Monday, December 27, 2010

Is the first round bye really that important?

Read a great article this morning, compliments of Wayne Sidor, laying out just how the Eagles secured their spot in the 2010/2011 NFL playoffs. I, like many other Eagle faithful, enjoyed watching the New York Giants playoff hopes erupt into flames yesterday afternoon. To boot, the loss not only assured they will not have a chance to compete this post-season (not technically, they can still slip in with a win against Washington and a Green Bay loss to the Bears), but also assured the Eagles a spot in the NFC playoffs. How sweet it is.

But, the Chicago Bears managed again (to my disbelief) to eek out a win over the Jets, meaning they are in line for a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Still, the Eagles still haven't been mathematically eliminated from contention for the bye. To quote the CSN article:

"The Eagles can still earn a bye if they win their last two games and Chicago loses at Green Bay next Sunday. They can earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC if they win out, the Bears lose to the Packers next weekend and the Falcons lose to the Saints Monday night and the Panthers on Jan. 2"

Just how important is this first round bye to the birds? Well, historically it makes no difference. As many Giants and Cowboys fans like to constantly remind us, as they tend to live their lives in the past tense, the Eagles haven't won a Super Bowl. We all know how the first round bye ended up in 2004 when the team finished the regular season 13-3 and had the highest powered offense in the league.

In my opinion, I don't think this team needs a first round bye, or home field advantage throughout to reach the Super Bowl. Our offense, or Michael Vick however you want to look at it, strikes fear into just about every defense in the NFL (Ex - 28 points in 7 minutes against NYG's #1 ranked defense). In fact, I think playing in a hostile atmosphere might even be good for this team to get on a roll. I have always been big on the theory that it isn't necessarily the best teams that are able to make playoff runs, but the teams who carry momentum into the post-season by finishing strong. Just ask the 2007 New York Giants who finished the regular season 10-6, but won 3 road playoff games en route to a Super Bowl victory. Ugh, still makes me sick. But then I think about Eli Manning's 7 year $107 million contract and it makes me smile and giggle. So its all good.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 16 Picks

Here's my line for week 16...

Pittsburgh, Dallas, New England, NY Jets, Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Miami, Indianapolis, Houston, San Diego, NY Giants, Tampa Bay, New Orleans

Biggest question mark games to watch in my mind is the Jets @ Chicago, Indy @ Oakland, and of course New Orleans @ Atlanta.

Jets (10-4) @ Chicago (10-4)
Should be a pretty good battle between two 10-4 teams looking to gain momentum towards the playoffs. I don't know about all of you, but I am just not sold on Chicago as a contender, let alone making it out of the NFC playoffs. Take a look at their schedule. If you were to give Chicago a marquee win, it would have to be the game they stole from the Eagles, a home game in which they escaped with a 5 point victory after playing their first (and I believe only) game this season which they didnt commit a turnover. Lance Briggs was quoted as saying the win over the Eagles was their "statement game". Yea, I would hope so because they have beat up on some very poor teams for the rest of their wins. And, if it werent for a late James Jones fumble on Monday Night Football, the Bears wouldnt even have another win over a team with a winning record, for THE WHOLE YEAR. Doesnt sound right does it? Well believe it. The Bears have wins over only 2 teams with winning records. And in addition to that, two of their four losses came from a 5-9 Washington team and a 6-8 Seattle team, where both games were played at Soldier Field. Super Bowl contender? I don't see it. For that reason alone, I'm taking the Jets in this game even though Chicago will be playing at home. You simply can't lose two games at home to terrible teams and still be considered a favorite.

Indy (8-6) @ Oakland (7-7)
I was so tempted to pick Oakland in this AFC matchup. I feel like the timing is right for Oakland to pull of an upset: home game, still alive in the division, coming off a big come from behind win last week. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they have this other little thing going against them. They're the Raiders. That fact alone convinces me that there is no way they pull an upset of Peyton Manning and Co. as they work the kinks out of their offense. The Colts are in an interesting spot this year. Much different feeling around that team considering they have cruised into the playoffs the last, what 10 years? Usually this is the time the media is hounding them for resting their starters and not going for an undefeated season. Will playing a full regular season come back to bite the Colts in the long-run? I'm not so sure. I am sure that it won't happen this week, because lets us not all forget, it is the Raiders.

