Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ridiculous: Gagne the latest Flyer injured

Add Simon Gagne to the growing list of Flyers players who are injured. Gagne was hit hard just seconds into tonight's game against the Canucks and did not return to the game. There was no penalty called on the play but Mike Richards proved once again why he is the captain as he fought Kevin Bieksa, the Canuck that made the hit. See the video below for highlights of the hit, plus the rest of the game, which the Flyers won 3-2.

It seems like every post I have been doing lately about the Flyers deals with an injury. Gagne has fought back from numerous concussions but, luckily, this hit looks like he hurt his shoulder rather than his head. I would expect Gagne to miss several games as he recovers, leaving the Flyers without two of their top line players, Gagne and Danny Briere. Briere may be getting close to returning, unfortunately it looks like the team won't be at full strength for quite a while.

Contest Reminder: All Things Philly Sports' Holiday Giveaway

The Prize:
With the holiday season upon us, it's a good time for All Things Philly Sports to have its first Holiday Giveaway! I will be giving away a new book that celebrates our World Champions, "101 Reasons to Love the Phillies," by Roy Green Jr. The book features all the reasons we love the Phillies in a compact hardcover book. It was published after the World Series victory so it includes a few celebration photos!

The Contest:
The book can be yours simply by telling All Things Philly Sports what your wish is for our sports teams in the coming year. Pick one team or pick them all and list your wishes in the comment section of this post or via email at Creativity counts so simply saying you wish that everyone wins a championship isn't good enough!

The Deadline:
All entries must be received by midnight on December 31st. So far I have gotten a few emails and just the one comment in this post so you still have a great chance to win. Winners will be announced on January 1st, good luck to all that enter!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Re-living the magic: Video Highlights of the Cowboy Massacre

I can watch this clip over and over again:

Hat tip to whoever uploaded this to YouTube.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

NFL First Round Playoff Schedule: Eagles vs. Vikings on Sunday

I still can't believe the Birds made the playoffs. Here is the schedule for the first round of playoff action:

(5) Falcons @ (4) Cardinals, 4:30 pm (NBC)
(5) Colts @ (4) Chargers, 8:00 pm (NBC)

(6) Ravens @ (3) Dolphins, 1:00 pm (CBS)
(6) Eagles @ (3) Vikings, 4:30 pm (FOX)

It should be a great Wild Card weekend. Not that I'm looking ahead, but since the Eagles are the lowest seed in the NFC, if they beat the Vikings they would play the Giants in the second round. What a game that would be! Of course, let's worry about the Vikings first.

Unreal: The Birds are playoff bound after destroying the Cowboys!

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
No Eagles fan could have asked for anything more today. The early games shaped up perfectly, with the Raiders beating the Bucs and the Texans beating the Bears, and set up a win-or-go-home match-up between the Eagles and Cowboys. From there, the Eagles took care of business in dominating Dallas 44-6 and now a season that seemed lost has new life.

After a tense first quarter, it looked like we were headed towards another low-scoring NFC East defensive battle. With the score knotted at 3-3 early in the second quarter, Donovan McNabb connected on a short pass to Correll Buckhalter that Buck took for 59 yards all the way down to the 6 yard line. That play led the Eagles to a 24 point second quarter outburst and from there they never looked back.

The offense was the story of the second quarter as McNabb connected on several big passing plays to DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown. The Eagles actually had a balanced offensive attack, mixing in runs by Brian Westbrook and Buckhalter with their usual array of passes.

The third quarter of the game belonged to the Eagles defense. The Cowboys marched down the field twice in the third quarter only to get the ball stripped twice by Brian Dawkins and have it returned for a pair of touchdowns to completely blow the game open. Dawkins created one of the strips while sacking Tony Romo and the other on Marion Barber after he caught a pass. One of the fumbles was returned 73 yards by Chris Clemons and the other was returned 96 yards by Joselio Hansen and the rout was on. Anyone want to question whether BDawk deserves to be a Pro Bowler?

