Sunday, November 30, 2008

Flyers remain consistently inconsistent

With the Phillies World Series win and all the drama surrounding the Eagles, I haven't had much time to write about the Flyers. After a slow start to the season, the Flyers have rebounded and find themselves in third place in the division. Considering how awful they looked at the beginning of the year and the number of injuries they have overcome, third place sounds pretty good.

With winning streaks of 4 and 6 games and losing streaks of 6 and 3 games, the Flyers have been riding a roller coaster all season long. Two major issues seem to rise up for this team when they lose: defense and goaltending. After injuries to Randy Jones and Ryan Parent at the start of the season, their inexperience on the blueline was exposed on a nightly basis. Acquisitions of Andrew Alberts and Matt Carle have shored things up significantly but the Flyers are still prone to giving up bad turnovers.

Bad turnovers aren't necessarily costly when you have a goalie standing on his head, unfortunately the Flyers rarely get that kind of performance from Martin Biron. Even in last nights game against Toronto, Biron made a pair of costly errors that led directly to goals against. His save percentage currently sits at .900 which ranks 31st in the league. That number is unacceptable considering how often the Flyers get outshot. With the amount of shots Biron faces on a nightly basis, he needs to be stopping more.

With the defense and goaltending sub-par, the offense is leading the way for the Flyers. The resurgence of Simon Gagne, who is third in the league in points, and the continued emergence of Jeff Carter, who is second in the league in goals, have given the Flyers a dangerous attack that ranks near the top of the league. The play of those two have allowed the offense to keep flowing even with top playmaker Danny Briere out for an extended period of time.

If the season were to end today, the Flyers would be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. Considering how maddening their play has been at times, it's hard to complain with that seeding. The Flyers aren't likely to make a bunch of moves this season to try to find consistency, so it's up to the guys on the roster to find their groove and stay there. Hopefully it's the same groove they found in last years playoffs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Too little, too late? McNabb, Eagles feast on Cardinals

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
What a difference a week makes, huh? Four days ago, the entire city of Philadelphia was ready to ship Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid out of town after another terrible game filled with poor execution and bad decisions. Now, after crushing the Cardinals on Thanksgiving Day, the Eagles have injected a little bit of hope into an otherwise lost season.

The Eagles were the perfect dessert to our Thanksgiving meals as they romped the Cardinals 48-20. McNabb set the tone early with a strong first drive that led to a touchdown and then the defense stepped up and picked off Kurt Warner twice in the first quarter as the Eagles jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.

While much will be made of the resurgance of Donovan McNabb in this game, Brian Westbrook also had one of his best games of the season, rushing for 110 yards and tying a team record with 4 touchdowns. We saw the Westbrook of old tonight as he showed very little effect from the injuries that have been slowing him down all season long.

The defense also deserves credit for slowing down the Cardinals passing attack. The Eagles blitzed early and often and threw off Warner's timing with his receivers. By getting ahead early, the Eagles also turned the Cardinals into a one-dimensional team as they abandoned the run, and a Jim Johnson defense can always tee off on a team when they drop back to pass play after play.

Count me amongst those that didn't believe the Eagles would turn it around. I picked the Cardinals to win this week and even benched Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook in one of my fantasy leagues. Boy, do I feel stupid now. McNabb may have saved his career in Philadelphia, but one has to wonder if he stepped up amongst all the adversity or if he played well because all the pressure was off the team. When the pressure is on McNabb, we have all seen how he crumbles. With the Eagles likely out of the playoff hunt, the pressure is completely gone.

What a great way to cap off Thanksgiving. After stuffing ourselves with food we got to relax and digest and watch our football team crush a pretty good Cardinals team. Let's see if this momentum can carry them to a possible run that puts them back into the playoff picture.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Eagles/Cardinals inactives: Westbrook to start, Samuel, Buckhalter out

The Eagles and Cardinals announced their inactive players for tonight's Thanksgiving clash:

Eagles: G Shawn Andrews, RB Correll Buckhalter, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, G Mike McGlynn, CB Asante Samuel, TE Matt Schobel, DE Bryan Smith

Cardinals: DT Alan Branch, WR Early Doucet, LB Clark Haggans, CB Roderick Hood, T Brandon Keith, QB Brian St. Pierre, TE Jerame Tuman

Brian Westbrook is active and playing but Lorenzo Booker will back him up as Buckhalter is out. Asante Samuel is also out which will be a problem against the potent Cardinals aerial attack. Kyle Eckel gets his first playing time with the Eagles today, although it's unknown whether he will be playing fullback or just playing special teams.

The Cardinals will be without Rod Hood which will hurt their already weak secondary.

Hope everyone enjoys tonight's Thanksgiving game, it has to be better than what we've seen so far today. I think we are all interested in seeing how Donovan McNabb bounces back tonight. GO BIRDS!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NFL Week 13 Predictions

We're hitting the stretch drive in the NFL season, it's hard to believe that there are only 5 weeks left! At least we don't have to worry about the Eagles and their playoff chances since they are clearly done.

Here are my picks for Week 13. Remember, all picks are made without taking the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 9-7, .563
Overall Record: 111-64-1, .634

Thursday G

Titans (10-1) @ Lions (0-11) The Titans are coming to Detroit looking to re-establish their running game and prove that they are still a dominant team. The Lions don't stand a chance. My pick: Titans

Seahawks (2-9) @ Cowboys (7-4) At the beginning of the season this game looked like a good one. Now, with the Seahawks broken down, it looks like another Thanksgiving blowout. My pick: Cowboys

Cardinals (7-4) @ Eagles (5-5-1) Donovan McNabb is back in the saddle for the Eagles but I'm not sure it's going to matter. McNabb will be looking to prove himself against the weak Cardinals secondary, so the Eagles should be able to put some points on the board. Unfortunately, with Asante Samuel out, the secondary just go a little weaker and the Cardinals feature a scary duo of recievers and a revitalized Kurt Warner. I've been picking the Eagles nearly every week but I just don't see them slowing down the Cardinals. Of course, I hope I'm wrong. My pick: Cardinals

Sunday Day Games:

Niners (3-8) @ Bills (6-5) Last week, the Niners actually kept up with the Cowboys for a half until they got destroyed by T.O. and company in the second half. This week, I expect them to keep up for about three quarters until the Bills pull away. My pick: Bills

Ravens (7-4) @ Bengals (1-9-1) Congratulations to John Harbaugh for his immediate success in Baltimore. Too bad the Eagles didn't keep Harbaugh around because he could have been the sucessor to Andy Reid. My pick: Ravens

Colts (7-4) @ Browns (4-7) Brady Quinn is out for the year which thrusts Derek Anderson back into the starting role in Cleveland. It won't make any difference anyway, the resurgent Colts will win this one handily. My pick: Colts

Panthers (8-3) @ Packers (5-6) The NFC South is right there with the NFC East for the best division in football. Every team is over .500 and there will be at least one Wild Card team coming from the division. The NFC North is another story as three teams hover around .500 and none of them seem to want to make the playoffs. The contrast in the two divisions makes this pick easy. My pick: Panthers

Dolphins (6-5) @ Rams (2-9) The Dolphins should bounce back nicely this week against a Rams team that has given up. My pick: Dolphins

Saints (6-5) @ Bucs (8-3) Drew Brees has had an absolutely incredible season. He is carrying the Saints on his back with his huge passing numbers. I don't expect him to be as effective against the Bucs as he was against the Packers, which doesn't bode well for New Orleans. My pick: Bucs

Giants (10-1) @ Redskins (7-4) The Giants are rolling now and I don't see how the Redskins will be able to slow them down. Only a typical late season swoon by Eli will keep this Giants team from the Super Bowl. My pick: Giants

Falcons (7-4) @ Chargers (4-7) You might think that at 4-7 the Chargers would be out of it, but after they win this game and the Broncos lose to the Jets, San Diego will be one game out of first place. The AFC West is just that bad. My pick: Chargers

Broncos (6-5) @ Jets (8-3) See above, the Jets will win against this terrible Broncos team. How is it even possible to get destroyed by the Raiders? With the run the Jets are on right now, everyone is starting to get excited for an all-New York Super Bowl. I wouldn't hold my breath. My pick: Jets

Chiefs (1-10) @ Raiders (3-8) I can't believe I picked the Chiefs last week to beat the Bills, I have no idea what I was thinking. I won't be picking Kansas City again, not even against the crappy Raiders. My pick: Raiders

Steelers (8-3) @ Patriots (7-4) Those Patriot fans that are calling for Matt Cassel to be their quarterback next season and for Tom Brady to be traded are idiots. Cassel is an average starter at best who is playing well in the Patriots system, Brady is a stud in any system. The Steelers are dealing with some injuries but I still see them coming out on top. My pick: Steelers

Sunday Night Game:

Bears (6-5) @ Vikings (6-5) I always go with the home team in these NFC North contests and I haven't been wrong yet. The Vikings, Bears and Packers are all flawed in their own ways and they are all equally mediocre. My pick: Vikings

Monday Night Game:

Jaguars (4-7) @ Texans (4-7) What a terrible Monday Night game. There aren't even any good fantasy guys in this one. My pick: Jaguars are the winners, those who try to watch this game are the losers

Those are my picks for Week 13. Agree, disagree or have picks of your own? Leave a comment!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eagles to stick with McNabb, at least for now

Perhaps all of the "End of an Era" talk was a bit premature. Andy Reid announced today that Donovan McNabb will be the starting quarterback for the Eagles in their Thanksgiving game against the Cardinals. Kevin Kolb replaced McNabb for the second half of yesterday's game against the Ravens and played terribly, which is about what we would expect from someone with no NFL experience.

Reid's decision to start McNabb again raises the question as to whether the veteran quarterback should have ever been pulled. If the Eagles were going to go back to McNabb anyway, what was the point of switching to Kolb against the Ravens? McNabb clearly gives this team the best chance to win, but with the team all but eliminated, isn't it time to look to the future?

You can bet McNabb will be on a short leash on Thursday. Maybe the benching will act as a wake-up call and #5 will get off to a fast start for once. If he doesn't, then the Kevin Kolb era will officially begin. Let's hope Kolb has a lot more ability than he showed yesterday or it might be a short era.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stick a fork in 'em, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles are done

(AP Photo/Rob Carr)
Sunday, November 23rd will be a date remembered by Eagles fans for a long time. Not only was it the date that the Eagles 2008 season came to an end, it will also go down as the date the Donovan McNabb era came to an end in Philadelphia.

The Eagles were whipped by the Ravens 36-7 in the worst Eagles game I have seen in a long time. The offense failed to score all day with only a Quintin Demps kickoff return touchdown saving the Birds from a shut out.

Unlike the last few weeks, Donovan McNabb actually had a decent start to the game, completing 7 of his first 9 passes. Although he failed to put any points on the board, he was doing fine until he was sacked early in the 2nd quarter and coughed up the football to the Ravens. From that point forward, McNabb completed only 1 of 9 passes and was intercepted twice. His poor first half play forced Andy Reid to bench McNabb and go with Kevin Kolb for the remainder of the game.

Kolb entered the game with the score 10-7 and the outcome very much up in the air. There will be plenty of debate all week as to whether Reid should have benched the player that gives the team the best chance to win but clearly a message had to be sent that McNabb just wasn't getting the job done. Kolb didn't do much better, completing 10 of 23 passes for 73 yards and two picks. Despite Kolb's ineffectiveness, the Birds still had a chance to win the game as they drove deep into Ravens territory in the 4th quarter before Kolb threw an interception in the end zone that Ed Reed took 108 yards the other way for the score.

So where do the Eagles go from here? With the 2008 season clearly over, they have to continue with Kevin Kolb at quarterback to see what the kid can do. With McNabb likely being shown the door in the offseason the Eagles need to know if Kolb can be the man or if they need to go in another direction. Trotting McNabb out there for another week would be pointless unless they are trying to up his trade value.

As for McNabb, I could see him going on to have a few more solid seasons with the Bears or the Vikings. He has more left in the tank but he has run his course in Philadelphia. As he is on his way out, I hope that Eagles fans can remember him for the positive things he has done, like lead this team to countless victories and a Super Bowl, rather than his last few seasons of injury and ineptitude. Besides, regardless of how you feel about McNabb right now, it's still going to hurt when you see him in another uniform. He was supposed to be an Eagle for life and bring this city a title, not run out of town after a string of poor games.

