Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Running the Gauntlet

The time is now. It's finally here. The moment we've all been waiting for......

Sort of.

B-Dawk will finally once again run out of the tunnel at the Linc but when he does it will be from the visitors tunnel. If that’s not bad enough weapon x will be the least of our worries. Santa isn't coming to town, Brandon Marshall is and he doesn't care if you've been naughty or nice. He's going to be firing on all cylinders and out to break our hearts.

And if anyone has the power to do it he does.

Standing at number 12 on the top receivers list with 1,081 yards and 10 touchdowns this man is scary. One thing that is scarier though is one spot ahead of him at number 11 is our boy DeSean Jackson. So the Birds match up there. Westbrook and Maclin returning gives the Eagles a little more of an edge offensively.

Defensively is a bit of a different color. The Birds offensive line is going to have their hands full of Elvis Dumervil. Young and fast, this kid is a human bowling ball and he'll roll right over you. A league leading 15 sacks and 3 forced fumbles the Eagles do not have a silver lining to that dark cloud to match up with him.

When asked about his concerns with Denver's defense Donovan McNabb replied "Very aggressive, plays downhill. Obviously their cornerback situation, with three or four picks from the both of those guys, (S) Renaldo Hill I believe had three picks, (S Brian) Dawkins has two. Obviously (LB/DE Elvis) Dumervil, guys that get to the quarterback and I believe they are ranked number three in the league as far as total defense is concerned. It's going to be a challenge for us on the offensive side knowing that we have to make sure, in all phases of offense, we're very effective."

Indeed Donovan!

This is big one buddy so please on behalf of the midnight green nation "All we want for Christmas is a parade!"

Friday, December 25, 2009


That’s right people! The Eagles are officially in the playoffs after another great performance from the Donovan and DeSean Show.

Who would have thought that 5 weeks ago when I said the Birds can afford maybe 2 more losses before the playoff picture was out of reach that with 2 weeks left they would have a playoff berth and a potential first round bye. That makes 5 straight and suddenly not only is the NFC East in our sights but a first round bye isn’t inconceivable.

Should the Eagles run the table against Denver while Dallas and Minnesota drop 1 of their remaining 2 games vs Chicago or New York, the Birds will have a first round bye and a playoff game at home.

Last week wasn't such a tough matchup but the Eagles are finding ways to win and it's no fluke. They are running a balanced offense spreading the ball around to their numerous ground threats and letting DeSean do his thing when the time is right. Thirty-six passing attempts and 33 rushing attempts and here we are on a 5 game winning streak.

Even the defense tightened up and more importantly improved on the sloppy tackling problem. There was a lot more wrapping up and a lot less pushing for that big hit. They did allow their first 100 yard rusher since November 2008 but a win is a win and this one doesn't really have any downside.

Well maybe there’s a little down side.

My Ed Lover "C'mon SON!" of the week goes to................ LEONARD WEAVER!

C'mon SON!

You've been in this league 5 years now. What are you doing getting into an argument in the backfield with the halftime clock running down? The Birds had to settle for a field goal instead of taking 1 maybe 2 shots at the end zone as of result of your childishness.

You’re a grown man and a professional athlete! Start acting like it!

That aside, bravo Birds!

Denver is on deck which means the return of B-Dawk.

Five down 2 to go…

Time to nail down the coffin boys – the playoffs are calling!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eagles v. 49ers a toss up

This is certainly going to be a scary game this week. The 49ers are very similar to the Eagles in the sense that they are capable of beating anyone on any given Sunday as they demonstrated last week against Arizona.

It seems like the Eagles have someone to test their Achilles’ heel every week. The power north to south rushing of Frank Gore combined with the pass catching tight end Vernon Davis who has a league leading 815 yards for 11 touchdowns out of the 15 that Alex Smith has thrown. San Francisco is certainly expecting to have a hard time matching up with the Birds offense especially with Kevin Curtis back in the line up being that they are 7.5 point underdog.

