Monday, December 29, 2008
Would it be an overstatement to call yesterday the happiest day of my life? OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was one of the most unbelievable and most amazing days in recent Eagles history. Sure, they've clinched many a playoff berth... but never in such dramatic and such unlikely fashion. The fact is that there is not an Eagles fan out there who was conceivably optimistic about the possibility of a post-season appearance going into yesterday's games.
And yet... miracles can happen.
The Raiders travelled cross-country to pull off an insane upset over tanking Tampa Bay. The RAIDERS... you've got to really take a moment to appreciate the odds of that one. And then, the Eagles caught another break when Houston held on to defeat Chicago. And suddenly, impossible as it seemed a few hours before, the Eagles were back in control of their playoff hopes. AGAIN. Anyone remember that brief period last week when the Bucs lost to San Diego and the Eagles just had to win their last 2? And instead of capitalizing on that, they put up an embarassing 3-point performance against the struggling Redskins... that was nothing short of horrendous. I wasn't even planning to watch much football this week, as the disgusting taste of last week's loss was still festering in my mouth. And then, out of the blue, the stars aligned...
Fortunately, the Birds got the message this time, and quickly started piling it onto Dallas and never looked back. The only thing sweeter than getting massive help to enable a playoff bid was securing it with a monstrous victory over the despised Dallas Cowboys, sending them home to Texas to watch the playoffs from their living rooms. And forcing T.O.'s season to a halt in the City of Brotherly Love, a city that has nothing but brotherly hatred towards Mr. Owens.
The question now is, how will they build on this? How far can they go? The stars and skies seemed to be in Philly's favor yesterday- will this continue? And as someone pointed out: the World Series in Tampa, the Super Bowl in Tampa... the sky's the limit now with a clean, Bengals-tie-less slate in the playoffs. I believe they're as good a team as any in the playoffs this year. But will they play like it?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Posted by Alli
Well, at least the Eagles did what they needed to do this week to keep their playoff hopes alive, even if the teams ahead of them didn't. I was hoping that the Falcons would lose quickly so that Philly could grasp control of its own destiny, but the Bucs seemed intent on shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly late in the game yesterday, and allowing the Falcons to eek one out in OT. No matter... now we just need either the Falcons OR the Bucs to lose one of their last 2, which seems doable, especially given Tampa's unimpressive play yesterday without Garcia. Atlanta has the Vikings and Tampa has the Chargers next week, so fingers crossed that they both suck. Update: Apparently one of Minnesota's 2 unrelated DTs named Williams will be out 2-6 weeks with a shoulder injury. If the league drug policy couldn't stop him, apparently his own shoulder will.
Tonight's game was a pleasant surprise in that the Eagles took care of business early and kept my blood pressure rather low, despite what was nearly a horrid dose of deja vu from last week when Brandon McDonald returned a McNabb interception 98 yards to the Eagles' 7 as time ran out in the first half. I have to credit Westbrook's hustle in chasing McDonald down to slow him up before he got to the end zone, but seriously guys... stop giving me a damn coronary at the close of every 1st half! It's worth noting that the Eagles saw 3 different passers throw an interception in that game, but fortunately I'm not overly concerned with 2 of them. Overall though I was very impressed with McNabb- I know Cleveland's D is god-awful, but McNabb threw with unusual accuracy and spread the ball around, and he has been looking better each week since the Baltimore fiasco. Kevin Kolb on the other hand.... not so much. Future of the team, my ass.
A few other guys who merit a quick mention... thank you Asante Samuel for following your dumbass ball-flip a yard shy of the endzone with some quick hustle to pick it up and solidify your TD. Glad to see that you're marginally less stupid than DeSean Jackson circa week 2.
Stewart Bradley finally became the first Eagles LB this season to get a pick. Sure, Ken Dorsey essentially threw the ball right at him, but I'll take 'em where we can get 'em. The linebackers have been doing a good job elsewhere so the lack of interceptions isn't really an issue. Bradley is also super foxy, but that's neither here nor there.
And back to DeSean Jackson... please stop running backwards on your punt returns. I know this probably worked against mediocre Pac-10 teams, but it's obviously not doing anything for you in the NFL. You're a great player, but I have to imagine that sometime during your time at Berkeley you gained a brain cell or 2, so feel free to show that off anytime now.
Around the NFC East...