From there the Eagles simply ran the ball and melted the clock away. Inexplicably, while down 44-3, the Cowboys kicked a field goal late in the 4th quarter to pull themselves within 5 touchdowns. I guess they needed a moral victory to take with them into the offseason.

The Eagles were given yet another chance to resurrect their season and they did so in an eye-popping fashion today. After being left for dead by many, including myself, following their tie with the Cincinnati Bengals, they fought their way back into the playoff picture. After falling a foot short against the Redskins, it appeared that the Eagles were once again done as they needed a miracle combination of losses to have a shot. The miracle happened, and the Birds capitalized.

Also making today's victory doubly great for Eagles fans is that the Cowboys were denied a spot in the playoffs. Once again, "America's Team" has proven they can't win when it matters most. They might be one of the most talented teams in the NFL but they clearly don't have what it takes to win in December. It will be fun to see what changes happen in Dallas because it's clear they can't continue with the same personnel. Whether it's the coach, the quarterback or the receiver, somebody has to go.

But enough about the Cowboys, it's time to celebrate the Eagles and their Wild Card berth. They will now face the Vikings in Minnesota next weekend. The Vikings aren't a particularly scary opponent for the Eagles since their defense can be thrown on. Stopping Adrian Peterson will be priority number one but the Minnesota offense doesn't have much else.

The NFC playoffs are wide open. Besides the Carolina Panthers, none of the other teams in the NFC are really better than the Eagles. The Birds have already beaten the Giants, Falcons and Cardinals this season so they definitely have a shot at making a deep playoff run. After last week I never thought I would be saying this but the Eagles are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. As the Giants proved last season, getting hot at the right time can carry you a long way.

Congrats, Eagles, you proved all the doubters wrong. While you aren't a perfect team, you had an opportunity today and you seized it. Celebrate your win today but get yourselves ready to extend this season beyond just the first round.


It's on: Eagles vs. Cowboys for the last playoff spot

Entering today, here were the Eagles two playoff scenarios:

1. Beat Dallas PLUS a Bucs loss to the Raiders PLUS a Vikings loss to the Giants

2. Beat Dallas PLUS a Bucs loss to the Raiders PLUS a Bears loss to the Texans

The Vikings beat the Giants so scenario #1 is out. For scenario #2, not only have the Bears lost to the Texans but, shockingly, the Raiders have beaten the Bucs. So the Eagles have gotten the help they needed and it sets up a HUGE showdown between the Eagles and Cowboys. The winner is in, the loser is out.

Eagles vs. Cowboys with the playoffs on the line. Could you ask for anything more?

Click here for the inactives for the Eagles/Cowboys game

Eagles/Cowboys Inactives: Curtis, Baskett are in, L.J. is out

If the Cowboys win, they're in. If the Eagles win, depending on how these early games end up, they could be in. Here are the inactives for today's game:

Eagles: DE Victor Abiamiri, OL Shawn Andrews, RB Lorenzo Booker, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, OL Chris Patrick, DE Bryan Smith, TE L.J. Smith

Cowboys: CB Alan Ball, G Joe Berger, QB Brooks Bollinger, CB Courtney Brown, LB Bobby Carpenter, RB Alonzo Coleman, TE Rodney Hannah, G Montrae Holland

Donovan McNabb gets his full complement of wide receivers for the game with Curtis and Baskett back in the lineup. Smith is the only weapon that will be missing in the game, although with the way he was dropping passes last week, I don't think the Eagles will really miss him at all.

The Cowboys will have all of their stars in the game, including Tony Romo, Marion Barber and Jason Witten, all of whom were question marks heading into the game. With this being a make or break game for the Cowboys, you had to bet all would be active.

Regardless of whether the Eagles are eliminated or not prior to kickoff, this should be a huge game. The chance to keep the Cowboys out of the playoffs should be enough to get the Birds fired up.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Injuries!?!? Flyers lose Timonen, Hartnell

That's certainly not how the Flyers wanted to start their 6 game road swing. Not only did the Flyers play flat in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, they also suffered a pair of injuries which will keep their best defenseman and a key forward out for a few games.