That being said as long as the offense does their job this game is going to fall on the potentially unsure shoulders of the Eagles defense. They have been very hit or miss so hopefully after the lack luster performance last week against New York they will come out with some fire to try to stop the 49ers’ weapons.

Confidence is certainly key this time of year so it was no big surprise that Donovan had plenty of it when asked about how he's feeling.

"We are in a great position," said Donovan McNabb, who posted his third passer rating over 100 in four weeks. "If we just take care of business and do what we have to do, we kind of secure a position and kind of get better as far as trying to win the NFC East."

Well Donovan this is certainly a pivotal week in order to secure the NFC East so we're gonna need you on your A game bud.

John Madden keys to victory this week:

1) Penetrate and get in Alex Smith's face!
2) Continue the “no shot” rushing defense of letting no individual rusher gain over 70 yards.
3) Lock down on Vernon Davis.

Game time prediction: Eagles: 38 49ers: 20

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eagles better lucky than good?

What can you say about a game that has an excitement level that is off the charts and at the same time an extreme disappointment? Should we be excited for the stellar offensive performance or worried about the complete and total defensive break down from the start?

Then again someone once told me "a win is a win is a win" so I suppose we take it for that and just focus on San Francisco next week.

Nevertheless it will be hard to put aside the feeling that given the way the defense played it will be near impossible to beat Minnesota or New Orleans in the playoffs.

That aside, like I say week in and week out DeSean Jackson is the engine that makes this team go. When he scores the Birds win! Two touchdowns, both of which were big plays over 50 yards; 6 receptions with a 29.7 yard average per catch and let’s not forget the 72 yard punt return which continues his reign as the NFL's leading punt returner.

On the other side the Eagles defense was atrocious and a total no show yielding 512 total yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns, the sloppiest tackling all season and a 130.5 passer rating for Eli Manning.

No big surprise that my Ed Lover "C'mon SON!" of the week goes to the Eagles defense. Fredo Manning had a 130.5 passer rating? C'mon SON!

Yes the officiating was a disgrace that bought New York a few breaks but that does not excuse the fact every single one of the Giants drives that didn't end in a turnover was a score with the exception of 2. The Giants were 4 for 4 on 4th down conversions.

C'mon SON!

The defense has to tighten up and not just in the red zone. Don't get me wrong, I love the bend but don't break attitude but it shouldn't have to come to that. Tackling was worse than it has been all year and that’s saying a lot considering it is the defense’s biggest problem.

Enough on the defense.

Everything else wasn't so bad.

Yes the Giants receivers were open but they have a lot of young fast talent that is not by any means easy to deal with especially with all of the injuries the birds have.

The good news is that it was quite a shootout that ended with another win for the Eagles and they are now standing alone on top of the NFC East.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wild Night in the Meadowlands

Wild Night in Meadowlands Ends With Birds Atop NFC East

A cold and wet night in the Meadowlands had everyone believing that a low scoring defensive struggle was about to take place between the NFC rivals, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

Guess we were wrong.

Eighty-three points later, the Eagles had won a wild one, 45-38 and took sole possession of first place in the NFC East with three games left in the regular season.

The Eagles started off quickly on their first drive of the game, going 67 yards on six plays, capping it off with an eight yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Brent Celek.

The Birds extended their lead when Sheldon Brown caught a fumble in mid-air gift wrapped by Brandon Jacobs and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. It began to look like a repeat of the earlier matchup between the two teams earlier this year, in which the Eagles rolled the Giants.

It was anything but that.

Late in the first half the Giants cut the lead to seven after an impressive drive and left the Eagles less than two minutes on the game clock. However, that was more than enough time for the Eagles. McNabb drove the Eagles down the field and then gave way for the new red zone weapon, Michael Vick. Vick scored on a one yard roll out with 16 seconds to go in the half to push the Birds lead back to 13 after the extra point was blocked.

That extra point would come back to haunt the Eagles as the Giants scored 14 consecutive points to take a 31-30 lead, their first of the game.