R.I.P. The Donovan McNabb era, April 17th, 1999-November 23, 2008

End of an Era? McNabb benched after another slow start

Is this the end of the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia? After throwing two picks, fumbling and managing only 59 yards passing in the first half, McNabb was benched in favor of Kevin Kolb. Andy Reid is either sending a message to McNabb or he's finally decided it's time to move on. It will be interesting to see how Kolb does in the second half and who is going to start on Thanksgiving Day.

We knew this day was coming, but who thought it would be so soon?

Eagles/Ravens Inactives: Westbrook to play, new starters

The Eagles and Ravens have announced their inactives for today's game:

Eagles: G Shawn Andrews, RB Lorenzo Booker, FB Kyle Eckel, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, G Mike McGlynn, TE Matt Schobel, DE Bryan Smith

Ravens: QB Todd Bouman, WR Terrance Copper, DT Oniel Cousins, DT Lamar Divens, TE Edgar Jones, WR Marcus Maxwell, DT Brandon McKinney, CB Evan Oglesby

Brian Westbrook is active and playing, although we'll see how effective he will be.

The story this week isn't who is inactive for the Eagles, since it's the same group as last week, but rather who the starters will be. From what I am hearing, L.J. Smith has been demoted to second string in favor of Brent Celek and Omar Gathier has been benched for Akeem Jordan. I am also hearing rumors that Hank Baskett will be starting ahead of Reggie Brown. All of those moves make sense to me, might as well bench the ineffective players and give some of these young guys a chance.

There are no surprises in the Ravens inactive list, although I can't say I've heard of any of them.

I picked the Eagles to win this week, but I'm not confident. The Ravens are a better team than the Bengals but the Eagles have a tendency to play up or down to their opponents. Either way, we are guaranteed a close game.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NFL Week 12 Predictions

Just when I think I have the NFL figured out I have my worst week of predictions in Week 11. Parity continues to reign in the league, making picking the winners a difficult proposition.

Here are my picks for Week 12. Remember, all picks are made without taking the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 9-6-1, .594
Overall Record: 102-57-1, .641

Thursday Night Game:

Bengals (1-8-1) @ Steelers (7-3)
This post will go up during or after the Thursday night game, but trust me, there is only one team to pick in this game anyway. My pick: Steelers

Sunday Day Games:

Panthers (8-2) @ Falcons (6-4)
This is the first of several tough games to predict, the Panthers are the slightly better team but the game is being played in Atlanta. My pick: The Panthers will slow down the Falcons runs game and will pull out the win, further solidifying their NFC South division lead

Texans (3-7) @ Browns (4-6)
Brady Quinn might not actually be a terrible quarterback, he's at least better than Sage Rosenfels. My pick: I don't like either of these teams but I'll go with the Brownies at home.

Niners (3-7) @ Cowboys (6-4)
Much to the Eagles chagrin, the Cowboys are going to find themselves right in the thick of the NFC playoff picture after another win. My pick: Cowboys

Bucs (7-3) @ Lions (0-10)
I'm having a hard time finding a game the Lions will be able to win. My pick: Bucs won't lose in a possible trap game

Jets (7-3) @ Titans (10-0)
The Titans quest for perfection will continue, it's funny how they aren't getting all the hype that last years "unbeatable" Patriots team got. My pick: Titans

Bills (5-5) @ Chiefs (1-9)
Tyler Thigpen looks like the future in Kansas City and even at the present he's good enough to beat the slumping Bills. My pick: Chiefs

Bears (5-5) @ Rams (2-8)
The Rams are truly terrible, how do you get wiped out by the crappy Niners? My pick: Bears

Patriots (6-4) @ Dolphins (6-4)
Who would have thought these two teams would have identical records at this point in the season? My pick: I'm going with the Patriots because they have something to prove after Miami made them look silly with the Wildcat formation in Week 3.

Vikings (5-5) @ Jaguars (4-6)
I can't believe I picked the Jaguars to be the Super Bowl Champs back in the beginning of the season, injuries have really ravaged this team and forced them to play a different style. My pick: Vikings

Eagles (5-4-1) @ Ravens (6-4)
I'm so disgusted with the Birds after their showing last week. I'm a pretty patient fan and I have defended Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid on many occasions but what happened last week was just pathetic. The team doesn't need to change their quarterback and coach, they need to change their philosophy. If the fans and the writers can all see that its not working, why can't the coach? My pick: I still have to believe that the Eagles defense will rattle the rookie QB and the offense will put just enough points on the board to eek out a win. If they don't, whatever minute playoff hopes they have are lost.

Raiders (2-8) @ Broncos (6-4)
The Broncos are the worst 6 win team in the league but the Raiders are just awful. My pick: Broncos

Giants (9-1) @ Cardinals (7-3)
I'm tempted just like everyone else to go with the upset but I think the Giants will get to "MVP" Kurt Warner and knock him on his butt and take the Cards out of their game. My pick: Giants

Redskins (6-4) @ Seahawks (2-8)
The Redskins offense gets the perfect matchup this week to get back on track, they looked bad against the Cowboys. My pick: Redskins

Sunday Night Game:

Colts (6-4) @ Chargers (4-6)
One team bounced back after a slow start, the other one didn't. My pick: Colts in one of the better Sunday Night games of the year

Monday Night Game:

Packers (5-5) @ Saints (5-5)
I expect this one to be a high-scoring affair between two teams with good offenses and mediocre defenses. My pick: The Packers will keep pace in the NFC Central with a win

Those are my picks for Week 12. Leave a comment if you have your own picks or if you agree/disagree with mine!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Phillies trade Golson, acquire Mayberry

The Phillies have finally given up on Greg "Toolsy" Golson, trading him to the Texas Rangers for outfielder John Mayberry Jr. Both players are former first round picks who are about the same age and have similar potential, so the trade essentially boils down to the Phillies trading Golson's speed for Mayberry's power.

