Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cardinals at Eagles

After last weeks debacle agaisnt the Ravens, the Eagles look to keep there very slim playoff hopes alive. The schedule is hard, and it starts tonight when the Arizona Cardinals come to the Linc. Donovan McNabb reclaims his starting role and will try to get an offense on track that hasn't scored a touchdown in 6 quarters.

Why The Eagles Will Win:
1) Cardinals on the road: As loaded with talent the Cardinals are, that has never seem to translated to the road. They are no where the same team on the road as they are at home. their biggest road victory was at Seattle- and people were excited about that one. It'll be crazy in Philly tonight, and I don't know if the cardinals are ready.

2) Cardinals Schedule: The Cardinals have lost to the Giants, the Panthers and the Redskins. Those were the 3 hardest teams on the schedule. Their division has the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks in it. Those are 6 easy wins right there. So who knows how good this team really is.

3) McNabb: Afrer being benched last week, maybe McNabb will respond and return to his old form. He has to, because this is his last chance.

4) The Defense: As bad as the offense played last week, the defense played well. The 37 points let up is misleading, as the offense was pretty much responsible for all but 7 of them. As good as the Cardinals offense is, if the Eagles can get to Kurt Warner, who isn't mobile, they could really rattle the offense.

Why The Eagles Will Lose:
1) Asante Samuel hurt: The strentgh of the Cardinals are the wide recievers, with young wideouts Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin topping the group. Asante Samuel is the Eagles best cornerback, and is doubtful for tonight. If he can't go, the Eagles are in trouble.

2) Franchise in Dissaray: The Eagles are a mess right now. The head coach and the quarterback hate each other. Starters are being benches everyweek. This is not a team ready to go out and win a big game.

3) Injuries: Injuries have been one of the reasons that the Eagles season has gone the way it has. Tonight, Asante Samuel, Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter are all hurt, and Samuel might not play. Buckhalter might not play either. That means alot of Lorenzo Booker and Dan Klecko. Is that getting anyone excited? Just the Cardinals

Prediction: Last week, I went with the Eagles in a homer pick, ignoring all the obvious. I can't do that this week. The Eagles are playing the worst football this franchise has played in awhile. Could the Eagles turn it on tonight and beat the Cardinals? Possible. Could the Cardinals choke under the pressure and come to Philly and lay an egg? Yeah. But nothing about the way the two teams are playing makes you think that would happen. The only reason the Eagles get respect anymore is because of their name, not their play. Tonight, I think McNabb will play better, but in the end, they lose a close one to put an end to their season.

Pick: Cardinals 27 Eagles 20

Thanksgiving Day Picks

NFL don't have much to be thankful for, as two of he three games today feature the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks.

Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions: The Titans will have to do something they havnt done all season- rebound from a loss. The lions have shown improvement since Daunte Culpepper has been quarterback, and they breifly led Tampa Bay by 17 last week. But this won't be the week they break through and get the win. Pick: Titans

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys: With the return of Tony Romo, Dallas has won two in a row and are back on the right track. Seattle got Matt Hasselback back last week, but that still wasn't enough to pull out the victory. It won't be today either. Pick: Cowboys

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do the Fans Win?

Last week, after a promising start to the young season, the New York Knicks traded away there two best players, Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford. Zach Randolph was having a career year, averaging 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 1 assist. He was benefiting from new coach Mike D'Antoni's style of play. Crawford was also having a good season, averaging 20 points and almost 5 assists. The Knicks were an exciting team to watch, and after years of killing basketball in New York, they were a young promising team.

Donnie Walsh, GM of the Knicks, changed the outlook of the team in a matter of hours. First, he traded Jamal Crawford to the Warriors for power forward/ center Al Harrington. Then, he traded Zach Randolph to the Clipper for power forward Tim Thomas and shooting guard Cuttino Mobley. What did all of those players have in common? By 2010, they would be off the books, giving the Knicks almost 27 million dollers in salary cap space. That is the summer when players like LeBron James, Dwanye Wade, Chris Bosh and Amera Stoudemire could be free agents.

There is alot to get out of this trade. First, from a basketball perspective, the trade does not help the Knicks. The potential benefits are maybe Harrington, who can put it on the floor and take the outside shot, can flourish in D'Antoni's system just like Randolph. Also, by moving Crawford, the Knicks let Nate Robinson get more playing time, and they can develop him further. But other then that, it gives away there two best players, and makes them significantly worse. It also sends a message to the players that winning is not the number one priority in the orgainization right now.

This trade also calls into question what the Knicks motives were coming into this season. Did they showcase Randolph and Crawford for the sole purpose of trading them when they could? Are they even trying to win games, or just up the value of their players? My guess is that yes, that is exactly what they were doing. I think all along Walsh knew his goal was to free cap up for the 2010 off season. But this posts the question, is that wrong? And is it fair to the fans?

The fans can look at it two ways when a team completely gives up on the season for hopes of signing a free agent in the future. They could look at it in a positive way. The Knicks now have a chance to sign LeBron James, Dwanye Wade or Chris Bosh. Infact, they could even sign two of them. This would make them instant favorites to win an NBA Championship. It would also make them one of the most exciting and marketable teams in the league. The center of the basketball universe would once again be in New York.

But what if they don't sign any of those players. What if Wade decides to stay in Miami, or LeBron wins a championship this season in Cleveland and then re ups?What do the Knicks, and the fans, do then? They have sold the next two seasons away for a chance at these guys. The Knicks, more the likely, will not win a championship until then. So why would the fans root for them, knowing that there not trying to win. They might put up with it until 2010, but if that season starts without James or Wade in Madison Square Garden, the fans will be cheated and mad.

This situation is happening alot now in the NBA. Teams are losing to try to get number 1 picks. Selling seasons for money. Players are trying harder in contract years, and teams are quitting on their coach. In sports, the goal is to win. But should that come at the expense of the fans?

In the long run, this was a good trade for the Knicks. They werent going to win with the current team, so why not suffer for 2 years then hope to get LeBron. But for the fans, the Knicks have given them no team to root for until 2010, and maybe beyond. So why the Knicks orgainization might be the winner in this trade, the clear loser right now is the fans.

NBA Power Rankings v2

Alot has changed since our last power rankings. The Knicks, who were on the rise this season, pretty much sold there season away for a chance to compete for LeBron James in 2010. The Atlanta Hawks appeared to have fallen back down to earth, going 2-5 since there surprising 6-0 start. Also, we had a Greg Oden sighting, as he gets he NBA career on track- finally.

Biggest Jump: Nuggets (8 spots; 14 to 6) Spurs (8 spots; 24 to 16)
Biggest Drop: Grizzlies (9 spots; 16 to 25)

1. Los Angeles Lakers (11-1)
2. Cleveland Cavialiers (10-3)
3. Boston Celtics (13-2)
4. Utah Jazz (9-5)
5. New Orleans Hornets (7-5)
6. Denver Nuggets (9-5)
7. Detriot Pistons (8-5)
8. Phoenix Suns (9-5)
9. Portland Trailblazers (8-6)
10. Houston Rockets (9-5)
11. Orlando Magic (9-4)
12. Philadelphia 76ers (7-6)
13. Atlanta Hawks (8-5)
14. Toronto Raptors (6-7)
15. Miami Heat (7-6)
16. San Antonio Spurs (6-6)
17. Chicago Bulls (6-8)
18. Indiana Pacers (5-7)
19. Dallas Mavericks (6-7)
20. Milwaukee Bucks (7-8)
21. New Jersey Nets (6-6)
22. Golden State Warriors (5-8)
23. Sacramento Kings (5-10)
24. New York Knicks (7-6)
25. Memphis Grizzlies (4-9)
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-9)
27. Charlotte Bobcats (3-9)
28. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-9)
29. Los Angeles Clippers (2-11)
30. Washington Wizards (1-10)

McNabb to Start; What Now?

One day after pulling the rug out from underneath his franchise quarterback, Andy Reid is ready to put Donovan McNabb back in.
Reid announced today that McNabb, and not Kevin Kolb, would be the starting quarterback this Thursday when the Eagles take on the Arizona Cardinals. This is a surprise, because Reid probaly lost McNabb's loyalty and trust after pulling him yesterday.

When Reid decided to make the switch to Kolb yesterday, it was a huge move. Not only did it change the game, it changed so much about this orgainization and the outlook.

First, from the perspective of trying to win the game, it was a bad call. McNabb was playing poorley, with two interceptions and 1 fumbel. But the fumbel was not his fault, as the Raven was allowed to freely get a hit on McNabb as he threw the ball. And the first interception, even though he did make the throw, should have been defended better by DeSean Jackson. The second interception was purely his fault, as he threw it right to Ed Reed.

