It’s Dallas Week

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

Dallas' Demarcus Ware chases down Lions QB Shaun Hill a couple weeks ago. Ware's 9.5 sacks leads the Cowboys. He poses a serious threat against the Eagles QB Michael Vick. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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.

Eagles WR Jeremy Maclins tries to run against Houston in last Thursday's win over the Texans. Maclin's eight TD's has made him a top target for Vick.

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.

Bobrovsky named November’s top rookie

 

Bobrovsky went 7-2-1, 2.03 GAA, .931 SV% during the month of November. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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.

Bad News Bears; Texans on Thursday

Eagles linebacker Stew Bradley chases Bears receiver Earl Bennett in Sunday's loss. Bennett caught two touchdowns in the game. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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.

Three stars
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.

Bears RB Matt Forte runs for a 61 yards. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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.

Texans WR Andre Johson is among the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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.

 

The end of the Spectrum begins

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…

View the pictures here.

Birds in first; head to Chicago for big NFC matchup

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy waltzes into the end zone after his 50-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-1 in the last four minutes of play gave the Eagles the lead for good. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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.

Three stars
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.

The Giants saw their chance at tying the game halted when Eli Manning fumbled the ball away. Asante Samuel recovered it for his second of the game. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

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.

 

Bears RB Matt Forte runs through two Dolpins last Thursday in their 16-0 win. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

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.

Birds Scalp Skins; Face Giants For First

Running back Jerome Harrison knifes his way through the Redskins en route to a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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.

Three stars
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
Spread:
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.

Giants QB Eli Manning, like the rest of the Giants, looked befuddled all game, getting handled by the lowly Coyboys, 33-20. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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.

Colts win prepares Birds for NFC rematch

The Eagles got their swagger back with the return of Jackson, who's 109 yards and touchdown sparked a huge win over Indy. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Final Score: Eagles 26; Colts 24
Eagles best number: 12-0 – Andy Reid’s record after the bye week.
Eagles worst number: 125 – penalty yards.

Three stars
D. Jackson (PHI) – 7 catches, 109 yards, TD.
A. Samuel (PHI) – 2 Interceptions.
J. Tamme (IND) – 11 catches, 108 yards, TD.

Breaking down the game

THEY’RE BACK! — DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick made it known that they have returned to full form on last Sunday’s win. Jackson was as dynamic as usual, racking up 109 yards over seven catches and a touchdown. In Vick’s return, he went 17/29 for 218 yards and a touchdown.

The likes of Kevin Kolb and Brent Celek did not rejoice. Kolb sat the side lines as the back-up quarterback, a familiar and frustrating role he’s been a part of for the past few seasons. Celek didn’t record a catch in the game and was targeted very little as Vick favors his dynamic receivers over his tight end.

RATTLING MANNING — In order to beat Peyton Manning, you have to rattle him. Manning had a very poor game, especially compared to the MVP-like stats he’s produced in the first half of the season.

Manning was sacked three times and picked off twice by Asante Samuel. He was rushed in his passes multiple times and many of the first downs Indy picked up were due to penalties. Manning was forced to throw 51 times and only got one touchdown out of it.

___

Eagles vs. Redskins: MNF

PHI: 5-3, 2nd in NFC East
WAS: 4-4, 3rd in NFC East
Spread: Eagles by 3.
Where: Fed Ex Field (Landover, MD).
When: Monday, 8:30 on ESPN.
Last time met: Week 4 – Washington’s defense was too good for the Eagles, knocking Vick out of the game and for the next few weeks and keeping Kolb in check. Washington’s run game led them to a 17-12 win.
Last Week: The Eagles beat Indy, 26-24. Washington was on a bye.

Watching from the sidelines, McNabb was benched in favor of Grossman two weeks ago. He will get his second chance this Monday vs the Eagles. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

SECOND CHANCES — McNabb is going to be the player to watch in this one again. For starters, head coach Mike Shanahan made a big deal about McNabb’s start last time around, giving him the game ball for virtually not giving the game away.

McNabb was benched two weeks ago for the two-minute drill in favor of Rex Grossman. On Grossman’s first play to lead his team to glory, he was sacked and fumbled. Shanahan explained that McNabb was not in shape nor had good numbers in the clutch situation, a slap to the face of the former Eagle.

McNabb isn’t having a lucrative season either in Washington. He’s completed 57% of his passes for 1,971 yards and only seven touchdowns while being picked-off eight times. Another poor outing against the Birds and McNabb’s season could be in jeopardy to a permanent benching to Grossman.

Roose’s prediction (4-4): Vick gets his vengeance on the Skins in a conference blow-out, 31-13.

NFL Week 9: Eagles vs. Colts

PHI: 4-3, 2nd in NFC East
IND: 5-2, 1st in AFC South
Spread: Eagles by 3
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philly, PA)
When: Sunday, 4:15 PM on CBS
Last time met: Nov. 26, 2006 – Joseph Addai gained over 200 yards from scrimage as the Colts rolled over the Eagles 45-21. Jeff Garcia was under center for the Eagles a week after Donovan Mcnabb went down with a torn ACL.
Last Week: The Eagles were on a bye. The Colts steam rolled the Texans, 30-17.

Best case scenario: Peyton Manning does not dismantle the secondary completely and they Birds offense stays on the Colts’ heals to maybe steal a game with a winning field goal.

Worst case scenario: Manning absolutely rips apart the Birds very weak secondary, throwing for four touch downs and not needing to run the ball too often. Michael Vick can’t do a single thing against the Colts defense, surrendering the ball back to Kevin Kolb.

