NFL / philadelphia eagles
Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: Wild Card Weekend
The first round of the NFL playoffs is now in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. There was a little bit of everything this week. An ass kicking, a shocking upset, a field goal fest and America's Team doing what it does best: winning playoff games. Well, it used to be what they did best. I'll take whatever I can get now. Anyway just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.Cowboys 24 Seahawks 22 Source My Dallas Cowboys might just be peaking at the right time. The offense and the defense both played well to defeat a playoff battle tested Seahawks team Saturday night. Let's start with the defense. Seattle came into town with the league's #1 rushing offense. The Cowboys held them to 73 yards on 24 carries. That includes one 28 yard run by Rashaad Penny. Take away that outlier and Seattle had 45 yards on 23 carries. Ouch. So much for the #1 rushing offense. The Cowboys stuffed their ass at the line. Seattle's air attack wasn't much better. Russell Wilson finished with decent numbers (18/27 233 yards 1 TD), but 75 of those yards and the TD came on their final drive when the dreaded prevent defense was content with letting Seattle eat up the clock. On offense Dallas stuck to the game script that works best for them. Let Zeke Elliott chew up yards and time off the clock while letting Dak Prescott pick his spots. Zeke had his usual stellar game (26 carries 137 yards 1 TD) and Prescott was solid (22/33 226 yards 1 TD 1 INT). Dak made the play of the game with his legs however. Nursing a 3 point lead with a little under 3 minutes remaining, the Cowboys faced a 3rd and 14 on the Seattle 17 yard line. Prescott dropped back to pass and then took off streaking towards the end zone. He dove for a 16 yard gain that set Dallas up with a 1st and goal from the one yard line. On the next play Dak finished the Seahawks by pounding the ball across the goal line himself to give Dallas a 10 point lead with 2 minutes remaining. Prescott impressed me in this game. He made throws that needed to be made and used his legs wisely to get the job done. He is the first Dallas QB to both throw for a TD and rush for a TD in a playoff game. Damn, hard to believe Staubach never did that. Not only was Dallas the only home team to win on Wild Card weekend, their 24 points was the most points scored by any team. How about that? The Cowboys moved their record to 10-0 on the season when they score at least 20 points. Look out Rams fans, I'm starting to feel real good about this Dallas squad.Eagles 16 Bears 15 Source Heading into Wild Card weekend, I thought three games could easily go either way. But I knew the Bears were going to beat the Eagles. C'mon, that Bears defense chewed up good offensive teams. How would they fail against Nick Foles and the Eagles anemic running game? That's why they play the games. Chicago fans are crying over Cody Parkey's last second field goal miss, saying that's why they lost the game. That's like Cubs fans blaming Bartman for losing that game against the Marlins so many years ago. Relying on a last second kick is a recipe for disaster in the NFL. The Bears lost this game because there heralded defense came up short during the most important drive of the season. The Bears had a 15-10 lead when the Eagles started their final drive on their own 40 yard line with a little less than 5 minutes remaining in the game. A defensive stand here would have finished off the Eagles for good. Really all they had to do was keep the Eagles out of the endzone. Instead Nick Foles, with zero help from the Eagles rushing "attack", spit in the Bears eyes by dinking and dunking the ball down the field before hitting Golden Tate with a 2 yard TD pass on 4th down with 56 seconds remaining. When your team is built on defense, the D has to step up in these situations. The Bears didn't and that is why their season is over. QB Mitch Trubisky had a surprisingly good day for the Bears (26/43 303 yards 1 TD) mostly targeting WR Allen Robinson (10 receptions 143 yards 1 TD). But the running game for the Bears never got rolling. The Bears need to run the ball to control the clock, it's their best strategy. The Eagles stepped up to deny them. The legend of Nick Foles continues to grow in Philly. Can anybody stop him? The Saints are up next. If Foles pulls this one off they'll be putting up a statue next to Rocky. And believe it or not, I'll be rooting for him! I know, it goes against my nature to root for the Eagles. Can't a guy just love a good story? OK, I have ulterior motives. I wouldn't mind if the NFC championship game makes a triumphant return to Dallas. I know it sounds crazy, but it was also crazy to think the Eagles were going to win in Chicago. It has been a strange year in the NFL.Colts 21 Texans 7 Source The hardest game for me to pick this weekend was the Colts and Texans. Both teams had bad starts this year before flipping the switch. They split their two meetings during the regular season with each team coming away with a three point victory. In the end I went with Houston since they were at home and the Colts were on the road for consecutive weeks. That was a mistake. The 21-7 final score doesn't truly reflect it, but Indy whipped Houston's ass. They moved the ball up and down the field at will in the first half, while preventing the Texans from getting anything going on offense. Indy had a 21-0 lead at the half and were content with using RB Marlon Mack to chew up the clock in the second half to put the game away. Mack ended up with another big day (24 carries 148 yards 1 TD) and the offensive line once again kept Andrew Luck clean by giving up zero sacks. That offensive line is the secret to the Colts success. Houston's defense has to get pressure on the QB to be successful. They didn't and they weren't. Texans QB Deshaun Watson looked completely overwhelmed in his first career playoff start. It didn't help when his star WR DeAndre Hopkins got banged up at the end of the first half, but they didn't do much before that anyway. Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is supposed to be an offensive guru so the Texans flop on offense is extra embarrassing. I was disappointed, I thought this was going to be a fun back and forth affair that was going to be decided in the game's final seconds. Instead it was a snoozer. The Colts have now won 10 of their last 11 games. They head into Kansas City next week as a six point underdog. Hmmm. I'm not a betting man, but if I was I'd take the Colts and the points. Chargers 23 Ravens 17 Source Don't let the final score fool you with this game either. It wasn't really this close. The Ravens were beat up and outcoached by the Chargers. If I was a Ravens fan I wouldn't be very happy with head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens were 6-1 this season with Lamar Jackson as the starting QB, including a win against the Chargers in the penultimate game of the regular season. They did it with a dominating defense and Jackson's legs. Lamar can run, but so far in his career he isn't much of a passer. And Sunday it bit the Ravens in the butt. The Chargers were the first team Jackson faced for a second time, so they already had a good look at him and what he can do. They adjusted accordingly. The Chargers employed 6 DB's most of the game and loaded up the box with 9 defenders. They put their fastest defenders on the field and kept them close to the line, daring Jackson to throw the ball. The results? Jackson was 2/8 for 17 yards with an interception and two fumbles in the first half. The second half didn't start much better for Jackson, the Ravens only netted 3 first downs on offense heading into the 4th quarter and with 9 minutes left in the game Jackson officially had -2 yards passing. You read that right, -2 yards passing. The Chargers played conservative on offense, happy to settle for field goals when the Ravens couldn't do a thing with the ball. Baltimore's D played well and their special teams blocked some kicks to keep them in the game, but it was all for naught. Jackson came to life in the 4th quarter and finally made some plays to score some points and make the final score look better, but the Chargers were in prevent mode by that time.They were fine letting Baltimore finally move the ball to keep the clock ticking away. The question being tossed around now is why did Harbaugh send Jackson out there to play QB in the second half when he had a healthy Joe Flacco on the bench? Sure Flacco hasn't played in a while, but the man did win a Super Bowl. He can throw the ball downfield. At this point Jackson can't. Playoff games are win or go home situations. The Ravens went home without letting their best QB take one snap. Ouch. Common sense says you pull out all the stops in the playoffs. Harbaugh simply continued to feed Jackson to the wolves. After the game, Harbaugh said Flacco couldn't have done any better than Jackson in the 4th quarter. That is true. By that point the game was lost and the Chargers called off the dogs. But the Ravens were only down 12-0 at halftime, maybe if Flacco started the second half they could have made a real comeback. If nothing else it would have forced the Chargers to completely change their defensive game plan and possibly Baltimore could have taken advantage of the switch. Alas, we'll never know. The Chargers head to New England next week to face the Patriots. As of right now, the Chargers and the Colts are the best teams in the AFC. I certainly think the Chargers are the better team, but playing at home and coming off a much needed bye will help the Patriots even things out. Should be a good game, but let's go Chargers! Somebody has to topple the evil empire. Please.Updated Playoff Predictions Well I went 2-2 with my playoff picks this past weekend so my predictions going forward got all messed up. I got Dallas and San Diego Los Angeles right while getting Indy and Philly wrong. If you didn't see my predictions post, I have the Chargers and the Saints meeting in the Super Bowl. That pick is still alive, but the path leading there has been altered. So here are my updated picks for next week's games.Saints 28 Eagles 17 The Nick Foles Magical Mystery Tour has to come to an end at some point. The Saints thrashed the Eagles 48-7 earlier this year, but the Eagles are playing much better now. The Saints are extra tough at home and Drew Brees is well aware this is probably his best shot at another Super Bowl. I just can't see Philly pulling off an even bigger upset this week. But I wouldn't be angry if they did. ;)Cowboys 24 Rams 21 I thought the Cowboys would be headed to New Orleans