But despite all of that, the Eagles were still only down 3 points. It was a must win game in which the defense was dominating the Ravens offense. The 10 points allowed were more the offenses fault, as they put the Eagles defense in a bad situation off turnovers. So the game was still very much winnable. And on the road, in pretty much a playoff, must win situation, who do would you want under center? The 10 year, pro bowl, experienced quarterback, or the 2nd year, never played a meaningful snap quarterback? Reid went with the latter.

As we all know, the choice completely backfired. Kolb threw two interceptions, including one that was ran back for a touchdown. The Eagles ended up being blown out. You could tell there was no chance the Eagles were going to win the game. The Ravens were not afraid of Kolb. The game was over the minute McNabb was put on the bench.

So as poor as a descion it was from a game management perspective, it was a worse call from a franschise perspective. Everyone knows if the Eagles don't make the playoffs, McNabb is likely gone. But at this point, how do you get anything in a trade for him? When Reid told McNabb to sit down, he threw all of the blame on McNabbs shoulders, and killed any value he had. If he would have let McNabb play it out, maybe McNabb turns it around. But by pulling him, you ruined his confidence. How does he not look over his shoulder knowing he can get pulled on Thursday night?

I personally believe that when Reid decided to bench him, he was trying to save his own job. Alot of the talk this week was about Reid and how he could be gone after the season. McNabb caught alot of heat for the Bengals game, but Reid caught more. By benching McNabb, Reid threw all the blame off of him, and onto McNabb. He pretty much made McNabb the scape goat for the whole season. Reid and McNabb have allways had each others back, and neither ever really critizced each other. It was an unspoken truth that McNabb and Reid were a pair, and they would go down, or rise up together. But yesterday, Reid stabbed McNabb in the back. Despite all the poor coaching choices, and making McNabb play with the likes of James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, McNabb never threw Reid under the bus. Not only did Reid throw McNabb under the bus yesterday, he pretty much put him on the bus out of Philly.

So lets say McNabb is gone after this season, which is looking more and more likely. I think the only reason Reid put him back in as the starter for Thrusday is to get something for him via a trade in the off season. With McNabb gone, what does this mean for the orgainization? This is not a young team by any means. Westbrook is looking more and more like a broken down player. At no point this season has he looked like a player then can carry this team by himself. Plus, Reid will allways want to throw it. The only reason he has had some success is because of the play of McNabb. Teams used to fear McNabb. No one is going to be afraid of the Kevin Kolb- Reggie Brown connection next season. If your going to get rid of McNabb, you need to blow the whole thing up.

With McNabb gone, your going to have major holes at quaterback, left, and right guard next season, since Runyan and Thomas most likely won't be back. Those are arguably the three most important positions on the offense. And that is not even mentioning the complete lack of a fullback. Reid pretty much decided just to no have any one of the roster for that position this year. So theres a need for a fullback to.

If McNabb goes, Reid needs to go to. Start this thing from the ground up. You have two first round picks next year, so that is a place to start. Do you want Andy Reid making those picks? This Eagles team needs a young, enthusiastic coach to come in here and light a fire under this team. Changing the quarterback does change the face of the team, but changing the coach changes the franchise. Which team has a better chance to win next season: A team with McNabb at quarterback with a new coach, or a team with Kolb at quarterback and Andy Reid?

I think McNabb does. When Reid pulled McNabb, it was an attempt to save his own butt, to show he knows more then we do, and to save the season he's runied. But all it did was prove that he needs to go. McNabb has played poorly this season, but Reid has cost the Eagles more games. This season, all Reid is doing is running this once pround franchise into the most mismanged, worst team in the city.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

No OT Needed

The wheels are offically off.

Yesterday in Baltimore, the Eagles left no doubt as to who was the winner and who was the loser . There was no tie. Just one beat down.

The final was Ravens 36, Eagles 7, but how they got there, and the drama ensued, was much more then a football game. It could have been a movie.

There was a desperate team. Old veteren trying to prove himself. A coach with kids in jail trying to win it all. Then there was betrayal. And there were exciting plays. Unfourtunatly for the Eagles, they had it all but exciting plays.

The game was kept close early by the great play of the defense, and despite nothing from the Eagles offense. Donovan McNabb started out better then usual, but it was apparent Andy Reid was trying as hard as he could to make sure. McNabb hit 4 of his first 5 targets--- for a grand total of 17 yards.

The Eagles managed to dink and dunk themselves to exactly 0 points of offense in the first half. The offense had 82 total yards in the first half, with McNabb throwing for 59 of them on 8/18 passing. But he also threw 2 interceptions, and fumbled one away. He accounted for 3 turnovers, and the Ravens were able to capaitlize, and led 10-0 at one point.

Qutien Demps however, brought the Eagles season back to life with a 100 yard kickoff return right before the half. Somehow, someway, despite playing so awful, the Eagles were only down 3 points at half.

Then Andy Reid did it. He benched his franchise quarterback. When the Eagles offense took the field to start the second half, McNabb was on the sideline. Kevin Kolb was under center, and in all likely hood, a new era began.

And if this is what the new era is going to look like, we have a long time ahead of us before we see Eagles green marching down Broad. Kolb was 10/23 for 79 yards and 2 interceptions. He had one pass returend 108 yards for a touchdown. He looked awful, and so did the Eagles.

No one on the Eagles had a good game. Brian Westbrook ended up with 14 attempts for 39 yards. Kevin Curtis had 2 catches for 12 yards. And Andy Reid tried to challenge a call twice- and twice was told he wasn't allowed to. The Eagles looked lost, and like an orgainization on a fast downward spiral.

Unfourtunatly, the Eagles don't get alot of time to turn this around. They face the Arizona Cardinals this Thursday night, and this game will tell us alot about the future of this team.

And hopefully, it looks brighter then today.

Eagles v Ravens

This is a must win game for the Eagles. They can still make a push for the playoffs, but it has to start today. They can't afford to show up and play awful like last week. They'll get blown out by a good Ravens team if that happens.

Why The Eagles Will Win: 

1) Run Defense: The defense kept them in the game last week, and this season has done consistently well agaisnt the run. Despite the crowded secondary, the run defense is the stregnth of this team. With that being said, the Ravens are the 3rd best rushing team in the league, averaging almost 150 yards per game on the ground. Shutting down the run will be key for the Eagles, because if they do, the game goes into Joe Flaccos hands.

2) Joe Flacco: Flacco has been impressive so far this season, starting all games for the Ravens as a rookie out of Delaware. His stats are not that impressive tho- 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He has gone 4 games this season without even throwing a touchdown. And agaisnt the better defenses he's played- Colts, Giants, Titans- he has thrown at least 2 interceptions. I think the Eagles can rattle him, as they do with many young rookie quarterbacks.

3) Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid, and Desperation- If the Eagles lose this game, they almost certainly will not make the playoffs. So this it is for Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. They came out flat last week, and this is there oppurtunity to redeem themselves. This is a must must must win game. Over there time here in Philadelphia, the Eagles have done well in these types of games- at least in the regular season. The Eagles should come out today and play with a desperation and intensity like never before.

Why The Eagles Will Lose:
1) Ravens Defense: Last week, the Eagles managed 13 points in 5 quarters and 18 posseions vs the Bengals. The Bengals defense is not even in the same league as the Ravens. The Ravens defense allows only 18 points a game, thats 6th in the league. They give up the 3rd fewest yards, and allow only 80 rushing yards a game. So any hope the Eagles fans had of Reid rushing it is probaly gone. If the Eagles couldn't lite up the Bengals, I don't see them being succesfull agaisnt a much stronger Ravens team.

2) Close Games: The Eagles have no faired well in close games over the last few years. They are something like 1-12 in close games during that time period. On the road, in a game that should have a playoff atmosphere, this game will be close. Two good defenses will keep it that way. And unfortunalty, for the Eagles, that might not be a good thing.

3) Jon Harbaugh- Harbaugh used to be the Eagles special teams coach, and then the secondary coach last season. This is his first season as Ravens head coach. If anyone knows the Eagles, it's him. The Eagles special teams are not that good to begin with, and he will know how to break them apart. This could be a bad matchup for the Eagles.

Pick: Call it a homer pick, but I think the Eagles come out and pull this one out. They need it so bad. Reid needs it McNabb needs it. If they want any fans in Philadelphia, they have to win this game.