Mayberry is 24 and spent last season in Double-A and Triple-A. Mayberry has never played a game in the majors but he has shown some nice power in the minors. Baseball Prospectus isn't all that impressed with him, noting that he has a lot of "raw power" but he doesn't have much skill at the plate. His father, also named John Mayberry, played several years in the majors from the late 60's to the early 80's and hit 255 homers in 15 seasons. If the son ends up anything like the father, the Phils will love this deal.

Giving up Golson isn't too big of a loss. He never proved that he could be anything more than a pinch-runner at the major league level and the Phillies already have a couple of guys that fit that bill. Golson never quite had his head on straight with the Phils, maybe a change of scenery will get him to put everything together.

Don't look for either player in this trade to take the league by storm anytime soon, both need more seasoning in the minors. Since both will be entering their peak years in the next few years, if they don't develop soon they might not develop at all. The Phillies like having power options in their corner outfield spots so Mayberry could be of some use to them down the road. He definitely seems more worthwhile than a "toolsy" centerfielder who has shown absolutely nothing at the plate.

Utley to have hip surgery, will likely miss start of 09 season

So, I guess this proves Chase Utley really was injured. Throughout the 2008 season, fans and writers speculated that Utley was dealing with a hip injury that slowed him down and made him less of a player. His early MVP charge slowed way down as the season wore on and most felt it was due to his bad hip.

Today, we learned that he indeed was having hip problems because the Phillies announced he will be undergoing hip surgery in the coming days. The surgery will put him out for 4 to 6 months, meaning he will will miss at least the first couple of games of the season and could be out up to two months.

Losing Utley for a short period of time won't be a big problem since Eric Bruntlett can easily fill in. If Utley ends up missing 2 months, the Phils should look to acquire another option to play second, possibly someone like Tadahito Iguchi.

Credit needs to be given to Chase Utley for playing through this injury and helping the team win the World Series. We all knew that the Utley we were watching wasn't the one we were used to but he was still an effective player at less than 100%.

The Phillies also announced that Pedro Feliz will undergo back surgery but he is expected to be ready at the start of the season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Flyers officially unveil 3rd jersey

While I brought you this news a few weeks back, the Flyers officially announced that they will be bringing back their orange jerseys as their new 3rd jersey this season. They even put together a snazzy video that highlights the history and tradition behind the orange jersey:

The jersey will be worn for the first time this season on November 28th.

I don't think I'm alone in wanting the Flyers to have the orange jerseys as their home jerseys and switching the black to the 3rd jersey. The black jersey has run its course, it's time to bring back tradition.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pujols wins NL MVP, Howard finishes 2nd

The Phillies once again have come up just short in the individual awards: Albert Pujols has been named the NL MVP.

As much as my heart said Ryan Howard should have been MVP, it's hard to argue with Albert Pujols being chosen instead. While Howard had more home runs and RBI's, Pujols had better numbers across the board. Howard was a huge part of the Phillies late push to the playoffs, but Pujols did the best he could to keep the Cardinals in contention even though their team was pretty weak overall.

Howard lost the vote by a score of 369-308. He received 12 first place votes while Pujols recieved 18.

Two other Phillies, Brad Lidge and Chase Utley, received votes. Lidge finished 8th in the voting and even got 2 first place votes. Utley finished 15th in the voting.

Oh well, it's hard to really care about these individual awards when the team has won the ultimate award!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

McNabb didn't know game could end in a tie

This has to be a joke, right? Donovan McNabb didn't know that an NFL game could end in a tie? Seriously?

How does an NFL quarterback not know a game can end in a tie? As Donovan grew up playing football, high school and college games could end in ties, why not an NFL game?? Also, if he really didn't know the game could end in a tie, why didn't Andy Reid inform McNabb so he could get his butt in gear and try to win it before time ran out?

Pathetic: The Eagles TIE the 1-win Bengals

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
One word describes the effort the Eagles put forth today in their tie with the lowly Cincinnati Bengals: pathetic.

Here is my list of everything pathetic from this game:

Donovan McNabb: 3 picks, a completion percentage below 50%, terrible over- and under-throws and a myriad of bad decisions. It's time for the Kevin Kolb era to begin.

McNabb's smile: Stop smiling when you play like crap! Don't you understand how frustrating that is for the fans?

The playcalling: It's time for Andy Reid to hand over the playcalls to someone else. Anyone else.

The running game: Wait, what running game?

Sav Rocca: The experiment has failed. It's time to get a real punter.

Discipline: Too many penalties, all seemingly at the wrong time.

Reggie Brown: 1 catch, 0 yards. Nice game, buddy. What a waste of a 2nd round pick.

The refs: Thank goodness the B.S. roughing the passer call against Sheldon Brown didn't cost the Eagles their precious tie.

The fact that the Eagles can't win a game when their defense has 8 sacks: None of the blame for this game goes to the defense. They held up their end and basically shut down the Bengals.

Got any more pathetic things to add to the list? I am sure there are more, I'm just too annoyed to bother to write about this team right now.

Eagles/Bengals Inactives

The Eagles and Bengals announced their inactive players prior to today's game:

Eagles: G Shawn Andrews, RB Lorenzo Booker, FB Kyle Eckel, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, G Mike McGlynn, TE Matt Schobel, DE Bryan Smith

Bengals: WR Andre Caldwell, OL Anthony Collins, DE Eric Henderson, TE Nate Lawrie, DE Antwan Odom, QB Carson Palmer, DT Jason Shirley, WR Jerome Simpson

The inactives for the Eagles are the exact same as last week. Booker is an absolute disappointment and a waste of the draft pick they traded to get him. Eckel was also a useless signing since he can't beat out a converted defensive tackle for the fullback spot. The chances of Shawn Andrews returning this year are getting slimmer by the week.

The biggest name out for the Bengals is obviously Carson Palmer who has been out for half the season. The Eagles defense will get to feast on Ryan Fitzpatrick, their inexperienced backup. Cedric Benson will start at running back for the Bengals, further solidifying the fact that the Eagles should run away with this one.