Both Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell injured themselves in the game while blocking shots. Timonen chipped a bone in his ankle and will miss at least a week while Hartnell broke his big toe and figures to be out for at least the next game.

Add Timonen and Hartnell to the list of injured Flyers that includes Danny Briere, Scottie Upshall and Ryan Parent. Both Glen Metropolit and Martin Biron recently recovered from injuries and sickness and returned to the ice in Friday's game in Chicago but neither played particularly well. The Flyers' depth will continue to be tested, luckily they have plenty of good skaters to go around.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Flyers (finally) call up Claude Giroux

The Flyers are about to embark on a 6 game road trip and they have called on some reinforcements to help them through their injuries. Claude Giroux, a 1st round pick in 2006, was called up from the Phantoms and will join the Flyers tonight in Chicago. Giroux played two games with the Flyers last season and failed to register a point. He has been the leading scorer with the Phantoms this season with 33 points in 31 games.

I was initially surprised that the Flyers sent Giroux to the minors at the beginning of the year because I thought this would be the season he would step into a regular role. The Flyers felt no reason to rush him so they let him log some time in the AHL to learn more about the pro game. Considering he is 5th in the AHL is scoring, Giroux quickly proved with the Phantoms that he is ready for the big time.

Giroux will need to slide into a scoring role with the Flyers, he won't be playing with the 4th line. I would look for him on the 3rd line on the wing initially and he could move up from there. He really needs to be playing with guys like Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne to fully utilize his offensive skills but for now he will have to create offense with lesser players like Glen Metropolit.

Giroux is the most exciting player in the Flyers minor league system and it will be fun to watch him develop with the big club. The Flyers already have one of the most potent scoring teams in the NHL and they just got even better.

NFL Week 17 Predictions

With playoff spots and playoff positioning still on the line, here are my picks for Week 17. At the end of the picks, I will break down what the playoff match-ups will look like if everything goes as I predict.

Remember, all picks are made without taking the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 8-8, .500
Overall Record: 152-88, .633

Sunday Early Games:

Rams (2-13) @ Falcons (10-5)
Atlanta can still win the NFC South so you can bet they will play their starters the whole time in this one. The Rams are simply playing out the string so expect them to get whipped in Atlanta. My pick: Falcons

Patriots (10-5) @ Bills (7-8)
The Pats won't know their fate until later in the day so they must play this one to win. Look for the Bills to keep it closer than you would think but there is no way the Patriots will be denied. My pick: Patriots

Chiefs (2-13) @ Bengals (3-11-1)
Do I have to pick this one? The Bengals can only beat the terrible teams and the Chiefs are certainly terrible. However, I think Kansas City can put some points on the board and the Bengals offense is anemic. My pick: Chiefs

Lions (0-15) @ Packers (5-10) The Lions will go 0-16, not even the inconsistent Packers will play poor enough to blow this one. My pick: Packers

Titans (13-2) @ Colts (11-4)
Another completely meaningless game, both teams have clinched their spots in the playoffs. I expect the starters to play a quarter to a half of this game and then it will be scrub ball. Games like this are nearly impossible to predict but I will go with the Titans simply because the Colts will be using Jim Sorgi for an extended period of time and he's awful. My pick: Titans

Giants (12-3) @ Vikings (9-6)
The Giants won't rest their starters the whole game but they also have nothing to play for. The Vikings season will be on the line so I expect Adrian Peterson and the suddenly decent Tarvaris Jackson to pull this one out. My pick: Vikings

Panthers (11-4) @ Saints (8-7)
The Saints are going to do everything they can to get Drew Brees the passing record. Unfortunately, they won't do everything they can to actually try to win the game. If the Panthers win, they will get a first round bye so expect them to win this one big. My pick: Panthers

Browns (4-11) @ Steelers (11-4)
The Steelers really have nothing to play for but even their backups should be able to beat the crappy Browns. My pick: Steelers

Raiders (4-11) @ Bucs (9-6)
The Eagles need the Raiders to come up big for their season to stay alive. Unfortunately, there is a better chance for someone to build a time machine and go back in time to teach Donovan McNabb that you can have ties in the NFL than for the Bucs to lose this one. My pick: Bucs