The lead was short-lived however.

On the Birds very next offensive play, McNabb exploited the shaky Giants secondary, and connected with star wideout DeSean Jackson for a 60 yard catch and score to put the Eagles back in front. Jackson also had a 72 yard punt return earlier in the game.

With that receiving touchdown, Jackson tied the NFL record of eight scores of over 50 yards in one season. The scary thing is, he still has three more games to break it.

Besides the big play, the Eagles proved that they are quite capable of engineering long, sustained drives. McNabb took the Birds on a very methodical and well executed 91 yard drive that took up seven and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. The drive ended with the new backfield weapon, Leonard Weaver punching it in for a touchdown. The Birds then completed a two point conversion to take a two touchdown lead.

After the Giants scored, the Eagles recovered an onside kick, but gave the ball back to the Giants with 28 seconds to play. On the second play of the drive, Manning was hit from behind and fumbled the ball and which was recovered by Joselio Hanson essentially ending the Giants comeback hopes.

With the win and the Cowboys loss earlier in the day, the Eagles now hold a one game lead on Dallas in the division and now they control of their own destiny. With two of their final three games at home, their chances improve greater by the day to get back to the top of the NFC East.

Funny how only a month ago this team was left for dead and the line of fans on the ledge was growing larger by the second.

Now the line has possibly moved to the Linc ticket office, with fans looking for playoff seats.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BATTLE PLANS: Eagles @ Giants


1) Vertical game: The Giants continue to struggle against the pass, as they have given up an average of nearly 300 yards in their past three games.

Clearly, this is the most distinguished mismatch of the game, as the Eagles specialize in the big play. Even without DeSean Jackson in the lineup against Atlanta, the pass offense had little trouble racking up yardage.

The Eagles will have to turn up the heat and test out the depleted New York secondary downfield.

2) Blitz recognition: Part of New York’s renewed success against the Cowboys stemmed from their ability to keep quarterback Tony Romo guessing. Although Romo had a solid game, he was pressured in some key situations, as the Giants brought a variation of blitzes from the outside.

If the Eagles operate from a primary spread offense, the Giants will try to counter using coverage formations. In turn, they will use their defensive backs to get after Donovan McNabb, just as they did against Romo.

The Philadelphia line will need to identify the blitzers and keep the pocket clean for McNabb. If they struggle, the Giants could force enough incomplete passes or negative plays to win the down-and-distance battle.

3) Quick draws: The Eagles will have to keep the pass rush duo of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora honest, especially in obvious pass situations. Draws and delays should go through the B gaps that Tuck and Umenyiora vacate as they get up field to bring down McNabb.


1) Anticipate play-action: Quarterback Eli Manning uses the play-fake as much as any passer in the league. Manning has tremendous ball skills, and his play-fakes mirror his handoffs.

The Philadelphia defenders can’t react too strongly to Manning’s run action. They need to wait before coming downhill to stuff the run. If they get caught biting, Manning will pierce the windows they leave open.

2) Sound tackling: There have been times this season when the Philadelphia defense has been a poor tackling outfit, especially at the second and third levels. Tackling cannot be an issue against New York, as the offense boasts a group of backs and receivers that gain yards after contact.

In particular, the secondary has to play physically and provide support in case the ball carrier gets past the first layer of the defense.

3) Force Manning to throw on third down: Given that Manning is dealing with a planter fasciitis injury, the Giants will try to protect him by running the ball on early downs, potentially setting up manageable third down situations in which there is a run or pass option.

On the other hand, the Eagles want Manning to face third-and-long. In order to get Manning in a pass mode on third down, Philadelphia will have to play stout against the run on early downs. If the Giants run the ball well on first and second down, they will be able to neutralize the Eagles’ heavy pass rush in passing situations.