There are no excuses today. The Eagles need to win big to get their season back on track. Go Birds!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NFL Week 11 Predictions

Coming off my best week of the season, I'm keeping it short and sweet this week, just one line about each game. Remember, all picks are based on who I think will win and don't take the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week:
12-2, .857
Overall Record: 93-51, .646

Thursday Night Game:

Jets (6-3) @ Patriots (6-3) This post might end up going up after the Jets and Patriots square off in a battle for the AFC East, but trust me that I made this pick before the game started! My pick: Patriots

Sunday Day Games:

Broncos (5-4) @ Falcons (6-3) Interesting match-up between two teams with good, young quarterbacks. My pick: I'll go with the team that can actually play defense, the Falcons

Eagles (5-4) @ Bengals (1-8) The Bengals should be the cure for all that ails the Eagles. My pick: Hopefully the Eagles aren't overconfident, but if they somehow lose this game, I'll get on board with those calling for Andy Reid's job

Bears (5-4) @ Packers (4-5) All of these NFC Central games are so even that I'm going to continue to go with the home team. My pick: Packers

Texans (3-6) @ Colts (5-4) The Colts won't need a miracle comeback this time. My pick: Don't look now but the Colts are right back in the mix amongst the best teams in the AFC

Saints (4-5) @ Chiefs (1-8) Expect lots of points in this one, neither team has much of a defense. My pick: The Chiefs will keep it fairly close, but the Saints will win

Raiders (2-7) @ Dolphins (5-4) This is my lock of the week, the Raiders are just awful. My pick: Dolphins

Ravens (6-3) @ Giants (8-1) The Eagles came oh-so-close to knocking off New York, and I expect the Ravens to also come pretty close, since they can actually stop the run. My pick: The Gi
ants will show their versatility and win a low-scoring game by a field goal

Vikings (5-4) @ Bucs (6-3) The NFC will really start to shake out after this week, this is another match-up between two good, even teams. My pick: Adrian Peterson continues his 2nd half assault on the league and leads the Vikings to the win

Lions (0-9) @ Panthers (7-2) Not yet, Detroit. My pick: I can't believe the Panthers are going to be 8-2, didn't see that one coming

Rams (2-7) @ Niners (2-7) Ugh, everyone is a loser in this game, especially those that choose to watch it. My pick: The Niners did look improved on Monday Night, I doubt they can blow two games in a row

Cardinals (6-3) @ Seahawks (2-7) The Cardinals offense is truly amazing, Kurt Warner has to be the MVP of the league right now. My pick: The Cardinals will continue to run away with the NFC West

Chargers (4-5) @ Steelers (6-3) The Chargers need to keep winning or they are going to find themselves out of the playoffs fast. My pick: Chargers

Titans (9-0) @ Jaguars (4-5) It's not pretty, but the Titans continue to find ways to win. My pick: Titans

Sunday Night Game:

Cowboys (5-4) @ Redskins (6-3) I'm not sure if Clinton Portis is going to play or not, but either way I think that the Redskins will be able to ruin Tony Romo's return. My pick: Redskins

Monday Night Game:

Browns (3-6) @ Bills (5-4) What a yawner of a Monday Nighter, the NFL needs flex scheduling for these games, too. My pick: Bills

Those are my picks for Week 11. Leave a comment if you have your own picks or if you agree/disagree with mine!

This Eagles rookie likes to party

This one comes via Eagles rookie defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu, who the team drafted this year despite a torn ACL that has kept him on IR for the entire season, appears to be in a bit of trouble over a photo of him surrounded by several questionable substances surfaced on his sister's Facebook page. The photo, which you will have to click here to see, features Ikegwuonu and someone else laying around with a bong, some pills and a white powder on the table in front of them. The white powder looks like it could be just crushed up pills, but it is arranged in such a way that it looks like coke.

The picture has been taken off of Facebook and when asked about it, Ikegwuonu's sister said that it was all Photoshopped, presumably to keep her brother out of trouble since the picture looks legit. The former Wisconsin player has had other legal troubles in the past, specifically from stealing an XBox a few years ago.

Whether the white substance is coke or not, Ikegwuonu better clean up his act, and fast. The NFL has shown lately that is has zero tolerance when it comes to players and their extracurricular activities. If he ever gets healthy, Ikegwuonu has some real potential. Let's hope he doesn't ruin it before he ever gets to play a game.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Charlie Manuel finishes 2nd in NL Manager of the Year voting

The NL manager of the year award is given to the best manager of the regular season, hence the reason Lou Pinella won the award and not Charlie Manuel of the Phillies.  Pinella managed the Cubs to the NL's best record in the regular season before being making a quick exit after losing to the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs.  Charlie Manuel proved in the postseason that he was the best manager in the league when every decision he made seemed to be the right one, from pitching changes to juggling the lineup.  

If the award for manager of the year was voted on after the playoffs, Manuel would be the obvious choice.  Instead, Manuel finished second just ahead of Fredi Gonzalez of the Marlins.  Manuel has come a long way from the bumbling fool that everyone thought he was to a guy who won't ever have to buy a meal in this town again.

At least we aren't Bengals fans

I can see some people in Philly getting a few ideas from this one. It seems that fans in Cincinnati are so fed up with the Bengals GM that they have put up billboards around the city pleading with the team to hire a real GM. Their current GM is Mike Brown and he's been there for 18 miserable seasons of Bengals football. Hopefully the Eagles keep the misery going with a win in Week 11.

I can see Eagles fans getting together and doing the same for our current coach, although the situation is much less dire here in Philadelphia. As bad as things seem to be with the Eagles, we really can't compare with what Bengals fans have to put up with.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lidge finishes 4th in Cy Young voting

Even though I made a pretty good argument for why he should, Brad Lidge did not end up winning the NL Cy Young Award. Despite his perfect season out of the bullpen, Lidge was a longshot at best. There were too many starters who had quality seasons, like the winner Tim Lincecum, for a reliever to sneak in and win the award.

Lincecum had an amazing year and certainly deserved the award. He went 18-5 for a terrible Giants team and struck out 265 batters.

It was interesting to note that Lidge finished ahead of C.C. Sabathia in the voting. Sabathia had a tremendous 2nd half with the Brewers and nearly single-handedly carried them into the playoffs, yet he finished 5th in the voting behind Lincecum, Brandon Webb, Johan Santana and Lidge.