Prediction: Eagles 21- Ravens 17

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NFL Week 12

Here are my picks for Week 12: 

Last Weeks Record: 10-3
Season: 18-8

Panthers at Falcons: This game is huge, as the surprising Falcons try to win a meaningful November game with playoff implications. Its crazy how far they've come since Michael Vick. The Panthers are impressive, but I still don't believe. Pick: Falcons

Texans at Browns: Brady Quinn has played well since he took over, and led the Browns to a come from behind win last week agaisnt the fading Bills. They should have turned to him much earlier, because now there playoff hopes are gone. But I think Quinn will continue to be impressive, and the Browns roll. Pick: Browns

49ers at Cowboys: The Cowboys won an impressive game last week on the road at Washington in the return of Tony Romo. The 49ers are playing great, and I'm tempted to pick them in an upset. But I can't take the plunge. Pick: Cowboys

Raiders at Broncos: The Broncos answered a lot of questions by winning in Atlanta last week. There defense is still there weak point, but the Raiders are the remedey to all problems. Pick: Broncos

Buccaneers at Lions: The Lions played well last week, and the Daunte Culpepper to Calvin Johnson connection finally got on the board. I don't know why, but I really think the Culpepper/ Johnson team is going to be a good one for the rest of the season. The Lions were in the game for a while vs the Panthers, and the Bucs just lost Ernest Graham for the season. Pick: Lions

Jets at Titans: This is the game of the week in the NFL. The Jets looked good in a Thursday night victory in New England, and are coming together at the right time. This will be the game most people will pick an upset in. No body believes in the Titans, but I don't know why. All they've done is win every game. Their defense is the best in the NFL. I can see them forcing Favre into some bad throws, and over his career, Favre has a habbit of throwing an interception at the wrong time in big games. Plus, this game is in Tennessee, and even though they are undefeated, I think this is a big statement game for them. Pick: Titans

Bills at Kansas City: The Bills are falling apart at the seems. They are now last place in the division, and lost last week to the Browns on a heart breaking last second field goal. But the Chiefs can fix a lot of problems for teams that are fading. If the Bills loose this game, it will complete there fall from grace. Pick: Bills

Bears at Rams: The Bears got demolished by the Packers 37-3 last weekend, but still remain in first place in the division. They are tied with the Packers and Vikings for first place, so every game is a big one. They can't afford to come out an lay an egg against a much weaker Rams team. Pick: Bears

Patriots at Dolphins: After losing a heartbreaker to the Jets, the winner of this game will be in second place in the division. If you think about it, which team is the bigger surprise at this point in the season? The Patriots, who are still competing for a playoff berth despite losing Tom Brady, or the Dolphins and the fact that they are competing for a playoff berth at all? I'll go with the Dolphins, and for them to continue there surprising season vs the Patriots. Pick: Dolphins

Giants at Cardinals: The Cardinals got the monkey off their back last week by winning a game on the road vs the Seahawks. The Giants are no Seahawks, but this game is in Arizona. The Giants are hurt to, with both Plaxico Burress and Brandon Jacobs missing practice. I'm gonna go with the Cardinals in the upset. Pick: Cardinals

Colts at Chargers: The Colts are one of the hottest teams in the league, and the Chargers have lost 3 of their last 4, including last week to Pittsburgh. Sometimes, its as simple as that. Pick: Colts

Redskins at Seattle: Coming off a loss Sunday night to the Cowboys, the Redskins need this win to keep pace in the playoff race. You can't afford to lose to the Seahawks if you want to be a serious playoff contender. Pick: Redskins

Vikings at Jaguars: The Jaguars and Vikings were a lot of peoples sleeper pick to be in the Super Bowl, but those people look silly now. The Vikings are tied for first, but with a record f 5-5. The Jags are a mess, simply put. But, I'm a big believer in home field advantage, so I'll go with the Jags. Pick: Jags

Packers at Saints: In a good Monday Night Football matchup, the Packers travel to the Saints coming off a blowout win vs the Bears. The Saints are in last place in the NFC South, and had a hard time beating the lowly Chiefs last week. Pick: Packers

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Utley Out Until June

World Champion second baseman Chase Utley will require surgery on his right hip, according to ESPN.

The injury is expected to take around 3-4 months to heal, at which point he can begin baseball activities. That would leave his return possible for Opening Day. While it would obviously hurt to have Utley out of the line up, baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. The Phillies need to hold Utley out until he is without question 100%. If they want to repeat as champions, they will need him in the lineup. It is better he misses games at the beginning then the end, since the Phillies never start off good anyway.

ESPN says this could mean the resigning of Tadahito Iguchi, who has played with the Phillies over the last two seasons. They also could make prospect Jason Donald, a shortstop, a second basemen.

Team USA Members Still Golden

While the season is still young, the results from the members of team USA have been impressive. For the brief period when USA was not on top of the basketball world, the reasons were debated by everyone. They said that we needed to go back to college players. We needed to have the team practice harder. We needed to build a team, not an All-Star team.

But one of the real reasons that USA suffered was because the key players in the NBA did not want to give up their summer to play more basketball and risk injury. Many teams also did not want their athletes to play because of the risk of injury.

So when Phoenix GM Jerry Colangelo took over responsibility of rebuilding the team, he required all team members to make a 2 year commitment. Many people thought this would scare the NBA players away, but players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony signed up to help the USA reclaim gold.

The results were impressive. Team USA cruised through group play, winning their games by an average of 32 points. They went on to claim the Gold medal, beating Spain in the championship game by 11 poins, 118-107. But the true test was still to come. Would the members of Team USA suffer in the upcoming NBA season, making them unlikely to resign up in 2012?

So far, the results have been impressive. Chris Bosh was on team USA, and is having a career year. This season, he is averaging 27 points, 11 rebounds and 1 block. Compare that to last season, and he has improved in every category. Tayshaun Prince has increased his scoring by 4 points and his rebounds by 5. Dwight Howard had his first career triple double, and other key members like Jason Kidd, Lebron James, Chris Paul and Carlos Boozer have maintained there level of play despite playing all summer.

But no one benefited more from the Olympics then Dwyane Wade. He was coming off a season that ended on the injured reserve, and was facing questions about his durability. Despite that, he suited up for Team USA anyway, and had a great summer. He was their best offensive player, and he had taken that momentum and brought it to the NBA. 

This season, he is averaging 27 points, 3 steals, 8 assists, and and 5 rebounds. That is an improvement in every single category from last year. But most importantly, after watching him this summer, people were saying that Wade was back. Playing in the Olympics allowed him to get back his confidence, and prove to himself he was healthy. Without it, who knows how his season would be going so far?

The results from the members of team USA have been almost as impressive as they were over the summer. Hopefully now players will notice that team members were able to still be sucessful despite their participation in the Olympics, and USA will be able to remain on top. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NFL Week 11 Power Rankings

After a one week hiatus, my NFL Power Rankings are back. The top of the order has seen a major shift, with the Eagles falling from 3rd all the way to 12th, and the Jets making a run to the top with an impressive win in New England. 

Biggest Increase: Indianapolis Colts (From 14 to 7)
Biggest Drop: Philadelphia Eagles (From 3 to 12)

Here are my rankings after Week 11:

1) New York Giants (8-1)
2) Tennessee Titans (10-0)
3) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)
4) New York Jets (7-3)
5) Carolina Panthers (7-3)
6) New England Patriots (6-4)
7) Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
8) Washington Redskins (6-4)
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)
10) Arizona Cardinals (7-3)
11) Atlanta Hawks (6-4)
12) Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1)
13) Green Pay Packers (5-5)
14) Chicago Bears (5-5)
15) Dallas Cowboys (6-4)
16) Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
17) Miami Dolphins (6-4)
18) Denver Broncos (6-4)
19) New Orleans Saints (5-5)
20) San Diego Chargers (4-6)
21) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)
22) Minnesota Vikings (5-5)
23) Cleveland Browns (3-6)
24) Buffalo Bills (5-4)
25) Houston Texans (3-7)
26) San Fransico 49ers (3-7)
27) Detroit Lions (0-10)
28) Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1)
29) St Louis Rams (2-8)
30) Seattle Seahawks (2-8)
31) Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)
32) Oakland Raiders (2-8)

Sixers Coming On

While one Philadelphia team is falling from grace, another one has managed to save its season with a nice run of victiories.

I am talking of course about the 76ers, who after losing 3 straight to fall to 2-5, have bounced back in a major way. First, they went beyond the border to Canada to get revenege on the Raptors, who handed them a season opening loss. They managed to win that one by 10 points.

The next game was the big one. Facing the Pacers in Indiana, the Sixers came out flat, falling behind by 25 points in the opening fram. But they manged to make almost all of that up in the second quarter alone, outscoring the Pacers by 17 in the second quarter to enter half time down only 8. This one was a nail bitter down to the very end, but the Sixers, behind Thaddeus Young's 25 points, held on to get a key road win by 2 points, 94 to 92.

Feeding off the emotional come from behind win, the Sixers got the gift of facing the 1-8 Oklahoma City Thunder at the Wachovia Center for their next game. This one was never really a contest, and the Sixers cruised to a 110-85 win. This capped off a three game win streak, to bring the Sixers record back to .500, at 5-5.

The Sixers have been a team that has gotten their points from all around this season. Young leads them in scoring with an average of 16 points per game. But Elton Brand is right behind him with 15, and point guard Andre Miller has also contributed 15 per game.