One-on-One Matchup to Watch: Asante Samuel versus Steve Smith: Smith has had one the quietest breakout seasons to date. The other Steve Smith has transformed into a go-to option for Manning. He is a crafty route runner and possesses deceptive speed. Opposing cornerbacks have a tough time reading Smith’s routes because his release always looks the same. Meanwhile, Asante Samuel specializes in reading routes. He anticipates well and understands where the ball is going in certain situations. This will be a tremendous chess match between two elite players.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eagles Score With Deadline Trade

PHILADELPHIA – Rarely are football trades made during the course of the season, and even less seldom do the ones that are made provide any immediate help.

Just a year ago the Dallas Cowboys tried it by acquiring wide receiver Roy Williams from Detroit for about half of their 2009 draft, and you saw how that worked.

The Eagles, under Andy Reid, never made a trade deadline deal until this year, and boy are they glad they did.

Linebacker Will Witherspoon might not have saved the season for the Eagles, but he sure did help turn it around.

“That was one hell of a move they made getting that guy,’’ an executive for another NFC team said. “They should send St. Louis a big thank you for that one.’’

Decimated by injury at the linebacker position after Stewart Bradley, the starter in the middle, went down during the preseason and his replacement Omar Gaither shortly followed, the Eagles needed help in the worst way.

Second-year man Joe Mays showed he wasn’t quite ready and the re-signing of Jeremiah Trotter has helped more in the locker room than it has on the field.

Rookie Moise Fokou? Again, not ready just yet.

So on the eve of the trade deadline, the Eagles called the Rams, inquired about Witherspoon and was able to pry him away for promising rookie receiver Brandon Gibson and a fifth-round draft pick in 2010.

“When they made the trade, I thought not a bad deal,’’ a personnel man for another playoff contender said. “But looking at it now, it was highway robbery. Yeah, I know that Gibson kid might be OK. But receivers like that are everywhere. And a fifth-round pick, big deal, (Witherspoon) saved their (butt). Where would they be without that guy?

“I don’t like to make comparisons to other sports, but it’s kind of like when the Lakers got Paul Gasol.’’

Gasol helped the Lakers to the NBA finals in 2008, the year they acquired him and then to the NBA title last year.

Witherspoon is looking to help the Eagles to their sixth NFC East title since 2001, and from there who knows.

“He’s added value to the defense and this organization,’’ defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said.

“When you trade for a player or you acquire a player that’s what you’re looking to do –
positively impact the team and the organization and he has done just that.’’

Witherspoon, who left the 0-6 Rams at the time to come to the Eagles was here less than a week when he started at middle linebacker against Washington on Monday Night Football. In that game he had nine tackles, a sack, an interception he returned for a touchdown and a forced fumble.

Yeah, that’s a positive impact.

“It was a whirlwind week,’’ Witherspoon said. “I spent a lot of time in the film room that week just trying to get ready. It kind of worked out all right.’’

Witherspoon, who will become just one of five players in NFL history to play in 17 games, he never got a bye week with either team, hasn’t had another game like the Monday nighter against the Redskins, but he’s been solid. And versatile.

When outside linebacker Akeem Jordan went down a month ago, he moved back to his more natural weakside position and started there.

This week with Jordan expected back for the Giants, Sunday night, he’ll be back in the middle.

“Wherever they want me,’’ Witherspoon said. “It doesn’t really matter much to me.’’

The Eagles should want Witherspoon back next year. He has two years remaining on the contract he signed with St. Louis and his play shows that he can still get it done at age 29 years old.

So with Bradley doing very well in his rehab, next year you can expect him in the middle and Witherspoon and Jordan outside. And you can cross linebacker off the need list for the Eagles.

“We need to keep in mind he’s only been here, the total keeps going up, but six or seven weeks now,’’ McDermott said of Witherspoon. “And he’s played two positions. He keeps a great attitude and he’s done well.

“Sometimes you forget that it’s only been six, seven weeks, whatever it is now. He’s done a very admirable job at learning two positions and being able to execute on the field. That’s not easy.’’