Bears (9-6) @ Texans (7-8)
If the Vikings lose, the Bears can win the NFC North with a win. This is another game that the Eagles will be watching closely and rooting for the Texans. Once again, don't get your hopes up Eagles fans. My pick: Bears

Sunday Late Games:

Dolphins (10-5) @ Jets (9-6)
If the Patriots win the early game this week, the Jets would be unable to win the AFC East although they would still be alive for the Wild Card. As you'll see later, I don't think the Jets make the playoffs but I still think they will enjoy playing the role of spoiler as they knock the Dolphins out of the running. My pick: Jets

Cowboys (9-6) @ Eagles (8-6-1) If the Cowboys win, they are in. At this point in the day, the Eagles will probably have learned that they won't be making the playoffs but that doesn't mean they will just roll over for the Cowboys. Jobs and possibly careers are on the line for the Eagles so I expect them to play with a lot more energy and heart than they did last week. Besides, we all know how well the Eagles play when the pressure is off and they seemingly have nothing to play for. This could be Donovan McNabb's last game as an Eagle, although I would bet money he's back in Philly next year. Either way, he should have a good game. My pick: Eagles

Jaguars (5-10) @ Ravens (10-5)
Just like the Cowboys, the Ravens control their own destiny. Unlike the Cowboys, the Ravens play a crummy team and will actually win. My pick: Ravens

Redskins (8-7) @ Niners (6-9)
These two teams have coaches that are playing for their jobs. Jim Zorn has taken heat for how the Redskins have faded this season while Mike Singletary is just looking to be the permanent coach. This one should be a low-scoring affair and I actually think the Niners pull it out. My pick: Niners

Seahawks (4-11) @ Cardinals (8-7)
Have you ever seen a team limp into the playoffs like the Cardinals have? They certainly don't deserve to continue their season, there are easily 3 or 4 NFC teams that won't be in the playoffs that can beat the Cardinals. My guess is they will play their starters for most of this game and secure a large lead. The Seahawks will make a late charge but I think the Cardinals hold on. My pick: Cardinals

Sunday Night Game:

Broncos (8-7) @ Chargers (7-8)
I'm with those that think you shouldn't be able to make the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Everything sets up perfectly for the Chargers to squeak out the AFC West even though they don't deserve it. After they win it will set up another Chargers/Colts playoff match-up which you shouldn't automatically assume that the Colts will win. My pick: Chargers

NFC Playoffs:
Byes: (1) Giants, (2) Panthers
First Round Match-ups: (6) Bucs @ (3) Vikings, (5) Falcons @ (4) Cardinals

AFC Playoffs:
Byes: (1) Titans, (2) Steelers
First Round Match-ups: (6) Ravens @ (3) Patriots, (5) Colts @ (4) Chargers

Those are my picks for Week 17. Check back next week for my playoff predictions!

Contest Reminder: Don't forget to enter All Things Philly Sports' Holiday Giveaway contest! Winner gets a "101 Reasons to Love the Phillies" book. The contest ends December 31st so click here to find out how to enter!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from All Things Philly Sports!

All Things Philly Sports would like to wish you a Happy Holidays! I have enlisted some of our favorite Philly Sports stars to help us celebrate:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Contest Reminder: Don't forget to enter All Things Philly Sports' Holiday Giveaway contest! Winner gets a "101 Reasons to Love the Phillies" book. The contest ends December 31st so click here to find out how to enter!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flyers remain hot despite mounting injuries

Remember when the Flyers started off the season winless in their first 6 games? Seems like a distant memory now as the team has won 13 of its last 18 and ascended into second place in the Atlantic Division, a mere 3 points behind the Rangers, a team that has played 3 more games than the Flyers. The streak is amazing considering they have done it with Danny Briere on the shelf for most of the season and Martin Biron out for the last few games.