An promising sign for the Sixers has been the play of Andre Iguodala. Even though he has scoring, he has found ways to contribute. He has season averages of 12 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

The Sixers should be able to continue their winning ways, with games agaisnt the lowley Minnestoa Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clipper and Charloette Bobcats on the horizon.

Why Can's Us?

Look, after Sundays debacle in Ohio, there is no reason for any body to be optimistic. All of the talk in Philadelphia has been anything but.

Andy Reid had to go. This is Donovan McNabbs last season. Westbrook isn't himself.

The season is over.

All of those arguments have merit. Reid probaly should be fired after how his team plays on Sunday. In all likely hood, these are the last 6 games of the McNabb era in Philadelphia. And as disscussed on this site earlier, Westbrook has not been the same Westbrook all year.

But all of that being said, despite how bleek it looks, the Eagles are still alive. There are 6 whole weeks left in the season. Thats almost 2 months. Alot can happen in 2 months. Look at all that has happened in the last 6 weeks:

1) Dallas Cowboys went from the NFC Favorite to border line playoff tea
2) The Miami Dolphins have won 4 in a row
3) The Tennesse Titans have still not lost

While non of this gives you any reason to hope that McNabb will all of the sudden remember how to throw, it does give you this reason to hope: anything can happen.

When Jeff Garcia led the Eagles into the playoffs, who saw that coming? That season, the Eagles were 5-4 when McNabb went down. There had already lost 3 games in a row that season after starting 4-1, and looked like a team going no where.

Then, behind Garica, they won their final 5 games of the season. They went into Dallas and beat a favored Cowboys team. They beat the Giants in New York and the Redskins in Washington two weeks in a row. But most importanlty, they rallied at the end of the season to advance into the playoffs.

Could that happen this year? Well, after the tie on Sunday, the Eagles stand at 5-4-1. They are gamd and a half back of the Buccaneers, who are 7-3. They are a half game behind the Cowboys, Redskins and Falcons, who are all 6-4. They are a game ahead of the Packers and Vikings at 5-5.

But that is not that bad of a position to be in. They own the tiebreaker over the Falcons, because they beat them previously. They get a chance to make up the half game on both the Redskins and the Cowboys, who they still have to play. There other remaining oppenents? The Ravens, Cardinals, and Browns. Those are all winnable games, with the trip to Baltimore next week being the hardest. It will require other teams to do their part and lose, but who would have thought the Cowboys would be 5-4 at this point? Or that the Eagles would tie the Bengals? Strange things happen in the NFL, and any given sunday means just that.

Like I said, this is an opptimistic view of the season. But who would have thought that the Phillies would be world series champions? Maybe the curse is finally broken, and William Penn will shine down some luck on Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.

So while a playoff berth will require near perfection down the road, the question I ask you is:

Why Can't Us?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eagles Blow It


If any game has ever summed up a season for a team, yesterday was it.

A week after losing a heartbreaker to the New York Giants, this game was a must win. at 5-4, the chance of getting in the playoffs was a long shot. The Eagles needed a win, and there couldnt have been a better set up. 

They were facing the 1-8 Cincinatti Bengals. Worst defense in the league. Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. 

And they blew. 

Right off the bat, it was bad. The Eagles offense went three and out on their first three drives, not getting it until into the second quarter. They totaled -3 yards in the first quarter. While the defense played strong, the offense also managed to give the Bengals the ball on the 1 yard line after a fumble by McNabb. 

The defense was able to pull off a goal line stand, making the score 3-0. This was a big stop by the Eagles defense because after the awful play of the offense and that huge turnover, the stop was able to give the momentum back to the Birds.

On their next drive, the Eagles were able to answer, getting a 42 yard field goal after a 44 yard screen pass to Correll Buckhalter. But that tie would not last long, as 2 drives later, the Bengals finally broke thru, hitting T.J. Housmenzadah for a 26 year touchdown. It was a beautiful throw by Ryan Fitzpatrick. For some reason the Eagles had Joselio Hanson matched up with the Bengals best wide receiver on the play. 

The Eagles offense played bad all day, but down 13-3, McNabb managed to put together a nice drive. He hit Hank Baskett on a short route, who stiff armed a Bengal and shot up the field for a 51 yard gain. On the next play, McNabb found L.J. Smith for a touchdown to pull the Eagles to within 3. 

With 8 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, down 3, and their season on the line, the Eagles offense took the field for the 12th time, needing a field goal. The Eagles slowly moved the ball down the field, but on a key 3rd and 6 play near the Bengals endzone, the Birds came up 1 yard short. They had already converted a 4th down try earlier in the drive, but Reid decided to kick he field goal. 

In the next 20 minutes of football, including overtime, the Eagles managed to get nothing going. Even with the Bengals practically trying to give the game away, the Eagles couldn't take it. They coulnd't convert short yard plays. Rocca all of the sudden forgot how to punt. They had 3 penaltys on the offense in overtime- in 1 series.

What this all adds up to is an embarrising 13-13 tie. This moved the Eagles record to 5-4-1. With the Cowboys winning last night, this dropped them to last place in the division. 

McNabb played his worst game as a pro. He threw 3 interceptions and lost a fumbel. He threw the ball 50 times and completed only 20. He didn't hurry up the offense at all towards the end of the game, leading to a delay of game penalty. For all of the times I defend him on this blog, he lost the game for the Eagles yesterday. 

This game was a picture of what the season for the Eagles has been like. Close, but not close enough. Could have won, but didn't. Played bad, they were still in it. All season, Eagles fans have pointed to close losses by the team, saying they can play with teams like the Giants. But at what point do we just say the Eagles are not a good team? They are talented, but there just not good. They can't win close games, don't make big plays, and can't convert simple plays. Their poorly coached and can't run. 

And watching yesterdays game, it was hard to tell who was 5-4 and who was 1-8.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eagles v Bengals Preview

Simply put, if the Eagles have any hope or prayer of making a success out of this season, it has to start tommorw. The Eagles have an up hill battle as it is to make the playoffs, so these are the type of games that must go down in the win column. 

Why The Eagles Will Win:

1) There the Bengals Again: After a few years of being a playoff team, an offensive force, and a team that was no longer an automatic win, the Bengals are back. A combination of injuries and bad play have led the Bengals to a  1-8 record. In almost every statistical category on offense, they are in the bottom 3 of the league. After facing a great running team last week in the Giants, the Eagles defense should excel this week agaisnt a Bengals team that averages only 86 rushing yards a game. The misery dosn't end there. They average only 13 points a game, 151 passing yards, and are last in total yards a game. 

2) Ryan Fitzpatrick: When the Bengals offense take the field on Sunday, Carson Palmer will not be under center for them. That is good news for the Eagles, who should feast on backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. In his 5 games played since Palmer got hurt, Fitzpatrick only have 4 touchdowns. His longest pass has been for only 22 yards. He has never thrown for over 200 yards in a game, and has 6 interceptions. Him being at quarterback negates the two pro bowl wide receivers that the Bengals have in Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmanzada. Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Lito Shepppard should have a field day with this guy under center.

3) Just Loss: The Eagles are coming off a huge loss to the Giants, and will be ready to get back in the win column. There season is still very much alive, but a loss here would probaly be the end of any playoff hopes. Simply put, the Eagles are the better team, need it more, and the pressure is on them to win. If they don't, there is no need to be excited about the rest of the season.

Why The Eagles Will Lose: 
1) Bengals Defense: Nothing on the Bengals is good. You don't get to be 1-8 by excelling in something. But if you had to pick a strength, it would be the defense. And the best part of the defense is the secondary. They are 10th in the league in passing yards allowed. That could be a jaded statistic, as most teams have been up on the Bengals and run the ball. But still, the strength of the Eagles offense is the running game, and if somehow the Bengals an hold the Eagles to 151 yards passing (what they average allowed), then this game could be a lot harder.

2) Close Loses: While they are 1-8, and Bengals have played teams close. They brought the Giants to overtime in New York, and almost beat the Cowboys in Dallas. Granted, that was with Carson Palmer at quarterback, but it still shows that this team might be better then its record shows. The Bengals are also coming off a Bye Week, and won their last game played against a good Jacksonville Jaguars team. 

3) Nothing to Lose: At 1-8, the Bengals season is over. Their head coach, Marvin Lewis, probaly won't be back next year. They have nothing to lose, and no pressure is on them. Also, coming off of  a win, their confidence could be coming back. If there was one week to not want to play the Bengals, this is it. 

Prediction: Despite that fact that Bengals did just win a game, and are coming off a bye, I don't see Ryan Fitzpatrick beating the Eagles. Hopefully, the Eagles put this one away early, play hard, and don't look ahead till next week. 

Pick: Eagles 28 Bengals 13

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who Won Favre Circus?

