PHI: 8-4, 1st in NFC East
DAL: 4-8, 4th in NFC East
Spread: Eagles by 3.5
Where: Jerry Jones Big Pile of Money (Arlington, TX)
When: Sunday, 8:20 on NBC.
Last Week: The Eagles beat Houston on Thursday, 34-24. Dallas upset the struggling Colts in overtime, 38-35.
Three key matchups
Miles Austin vs. Asante Samuel – With Dez Bryant out for the rest of the season after breaking his ankle, Jon Kitna will have to rely on his number one, Miles Austin. That’s where Asante Samuel comes in. Samuel has missed the last two games with an injured knee but is expected to return against Dallas. He’s the Eagles best coverage player in the secondary and will provide a huge boost in keeping Dallas’ leading receiver in check. Austin has made 56 catches for 804 yards and five touchdowns. Samuel has a league-high seven interceptions.
DeMarcus Ware vs. Michael Vick – This match-up is simple. Ware leads Dallas
with 9.5 sacks and is the most dangerous pass-rusher in the NFL and Vick is the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL. Ware has 6.5 sacks in nine career games against the Eagles and has only half a sack against Vick in one game. Whether or not Ware can contain Vick will be the key to this game. Vick has rushed for 467 yards and six touchdowns but has also thrown for 15 touchdowns, making him a duel-threat and in the talks for MVP.
Keith Brooking and Bradie James vs. LeSean McCoy – Running the ball is going to be key for the Eagles. But that task will be the most difficult when LeSean McCoy has to do it against the strong inside line backers Keith Brooking and Bradie James. The two have combined for 177 tackles and two forced fumbles on the season. McCoy is on pace for his first career 1,000 rushing season. He’s run for 823 yards on 168 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, with seven touchdowns. His ability to get involved in the passing game could also help Vick by spreading out James and Brooking along with Ware. He leads the Eagles with 67 catches and has added two scores as well.
IT’S STILL DALLAS — Despite the Cowboys’ extremely disappointing season – many experts picked them in the Super Bowl – it’s still Dallas. The Cowboys and Eagles have one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports. Dallas has won the last three meetings with the Eagles (all last season) and are 3-1 under Jason Garrett. But Philadelphia is the much better team with a more dynamic offense than Dallas.
The big question is going to be whether or not the Eagles defense can stop Dallas’ pass attack. The one-sided Cowboys are without their best receiver on the year, Dez Bryant. But with Miles Austin and Jason Witten still healthy and very dangerous options, they could give the Eagles defense some problems. Philadelphia has surrendered at least 24 points in eight of their 12 games this season.
But with the big numbers Dallas can put up against Philadelphia’s defense, the Eagles have dangerous weapons of their own. Jeremy Maclin is enjoying a great season for the Eagles, catching 56 balls for a team-high 820 yards and eight touchdowns. DeSean Jackson only has caught 38 balls but his 762 yards, 20.1 yards per catch, and five touchdowns are enough to make him a very dangerous option for Vick.
The ground game could also be a huge factor. Where Philadelphia is gaining yards in bunches thanks to the seasons McCoy and Vick are sharing, Dallas is struggling greatly in that aspect. Felix Jones and Marion Barber have combined for only 844 yards on 235 carries for three touchdowns. With the Eagles stingy run defense allowing only one 100-yard rusher all season, don’t expect Jones or Barber to be much of factor in this game on the ground.
Roose’s prediction (7-5): Dallas is tough but the Eagles are tougher. Kitna will get hit hard more than once and Vick will be able to work his magic against Dallas. Defense still has some problems but Eagles still win, 33-17.
It has come to no surprise that the Flyers rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November.
Bobrovsky posted a 7-1-2 record with a 2.03 average and .931 save percentage. He’s been one of the primary reasons the Flyers have the second most points in the Eastern Conference and are on top of the Atlantic Division with Pittsburgh.
Those numbers and Bobrovsky’s play can partly be credited to Flyers goaltending coach Jeff Reese, who turned the 22-year-old into the confident #1 goalie of the Flyers.
“And if I’m not smiling he’ll go, ‘Jeff, what’s the matter? You OK? Happy, happy?'” Reese said with a grin. “Because it seems like he’s always happy. He’s having the time of his life and he’s an absolute pleasure to work with. He loves to be at the rink and loves to work and that’s exciting for me.”
In the first three or four games this season, it was evident Bobrovsky was still finding himself. But the Flyers kept giving him more starts – six in a row, seven in a row, and so on. Why? Because he got confident. He attacked the puck. He challenged shooters but didn’t go too far. He’s playing like he’s been in the NHL for five seasons.