While Briere still figures to be out a few more weeks, the Flyers are hoping that Biron, who has been battling the flu, will take the ice again Tuesday night against the Senators. Biron will be a welcome sight on the ice because, while Antero Niittymaki has played well, the sooner Marty can establish himself as the number one goaltender the better. If there is one knock against the Flyers, it's the fact that they don't have a true, number one, superstar goaltender that they can ride. Biron has shown flashes of greatness, like in the playoffs last year, but he has had trouble being consistent in goal.

While one Flyer returns to the ice tonight, another will be leaving: Scottie Upshall will be sidelined for 10 to 14 days with a knee sprain. Upshall could be joined on the sidelines by Glen Metropolit who has been dealing with back problems. All of these injuries leave the Flyers thin at forward and force them to rely on AHL guys like Josh Gratton, Jon Kalinski, Darroll Powe and Andreas Nodl. And, when they are really desperate, they move Lasse Kukkonen from defenseman to 4th line center.

The Flyers have made a remarkable run to get themselves back into the mix at the top of the Eastern Conference, a run that looks even better considering all the injuries. When the Flyers finally do get to full strength, they figure to have tremendous depth and three solid scoring lines that will be difficult for other teams to deal with. Right now the Flyers are relying on Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Mike Richards to carry the load offensively so when Danny Briere gets back it should open things up even more for one of the best offenses in the league.

Health permitting, this Flyers team looks poised to make another deep run into the playoffs. That's quite a statement considering how terrible they looked at the beginning of the season.

Contest Reminder: Don't forget to enter All Things Philly Sports' Holiday Giveaway contest! Winner gets a "101 Reasons to Love the Phillies" book. The contest ends December 31st so click here to find out how to enter!

Eagles playoff scenarios

With the Bears win last night, the Eagles playoff chances just got a little slimmer. Here's a quick breakdown of the two possible ways they can get in:

1. Beat Dallas PLUS a Bucs loss to the Raiders PLUS a Vikings loss to the Giants

2. Beat Dallas PLUS a Bucs loss to the Raiders PLUS a Bears loss to the Texans

All of the other games in these scenarios are at 1 o'clock while the Birds play the Cowboys at 4. The Dallas game will mean something no matter what because if the Cowboys win, they're in, a position the Eagles would find themselves in if they hadn't come up a foot short against the Redskins. Or if they hadn't tied the Bengals.

So, as Eagles fans, we need to root for the Raiders, a terrible team, the Texans, a wildly inconsistent team, and the Giants, a team that will be resting up for the playoffs. It's a long shot at best but you know we will all be watching closely. If the Eagles can somehow sneak in the playoffs I still think they could do some damage. Playing Minnesota in the first round shouldn't scare anyone and they have already proven they can beat the Giants. Unfortunately, the Birds may never get a chance.

In short, we need a Christmas miracle for the Birds to get in!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Broken record rumor: Forsberg to the Flyers

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Peter Forsberg is looking to return to the NHL and the Flyers might be interested in his services. For most of last January and February I wrote a number of posts discussing the possibility of Forsberg returning to the Flyers until he decided to make his comeback with the Colorado Avalanche. Now that it appears that Forsberg wants to play again this season, some familiar rumors have surfaced again.

According to, Forsberg will likely return to the Avalanche in late January but apparently the Flyers and Rangers are also possible destinations. While the Flyers could always use another center, if they do choose to sign Foppa they would need to clear out cap space. As it is, the Flyers are so close to the cap that when Danny Briere returns to the team they will have to waive someone or make a trade.

When he's healthy, Forsberg is still a quality NHL player. He played in only 9 regular season games last season but did pile up 14 points with the Avs. Unfortunately, he isn't a guy you can count on to take the ice every night. The nightly question of whether Foppa can take the ice was a headache that is all too familiar for the Flyers and their fans.

Peter Forsberg may be returning to the NHL but I think I can speak for all Flyers fans when I say: we don't want him! Let him sign with the Avs and let them deal with the soap opera.

Contest Reminder: Don't forget to enter All Things Philly Sports' Holiday Giveaway contest! Winner gets a "101 Reasons to Love the Phillies" book. The contest ends December 31st so click here to find out how to enter!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One foot short: The Video

No matter how many times you watch this clip, the ball never breaks the plane:

Hat tip to whoever uploaded this to Youtube.