Lidge deserves all the accolades he can get for his perfect season and should feel good about being amongst the best pitchers in the league.

Phillies bring back Eyre, several coaches

Step one for the Phillies as they look to repeat as World Series Champions: make sure their bullpen, which was a huge reason for their success, remains intact. The Phillies took care of one order of business today and re-signed lefty Scott Eyre. Eyre came over in a trade from the Cubs in August and was a great second lefty option out of the bullpen. His ERA with the Phils was below 2.00 and he is the type of pitcher that is key to have in a successful bullpen.

The Phillies also announced they will bring back pitching coach Rich Dubee, first base coach Davy Lopes and hitting coach Milt Thompson. Bench coach Jimy Williams won't return, joining Steve Smith as two members of the coaching staff who won't return. Lopes' impact on the base-paths is well-documented, so I'm happy to see him back. Dubee and Thompson also deserve another year, since they helped lead the team to a World Series and all. Williams is 65 so I wouldn't be surprised if this is the end of his baseball career.

These moves may be a bit of a letdown to those who expected the Phillies to get Matt Holliday, but these are the types of minor moves that can lead to championships. Just ask Pat Gillick.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sorry Phillies fans, Matt Holliday traded to the A's

Rumors have been swirling around Rockies slugger Matt Holliday and today those rumors will come to an end. Holliday has reportedly been traded to the Oakland A's for what appears to be a group of 3 or 4 solid prospects. The A's and Rockies make perfect trading partners since the A's have been accumulating young talent, the exact thing the Rockies have been looking for in exchange for Holliday.

I never bought into the idea that the Phillies were seriously pursuing Matt Holliday, and that's why I never bothered to post about it. The Phillies would have had to give up J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco and Shane Victorino in any deal to get Holliday, and that's way to steep of a price. The Phils do have a hole in the outfield if Pat Burrell doesn't come back, but there is no sense in trading away all of their best prospects to fill one hole. I look for the Phils to find a more reasonable (cheaper) option through free agency. Getting a guy like Holliday, or Manny Ramirez for that matter, are just pipe dreams.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Eagles just can't beat the good teams

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Looks like everyone has the Eagles figured out. Here is what Bill Simmons of ESPN said about the Eagles in his most recent column:

"The one team I definitively have figured out for gambling purposes: Take the Eagles over every bad team, home or away, no matter the spread; go against them any time they're facing a good team. Got it? Got it. Poor coaching, a crappy short-yardage game and a tendency to give up big plays will bite you in the bizzum every time."

Simmons hit tonight's game against the Giants on the head. Poor coaching in wasting those challenges and bad play calls and a crappy short yardage game where they couldn't get a yard when it mattered. The Eagles also couldn't stop the run at all, although they do deserve credit, despite a cheap play where Eli Manning was nearly over the line of scrimmage, for really slowing down Plaxico Burress and the Giants passing attack.

The Eagles just can't beat the good teams. They beat up on the Rams, Niners and Seahawks but just come up short against the top teams like the Cowboys, Redskins and Giants. The Eagles did beat the Steelers, but you can't build an entire season on one good win.

The Birds are back in last place in the NFC East, tied with the Dallas Cowboys. With a tough schedule down the stretch, it looks like the Eagles will go another season without making the playoffs. Oh well, at least we can still celebrate the Phillies!

Eagles/Giants inactives: L.J.'s back, Booker is sitting

The Eagles and Giants announced their inactives for Sunday night's big game:

Eagles: G Shawn Andrews, RB Lorenzo Booker, FB Kyle Eckel, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, G Mike McGlynn, TE Matt Schobel, DE Bryan Smith

Giants: SS James Butler, RB Reuben Droughns, CB Kevin Dockery, T Adam Koets, WR Mario Manningham, DE Jerome McDougle, RB Danny Ware, LB Gerris Wilkinson

L.J. Smith returns to the line-up, pushing Schobel back to the bench. Lorenzo Booker is a surprise inactive for the Birds, leaving them with only two running backs for the night. It's hard to say that Booker has been a disappointment for the Eagles this season because he gets so few touches, but he certainly hasn't been what the team thought he would be when the acquired him. Jason Avant also returns to the field tonight after being benched last week. Kyle Eckel will continue to wait to take the field.

The Giants are without Butler which will allow rookie safety Kenny Phillips to start. With all the talk about how the Eagles would regret letting McDougle go, it's nice to see him not playing against his old team. The Giants will also allow both of their kickers to suit up, which is a strange move.

Should be a great game, here's hoping the Eagles can pull it off! Go Birds!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Flyers hope to shore up defense with acquisition of Matt Carle

The Flyers are one of the best offensive teams in the NHL this season, scoring 3.67 goals per game, tying them for the highest average in the NHL. Their big problem, and the real reason they have started so slow this season, has been their defense. Since the injuries to Randy Jones and Ryan Parent, the Flyers have been playing with a makeshift defensive group that includes two guys who shouldn't be regulars in the NHL in Steve Eminger and Andrew Alberts. GM Paul Holmgren knew he couldn't sit around and wait until Jones and Parent got healthy so he made a big move today that should go a long way towards fixing their defensive woes.

The Flyers acquired defenseman Matt Carle and a third round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Steve Downie, Steve Eminger and a fourth round pick. Carle, a former Hobey Baker Award winner, is a 24 year old defenseman who has played four years in the NHL, most of them with the San Jose Sharks. He has great upside and is a huge upgrade over Eminger. Carle hasn't shown a lot of consistency while playing with the Sharks and Lightning, but he is strong with the puck and won't turn it over as much as Eminger.

Losing Downie won't hurt the Flyers much in the long run. Downie is a complete headcase at this point and has been jerked between the Phantoms and the Flyers so much I doubt he knows what's going on. Ever since his meltdown in the playoffs last season, Downie has been a liability and can't be trusted to make the smart play on the ice. He was never going to amount to much in Philadelphia so maybe a chance of scenery will do him good in Tampa.

Eminger was acquired this past offseason for a first round pick but never really proved he was worth that price. Like Carle, he's been inconsistent, but I don't see enough in his game to fret over his loss.