By playing like this, Bobrovsky is helping his chances of retaining the #1 slot despite the return of the 2010 playoff hero Michael Leighton nearing.
Final Score: Eagles 26, Bears 31
Eagles best play: Michael Vick threw a strike through four defenders who were quadruple covering Brent Celek for a touchdown, bringing the score to 31-26 with under two minutes left.
Eagles worst play: Every time it appeared the Eagles had Chicago stopped, their receivers would exploit the middle and the secondaries poor tackling for a first down.
M. Forte – 14 carries, 117 yards. 2 catches, 22 yards.
J. Avant – 8 catches, 83 yards.
E. Bennett – 4 catches, 56 yards, 2 TDs.
Breaking down the game
POOR TACKLING/POOR DEFENSE — It was the worst defensive effort the Eagles defense has had all season. With the absence of DE Juqua Parker and CB Asante Samuel, the defense couldn’t tackle or stop the run.
Matt Forte has struggled much of the season, rushing over 100 yards only one other game. He racked up 117 yards on only 14 carries in Sundays win. Chicago exploited the right side where Parker, who is a great run-stopper, would be. And when Forte would bounce the ball outside, he had to force Dimitri Patterson and Joselio Hanson to make the open-field tackle which they couldn’t do.
The Eagles got to Bears QB Jay Cutler four times in the game, all in the first half. The defense looked like it was going to stop leaking and shut down Chicago until the Bears opened up the second half with a quick touchdown drive to make it, 28-13.
They also failed to pick-off Cutler. Cutler has been picked off 10 times this season and the Bears offensive line is not that good. With the linebackers poor coverage and the corners poor tackling, it opened up the slants and curls for 10-yard, first-down plays. Cutler didn’t have a fantastic game but he found all the holes at all the right times.
JACKSON A NO-SHOW — A year removed from a fabulous Pro-Bowl season where DeSean Jackson racked up over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, he’s been quiet and inconsistent all year.
Jackson caught only two balls for 26 yards on Sunday. It’s now been six games where Jackson failed to record more than 50 yards receiving. He has only 35 catches on the season with 678 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games.
Andy Reid apparently laid into Jackson in the post game locker room about his lack of effort in the loss. But other Eagles like Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy feel that it will blow over and that Jackson will be fine for Thursday’s game.
OVERRATED? — The defense has allowed at least 24 points in seven of their 12 games this season. The offense is hot and cold. If Vick isn’t lighting up weak secondaries, he gets shut down by stronger defenses and can’t get the high-powered offense moving. The offensive line is hurt and terrible.
These are all the doubts the Eagles have despite being 7-4 and still in first place of the NFC East, tied with the Giants. But what happens when they give up 31 points to a team with one of the worst offenses in the league? What happens with they have to play four days after that loss and could knock themselves out of first in the division?
If the Eagles hot streak cools down the team starts to fall apart, getting into the playoffs will become harder in an NFC filled with seven teams with a 7-6 record or better.
PHI: 7-4, 1st in NFC East
HOU: 5-6, 3rd in AFC South
Spread: Eagles by 8.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philly, PA)
When: Thursday, 8:30 on NFL Network.
Last Week: The Eagles lost to Chicago, 31-26. The Texans shut out Tennessee, 20-0.
Three games in 17 days. That’s what the Eagles were faced with in the last weeks of November and first in December. After a thrilling win over division rival Giants and a frustrating loss to the Bears, the Eagles have to host Houston four days removed from their 31-26 loss.
The Texans present an interesting match up for the Eagles. Boasting the best wide receiver in the NFL in Andre Johnson and with RB Arian Foster as the top fantasy running back this season, the Texans offense could put up numbers.
The big question will be if the Eagles can get a healthy Juqua Parker and Asante Samuel back. The run defense has allowed only two 100-yard rushers all season and Samuel’s seven picks leads a team who is tops in the NFL in interceptions.
The Samuel v. Johnson match up will draw some interest. Johnson has five inches on Samuel and also has a healthy knee. This year, Johnson has 65 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns.
Foster is the other weapon Houston has that could pose a threat to Philadelphia. The Eagles have allowed a 100-yard rusher only twice all season and Foster has rushed over 100 yards in seven games. He’s rushed for 1,147 yards on the season (5.1 per carry) with 12 touchdowns. He also has 48 catches for 453 yards and a touchdown.
Matt Schaub is a really good quarterback as well. On the season, he’s thrown 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has a passer rating of 92. 6.