One foot short: Eagles squander playoff opportunity in loss to Skins

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
That sure didn't look like a team that was desperately trying to get to the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost earlier today so all the Eagles had to do to make the playoffs was win out. You would think a team facing that situation would come out firing with a ton of energy as their season was on the line.

Instead, the Eagles played flat for four quarters in their 10-3 loss to the Redskins. It was a familiar story for the Birds as the team consistently misfired on offense all day as they once again completely abandoned the run in favor of a pass-happy attack. Hey, Andy, when everyone knows you are going to pass the ball, it's easy to stop. It's especially easy when your quarterback looks like he is on a different planet than his receivers. Maybe it was the fact that Kevin Curtis and Hank Baskett were out but Donovan McNabb was not in sync with his receivers at all until the final drive of the game. I stopped counting how many passes he bounced in the second quarter.

The defense was solid as usual, limiting the Redskins to only 10 points. The Skins put up some decent running numbers on the day, getting 122 as a team, but the defense never gave up any big plays and kept the team in the game throughout. They didn't force any turnovers in the game but they can't be faulted for losing this one.

The Eagles aren't eliminated from the playoffs because of the loss but they squandered their chance at controlling their own destiny. They need a miracle to get in now because they need the Bucs to lose again next week when they play the terrible Oakland Raiders. The Eagles also need to pay attention to who wins the NFC Central because whoever doesn't win it out of the Bears and Vikings will be in the hunt for the last NFC playoff spot.

Many will lament that the Eagles fell just a yard short of keeping their season alive but the truth is they should never had been in a position where a desperation touchdown at the end of the game could have saved their season. The Eagles dinked and dunked their way down the field in the final minutes of the game but didn't show any intensity earlier in the game. Too often McNabb and the offense don't show any urgency until the game is on the line and it's too late.

It's amazing how this Eagles team can look like the best team in the NFL one week and like complete garbage the next. This game was really a microcosm of the season as the team started off with a lot of hope, went flat in the middle and then fell just short in the end.

All I have to say is thank goodness the Phillies just won the World Series or you could have some angry rioting in the streets of Philadelphia.

Eagles/Redskins Inactives: Curtis out, Brown back in

The Eagles and Redskins announced their inactives for today's big NFC East game:

Eagles: OL Shawn Andrews, WR Hank Baskett, RB Lorenzo Booker, WR Kevin Curtis, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, OL Chris Patrick, DE Bryan Smith

Redskins: OG D'Anthony Batiste, DT Ryan Boschetti, QB Colt Brennan, DT Kedric Golston, DE Rob Jackson, T Jon Jansen, WR Malcolm Kelly, G Will Montgomery

Reggie Brown returns to the field today in place of Kevin Curtis. Look for him to try to prove that he should be in the line-up every week. Hank Baskett is also out, leaving McNabb with one less target. For the Redskins, Clinton Portis suits up and there are no surprise inactives. Portis is banged up but he always seems to have a good day against the Eagles.

The Eagles are in must-win mode against a struggling Redskins team. The Bucs are currently trailing the Chargers so the Eagles might get the help they need. They can't look past this Redskins team, even though they are struggling there isn't nothing they would want more than to eliminate the Eagles.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Crunchtime: NFL Week 16 Predictions

Lots of great games this week, the NFL schedule maker did a good job predicting which teams would be in the hunt and which would be out of it. Here are my picks for Week 16. Remember, all picks are made without taking the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 11-5, .688
Overall Record: 144-79-1, .645

Thursday Night Game:

Colts (10-4) @ Jaguars (5-9)
The Jaguars showed a little life last week against the Packers but I think they go back to giving up on the season this week against the Colts. Remember how good Colts/Jaguars games were in the past? This one should be a blowout. My pick: Colts

Saturday Night Game:

Ravens (9-5) @ Cowboys (9-5)
The last game in Texas Stadium shouldn't be a pretty one. I fully expect the Ravens defense to shut down Tony Romo and the Dallas offense in a low-scoring affair. My pick: Ravens