The move puts the Flyers right up against the cap. Eminger and Downie made a combined 2 million while Carle is nearly a 3.5 million dollar cap hit. Carle is under contract through the 2011-2012 season, another reason to like the deal if he plays to his ability. Making this deal does not rule out the possibility of Brendan Shanahan from signing with the team, in fact it clears up a forward spot. The Flyers would have to make some sort of move to clear up more cap space, but Shanny could be a Flyer yet.

Overall, I like this deal. The Flyers get rid of a pair of underachieving players and bring in a young defenseman who can solidify the back end. Hopefully this can begin to fix the goals against problem and the Flyers can get back to their winning ways. If it doesn't, I expect more drastic moves to follow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NFL Week 10 Predictions

Short and sweet this week, just one line about each game. Remember, all picks are based on who I think will win and don't take the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week:
9-5, .643
Overall Record: 81-50, .618

Byes: Bengals, Cowboys, Bucs, Redskins

Thursday Night Game:

Broncos (4-4) @ Browns (3-5) This is a game with no defense so make sure you get all your fantasy guys in the line-up, even with newly appointed starter Brady Quinn running the Browns offense. My pick: I have no faith in Quinn, so I'm going with the Broncos

Sunday Day Games:

Saints (4-4) @ Falcons (5-3) There are some great divisional match-ups this week, and this is one of them. My pick: Drew Brees will show the rookie how it's done and lead the Saints to the win

Titans (8-0) @ Bears (5-3) I don't see how anyone could pick the Bears with Sexy Rexy going against the vaunted Titans defense. My pick: Titans

Jaguars (3-5) @ Lions (0-8) The Jaguars let the Bengals off the winless hook last week, but I don't see them doing that again with the Lions. My pick: Jaguars

Seahawks (2-6) @ Dolphins (4-4) What a difference a year makes: the Dolphins could be making a run at the playoffs. My pick: Dolphins

Packers (4-4) @ Vikings (4-4) Another great divisional match-up, I don't particularly like either team in this one, so I'll go with the home team. My pick: Vikings

Bills (5-3) @ Patriots (5-3) This one is to stay in a tie with the Jets for first place (see next game). My pick: I can't believe the Patriots, even without Tom Terrific, still have a great shot at winning the AFC East

Rams (2-6) @ Jets (5-3) After a two week hiatus, the real Rams are back. My pick: Jets

Ravens (5-3) @ Texans (3-5) Joe Flacco might be the best quarterback the Ravens have ever had since they moved to Baltimore. My pick: Ravens in a low-scoring game

Panthers (6-2) @ Raiders (2-6) The Raiders have the worst offense in the NFL and have gotten much, much worse since Lane Kiffin was fired. My pick: Panthers

Colts (4-4) @ Steelers (6-2) Pittsburgh may be without Big Ben in this one but I think the resurgent Colts win this one no matter who lines up under center for the Steelers. My pick: Colts

Chiefs (1-7) @ Chargers (3-5) The Chargers are lucky they are in the lousy AFC West because they are still a good bet to make the playoffs. My pick: Chargers

Sunday Night Game:

Giants (7-1) @ Eagles (5-3) Whether I go with my heart or my gut on this one, I think it's the Eagles turn to make a statement to the rest of the league. My pick: The Eagles will win in a close, low-scoring affair on a David Akers field goal in the final minute

Monday Night Game:

Niners (2-6) @ Cardinals (5-3) The Niners are terrible, but at least they are the best team in the Bay Area! My pick: Cardinals in a blowout

So those are my picks for Week Ten. If you agree or disagree or have picks of your own, feel free to leave comments!

MLB Award season begins: Rollins, Victorino snare Gold Gloves

The beginning of the MLB off-season is here, but there are a few more orders of business to take care of from the 2008 season. Namely, a bunch of awards need to be given out. The Phillies figure to have contenders for MVP (Ryan Howard) and Coach of the Year (Charlie Manuel), and even a longshot possibility for Cy Young (Brad Lidge). A few awards have already been given to Brad Lidge, including NL Rolaids Reliever of the Year and NL Comeback Player of the Year.

Two more Phillies were honored yesterday when the National League Gold Glove winners were announced: Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. Rollins won his second Gold Glove in a row for his work at shortstop, and seems a lock to win a few more before he's done. Victorino won the first Gold Glove of his career and is the second Phillie in a row to win for playing centerfield as Aaron Rowand took it last year. Victorino's Gold Glove comes as a bit of a surprise because he is a little unorthodox out there, but he gets the job done.

No other Phillie had a strong claim to win a Gold Glove. Chase Utley is a fine fielder, but he's hardly "Golden" and Pedro Feliz has a decent argument, but it's hard to argue with giving it to David Wright.

The complete NL Gold Glove list:
P Greg Maddux (San Diego-Los Angeles)
C Yadier Molina (St. Louis)
1B Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego)
2B Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati)
3B David Wright (New York)
SS Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia)
OF Nate McLouth (Pittsburgh), Carlos Beltran (New York) and Shane Victorino (Philadelphia).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The offseason begins for the Champs: Coach fired, 2 players move on

The Phillies didn't wait long to begin preparing themselves for the 2009 season. Starting with the hiring of a new GM, they have made a flurry of moves as they begin the long process of fielding a team that will look to defend their World Series Title. That still feels good to say.

Steve Smith canned: Third base coach Steve Smith will no longer be killing Phillie rallies. Smith made a number of bad calls in sending runners that were out by several steps. While Smith has improved over the 2 years he has been coaching, apparently he has been in Charlie Manuel's doghouse, so that means it was time to go.

Taguchi released: The Phillies released little-used outfielder So Taguchi. The club didn't pick up his option and then released him, making him a free agent. He was clearly not what the team thought he would be when they signed him last off-season to be a pinch-hitter, he didn't contribute anything at the plate.

Walrond to the Blue Jays: Les Walrond and his 6.10 ERA will no longer be toiling in Lehigh Valley or making the occasional appearance with the big club. Walrond was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays, who must really be desperate for pitching help.