This offseason for the NFL was a wild one, all because of one man. First he retired. Then he was thinking about coming back. Then he wasn't wanted back. Then he was, but not as a starter. Then he wasn't going to come back. And then he did. And then Brett Favre, an NFL icon and Green Bay hero, got traded to the New York Jets.

This started a string of things around the league.

First, the trade of Favre put Aaron Rodgers into the driver seat for the first time in his career. Rodgers, who slid all the way from a projected number 2 selection to the Packers at number 24, was drafted 3 years ago to eventually take over for Favre. Despite webpages and marches held in Green Bay to keep Brett Favre, the Packers decided it was time to pass the tourch to Rodgers.

The question then was, who to trade Favre to? The Buccaneers and Jets were interested, and Farve eventually ended up being a New York Jet. Now all of the sudden the Jets, who had Chad Pennington and Kelly Clemens on their roster, had a first ballot hall of famer under center for them.

This led to the release of Chad Pennington, who had spent his whole career as a quarterback in New York. On the free marker for the first time, Pennington decided to sign with the Miami Dolphins, who promised him an open competion with second year quarterback John Beck, who general manager Bill Parcells was not pleased with.

So after all was said and done, this left three teams with new quarterbacks. The Packers with Aaron Rodgers, the Jets with Brett Favre and the Dolphins with Chad Pennington. So the question is, after 10 weeks, who got the best deal of the quarterback swaping?

Aaron Rodgers has played well for the Packers in his first year on the job. He has thrown for 2,124 yards, 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Despite a shoulder injury that led to a slump for a couple of weeks, Rodgers has come back strong in his last 3 games. He has led the Packers to a 4-5 marks, which is dissapointing after their success last season.

Brett Favre, in his first season ever with a team other then the Packers, has been typical Favre, with alot of good and alot of bad. He has thrown 18 touchdowns and led the Jets to the top of the AFC East. But those numbers, and the teams standings, are a bit jaded. He also has thrown 12 interceptions. 1/4 of those touchdowns game in one game. And the only reason the Jets are winning the AFC East is because Tom Brady is out for the year. But still, Favre has led them to the top in his first season there.

Chad Pennington, considered the worst of the 3 at the beginning of the season, has been the surprise of the bunch. He has helped the Miami Dolphins to a surprising 5-4 record. He has season stats of 2,200 yards, 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. But unlike Rodgers and Farve, he is not asked to win the game for the Dolphins. In fact, you could argue that the Dolphins have had their most sucess with running back Ronnie Brown under center.

So who got the best of the deal? You could make a case for all three. The Jets have the best record of the three, and look like the most likely to make the playoffs. The Packers sucessfully transitioned to the post Favre era, which has been looming over their franchise for the last few years. The Dolphins, who no one expected anything out of , are a surprising 5-4 and will compete for a playoff berth.

Now the cases agaisnt them. The Packers could have been the top team in the NFC this year with Favre under the helm. They were close last year, and their only competion would have been the New York Giants this year. But with Rodgers, they are below .500 and will struggle to even get in the playoffs. The Jets morgaged there future for one, maybe two years of Brett Favre. Their is really no case agaisnt the Dolphins, other then that at his age, Pennington is probaly not the answer at quaterback for the future.

So the winner? I have to go with the Jets. The Packers took a major PR hit by the way they handled the situation. The Jets on the other hand, commited to winning now, and got lucky that Brady went down, leaving the door wide open for them. Without Favre, they would be last in their division. Now they are first. And in the NFL, the Not For Long league, you need to win when you can. The Jets made that commitment, while the Packers took last seasons success and delayed it, instead of build upon it. The Dolphins would come in second place, because they gave up nothing and had Pennington dropped in their lap.
But the Jets get the edge because they went out and made the move, showing their dedication to winning.

NFL Week 11 Picks

Here are my picks for Week 11:

Record Picking: 8-5

Broncos at Falcons: Maybe it is time we take the Falcons seriously. They are unstoppable at home, and on the turf, I don't see the Broncos defense doing enough to keep them in the game. It will be high scoring, but in the end, Matt Ryan gets it done. Pick: Falcons

Bears at Packers: Coming off a crushing lost last week, the Packers look to rebound agaisnt their divion rival. Kyle Orton could play, but won't be at 100 percent. The Bears played well last week vs the Titans, but home field advantage will be the decider in this one. Pick: Packers

Texans at Colts: In his NFL preview, Bill Simmons wrote that the Colts would start out slow, be unimpressive, and then by the end be the "team no one wants to play" come playoff time. Theres a reason hes my favorite writer. Pick: Colts

Saints at Chiefs: The Chiefs lost a close one last week, opting to go for 2 on the game tying touchdown, but missed it. They have played better as the season has gone on. My gut wants to take the Chiefs. But after getting burned by the Lions last week, I'll go with the Saints. Pick: Saints

Raiders at Miami: Miami eeked out a close one last week agaisnt the struggling Seattle Seahawks, but good teams win games agaisnt bad ones when they don't play well. And after 10 weeks, like the Falcons, it's time to give the Dolphins there due. Pick: Miami

Ravens at Giants: After steam rolling the Eagles last week with an unstoppable run game, the Giants look to keep it going agaisnt the Ravens. But the Ravens allow only 65 yards per game on the ground, and have the second overall defense in the league. They also have the best rushing offense, which is key to winning on the road. Without the running game, Eli Manning will have to beat the Ravens. This is my upset pick of the week. Pick: Ravens

Chargers at Steelers: The Chargers have been dissapointing this season, and have lost two in a row to drop there record to 4-5. This is not the week to be desperate for a win. The Steelers will be ready to play after losing a nail biter to the Colts last weekend. Pick: Steelers

Rams at 49ers: Its safe to say this game will not be one of the most watched this weekend. The 49ers almost stole one in Arizona on Monday night. The Rams meanwhile, are fading after an impressive two game winning streak. Mike Singletary has the 49ers playing hard, and I think they will win easy this week. Pick: 49ers

Cardinals at Seahawks: Matt Hasselback returns this week for the Seahawks as they look to knock off the division leading Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have struggled on the road, and struggled last week agaisnt a much weaker 49ers team. All signs point to a Seattle win. But I think the Cardinals have made the next step, and are now able to win a game like this.
Pick: Cardinals

Vikings at Bucs: Huge win for the Vikings last week. They knocked off the Packers to pull 1 game above .500, and now face a Bucs team who had a bye week. The Vikings rely on the ground game and Adrian Peterson, but the Bucs have had a full week to prepare. Pick: Bucs

Cowboys at Redskins: Everybody is excited for the return of Tony Romo, thinking he will save the sinking Cowboys. But the Redskins beat the Cowboys in Week 4 when they were playing their best football of the season. And that game was in Dallas. Clinton Portis might not play, and that will hurt the Redkins. But I still think the Redskins pull this one out. Pick: Redskins

Lions at Carolina: I got on the Lions bandwagon last week, thinking that Daunte Culpepper could have a big game. But after being burned by him and the Lions, I can't pick them again. The Panthers win this one easily. Pick: Panthers

Titans at Jacksonville: The Jags crushed the Lions last week, while the Titans won a tough one in Jacksonville. Im torn on this one. Part of me thinks the Titans will lose, because it is a back to back road game that is coming off a tough physical game in Chicago. But the Titans have answered every challenge so far this season. Pick: Titans

Browns at Bills: My how the Bills have fallen. They are now last in the their division, after being ontop of it for most of the season. The Browns gave one away last week, as their defense could not stop the high powered Broncos offense. The Bills are no Broncos on offense, but their also no Broncos on defense. Pick: Bills

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Around the NBA

Last nights NBA Schedule featured some great games as well as some stand out outings from some of the NBA's best. 

Celtics 103, Hawks 102: The surprising Hawks were undefeated going into last nights playoff rematch with the Boston Celtics, who were 7-1. Just like last years surprising 4-3 playoff win by the Celtics, the Hawks gave the Celtics all they could handle last night. Joe Johnson carried the Hawks, netting 28 points, including key buckets down the stretch. Marvin Williams hit a 3 pointer wit 7 seconds left to put the Hawks up 102-101. But Paul Pierce, NBA Finals MVP last season, nailed the game winning jumper with Al Horford all over him as the clock expired. Pierce finished with 34 points, and Kevin Garnett tailed 25 points and 12 rebounds.

The Hawks, after years of top 3 lottery picks, are finally putting all of that young talent together. The steady hand of veteran point guard Mike Bibby, averaging 15 points and 6 assists, has the Hawks thinking about more then just a playoff apperance this season. 

Lakers 93, Hornets 86: In a possible Western Conference Finals preview, the Lakers visited the Hornets last night, putting their undefeated record on the line. For a while, it looked like the Lakers would run the Hornets out of the gym, at one point leading by 23 points. 