Roose prediction (6-5): The Texans are not a good defensive squad, something that could hurt them. If Sameul is healthy, he will keep Johnson in check despite giving up some yards and a possible score. Eagles win this one, 31-24, but still have a lot of questions to answer.
It wasn’t the way many thought this season would go.
The Penn State Nittany Lions fell in their regular season finale 28-22 at the hands of Michigan State. The Spartans got off to a fast start and took the lead very early and did not look back.
Spartans running back Edwin Baker rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown in the win. Quarterback Kirk Cousins added two touchdown passes to propel Michigan State.
The Spartans took control of the game from the very beginning. They built up a 14-3 lead heading into halftime.
Penn State was able to move the ball in the first half but weren’t able to turn it into points. McGloin was solid in the first half but he just couldn’t move the Nittany Lions into field goal range.
The Spartans added an early third quarter touchdown courtesy of a 24-yard pass from Cousins to wide receiver B.J. Cunningham. It was Cunningham’s second touchdown on the afternoon.
Michigan State took a 21-3 lead and it didn’t look good for Penn State.
But Matt McGloin made a game of it. He started off the fourth quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to fullback Joe Suhey.
However the Spartans answered with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Keith Nichol to Charlie Gantt to extend the lead to 28-10.
The Nittany Lions did strike back rather quickly with a 10-yard touchdown run by Evan Royster. Royster had 85 yards rushing on the day.
The defense was able to get some late stops and got the ball back once again. The Nittany Lions did add another late touchdown courtesy of a McGloin 4-yard touchdown pass to Derek Moye to make it 28-22.
But that was as close as the Nittany Lions would get.
Penalties and bad defense were backbreakers for Penn State in the loss. If they would’ve played a more disclipined game, they may have had a strong chance to upend the Spartans.
The Nittany Lions will now look forward to a bowl game this holiday season. It should be interesting to see what type of matchup this unranked Penn State team draws.
It wasn’t the way the seniors wanted to go out at Beaver Stadium but that is the type of year that it has been.
They’ll have a chance to go out with a win in a few weeks in a bowl game.
On November 23, the wrecking ball was set in place to begin the demolition of the Philadelphia Spectrum, which stood from 1967-2010. After a 40-minute ceremony, the wrecking ball was taken to the side of the Spectrum, putting a huge hole in the wall facing the Wachovia Center, taking out some windows, and part of the roof of the ticket pavilion.
LBS writers Chris Bengel and Dan MacNeal were there along with myself for the festivities. Here are some pictures from the event…
Final Score: Eagles 27, Giants 17
Eagles best play: Michael Vick bobble the snap on 4th-and-1 but recovered, pitching it left to LeSean McCoy who took it 50 yards to the house with over 4:30 left in the game to give the Eagles a 24-17 lead.
Eagles worst play: In one of the Eagles’ three red zone possessions that ended in a field goal, Jason Avant dropped a pass all alone in the back of the endzone.
J. Maclin (PHI) – 9 catches, 120 yards.
L. McCoy (PHI) – 14 carries, 111 yards, TD. 5 catches, 29 yards.
A. Samuel (PHI) – 2 INT, fumble recovered, 2 tackles.
Breaking down the game
THE GAME CHANGER —With under five minutes left in the game and the Eagles’ chances running out, they found themselves in a do-or-die situation. On fourth-and-one, the Eagles chose to run the ball. Instead of trying to muscle it through the Giants stout offensive line, which held LeSean McCoy to 13 yards on the game, the Eagles opted for a toss.
Vick bobbled the snap but got control of it in time to pitch it left to McCoy, who busted through the Giants secondary for a 50-yard touchdown. Vick found Avant for the two-point conversion to make it a 24-17 game with just over four minutes remaining.
McCoy added a 40-yard run on the next possession to get himself over 100 yards on the game in the win.
DEFENSIVE STAND — We all know how goofy Eli Manning looks. The Eagles made him look even more foolish in the game, forcing him to throw three interceptions. Manning also didn’t help his cause when he dove forward and fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter, halting the Giants drive when they trailed 24-17.
The Eagles were all over Manning, forcing bad throws and poor decisions. Manning managed to complete only 20-of-33 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The longest pass he completed was to Brandon Jacobs, who picked up most of the 22 yards after the catch.
The ground game for New York, which was one of the best in the league, was absolutely stuffed. The Giants managed only 61 yards on the ground with over half the yards coming on Ahmad Bradhaw’s 17-yard run and Manning’s 16-yard run that ended in a costly fumble.