That's it for now, no word yet on Pat Burrell or Jamie Moyer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Flyers in talks with free agent Brendan Shanahan

After a slow start to the season, the Flyers have righted the ship and gotten back to .500. Of course, after last seasons playoff run, .500 isn't good enough.

Apparently, GM Paul Holmgren agrees, and that's why he has met with free agent Brendan Shanahan about the possibility of joining the Flyers. Shanahan is almost 40, but he still notched 23 goals for the Rangers last season. Of course, the Flyers aren't pursuing Shanahan for offense, they want him because he is a sound defensive forward. Holmgren has been dissatisfied with how the forwards have been playing defensively, so that is why he is in pursuit of the veteran winger.

The Flyers are only $700,000 under the cap, so signing Shanahan would probably require the team to move someone out to make room. Shanahan will likely take a bit of a discount to play in Philly but I doubt he would sign for much less than a million. Other teams are also interested in Shanahan, so the Flyers will have some heavy competition for his services.

I always thought that Shanahan would look great in the orange and black, but of course ideally that would have happened about 10 years ago. If he can still be an effective player, I am all for the Flyers bringing him in at a discounted rate. If he wants anything close to a multi-million dollar deal, then the Flyers better stay away.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Flyers to go vintage with their new 3rd jersey

Not sure if I'm late to the game on this one but it appears that pictures of the Flyers new 3rd jersey for this season have been leaked:
The jerseys are completely of the vintage variety, they are nearly identical to the ones the Flyers wore back when they won their Stanley Cups. I think it's a great look, the white nameplate is a little odd looking at first but it's growing on me. The thing that really stands out to me about the picture above is that Mike Richards is missing his "C"!

The jersey will be officially unveiled on November 28th.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Eagles win, climb out of NFC East cellar

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)
It's not how you start the game, it's how you finish it.

The Eagles got behind early against the Seattle Seahawks when Seneca Wallace connected with Koren Robinson for a 90 yard touchdown on their first offensive play of the game. Things continued to look bad as Donovan McNabb was 0 for his first 7 passing attempts and even threw an interception near the end of the first quarter. After an ugly first quarter, the Eagles looked poised to be in a dogfight all day with a weak Seahawks team.

Of course, quarters 2, 3 and 4 were a completely different story. The Eagles ran off 26 consecutive points as the Seahawks failed to score again, giving Philly a 26-7 victory. McNabb bounced back from his slow start to complete 28 of 43 passes for 349 yards and 2 TD's, spreading the ball around to 10 different receivers, including offensive lineman Todd Herremans, who caught a one yard touchdown.

The receiving star of the night was tight end Brent Celek, who got the start for the injured L.J. Smith. Celek was open all day and caught 6 passes for 131 yards. Kevin Curtis also had a good game as he looks to be rounding back into form with 83 receiving yards.

Defensively, the Eagles rebounded after giving up the big play in the beginning of the game. They did struggle to stop the run at times but with the Seahawks dealing with a deficit for most of the game, they were forced to pass and they managed only 77 yards through the air following the 90 yard play in the first quarter.

The Eagles should also be commended for not having a penalty called on them for the entire game. That's a rare feat in the NFL, especially when holding can be called on nearly every play.

With the Giants knocking off the Cowboys, the Eagles now find themselves out of last place with a solid record of 5-3. While most fans hoped the Eagles would be at least 6-2 at this point in the season, things are definitely looking up for the Birds. A huge game looms next week against the Giants on Sunday night, and if the Eagles can pull that one off, they will be in a great position to challenge for a playoff spot and possibly for the NFC East title.

Just like this game, it doesn't matter how the Eagles started the season. They were 2-3 and things looked grim, but after 3 straight wins the Eagles are poised to make some noise. Hopefully some of the magic of the Phillies can rub off on the Birds, although asking for another championship so soon might just be greedy.

Eagles/Seahawks inactives: Brown is back

The Eagles and Seahawks announced their inactive players for Sunday's game:

Eagles: G Shawn Andrews, WR Jason Avant, FB Kyle Eckel, QB A.J. Feeley, G Mike Gibson, LB Joe Mays, G Mike McGlynn, TE L.J. Smith

Seahawks: WR Deion Branch, K Brandon Coutu, DT Howard Green, QB Matt Hasselbeck, TE Will Heller, DE Patrick Kerney, LB Lofa Tatupu, G Mansfield Wrotto

No real big suprises for the Eagles. Reggie Brown was expected to be back this week, and his return pushes Jason Avant out of the mix. L.J. Smith is out as he deals with concussion issues which allows Brent Celek to get the start and Matt Schobel to suit up. Kyle Eckel will continue to watch from the sidelines as he learns to play fullback for the Eagles by studying Dan Klecko.

The Seahawks are incredibly banged up. Their best QB, wide receiver, linebacker and defensive lineman are all out. Seneca Wallace will start under center for the Seahawks which should have the Eagles defense licking its chops.

The Eagles have every reason to dominate this week against a hobbled Seahawks team. Should be a fun game, GO EAGLES!

Phillies to announce Ruben Amaro Jr. as their new GM

Phillies GM Pat Gillick will ride off into the sunset having accomplished the ultimate goal by bringing a championship to Philadelphia. Gillick announced months ago that 2008 was going to be his last season as GM, and since that time two names have been rumored to be taking his place: assistant GM's Mike Arbuckle and Ruben Amaro Jr. Most believed that the Phillies were leaning towards Amaro Jr., and they have been proven right.

The Phillies will announce Monday that Amaro Jr. will be their next general manager, and they will also announce that Arbuckle is leaving the team. Having learned that Amaro Jr. will be the new GM, Arbuckle informed the team that he will be leaving to look for other opportunities, presumably to find a GM job somewhere else.

Amaro Jr. has always seemed like a "company guy" and he is well-liked within the organization, so the Phillies must feel good to have him in charge. Whether he will be the better man for the job is another story. Arbuckle has overseen the Phillies drafts the last few years, the same ones that brought in most of the players that helped them win the World Series, like MVP Cole Hamels.

Amaro Jr. has Phillie red in his blood since both himself and his dad played for the team. It will be interesting to see how he handles his first offseason after the championship with several players looking for a big payday. The decisions Amaro Jr. makes could mean the difference between a one year wonder and a dynasty.