New Orleans (10-4) @ Atlanta (12-2)
Hands down game of the week. It's a perfect storm.

  • division rivals
  • Monday Night Football prime time
  • defending super bowl champions on verge of losing their own division
  • the Saints are arguably playing the better football, but the line has moved from -1.5 for Atlanta to -3.5

I give the edge to the Saints, high scoring game, 34 - 20.

Going to be an awesome weekend in the NFL and haven't even mentioned the Eagles yet. Bring on the snow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best returner of all time?

I was reading an article on PFT (ProFootball Talk) commenting on Devin Hester's record breaking punt return and it got me thinking. That guy Desean Jackson isnt a bad punt returner himself. The numbers are a little skewed because Hester not only returned punts, but also some kicks as well. But, if you look at just punt returns through the first 3 years of their careers, the numbers show there isn't really that much of a drop-off between the two gunners.

Devin Hester career (3 seasons)
121 returns
1,449 yards
11.9 average/return
7 TD's

Desean Jackson career (3 seasons)
99 returns
1,112 yards
11.2 average/return
4 TD's

In those same 3 seasons, Jackson has 169 receptions for 3,100 yards and 17 TD's to Hester's 71 receptions for 964 yards and 6 TD's. Hard to use this as an argument point though as Hester came out of Miami primarily as a return man. He did play CB and sparingly on offense, but didnt record an official reception until his second year in the league. Regardless, Hester is still one of the most exciting players in the game and why Chicago would EVER stop letting him return kicks is beyond me. If you havent seen this Hester clip already, I suggest you watch it. No, that is not a video game.

Bringing it back

So, I'm going to skip the apology for not keeping up on the posting, cause I'm not sorry. I will say that I hope to do a much better job this time around. Please, for the few of you that might still be reading, feel free to leave comments/opinions/criticism it actually helps remind me to not be a jackass and keep at it. Obviously there has been a lot going on since I last checked in. Lets go about it like this...

Phillies -
Wow.  Is there really anything else you can say about the Phillies since their less than gracious exit from the playoffs courtesy of the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. I could, and may, do a post about the NLCS as a whole, but for now lets focus on the present. More specifically, Clifton Phifer Lee. Again, wow. Just wow. Who saw that coming? Unless your name is Jayson Stark, you didn't see it coming. Obviously, myself along with the Phillies fanbase is ecstatic for what on paper is easily the most dominant rotation in the history of baseball. And of course, the cherry on top was the fact Mr. Lee turned down a significant amount of money from the Yankees in order to return to Philadelphia. What, you might ask, was my favorite part of the Cliff Lee fallout? Well, besides the Phils having the best rotation in baseball, is the slew of NY media reports I read downplaying the fact they just got fu**ing roasted. (Clearly an Idiot, Clearly delusional). To rub it in, Yankees just got hit with $18 mill in luxury tax. Haaahaaa.

Eagles -
There's only a few things to really say about the birds right now, and I can probably sum it up quickly for you. One, Mike Vick. Two, Desean Jackson. Concerns? Sure, there are concerns. Their defense has been less then average on many occasions. But, they have something that no other team in the NFL has. Mike Vick. He's going to find a way to win, bottom line. I really dont think there is anything else that needs to be addressed at this point. Well maybe I could throw in a little eat sh*t Giants.

Flyers -
Through 35 games this season the flyboys are 22-8-5, good for the best record in the NHL. Not too shabby I'd say, especially given they are only 1-3 in shootouts. I havent been able to catch as many games recently as I did in the beginning of the season, but if you watch one game you'll understand how impressive this team is. They are stacked at the forward position led by Claude Giroux who has really exploded into a b0nafide star. One of the most telling statistics in my mind is the fact the Flyers have only two players in the top 25 in Points in the entire NHL (Giroux 31, Richards 32). That means they arent relying on one player, a la Sidney Crosby, to win them games. Couple that with the emergency of Sergei Bobrovsky the 22 year old rookie from Russia who's tied for the 4th most wins in the NHL (15). It's clear that the Flyers are young, talented, and destined to make some noise this year.

Sixers -
Are they better then last year? Yes. Good enough to be worth mentioning? No. When the Sixers become relevant again, Ill be sure to let you know.