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Eagles Look to Strengthen Grip on Playoff Spot v. Giants

No matter what the circumstances are, when the Giants and Eagles play, it is always a big game. When the rivalry continues this week, there will be major playoff implications at stake for both teams.

If the season ended today, the Eagles would make the playoffs and the Giants would finish one game out. With four games left in the season, Sunday night’s game will prove to be crucial to both teams.

If the Giants win, they pull even with the Eagles with both teams holding records of 8-5. The win would go a long way in helping the Giants make a strong final push for the playoffs. After disposing of the division leading Cowboys last week, the Giants will need to come up with another strong performance to get past the streaking Birds. If they can get a win, they then play two teams with sub .500 records in Washington and Carolina before finishing their season on the road against a Vikings team that may be resting their players for the playoffs.

Therefore, they could possibly win out and maybe even sneak out a division title, let alone a playoff spot. However, a loss to the Eagles this week, and they will stand two games behind the Birds. Then they will have to watch to see what both the Packers and Eagles do the rest of the way out.

For the Eagles, a win on Sunday all but clinches a playoff spot for the team, and puts them in prime position to battle for the division. If the Birds can get a road victory in New York, they will be two games ahead of every team still fighting for a playoff spot with three games to play. They will have swept the season series against the Giants and they will own the tie-breaker against the Falcons, having beat them last week. A win could all but clinch a playoff spot for the Birds.

On top of that, the Eagles will have a very reasonable chance at winning the NFC East if they can head into the final three weeks with a 9-4 record. After the Giants, the Birds will have two straight home games against the average 49ers and the up and down Denver Broncos. They finish their season in Dallas in what could be the game for the division. However, with the Chargers and Saints still on the Cowboys schedule, if the Eagles can take care of business over the next three weeks, the last game of the season could be meaningless.

Yes it decreases the drama at the end of the season, but is that really a bad thing?

If the Eagles do go into one of those lulls that have become so familiar during the Reid tenure, however, it could go from great to the worst possible scenario. Although unlikely, seeing as though those lulls rarely ever take place in December for this team, it is still a possibility.

One thing is for sure. When the Eagles and Giants line up Sunday both have a ton to play for. Both need the win for different reasons. The Giants want to remain in the chase, whereas the Eagles would like to just about throw the last pile of dirt on the Giants while they put themselves in position to battle for the division title and a home playoff game.

So the already intense rivalry between these two NFC East foes will be a little bigger this Sunday night in December. The hits will be a little harder. The players will move a little faster. And the fans will be a little more hostile than normal (if that is possible).

Get ready for a battle on Sunday Night Football.

Eagles Take Battle of Wounded Birds

When looking at this game on the schedule at the beginning of the season, it seemed as though this would be a very tough game for the Eagles to win. They would have to go into a dome and face Matt Ryan, Michael Turner & Co. But by the time Sunday came around, there was no Matt Ryan, no Michael Turner, and two missing offensive linemen. However, the Falcons weren’t the only ones with problems.

The Eagles had no Westbrook again and were also missing receivers DeSean Jackson and, as has been the case for most of the season, Kevin Curtis. You can also throw in there that only three of the projected starting offensive linemen started the game, and one, Jason Peters, had to leave with an injury (big shock right?).

So with both teams battling injuries, the game was still going to be pretty even, with maybe a slight edge going to the Eagles, since they had their starting quarterback. The birds from Philly took that edge and blew it wide open, routing the Falcons 34-7.

The game could have been worse, had the Eagles taken advantage of their red zone trips in the first half. They scored one touchdown and went two for three on field goals on their first four trips inside the 20, to post a 13-0 first halftime lead.

The big moment in the first half, that pretty much dictated the rest of the game, was a late goal line stand by the birds’ defense. Instead of getting points before the half, Falcons head coach Mike Smith elected to go for it on fourth and goal. The Eagles were up to the challenge and stopped them short of the end zone with less than a minute to play in the half. The men in the middle all had a huge series, including Broderick Bunkley, Mike Patterson and Jeremiah Trotter.