this week, so this trip to L.A. is a pleasant surprise. Because Dallas can win this game. Don't look so shocked! I'm Serious! The key to beating the Rams is stopping Gurley and making Goff win the game. The Cowboys can hold Gurley down. And they can pressure Goff. Don't forget that game against the Saints. The Cowboys D is legit. As long as the Cowboys stick to the same offensive script, heavy on Elliott and letting Dak pick his spots, they can put up enough points to win. The Cowboys aren't as effective on the road, but that might not matter as much this week. Which team do you think will have more fans in the stands? That crowd is going to favor the Cowboys. In two seasons in the Coliseum, the biggest crowd drawn to date was a pre-season game last year between the Cowboys and Rams. 90,000+ for a pre-season game. The Cowboys have a large fan base in southern CA, they will show up in droves. The Rams are coming off a bye and maybe they have cleaned up some of the issues plaguing them at the end of the season. But I'd bet they are stunned Dallas is coming to town instead of Chicago. It might throw them off a bit. Should be a close game, but I like the Cowboys chances.Colts 35 Chiefs 28 Indy is on fire. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball and their defense is getting better week to week. I'm not picking against them again this week. We all know what Mahomes and the KC offense is capable of. They are going to score some points. But that defense? Ugh.The Colts have put up points against much better defenses than this one. I thought that KC was going to be one and done against the Chargers this week, but the same thinking goes with the Colts coming to town instead. The Chiefs finished the regular season with a whimper and look destined to disappoint once again.Chargers 27 Patriots 24 I thought this was going to be the AFC Championship Game, so for me this game is coming a week early. The Chargers are Road Warriors this year, 8-1 on the road. The Patriots are still tough to beat at home and had the bye week in their favor. I'm sure Belichick saw this one coming and prepared accordingly. But the Patriots looked they have been out of gas all season. The time has come for some one to finally take them down. Why not the Chargers? Let me know your thoughts on Wild Card Weekend and the Divisional Playoffs coming up this week. Does anyone else believe in Dallas? Or am I being blinded by delusional biased dreams? C'mon @mateonav53, nobody gives a shit about the Lakers. Put your Rams cap on and step up for your team.
BENGALS PUNT ON TRADE DEADLINE
The Cincinnati Bengals are 5-3 and in second place in the AFC North by percentage points. So what do they do at the trade deadline? They punt. I see it as a missed an opportunity this week to display some new stripes. In other words, instead of rolling the proverbial dice to pick up a few upgrades in talent for positions they could use (TIGHT END especially, linebacker, corner, or at least reinforcements for either of the offensive or defensive fronts). Year after year the Cincinnati ownership and front office seem content to be competitive pretenders. It's not a Super Bowl or bust mentality, instead it is just try not to lose too much. Injuries hap[pen to every team, and sometimes their young backups or free agents off the street who can step in. However, winning teams like the Philadelphia Eagles last season's champs, or the New England Patriots, are willing to send a way a draft pick for someone who can fill a void now. That's why those are the most recent Super Bowl winners in the NFL. Cincinnati was unwilling to part with future players for the sake of winning today. Sometimes the window is only there so long, Quarterback Andy Dalton (31) and all-world wideout A.J. Green (30) are both now in their early 30s. A.J. has a boot around one of his feet and may miss a game or two. They have been in the playoffs without winning, but if they got a little help they might actually advance past the first round. The Bengals have been decimated at tight end, as only one (C. J. Uzomah) of the four tight ends they had going into training camp is not injured. That limits the Bengals and their offensive coordinator Bill Lazor from using their two tight end formations. Two tight end packages are tough for a defense to read, you can't tell if it is going to be a pass play or a run. It also allows a team to have a more physical running attack. Which lets a team dictate time possession and keeps their defense on the sidelines, fresh and less injury prone. Speaking of the defense, it is ranked LAST in the NFL in net total yards, and they are giving up an embarrassing 29.6 points a game. The defense has had some key injuries at linebacker, cornerback, and the defensive front. Can you imagine though if this team had gotten in a couple of proven solid players? Would it brighten up the locker room and hopes for the second half of the season that has tough road games coming up? Yes it would. Don't be surprised if the Bengals are 8-7 or 9-6 going into the Pittsburgh game at the end of the year needing to win against the Steelers just to get in the playoffs. And yeah those Steelers have beaten the Bengals seven times in a row. Then again, that is hitting the perceived goal of the Bengal front office, pretending to be competitive and losing in nearly every big game.