Is anyone buying this sudden T.O./Romo/Witten BFF bullshit? 'Cause I'm sure as heck not. T.O. is still a giant bag of douche, and I have no doubt that he's got one more tantrum left in his arsenal before the season is over. Probably after the Cowboys lose to the Ravens next week. In fairness though, I would like to see both the Eagles and Cowboys win next week so that they go into Dallas for a ginormous week 17 showdown. Then T.O. can throw a tantrum.
I recently heard some mild speculation that Eli Manning could take the 3rd QB spot in the NFC for this year's Pro Bowl. I realize this is still early and hopefully inaccurate, but I still nearly pissed myself at the thought. I know that when a team does well they tend to send a lot of players to Hawaii (e.g. the Eagles in 04-05), but I'm not sure that I'm prepared to live in a world in which Eli is both a Super Bowl MVP and a Pro Bowler. Especially when there are about 5 QB's in the NFC with better numbers.
And then there are the Redskins... remember not all that long ago when I said they were the new team to beat in the NFC? Yikes. This team is falling apart faster than TO after a trip to the pharmacist. OK, nothing short of the speed of light is that fast, but you get the idea... they've lost 5 of their last 6. Nevertheless, they could very well still play spoiler to the Eagles' playoff dreams next week, so that game is hardly in the bag.
Let's hope that the Eagles can make this the 3rd straight year that they finish the last 3 weeks of the regular season undefeated... and then get a smidge of help from the NFC South.
Monday, December 8, 2008
...the Eagles are 6-0 in weeks 15 through 17 the past 2 seasons.
Sometimes it's too little too late, sometimes it's the December explosion they need to launch into the playoffs. But if the Eagles can continue that late December trend and win out, they're in the playoffs. They control their own destiny against every team but Atlanta, and no way the Falcons win out with Tampa and Minnesota on the horizon.
2 weeks ago I'd have gasped, Jim Mora-style, at the mention of playoffs. I actually had to drag myself to the Thanksgiving game against the Cardinals, figuring it was nearly pointless (and cold weather usually trumps pointless in my book). Yet suddenly they get over an enormous (Giant?) hurdle today and that spark of hope returns. Is the unspeakable suddenly... able to be spoken?
Now, let me quickly add that I may very well be eating my words next week, as it would hardly surprise me if the Eagles followed up 2 huge wins against worthy division leaders with an embarassing performance against another dismal Ohio team. But breaking it down week-by-week, the playoffs (and a respectable 10-5-1 record) are within reach.
Next week's game against the Browns, on Monday Night Football, is a must-win obviously. Yes, we know that the Birds tend to crap the bed on primetime, but if they can't beat the Browns, they don't deserve to be in the hunt in the first place (sure, the same could be said for the Bengals tie, but why rehash old news now when it goes against my point?) So let's just assume for a moment that they win next Monday, putting them at 8-5-1. The Redskins, frankly, are getting shittier by the minute, but even if they win next week they're still sitting a half-game behind the Eagles. The Cowboys are only occasionally competent and will probably lose to a now-pissed-off Giants team, nestling them a half-game behind them as well. The Falcons have Tampa, a very tough divisional matchup, and if they lose, all of a sudden.... wait for it, wait for it... the Eagles are sitting in the number 2 wild card spot- just like that!
Even if the Falcons win, the Eagles are only a smidge behind them- however this would bring up the crushing memory of our head-to-head win over Atlanta (in the event of a tiebreaker) that will never happen thanks to our ugly third-wheel digit in the tie column. Nevertheless, I just don't see talented-but-still-learning Matt Ryan knocking off vets Jeff Garcia and Gus Frerotte in consecutive weeks. Point being, the Falcons don't win out. And at the risk of sounding overly confident, I don't think our final 2 games against the Skins and Cowboys are as daunting as they seemed a few weeks ago, thanks to their sudden inability to not suck. Not that beating both would be an easy feat by any means, but it's definitely doable. I think the Cowboys might actually end their season in a cloud of choke before they even travel to Philly, with 2 huge games against the G-men and Ravens coming up, but it'd be interesting to have a rematch of that week 2 epic where it really means something to both teams.
Anyone remember 2006? Where 5-6 became 10-6, can 5-5-1 now become 10-5-1? They knocked off all 3 divisional opponents, AWAY, in 3 straight weeks in December '06- their remaining task this season is actually an easier one, with 2 of the last 3 games at the Linc.
Not saying it's going to happen, but logically speaking it's a very real possibility. Just sayin...