The Eagles got it going on their first drive of the second half, going 80 yards for the score. But it was who scored that made it more interesting.

On third and one from the five, Andy Reid sent former Falcon, Michael Vick into the game. Vick took the ball up the middle and fell into a place he was quite familiar with: the end zone in the Georgia Dome. This marked his first touchdown since he returned to football after his jail sentence. He would throw a touchdown late to make it a great homecoming for him. He said it would be a day he would never forget.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles came one play shy of posting a shutout for the first time in over a decade. The Falcons threw a touchdown pass on the final play of the game. Other than that, the defense stepped up and looked alive all day.

Even Asante Samuel was TACKLING people.

The Eagles forced three more turnovers, including the game clinching interception by Sheldon Brown. With the Falcons driving to close the score gap late in the third quarter, Brown jumped a route by Marty Booker, picked off Chris Redman and took it 83 yards for the score to put the Eagles up 27-0 and pretty much end any chance for the Falcons to mount a late surge.

With the win, the Eagles moved to 8-4 and into a tie atop the NFC East after the Cowboys lost to the Birds next opponents, the New York Giants. The Eagles will travel up the turnpike for a Sunday night showdown in the Meadowlands. It will be the last time the Eagles will play there in the regular season, before the Giants move across to their new stadium next year.

As with so many of their games there, it is setting up to be a brawl that fans from both teams will be anticipating all week.

Status Quo

Here we come! Does this sound like a familiar scenario? First week of December, one game behind Dallas, Dallas falls on their faces, Eagles play about as good as they've played all season and continue on a 3 game winning streak.

"This is something that has been happening for us for years," said quarterback Donovan McNabb, who completed 14 of 25 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown.

"You go through the first part of the year where you are getting that chemistry and getting that timing and things going. This is the time of the year that people remember. You never remember September, October. You always keep your mind on November, December and January because, if you have that opportunity, you want to go into the playoffs and hit it rolling."

Yes, Atlanta is all sorts of injured but guess what, so are the Eagles!

Atlanta had a very rough time with Matt Ryan on the sideline because Chris Redman was what Merrill Reese called "atrocious", but that does not mean the birds shouldn't get credit where credit is due. They went out, played hard, did everything right, stuck to the game plan and destroyed the Falcons!

All just seems to be falling into place as it usually does for our boys this time of year. Hopefully they continue the trend.

By strength in schedule the Eagles have the easiest schedule in the NFC East where Dallas has the hardest. I'm not sure if that’s a good or bad thing considering the birds uncanny ability to play up or down to their competition. Although they really seem to be hitting their stride finally and it couldn't be at a better time. As Donovan said, "if you have that opportunity, you want to go into the playoffs and hit it rolling."

Well keep on rollin’ Donovan!

A win this weekend against New York will put the Eagles 2 games ahead of the Giants and with Romo's knack for December meltdowns Dallas could potentially and very easily lose 3 out of their last 4 games which puts our home town boys in the driver’s seat to win the NFC East for the 7th time in the past 9 seasons.

So I'll wrap this one up with my Ed Lover C'mon SON! of the week.

This week does not go out to anyone in Philly! Bravo Eagles! Flozell Adams! C'mon SON! You’re already a scum bag because you’re a Cowboy. You gotta be a double scum bag and throw cheap shots out all season? Roger Goodell should lock you in a room and make you watch the week 17 game from last season against the birds over and over again for the last 4 weeks of the season.


C'mon SON!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vick Delivers!

Michael Vick finally got to show the rest of the league, or at least his old team, what he’s been showing the Eagles in practice all year.

Yes, this guy can still make plays.

In his return to the Georgia Dome yesterday, Vick for the 11th time in his career scored a touchdown on the ground and threw a touchdown pass. Both came from five yards out in the Eagles 34-7 dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons.

On his run, Vick lined up under center and showed some burst as he crashed into the end zone for the 22nd time in his career.