But Chris Paul brought the Hornets back, behind his 30 point, 13 assist, 7 rebound night. The Hornets managed to bring the score to 83-80, but in the end, Kobe Bryant was to much for the Hornets to handle. Bryant nailed a 3 on the trip down the floor, finishing with 20 points and 6 assists. 

Dwight Howard Gets First Triple Double: Dwight Howard recorded his first career triple double, finishing with 30 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 blocks. Howard is having a monster year, averaging 24 points and 15 rebounds. If he continues to be such a dominate inside presence, the Magic will be a hard out come playoff time. 

Sixers Get Revenege vs Raptors

Led by Andre Iguodala, the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers got a much needed win last night. It was their first win in the last 4 games, and also their first road win on the season, beating the Toronto Raptors last night 106-96. 

Iguodala finished one rebound shy of a triple double, recording 18 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds. Iguodala has gotten off to a rough start to the season, but has been able to turn it around recently by contributing by more then just scoring. He has had at least 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the last 4 games, while scoring in double digits in each of them. 

Iguodala, who last season was the Sixers number one option, has had to adjust to the new role of second fiddle to Elton Brand. A lot of people feel that his game is more suited to this role, with his ability to do more then just score. As the season has gone on, he has become more of an all around player, contributing in all areas of them game. He holds season averages of 12 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. 

Elton Brand, who has gone through a rough spell over the last few games, broke through last night with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks. Marreese Speights, the Sixers first round pick this off season, contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench. 

The Sixers next game is Friday when they visit the Indiana Pacers, and surprising break out player Danny Granger. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eagles vs Giants

Even though this game has been talked about alot already, here are some of the things I liked and some of the things I didn't like about the Eagles 36-31 loss to the Giants this past weekend. 

What I Liked: 

1) DeSean Jackson: This kid is a playmaker. Give Andy Reid credit for skipping the middle man, and just direct snaping it to Jackson on the goal line. Jackson delivered with a 10 yard touchdown run. He did a great job of ducking that diving Giant linebacker to reach to pylon. He continues to be one of the only playmakers on the offense. 

2) Donovan McNabb: He did start and slow and throw an interception (and another one that should have been called back). But without him, the Eagles are not even in the game. They put up 31 points on one of the best defenses in the league, and the sole reason was McNabb. The run game didn't do anything. At the end of the season, McNabb is going to get unfairly blamed and probaly traded if they don't make the playoffs. But when Kolb is in, everyone will realize how nice McNabb was. 

3)The Giants- Ill give credit where credit was due. And as much as I hate the Giants, they are the best team in the league. Last year might have been a fluke, but this year definitly isn't. Brandon Jacobs is a man child. Running game is the key to winning in the NFL, and they do it as good as you can.

4) The Wide Receivers: All of the talk in Philly is allways how we need more wide receivers. But with Kevin Curtis, DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Hank Basket and Jason Avant, the Eagles have a nice group of players there. Basket does a nice job running the fade route. Avant can make the tough catch over the middle, and Curtis is one of the fastest players in the league. They have been not the reason the Eagles have lost this season. 

5) Matt Patterson and Stewart Bradley: The Eagles have two good, young players at very key positions. Patterson had two huge take aways, which both led to Eagles touchdowns. He gave the Eagles momentum to start the game with his interception, and then gave it back to them again when he recovered the fumble. Stewart, meanwhile, had a team high 14 tackles, and was everywhere during this game. 

What I Didn't Like:

1) Andy Reid: See below

2) The Defense: For all the talk about how good they are agaisnt the run, they sure don't play like it when it matters. The Giants got 5 or more yards on 22 rushes. That leaves a lot of 2nd and 5, 2nd and 4 plays. That is the ideal position to be in as an offense. They allowed 17 points in the first quarter, and drives of 8 and 9 minutes. Thats way to long to be on the field. They need to get off the field and get the offense back on it. 

3) Jim Johnson: I wanted to to put Brian Dawkins, but when I thought about it, its not Dawkins fault that he was lined up with Plaxico Burress one on one on the goal line. Dawkins has had a great career, but at this point, he can't cover people one on one. Why isn't Asante Samuel on him? Or Lito Sheppard? Or any corner back at all. The touchdown tied the game at 7-7, and killed the early momentum that the Eagles had. 

4) Play Calling: I know I talked about it earlier, but you can't talk about this game without talking about how stupid it was for them to run the SAME play twice in a run on the most important two plays of the season. Why not have McNabb drop back, look once, and just run for it if nothing is there? Or on 4th and 1, have Correll Buckhalter just run and dive over the top. Or just call more running plays through out the game, so you have a running game established when you really need it. 

NBA Power Rankings v1

2 weeks into the season, its time to debut our NBA Power Rankings. Through out the season, Philly Stand Up with rank each team in the NBA, 1-32, according to who we think is the best. Enjoy.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (6-0)
2. New Orleans Hornets (6-0)
3. Boston Celtics (7-1)
4. Cleveland Cavialiers (6-2)
5. Atlanta Hawks (6-0)
6. Utah Jazz (6-1)
7. Detriot Pistons (5-2)
8. Phoenix Suns (6-2)
9. Toronto Raptors (4-3)
10. Miami Heat (4-3)
11. Houston Rockets (4-3)
12. Portland Trailblazers (4-3)
13. Orlando Magic (4-3)
14. Denver Nuggets (4-3)
15. Philadelphia 76ers (2-5)
16. Memphis Grizzlies (3-5)
17. Chicago Bulls (3-5)
18. Indiana Pacers (3-3)
19. Dallas Mavericks (2-5)
20. New York Knicks (4-3)
21. Milwaukee Bucks (3-5)
22. Golden State Warriors (3-5)
23. Sacramento Kings (3-5)
24. San Antonio Spurs (1-6)
25. New Jersey Nets (2-4)
26. Charlotte Bobcats (2-5)
27. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-6)
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-6)
29. Los Angeles Clippers (1-6)
30. Washington Wizards (0-5)

Jazz Give Sixers the Blues

And the slide continues.

Hoping a return home would cure the Sixers of their losing streak, it was the the answer. The Sixers lost again last night to the Jazz, 93-80. The Sixers trailed for most of the game, but did take a 4 point advantage going into the 4th quarter. But when you trail for so much of the game, usually all of your energy is wasted trying just to get back into it. That was the case, as they lost the final quarter by 17 points.

Top free agent Elton Brand had a sup bar game, contributing only 13 points and 5 rebounds. Andre Iguodala continued to fill up the box score, with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. How Iguodala managed to out rebound Brand is beyond me. Andre Miller had a great game, with 25 points and 6 assists. But if he continues to be the Sixers leading man, they are in for a ong season.

The Jazz got strong games out of Carlos Boozer (19 points and 16 rebounds) and the return of young point guard Deron Williams ( 7 points and 9 assists) helped them leave Philadelphia winners.

The lose dropped the Sixers to 2-5, with their only wins coming agaisnt the Knicks and Kings, which is nothing to write home about. While a loss to the Jazz is not unexpected, as they are a Western Conference power house, the Sixers are in desperate need of a win.

Elton Brand started out the season strong, but has averaged only 8 points and 8 rebounds over the last two games. He better step up tonight, as the Sixers face a rematch with the Toronto Raptors, who beat them in the season opener. The Raptors have been led by All Star Power Forward Chris Bosh, who has averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds. They also have gotten strong play out of Spanish born point guard Jose Calderon, with averages of 9 assists, 14 points and 4 rebounds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whats Wrong with Westbrook?

There are a lot of reasons that the Eagles are where they are right now. At 5-4, they are tied for last place in the NFC East. But for being tied for last place, you can't say the Eagles are not a good team. Every single one of there games could have been wins- except for possibly the Redskins. 

They couldn't get one yard against the Bears to take the lead on 4th and 1 from the goal line. They couldn't execute a single hand off against the Cowboys while trying to run down the clock. And Sunday night, with the offense clicking and driving down for the winning score, they couldn't get 3 yards- even though they got 2 tries. 

Obviously, the common factor in those plays is the running game. Who is to blame for the in ability to get the tough yard, or execute a simple play, when it comes to the run game? 

You could blame Andy Reid for continuing to call run plays in those situations, but as much as his finger prints are all over this so far dissapointing season, the players still need to go out and execute they plays. Regardless of how bad the play call, 1 yard is 1 yard. 

The offensive line could be the reason. Shawn Andrews, the pro bowl right guard, has been a non factor this season, missing most of training camp with a battle with depression, then missing the rest of the games with back spasms. John Runyan and Tra Thomas are getting older, but they have done a good job keeping McNabb safe. So the offensive line is not the problem.

The failed experiment at fullback could be it. So far, the starting fullback for the Eagles have been: Dan Klecko, Jason Davis, Tony Hunt, then Dan Klecko again. This is alot like when Reid refused to bring in a punt returner, until it came back to kill him last year. The fullback problem has been a huge one this year, and another way that Reid the GM has killed this team.