FINE GAME FOR SAMUEL — Other than being fined $40,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Giants WR Derek Hagan, Samuel had himself a tremendous effort. He picked off Manning twice and recovered two fumbles, the first forced by Brandon Graham and the second off of Manning in the win. Samuel also had two tackles which could be a career high the way he wraps up ball carriers.
HOBBS ON IR — Ellis Hobbs was injured on a scary play in the third. Taking the opening kick-off of the second half, Hobbs was hit head-to-head by Giants DL Dave Tollefson, injuring his neck. No foul or fine was issued to Tollefson because Hobbs isn’t considered a “vulnerable” player and that helmet hits are allowed on ball carriers with established possession (*cough*bullshit*cough*).
The hit left Hobbs lying on the field for over 11 minutes before being taken off on a stretcher.
Hobbs was placed on the injured reserve today. Hobbs missed the last nine games of the 2009 season with a neck injury.
PHI: 7-3, 1st in NFC East
CHI: 7-3, t1st in NFC North
Spread: Eagles by 3.5
Where: Soldier Field (Chicago, IL).
When: Sunday, 4:15 on FOX.
Last Week: The Eagles beat the Giants, 27-17. The Bears shut out the Dolpins, 16-0.
BATTLE FOR BEST IN NFC — People will get a good look at what the Eagles high-powered offense can do against one of the best defenses in the NFC. They saw last week they could over come a tough Giants defense but a repeat performance would solidify them as the top contender in the conference.
Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin are all enjoying years to remember. Vick is a top MVP candidate with his performance this season, throwing for 1,608 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions this season. He had the highest pass rating (108.7) in the NFL. He’s also run for 375 yards and five touchdowns.
On the Bears offense, Jay Cutler has completed over 61% of his passes for 2,064 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He could struggle against the Eagles secondary which features ball hawks Asante Samuel, who leads the NFL with seven picks, and rookie Nate Allen, who has three. As a team, they’ve picked off a league-high 19 passes.
The Bears are relying on their defense, which has allowed an average of 290 yards a game this season, third in the NFL. They’ve also allowed an NFL-low 14.6 points per game. D.J. Moore leads the team with four interceptions and ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije have a combined 11 sacks.
Chicago will be well-rested for this game, having 10-days off before kickoff. Their 16-0 win over Miami on Thursday helped keep them in pace for first place in the NFC North.
This game is going to come down to whether or not the Bears weak offense can score on the Eagles strong defense. If their defense holds up their end of the bargain, it could be a very low-scoring game. If not, expect the Eagles to win in a blowout.
Roose’s prediction (6-4): The Bears defense will hold the Eagles offense enough to win but they won’t score. Eagles win, 19-10.
It just comes down to finishing games.
The Sixers were leading the Toronto Raptors late in the second half and were looking their third victory in the the face. But once again turnovers and bad defense doomed the squad as they fell 94-86.
Forward Elton Brand recorded 27 points and 8 rebounds in the loss. Jrue Holiday added 17 points and 7 assists for the Sixers.
But the Sixers just couldn’t contain Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani had 30 points and 7 rebounds in the win.
Sonny Weems chipped in 25 points for Toronto.
It has been the story of the Sixers’ season thus far. They’re in every game late but always seem to find a way to lose.
It still looks like they have a long way to go and this season could be a long one. The play of Evan Turner and the future of Andre Iguodala with the team will be something to keep an eye on.
Final Score: Eagles 59; Redskins 28
Eagles best play: Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson hook up on the opening play with an 88-yard touchdown pass.
Eagles worst play: The secondary left Washington TE Fred Davis wide open as he rumbled down the left sideline for 71 yards to set up the Redskins first score in the second quarter.
M. Vick (PHI) – 20/28, 333 yards, 4 TDs. 8 carries, 80 yards, 2 TDs.
J. Harrison (PHI) – 11 carries, 109 yards, TD. 1 catch, 15 yards.
D. Patterson (PHI) – 2 interceptions, 5 tackles, 40-yard TD off interception.
Breaking down the game
VICK SIX — Michael Vick was in a whole different world on Monday. Vick threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a grand total of six.
On the first play of the game, Vick and Jackson hooked up for an 88-yard score. The next score for the Eagles, Vick took it himself for a 7-yard touchdown run.
After the Eagles led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter, Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for a 48-yard touchdown to start the second quarter, giving the Eagles a 35-0 advantage only 15+ minutes into the game.
MISERABLE MCNABB — On the day of his 5-year, $78 million extension, McNabb played like he wanted to hand the check right back to Dan Snyder. McNabb was picked-off three times and his two touchdowns came in the second quarter when trailing, 35-0, at the time.