His first touchdown pass as an Eagle was a five-yard pass to tight end Brent Celek, in which Vick play-faked to LeSean McCoy, rolled to his left and then threw across his body to a wide-open Celek in the end zone.

Celek’s touchdown was catch was set up by Vick’s 43-yard completion to Reggie Brown.

For all those people who keep asking why the Eagles signed Vick, they saw why yesterday.

And keep this in mind, the only player who’s not with the Eagles because of Vick, is A.J. Feeley.

MORE ANDY: The Eagles finally confirmed the rumors that have been swirling for about a month and was reported by ESPN yesterday that head coach Andy Reid will get a contract extension.

The team did not give any details, just to say that they expect Reid to sign soon. Some feel it could happen by the end of the week.

In his 11th year as head coach, Reid’s contract was due to expire at the end of the 2010 season.

FOUR TO GO: As the season reached the ¾ pole, the Eagles win over Atlanta, entrenched the Eagles as at least a wild-card team, if not the NFC East title winners.

The Eagles, at 8-4, still have to go to divisional foes the Giants and Dallas, but have San Francisco and Denver at home. Not an easy slate, but 2-2 should be enough to make it.

Atlanta, now 6-6, and with losses to the Eagles, Giants and Dallas, could be in whole lot of trouble in trying to get back to the playoffs as a wild-card. And if quarterback Matt Ryan (toe) and Michael Turner (ankle) remain out, the Falcons have no chance.

IT’S DECEMBER: Which means it’s time for Dallas to fall apart. The Cowboys (8-4) began their annual slide yesterday with a 31-24 loss to the Giants to drop to into a tie with the Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Dallas faces San Diego, winners of seven straight next week and New Orleans, winners of 12 straight the following week.

Meanwhile, the Giants (7-5) are right back in the thick of things and host the Eagles next Sunday night in another battle for first place in the NFC East.

IN THE AFC . . .: New England still doesn’t look right, but how did the Pats blow that game in Miami? They’re just not the same, now that they can’t film the opponent.

New England (7-5) holds just a one-game lead over both Miami (6-6) and the Jets (6-6) in the AFC East. The Pats should win out against Carolina, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Houston, but you never know.

Cincinnati (9-3), Indianapolis (12-0), and San Diego (-) look good, with Denver (8-4) leading the wild-card chase.

IT’S WHY THEY’RE THE SAINTS: Whenever a player refers to God, or Jesus, as to why his team did well, I always say if God, or his Son, really cared about the NFL, the Saints would have won a Super Bowl by now.

I’m starting to think God just might be paying attention this season.

After seeing how New Orleans kept its undefeated season going with a 33-30 overtime win over Washington yesterday, there had to be divine intervention.

YOU GOT A FRIEND IN PENNSYLVANIA: Oakland only has four wins this season and half of them are against the two teams from Pennsylvania, the Eagles and the Steelers.

Go figure.

SUPER, AND THEN . . .Speaking of the defending Super Bowl Champion, Steelers, Mike Tomlin’s team is now 6-6 and in serious danger of missing the playoffs.

If the postseason started today, Pittsburgh would be behind Denver (8-4), Jacksonville (7-5) and Baltimore (6-5) for a wild-card spot. And they would currently lose the tie-breaker to the Jets (6-6) and Miami (6-6).

Here’s the crazy thing after Pittsburgh last two Super Bowl wins before last year, 2005 and 1979, the Steelers failed to make the playoffs the following year.

JAKE THE FAKE: If you’re counting, the Carolina Panthers are 4-7 in games started by Jake Delhomme at quarterback and 1-0 in games Delhomme has not started.

If Panthers head coach John Fox gets fired, and those Bill Cowher rumors are gaining steam, it’s because he stayed with Delhomme too long.

Then again, whoever gave Delhomme a new contract after that playoff game last year, should really be in trouble.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Damage Control

Going down to Atlanta the Eagles are 5.5 point favorites to win this weekend. I'm sure the absence of Matt Ryan and his toe injury have something to do with that.