Colts QB Peyton Manning looks to pass against Houston last Monday. Manning has arguably been the first half MVP in the NFL and is on the verge of another MVP season. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Opposing player to watch – QB Peyton Manning: People should watch him because he will do work. Like watching Roy Halladay pitch or Kobe Bryant run the floor, watching Peyton Manning run an offense is a thing of beauty. Manning has a passer rating of 101.4 with 2,184 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s only thrown two picks all season.

 

Offenses: The Eagles look to be rolling with Vick as he’s fully healthy. Speaking of returns, DeSean Jackson cleared his concussion tests and will be back Sunday as well. Jeremy Maclin is due for another good game and with Jackson returning, he could give both himself and Jackson some time to get around and make plays. LeSean McCoy is a good running threat every week.

Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL and he’s currently playing like it. Reggie Wayne leads the team with 641 yards and has three touchdowns but Austin Collie has been Manning’s favorite end zone target with six scores. With no Addai, former Michigan stat and Heisman candidate Mike Hart is running the ball. Indy’s run game is weak and with the way the Birds run defense has been playing, running won’t be an option.

Advantage: Colts have Peyton Manning. That’s a given advantage.

Defenses: The Eagles certainly have the advantage with a strong run-stopping game but the Colts are so loaded in the passing game, that’s a non-factor. The Eagles secondary has been shredded the past few weeks and could have a big problem against Indy.

Indy’s defense is nothing special and the Eagles could take advantage of that. Though they are a pass-heavy offense, the balance the Birds have could keep Indy on their heals. This game is lined up for a shoot out because both offenses can exploit the glaring weaknesses.

Advantage: Eagles.

Injury Report
Eagles
: Q: E. Hobbs (hip). P: M. Vick (ribs), D. Jackson (concussion), B. Bunkley (elbow), B. Graham (ankle).
Colts: Q: J. Addai (neck), A. Collie (hand), A. Gonzalez (knee), M. Hart (ankle), B. Sanders (biceps), R. Mathis (knee), D. Freeny.

Roose’s Prediction (4-3): The Colts have the better offense and will win in a shootout, 35-31.

Sixers Drop Home Opener

Rookie Evan Turner goes up for a shot against James Jones and Chris Bosh in the Sixers 97-87 opening night loss to Miami. Turner scored 16 points in the loss. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

As expected, the Philadelphia 76ers got handled by the new power house, Miami Heat, 97-87, on Wednesday night.

The Sixers did have a strong finish and saw some good things from rookie Evan Turner, who logged 31 minutes and led the Sixers with 16 points and had seven rebounds and four assists.

Thaddeus Young also had a great game for the Sixers, scoring 15 points in 26 minutes.

The Sixers trailed Miami by eight points at the half and couldn’t overcome a strong game by DeWayne Wade, who led all scorers with 30 points. James Jones added 20 off the bench and LeBron James scored 16.

The Heat went on a 25-8 run to blow up the eight-point game late in the third to make it a 76-51 game.

The Sixers will stay at home and play Atlanta on Friday as they look for the season’s first win.

A Look Into the Bye

Thank God it’s here. After Sunday’s heartless drubbing to the Tennessee Titans, 37-19, the Eagles head into this week’s bye with some questions to be answered.

For starters, Kevin Kolb’s performance did not convince me just yet that he should cough up the starting position despite Michael Vick expected to be near 100% by the following Sunday home against Indianapolis. And with DeSean Jackson expected to be back, the Eagles offense could go toe-to-toe with the Colts.

The Eagles have a big question to answer this bye week: Kolb (shown) or Vick? (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

VICK OR KOLB? — I think the answer should be very easy, at least for me. At the starter of the season, Kolb was named the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. He lost his job to Vick when he suffered a concussion against the Packers in their week one 27-20 loss.

Vick started the next string of games before a rib injury forced him out of the starters role in week four against the Redskins. Kolb resumed his role as starter and performed very well before a miserable performance against the Titans.

But as I stated, Kolb was named the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season. He should continue that role heading into week nine against Indy.

For starters, he did nothing to merit losing the job in last week’s loss. Granted he didn’t play well but neither does a lot of starting quarterbacks in a team losing effort like the one Philly had.

Kolb has actually done very well so far this season, completing 97-of-153 (63.4%) of his passes for 1,035 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. Two of his picks came last week on errant throws, signs of a lack of focus in a game that was out of reach.

Other than the picks, Kolb has been very accurate downfield, hitting Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek for some long passes in the past few weeks. Kolb can and will get better as the season goes on.

A healthy DeSean Jackson is the type of boost Philly need as they head into the tough part of their schedule, starting with Indy. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

 

RETURN OF JACKSON — Another piece that will make Kolb much stronger in the Eagles return week nine is Jackson’s recovery from a sever concussion he sustained in week six against Atlanta.

Jackson said the hit “felt like a car accident,” and was knocked out of the game. He said he feels a lot better this week and is eyeing a week nine return.

The return of Jackson will give Kolb, or if the Eagles opt with Vick, their biggest play-maker back. Jackson has 19 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns. He also has one rushing touchdown.

Jackson’s return will also knock Jorrick Calvin from the punt returner’s role. Calvin made a key fumble in the Eagles loss to Tennessee last Sunday. Granted Andy Reid won’t want Jackson to be taking any unnecessary hits, Calvin may still get to hold onto the returners spot another week.