But while all of those options could be the problem, maybe the problem is with our pro bowl, brand new contract running back, Brian Westbrook. Westbrook carried us last season (as much as a player can carry a team that dosn't make the playoffs) setting a franchise record for total yards in a season. 

This year however, something is not the same. In seven games this season, he has 448 yards a 6 TD's. He also has 29 catches for 207 yards and 2 TD's. But if you break those numbers down, you will see that he hasn't scored a touchdown in the last two weeks. Also, since starting the season with 5 touchdowns in the first two games, he has only scored 3 in the next 5. He hasn't had a receiving touchdown since week 2, giving Todd Heremans more touchdown catches since week 2 then Brian Westbrook. 

In key divisional games, he had 12 carries for 33 yards against the Redskins, and 13 carries for 26 yards vs the Giants on Sunday. Of his 448 yards rushing, almost 40 percent of those came in 1 game, vs the Falcons. That also has been the only game he broke over 100 yards rushing. 

It could be that he is hurt, having missed 2 games this season with both ankle and rib injuries. But this is the reason that Eagles were hesitant to give him a extension in the off season. Bur regardless of how hurt, or how big you are, if you want to be a Pro Bowl, franchise running back, you need to get those 3 yards in two tries on Sunday night to get your team the win. 

If the Eagles want this season to turn around, it needs to start with Brian Westbrook returning to his normal Pro Bowl form. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Eagles Season Not Over Yet

Key Game vs Washington Could Decide It

Last night at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles faced a huge game. It was a border line must win game in the 10th week of the season. They had the division leading New York Giants at their house. A chance to pull to within one game. A chance to pick up a game on every team in the division. 

And they blew it. 

Now, with 7 games to go, the Eagles are 3 games behind the Giants. The chance to win the division is a long one (though Philadelphia has overtook New York for the divsion lead two seasons in a row- o wait, thats baseball). They are one game behind the Washington Redskins, with one more meeting in Washington later in this season. They are also tied with the Dallas Cowboys, at 5-4.

But despite being 0-3 in the division, the Eagles can still compete for a wild card berth. 

If the season ended today, the top two teams in the NFC would be the Giants and the Carolina Panthers. The other division winners would be the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals. 

The wild card is where it starts to get tricky. The Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all 6-3. The Eagles are tied with the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, all having 5-4 record.

So it all comes down to the next 7 games. These 6 teams will be fighting for 2 playoff spots. Lets look at who they have left on their schedule:

Falcons: The Falcons have there 3 hardest games at home, which is good for them. They have trailed a total of 11 seconds at home- all season. They face Denver, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and St Louis at home. They also have road games agaisnt San Diego, New Orleans and Minnesota. Combined Record: 33-30

Buccaneers: The Bucs still have the Raiders and Lions on their schedule, which should be automatic wins. The hardest game left for them is a trip to Carolina. Combine Record: 28-35

Redskins: The Redskins, coming off a bad lose to the Steelers, have to face the Cowboys next week, with Tony Romo set to return. There other remaining games of notes are a home game vs Philadelphia and a trip to Baltimore. Combined Record: 29-33

Cowboys: Who would have thought after beating Green Bay in week 3, the Cowboys would be last in the NFC East? But here they are. They have trips to Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh still left, as well as home games vs the Ravens and Giants. Combined Record: 35-27

Vikings: The Vikings won a key game yesterday vs the Packers, coming back behind Adrian Peterson to pull above .500. They still have trips to Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, but also get to go to Detroit. There game agaisnt the Giants is the last week of the season, and the Giants could be playing for nothing at that point. Combined Record: 34-28

Eagles:  Lets look at the Eagles Schedule more in depth: 
At Bengals: While the Cowboys and the Redskins play next week, the Eagles get to visit the Bengals. That means they will either be tied for second with the Redskins, or be able to put the Cowboys out of their playoff picture. No way the Eagles lose to the Bengals.

At Baltimore: They will face old Special Teams Coach John Harbaugh, but more importantly, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. The Eagles fair well agaisnt rookie quaterbacks, so this should be a win.

Cardinals: On a short week, the Eagles face the Cardinals on Thanksgiving Night. The Cardinals are talented, but they are not close to the same team on the road that they are at home. I don't see the Cardinals coming into Philadelphia and winning a huge game like this. 

At Giants: The Eagles will need this one more then the Giants. But that was the case last night to. But this one is in New York. Lets put this one down as a lose.

Cleveland: The Browns have been a dissapointment this season, and have a horrible defense. They also have a rookie quarterback, so I don't see the Eagles winning this one.

At Washington: The Redskins dominated the Eagles last time they played. This game will be huge. But the Eagles have not won a game in the division so far, and I don't see them going 0-6 in the division. On a limb, lets put this down as a win.

Dallas: This one could be sweet. The last game of the season could either be a chance to put the Cowboys super bowl dreams to rest by knocking them out of the playoffs, at the same time we clinch a spot. Or, it could be last game Donovan McNabb plays as an Eagle. The Eagles win this one.

Combined Record: 34-28

What does all this add up to? The Cowboys, who have the hardest schedule out of all the teams, will not even make the playoffs, after starting the season as Super Bowl favorites. The Vikings, another dark horse Super Bowl pick, have the second hardest schedule, as well as the majority on the road. I don't see them getting into the playoffs.

That leaves the Eagles, Redskins, Bucs and Falcons. The Bucs have the easiest schedule, with the teams left on their schedule a combined 7 games under .500. It would be surprising if they didn't make it in. The Falcons, have been a feel good story, but face a harder schedule, as well as the pressure that will be put on rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. I hope they get in over the Bucs, and I think they could, but with trips to San Diego and Minnesota, I don't see it.

That leaves the Eagles and Redskins. If the Eagles can win key games agaisnt the Redskins and Ravens (both winnable games), they could go 6-1 down the stretch. That would obviously put them in. The Redskins have the easier schedule, but not by much. I think it will all come down to December 21, 1 PM, Eagles at Redskins. A lose their would make it hard to get in. 

So while the lose last night hurt, it did not end the season. A favorable schedule down the stretch, combined with a big win in Washington would mean the Eagles will be in the Playoffs. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Andy Reid Got to Go

I have never been a person who believed Andy Reid should be fired. He has the most victories in Eagles history. He has averaged 10 wins a season, led to Eagles to the Super Bowl, and had the Eagles the class of the NFC East for years. 

With that said, is the Eagles don't advance to the playoffs this season, Reid has to go. I say this now, because after watching Reid cost the Eagles a chance to pull to within one game of the Giants, it has never been more evident. How did he cost them the game? Lets start at the beginning.

1) LJ Smith should not have started. Brent Celek has the second most yards receiving for a tight end in Eagles history last weekend. How does Reid repay him? By sending him to the bench. Why bench him? Smith has the skills, but over all has been dissapointing. He fumbles and is always hurt. He also is on the Franchise Tag, which means he will be a free agent at the end of the year. Celek is a promising young rookie, coming off his best game. Why delay the growth process and bench him? Then, not only does Reid bench him, he then forces the ball to LJ Smith on the second drive, causing a three and out. 

2) The Starting Offense. The Eagles did score on their first possession, but that touch down was handed to them gift wrapped from the Eagles defense. In the first quarter, the Eagles held the ball a total of 90 seconds. You can blame that on the defense as well, and thats more then fair. But if the offense didn't go three and out every time at the beginning of the game, the other team wouldn't have the ball as much. The Eagles fell behind last week, and fell behind 17-7 in this game. Last week they cold overcome it, but this week (like most), they could not. 

3) Challenges. In a tight game, challenges are huge. Not only because you might need them to over turn a call, but use them and lose, you lose a time out. Tonight, Andy Reid challenged a call that was clearly correct. The call was whether or not Brandon Jacobs was down before the ball came out as the Giants were driving close to the goal line. The replays shown on TV, right after the play, were not even close. Yet there was Andy Reid, throwing the challenge flag. He lost, and it cost the Eagles a time out. This would come back to kill them.

4) Clock Management. How many times do we have to watch the Eagles lazily walk up to the huddle, slowly get to the line, and waste precious time off the clock? Did he not learn his lesson in the super bowl. With the Eagles down 5 with the ball, they ran a play, then waited 20 seconds to the 2 minute warning. Why would you not try to run a play before the two minute warning? You already only have wasted one timeout from challenging that one play, and you wasted another one on a seperate challenge. Yet still, you don't hurry up. It makes no sense. 