Sunday Day Games:

Bengals (2-11-1) @ Browns (4-10)
Terrible, terrible game. Not even worth me breaking anything down. I'll go with the home team. My pick: Browns

Saints (7-7) @ Lions (0-14)
It looks like this is really going to happen. The Lions have their last, best shot this week against the Saints at home but I can't see it happening. Drew Brees will probably throw for 400 yards and the Saints figure to put up 30+ points. Calvin Johnson can only do so much offensively for the Lions. My pick: Saints

Steelers (11-3) @ Titans (12-2)
The Titans peaked too early and now they are done overachieving. The Steelers menacing defense will carry them in this one and don't be surprised if it carries Pittsburgh all the way to the Super Bowl. My pick: Steelers

Dolphins (9-5) @ Chiefs (2-12)
It's hard to believe this is the same Dolphins team that went 1-15 last year. They have a great shot at the playoffs, mostly because they keep playing creampuff teams like the Chiefs. My pick: Dolphins

Niners (5-9) @ Rams (2-12)
Another battle of two pretty bad teams. The Niners are the lesser of two evils here. My pick: Niners

Cardinals (8-6) @ Patriots (9-5)
This is a tough one. On the one hand, the Patriots can't stop anyone through the air and Arizona has the best passing offense in the league. On the other hand, the Cardinals stink on the road. And they might not have Anquan Boldin. And they really aren't playing for anything since their playoff spot is wrapped up. My pick: Patriots

Chargers (6-8) @ Bucs (9-5)
If the Bucs win, the Chargers are eliminated and the Eagles playoff chances get slimmer. If the Chargers win, it could lead to a possible showdown for the AFC West next week where the loser goes home. The Tampa loss also could set up a huge game in Philly next week. This may be more of a hope then an actual prediction, but I think the Chargers can get it done. My pick: Chargers

Jets (9-5) @ Seahawks (3-11)
The Jets need this one to stay atop the AFC East. They are terrible on the road but I think they find a way to pull this one out. It's not like the Seahawks scare anyone anyway. My pick: Jets

Texans (7-7) @ Raiders (3-11)
The Texans are finally living up to the "sleeper" billing that everyone gave them at the beginning of the year. A win against the terrible Raiders guarantees them at least a .500 record and it will continue their hot finish to the season. Look for a lopsided game here. My pick: Texans

Bills (6-8) @ Broncos (8-6)
This game could be meaningless if the Bucs win. Since I think the Chargers will win against Tampa, Denver will have all the pressure on them to clinch the playoffs. It will be close but I think the Broncos pull it out. My pick: Broncos

Eagles (8-5-1) @ Redskins (8-6)
The Eagles are getting the reeling Redskins at just the right time. The Skins have lost 3 in a row and 5 of their last 6. In fact, Washington hasn't beaten a team with a winning record since they beat the Eagles back in Week 5. The Redskins took advantage of an easy schedule to pad their win total a bit and I look for the Eagles to keep knocking them down. The only way I see the Eagles losing is if they look past this game and at the showdown with Dallas next week but I see little chance of that happening. The Birds will be focused on the task at hand. My pick: Eagles

Falcons (9-5) @ Vikings (9-5)
I'm going to take the Vikings at home in this one but I don't feel especially confident about it. I expect Michael Turner to have a pretty good day and Matt Ryan should be able to pick apart the Minnesota secondary but I just think the Vikings will ride Adrian Peterson and the surprisingly effective Tarvaris Jackson to a win. My pick: Vikings

Sunday Night Game:

Panthers (11-3) @ Giants (11-3)
This is a huge NFC showdown that will determine who gets home field throughout the NFC playoffs. It's also a match-up between two teams going in opposite directions. Even though they are on the road, I like the Panthers to beat the suddenly exposed and injury-riddled Giants. My pick: Panthers

Monday Night Game:

Packers (5-9) @ Bears (8-6)
Is there a more disappointing team in the NFL than the Packers? I have definitely picked them way too many times this year. I won't make that mistake again, especially on the road against a division rival. My pick: Bears

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sixers lose Brand for a month

I know I'm late on this news but the Sixers revealed today that they will be without their big free agent signing, Elton Brand, for a month after he dislocated his shoulder on Wednesday. While Brand hasn't exactly taken the Eastern Conference by storm, he has been a solid player and his presence will be missed down low. In his absence, Thaddeus Young will likely start at power forward which should open up their offense and allow the team to be more up-tempo. Rookie Marreese Speights also figures to get more playing time, something he probably deserves anyway.