In the third quarter, McNabb was picked-off my Dimitri Patterson and returned 40 yards to the house, giving the Eagles a 59-21 lead.
HISTORIC FIRST — It was the first time in NFL history a road team scored 28 points in the first quarter.
It all started on the first play with the 88-yard Vick-to-Jackson connection. After forcing a Washington 3-and-out, the Eagles drove down field, capped off by a 7-yard score by Vick.
After forcing the Skins to punt again, Vick capped off a 63-yard drive with a 15-yard shovel pass to LeSean McCoy. After the Skins offense pulled another 3-and-out, Jerome Harrison pulled-off a remarkable 50-yard run to give the Eagles the 28-0 lead.
HARRISON > BELL — In a trade for back-ups, the Eagles were finally rewarded with their movement of Mike Bell for Jerome Harrison. Harrison rushed for 109 yards on only 11 carries and scored on a dazzling 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Harrison bursted up the middle through a whole you could drive Jon Runyan’s truck through, shook-off some sad tackling attempts by Asante Samuel’s clones, burst up the right sideline, and dove to the endzone for the score.
PHI: 6-3, t1st in NFC East
NYG: 6-3, t1st in NFC East
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philly, PA).
When: Sunday, 8:20 on CBS.
Last time met:
Last Week: The Eagles destroyed Washington, 59-28. The Giants got routed by Dallas, 33-20.
BATTLE FOR FIRST — In the last two weeks, the Eagles looked like a team on a mission. After battling it out with the Colts to a 26-24 win, the offense erupted for 59 points in a route over Washington.
New York has had a different last two weeks. They demolished the Seahawks, gaining national recognition as the most dominant team in the NFC. That was until they got handled by the lowly Cowboys, 33-20, on Sunday.
The interesting part of this match-up will be whether or not the Giants loss to Dallas was a fluke. The same goes with the offensive outburst by the Eagles.
Michael Vick is hungry to make something out of this season as he will be looking at a lucrative contract this off season. On the year, Vick completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs with no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 341 yards on 44 carries and four scores. His passer rating is a stellar 115.1.
This match up will feature two of the best teams in the NFC. The Eagles have scored the most points in the NFC and the Giants are fourth. Both teams are also 4-1 in their last five games.
Eli Manning is also enjoying a very strong year. He’s completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,448 yards and 19 touchdowns. But Manning has not done a good job of protecting the football, being picked off 13 times.
The Eagles are third in the NFL, averaging 151.1 yards a game while New York is fifth at 146.9.
But the main story this game will be defense. The Giants are the number one defensive team in the NFL right now, despite last week’s poor performance. But going up against an offense has dynamic as Philadelphia’s, this could pose a threat.
The game will feature the best offense in the NFC against the best defense. It’s a battle for first and advantage in the conference.
Roose’s Prediction (5-4): The Eagles prevail in this one, 28-21.
It was a tale of two halves for the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The first half featured strong quarterback play from Matt McGloin and good defense.
McGloin tossed touchdown passes to Justin Brown and Derek Moye in the first half. The Nittany Lions had a surprising 14-3 lead at halftime.
But this is why there are four quarters in a football game.
The second half was an absolute disaster. It was the worst football that the Nittany Lions have played all season.
Ohio State compiled a successful 98-yard touchdown drive which ended in a 5-yard touchdown run by Daniel Herron. The touchdown cut the lead to 14-10.
It seemed as though momentum was changing in the Buckeyes’ favor.
It certainly changed as McGloin was intercepted by Devon Torrence and Torrence took it back 33 yards for the touchdown.
Facing a 2nd-and-13 early in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes looking like maybe they would have to punt.
But Terrelle Pryor threw a 58-yard bomb that was tipped away by a Penn State defender. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Dane Sanzenbacher was waiting for the ball and hauled in a back-breaking touchdown.
The Buckeyes added another interception return for a touchdown by Travis Howard and a touchdown catch by Jake Stoneburner.
Ohio State prevailed behind a tremendous second half and went on to win 38-14.
It was a game that was very close at halftime. But McGloin struggled mightly in the second half, tossing two pick sixes that really put the game out of reach.
It was a dreadful performance on all aspects.
They couldn’t stop Herron in the second half and he ended up rushing for 190 yards. It was the worst Penn State has looked on defense all year.
The Nittany Lions will try to rebound as they face Indiana on Saturday at FedEx Field in Washington DC. Hopefully they have the same success as the Philadelphia Eagles.