quicks to pull off.

> By far the most encouraging sign from the win, and the one you will hear the most about, is QB Nick Foles collecting 4 TDs with no turnovers. But from the eye test, he's still wooden, and why Blue would give credence to him being a threat to run, we'll never know.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Week 15 NFL Picks: Best Of Times, Yada Yada

Well, folks, we're three weeks from the finish, I'm alive for money in both of my fantasy leagues, the picks are in the black, the Eagles are the top seed in the NFC and on track to be at home for all playoff games. It's all skittles and beer, yes?

Well, except for a devastating knee injury to the MVP of my fantasy team, my real team, and before he got hurt, the whole goddamned league.

Keep smiling, keep dancing. If we just dance and clap harder, Nick Foles will be a real boy, my teams will luck into desperately needed money, and the karmic chasm that opened up after the Russians stole the election for quite possibly the worst man in America who could have had the job will fill.

On to the picks!

* * * * *

DENVER (-2.5) at Indianapolis

Chicago at DETROIT (-5.5)

LA Chargers at KANSAS CITY (+1.5)

MIAMI (NL) at Buffalo

Green Bay at CAROLINA (-2.5)

Baltimore at CLEVELAND (+6.5)

HOUSTON (+10.5) at Jacksonville

Cincinnati at MINNESOTA (-10.5)

NY Jets at NEW ORLEANS (-15)

PHILADELPHIA (-7.5) at NY Giants

ARIZONA (+4.5) at Washington

LA Rams at SEATTLE (-2)

New England at PITTSBURGH (+3)

Tennessee at SAN FRANCISCO (-2)

DALLAS (-3) at Oakland

ATLANTA (+6.5) at Tampa

Last week: 10-6

Season: 102-99-4

Career: 982-986-40

Monday, December 11, 2017

On Carson Wentz's Injury



There will be many folks in Eagle Nation who will talk about how great the game was.

These people also probably think that Lincoln was really enjoying the play before Boothe had to go and ruin it.

There will be people who want to talk up Nick Foles for his fourth quarter relief job, to praise Nelson Agholor for his amazing game-ending catch, to talk about how good Alshon Jeffery and Trey Burton and Torrey Smith (yes, Torrey Smith was good today!) were, and how the team still has So Many Weapons.

These people don't understand NFL football, or just how incredibly dependent the game is on the QB.

There will be people who will talk about how hard QB Carson Wentz works, how advanced the medical tech is now, how he'll be good as new for training camp and how this injury will get him to play smarter, rather than put his body at risk.

These people do not understand just how much pressure Wentz puts on a defense in his pre-injury mode. How he'd make guys miss badly and buy more time to go down field. How special he's been on third downs. And how he's not going to be that way, post knee surgery, because he's going to go from a callow youth with no fears to a guy with doubt in the back of his mind.

If you've been watching Eagle Football long enough, you know how this goes. Randall Cunningham was on top of the world prior to a season-ending injury, and he really never was quite the same after that.

Finally, there will be people who look at the team's 11-2 record, the schedule with three extremely winnable games, the likely nature of top seed in the conference with two games at home to win to go to the Super Bowl. They'll think the team still has a high chance to win a Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, and a championship for the first time in 57 years.

These people don't get that the teams that come to the Linc will have, quite possibly, Drew Brees or Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. And how those teams will have margins for error, confidence they can come back if they are trailing, and guys that make plays that win games for teams even though they, well, shouldn't.

Kind of like how Wentz kept the Eagles in a game in Los Angeles yesterday where the defense was no longer good against the run, the special teams were the worst they've been in five years, and the offensive line no longer dominant, due to injury.

The Eagles' season isn't over on the Wentz injury.

But their realistic hopes of winning a championship, now or soon?

Poof.

And if you really want to get fatalistic about it, swap in soon for ever.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Week 14 NFL Picks: Final Four

Four more weeks to turn around this back and forth year, folks. No time like the present. On to the picks!

* * * * *

NEW ORLEANS (+1.5) at Atlanta

Indianapolis at BUFFALO (NL)

Chicago at CINCINNATI (-6)

GREEN BAY (-3) at Cleveland

Oakland at KANSAS CITY (-4)

DALLAS (-4.5) at NY Giants

DETROIT (NL) at Tampa

MINNESOTA (-2.5) at Carolina

SAN FRANCISCO (+3) at Houston

SEATTLE (+3) at Jacksonville

NY Jets at DENVER (+1)

TENNESSEE (-3) at Arizona

Washington at LA CHARGERS (-6)

PHILADELPHIA (+2) at LA Rams

BALTIMORE (+5.5) at Pittsburgh

NEW ENGLAND (-11) at Miami

Last week: 6-10

Season: 92-93-4

Career: 972-982-40

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Eagles - Seahawks Takeaways: In Which Doug Pederson Shows He's Not Ready

Well, No, But, Well, Kind Of
> On the bright side, we were all counting on this to be a loss at the start of the year anyway

> We pretty much knew what we were getting from this game when HC Doug Pederson folded his napkin and punted on fourth and short at midfield early

> If you want to lose a road game with the better line, secondary, special teams and offense, fumbling in the end zone is pretty much the way to do it

> As good as QB Carson Wentz is, he still needs work against a blitz and/or a loud crowd

> Watching a WR get tripped, having the flag thrown, then having the flag picked up is Just What Happens On The Road, I Guess

> As salty and bitter as I am on this game, Russell Wilson Is A Goddamned Witch

> Sure, having longtime friend CB Byron Maxwell with the coup d'etat INT wasn't in any way nauseating

> Losing Zach Ertz and Tommy Jurnigan to injury also was totes adorable

> While I don't want to remember any part of this game, Wentz to WR Nelson Agholor for 51 yards, 45 of it in the air as he's stumbling down, gets saved

> No, seriously, this game is Exhibit B of how Pederson in a Big Game is downright terrifying, and if you want the capsule summary, just watch the decision making at the end of the first half, please

> I didn't know you could hit the PR without it being a penalty, but Seattle Road Game Is Amazing

> Also amazing: that you can throw for a first down, see the first down on the replay, and don't get the spot anyway

> If you had told me that a Seattle team without most of its starting secondary could hold this offense to 10 points, I'd have told you were high

> You would never know that Seattle is the most penalized team in the NFL from this game

> Wilson avoids grounding by going backward a lot, which isn't a thing

> Just run around for a while and wait for the refs to bail you out seems to be Seattle's best play

> Throwing a flag several seconds after the play ends because the fans cheer for DPI was almost a thing

> Calling obvious blitzes on 3rd and 10 against Wilson, so he can float it perfectly to Baldwin for 48, is also not much in the way of great defensive playcalling

> I'd go into more details about this game, but Liquor Is Calling

> The Eagles are no longer the top seed in the NFC

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