5) Play Calling. Play calling has always been a black mark on the Andy Reid legacy here in Philly. But tonight was typical of the Reid Era. First, Westbrook only rushes 13 times in the game. While the run game was not successful, Reid needs to stick with it. Westbrook is one of the best running backs in the league. He needs to commit to the run more often at the beginning of the game. Because tonight the end of the game, with McNabb getting the Eagles back in the game, the Eagles faced a crucial 3 and 3 with 1:55 left on the clock. Next play: A sweep run for a one yard gain. Next play? A sweep run for a 1 yard gain. Why run it then? Why all the sudden feel the need to have a power house running game, when you didn't create it for the first 58 minutes of the game? Those two play calls most likely cost the Eagles the playoffs. 

6) Andy Reid the GM. Its hard to be a head coach in the NFL. Countless hours and tasks. So to be the GM and a head coach, it takes a special person. And I think its now fair to say, Reid is not that special person. There have been first round draft busts like Jerome McDougle, Freddie Mitchell and Winston Justice. And that was when he drafted in the first round. The last two years, he has traded out of the first round. He drafted a quarterback with his first pick two years ago. The draft is where you build your team, and as the Eagles start to fade in the division, the lack of good draft picks is starting to show. 

With all that said, the Eagles can not make the change now. But when the season ends, and the Eagles don't make the playoffs, people will be calling for McNabbs head. And while I can see the reason to want to rebuild, I don't think throwing a rookie Kevin Kolb into the lineup next year will be the answer. Westbrook dosn't have many years left. Other team leaders like Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, and Kevin Curtis are ready to win now. The team has a better chance with McNabb at the helm then Andy Reid. That is why it is time to hire a new coach. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sixers 88, Magic 98

The Sixers sure will be glad to leave Florida.

A night after getting blown out by the Miami Heat, the Sixers didn't fair much better agaisnt the Orlando Magic. Another slow start by the Sixers left them down 14 at the end of the first quarter. The trimmed it down to 9 at the end of the third quarter with an impressive run, but they could get no closer.

The Orlando Magic were lead by Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, who both chipped in 20 points. Philadelphia native Jameer Nelson also had a good game, with 16 points and 9 assisits.

Elton Brand had his worst game so far as a Sixer, with only 6 points and 12 rebounds. Andre Iguodala had a pretty good game overall, with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. Thaddeus Young coninuted to grow and impress, leading the Sixers with 19 points.

The lose dropped the Sixers to 2-4. A slow start did the Sixers in again, as they actually won the game if you take away the first quarter. The Magic are a team the Sixers need to beat, becasue they should be fighting with them come playoff time a playoff seed in the 4-5-6 area.

The Sixers schedule dosn't get any easier from here, as the Jazz come to town, followed by a rematch with the Raptors in Toronto, then a visit to the Pacers.

DeAngelo Hall Signs with Redskins

Just two days after being released by the Oakland Raiders, Pro Bowl corner back DeAngelo Hall has a new home. Sources say that Hall will sign a one year deal with the Washington Redskins. The deal is belived to be around 1 million dollers, which would be what he would have got in Oakland. The other teams believed to be interested in Hall were the Patriots, Jets, and Ravens.

Their appears to be two reasosns that Hall chose Washington. First, Washington agreed not to place the franchise tag on him this off season. That would allow him to sign a long term deal with a team for the second summer in a row. The second reason that Hall chose the Redskins is that he wants to stay there for a long time, and he was qouted as saying that he and the team are going to work out a long term deal.

The Redskins are currently 6-3, and in second place in the NFC East. They also have the fourth best defense in the league, holding teams to 272 yards per game. However, around 70 percent of those yards have been thru the air. Hall should help them with that, as he has 3 interceptions in the first 8 games of this season.

With the great wide receivers in the NFC East- Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Roy Williams- the addition of the Pro Bowl corner back should give Washington a huge boost.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Giants v Eagles

In the best game of the NFL schedule this weekend, the Giants will travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. The Giants are 7-1, and hold a 2 game lead over the Eagles, at 5-3. A win would be huge for both teams. The Giants could take a 3 games lead over the Eagles, with only 6 games to go in the season. A win for the Eagles would pull them to 1 game back, with another matchup with the Giants this season.

Why The Eagles Will Win:

1) The Giants are 7-1, but they only have 1 impressive win on their schedule. They beat the Steelers 21-14 in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, but the Eagles beat the Steelers to. Other then that win, their wins have com agaisnt the Rams, Bengals, Seahawks and 49ers. They beat Dallas, but that was without Tony Romo, and it was in New York. The also lost to the Browns, which have a 3-5 record. This is definitly the hardest game of the year for the Giants.

2) Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson: Kevin Curtis, who missed all but 2 games of this season, has been impressive in those 2 games. He has 9 catches for 128 yards. DeSean Jackson, who the Giants have not seen yet, has played big in games agaisnt the divison oppenents, with 100 yards recieving vs the Cowboys, and a punt return agaisnt the Redskins

3) The Eagles can stop the run: Despite two down weeks vs the Redskins and 49ers, the Eagles have stopped the run in every game this year. The strentgh of the Giants offense is the run. I expect them to shut down the run again this week, and stop the Giants offense.

4) Its at Philadelphia: In a key divisional game, you allways want to have home field advantage. And its a night game. I think this is a huge bonus for the Eagles

Why The Giants Will Win:

1) Plaxico Burress: It seems like everytime the Eagles play the Giants, he has a huge game. The Eagles brought in Asante Samuel over the off season to help out the secondary, but he was lit up by Burress in the Super Bowl, scoring the game winning touchdown. He also had a height advantage over every one of the Eagles Corner Backs.

2) The Eagles are up and down: If the Eagles come out agaisnt the Giants like they did agaisnt the Seahawks, they will not have a chance to get back in the game. To often this season, agaisnt teams like the Seahawks and 49ers, they have let oppenents stay in games, or get off to a great start. The Giants are to good to do that agaisnt.

3) They are Super Bowl Champs: Say what you want about their championship, but the Giants are 13-1 in their last 14 games. They are simply a better team then the Eagles when you look at the record. They have won big games, and will not be intimidated by this one.


Despite the Giants being 7-1, this is their hardest game. The Eagles have been tested by trips to Dallas, and by playing the Redskins when they were playing at their best. I don't know who will get farther by the end of the season, but I think the Eagles win this one. They need it more, its at home, and the Giants have not been tested this year.

Eagles 28 Giants 24

NFL Week 10 Picks

Here are my picks for Week 10:

Broncos at Browns: Brady Quinn will get his much anticpated first start tonight, and what a defense to get it agaisnt. The Broncos are giving up 243 yarsd per game, thats good for 17th in the NFL. Pick: Browns

Saints at Falcons: The Falcons have been the surprise team of the year. This is a great quarterback match up, with Drew Brees facing the impressive rookie Matt Ryan. The match up that will give the Falcons the win is Micheal Turner vs the Saints run defense. Pick: Falcons

Titans at Bears: With Kyle Orton at quarterback, who has had an impressive season, I might give the Bears a chance. But I don't see Rex Grossman beating one of the best defenses in the league. Pick: Titans

Jacksonville at Lions: Upset of the Week. The Lions are going to start Daunte Culpepper, who signed just 5 days ago. But I like the combination of him and Calvin Johnson, plus the Lions are at home. Plus, the Lions cant lose every game, can they? Pick: Lions

Panthers at Raiders: Poor Eagles fans. What looked to be a top first round pick when they aquired it from the Panthers on draft day is now going to be a low one. The Raiders suck, and despite being at home, have no chance. Pick: Panthers

Seahawks at Dolphins: The Dolphins are the feel good story of the year, with players like Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown bouncing back and carrying this team to a surprising 4-4 record. Pick: Dolphins

Packers at Vikings: This is a tough one. The Packers beat the Vikings in week 1, but that was at Green Bay. But Green Bay has one of the top defenses in the league, and defense wins game on the road. I could see this game going either way. Pick: Packers

Bills at Patriots: The Bills are fading fast, having lost 2 in a row. I don't think this young team is ready to go into Foxbourough and win a meaningful division game. Pick: Patriots

Rams at Jets: After beating the Redskins and Cowboys, the Rams have fallen back down to earth. The Jets need this win, and Ill go with Brett Farve to get it done. Pick: Jets

Colts at Steelers: In Indianopolis, I might give the Colts the edge. But this one is in Pittsburgh, and it will be cold there this time of month. The Colts won a close one last week to keep their playoff hopes alive, but not this time. Pick: Steelers

Cheifs at Chargers: The Chargers have been dissapointing this season. But despite the problems they have, the Cheifs are even worse. Pick: Chargers

Ravens at Texans: Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have been great this year, contributing to the Ravens 5-3 start. All signs point to the Ravens, but on a hunch, I'll go agaisnt them. Pick: Texans

49ers at Cardinals: In a weak Monday Night Football matchup, Mike Singletary leads the 49ers into Arizona to face the division leading Cardinals. The Cardinals have so many weapons on offense, and they are alreay talking about an extention for Kurt Warner. Poor Matt Leinhart. Pick: Cardinals