Aside from Matt Ryan the Falcons have 7 other players that are questionable and had limited or no participation on Friday. Those names include Michael Turner who is likely to play but also Michael Jenkins, Brian Finneran, Tony Gilbert, Harvey Dahl, Roddy White, and Sam Baker.

Granted the birds are still down Brian Westbrook and will have to deal with no DeSean Jackson there are some big names on the Falcons injury list that will certainly hurt them if they play or not because they all won't be playing at 100 percent.

This week marks the long awaited return of Michael Vick to his old home in Atlanta. You can count on Andy working on something sneaky for him in his home coming. I know I have been saying run the ball run the ball run fat boy run, but this is not a defense that you need to slowly chip away to beat. Atlanta is a team that you have to strike deep on and take big chunks of yardage by passing the ball.

The Falcons are ranked 27th in the league in defending the pass so please Andy by all means I give my full blessing. Go nuts! Atlanta is certainly going to be expecting it especially knowing Andy's offense and Donovan's ability to throw the ball. Strike deep, get the early lead and then let LeSean rack up the fantasy points and kill the clock.

After pass pass pass a run here and there will certainly catch a slow Falcons defense by surprise. Mix in a play action screen or slant pass across the middle to waste time and that should be all she wrote. Let's hope we see a lot of Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek coming off of his thumb injury and we'll all be able to sit back and enjoy and 3rd straight win.

Game time predictions Eagles: 33 Falcons: 16

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eagles Limp Into Atlanta for Pivotal December Game

With the NFL season now moving into December, this is the time where teams in this league really begin to separate themselves. Teams will start a run after Thanksgiving that could lead to not only a playoff run but in some cases, the opportunity to hold the Lombardi trophy as champions. The last thing teams hoping to make that run need are injuries to important parts of their team.

Unfortunately, both Atlanta and the Birds are going to have to try and do it the hard way.

The Falcons have lost four of their last six games and stand at 6-5, a game out of a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Making matters worse, Michael Turner is dealing with a nagging high ankle sprain, and Matt Ryan will miss at least this week’s game with a turf toe injury. Chris Redman, who before signing with the Falcons in 2006 spent three year out of the game, will start in place of the injured Ryan. In two stints of action this season, Redman has gone 23-41 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. But now he is the starter, which could be a whole different story.

As far as the Eagles, injuries have come in numbers this season. And when you thought things couldn’t get worse, last week happened. DeSean Jackson, who is in the midst of another stellar year, was hit hard over the middle in last week’s win over Washington. The prognosis: concussion. The “C” word is really starting to anger and put fear into this team and its fans hearts. Jackson has said that he blacked out after the hit, leaving his chances at playing as minimal at best.

Especially with the way the NFL is looking at concussions these days, it is pretty much a guarantee Jackson will not be out there come Sunday afternoon.

On top of that, Brent Celek tore ligament in his thumb last week. However, he is expected to give it a go. The problem is that it was clear that his hand injury bothered him last week, as he dropped some very catchable passes uncharacteristically. So even if he does play, the hope is that he does not look like he did against the Redskins.

Going back to Jackson, the question now is what the Eagles do. As well as Jason Avant is playing, it is unlikely to see Andy Reid move him out of the slot, where he is looking very comfortable these days. Which means one thing, Reggie Brown will step into the starting lineup.

Personally, I’d rather see Jordan Norwood, the Penn State alum who the Eagles signed off the practice squad this week.

That however will almost certainly not happen, so Reggie Brow will probably get the call. If he ever felt the need to prove something, now would be a pretty good time for him to do it.
It is no secret he and Donovan have never really gotten on the same page. But they better learn quickly!

The Eagles have very little room for error for the rest of the season. Sitting at 7-4, every game is as close to a must win as you can get. Regardless of injuries, if this year’s team wants to make a playoff run, they have to keep on winning. Lucky for them, in the past, it’s this month where the team has tended to hit its stride. Let’s hope this year is the same.