It's way too early to call the signing of Elton Brand a mistake but the Sixers had to know what they were getting themselves into. Brand has been injury-prone throughout his career and has never played all 82 games in a season. He also has clogged up the middle and forced the Sixers to slow things down. With Brand out I would expect the team to run and gun much like they did at the end of last season. Sadly, losing their best player will allow the Sixers to play the style of basketball that actually suits them. I expect them to rise in the standings while Brand is out which should make for an interesting situation when Brand comes back in January.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eagles to send two to Pro Bowl

According to those who vote in the Pro Bowl, the Eagles were only good in the secondary. The NFL announced the Pro Bowl rosters today and two Eagles made the team as reserves: cornerback Asante Samuel and safety Brian Dawkins. Both are deserving of the honor; Samuel has had a solid season and has proven the Eagles were wise to sign him while Dawkins continues his steady play.

As for Eagles players that were snubbed, I have a hard time finding anyone who was left off that you can make a great case for. Donovan McNabb certainly has the numbers to be a Pro Bowler but it would be tough to take Kurt Warner, Drew Brees or Super Bowl Champ Eli Manning off the team. Brian Westbrook also has had a solid season but with his injuries his overall numbers just aren't there. The Eagles don't have anyone from the line that should have made the team and no receiver stands out of the pack.

There is still time for other Eagles to make the team since seemingly half the initial roster seems to drop out before the game. All that really matters is that the players can call themselves Pro Bowlers, no one really watches the game anyway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eagles sloppily dominate Browns

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
It wasn't always pretty and they left a lot of points on the board but the Eagles proved that they were the far superior team as they dominated the Browns on Monday Night. The Eagles won the game 30-10 although they could have easily added two more touchdowns in the first half alone.

The Eagles didn't put together their best effort of the season but they didn't need to against the Browns. Donovan McNabb looked sharp for most of the night, completing 26 of 35 passes for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns. He really only made one bad pass all game and it came from the 1 yard line right before the half. With only 9 seconds left until halftime, McNabb threw a fade pass that didn't get over the defender, instead it got intercepted and nearly returned the other way for a touchdown.

The other bad play for the Eagles also came at the goal line and it was another interception thrown this time by DeSean Jackson. The Eagles lined up with Jackson at quarterback and he threw a terrible jump pass that didn't have enough behind it and ended up getting picked off in the end zone. Let's hope we don't ever have to see Jackson throw another pass.

Despite the two sloppy plays, the Eagles offense clicked all night. Nine different recievers caught passes and Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter and Kyle Eckel combined for nearly 140 yards of rushing. The Eagles never had any problems moving the football and if it wasn't for the three interceptions (Kevin Kolb also had one in relief of McNabb), the Eagles would have made the game an even bigger blowout.

The defense also continued it's strong play of the last few weeks. The Browns didn't score an offensive touchdown all game and were continually stopped on 3rd down. Cleveland managed only 196 total yards on offense and had only 11 first downs all game. Asante Samuel also added an interception return for a touchdown to cap off a strong defensive performance.

The Eagles took care of business on Monday Night. They got the ball first and marched right down the field and never looked back. Some fans worried about a letdown before the two big divisional games to end the season but the Eagles stepped up and got the much needed win. Things are still lining up for the Eagles in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. Winning the rest of their games doesn't guarantee them a playoff spot but it puts them in a good position. The tie against the Bengals, while completely embarassing, would actually put them slightly ahead all the other 10-win teams if they win out. Of course, if they had simply beaten the Bengals, the 11 wins they might finish with would guarantee them a playoff spot.

It wasn't a pretty game but it was sure fun to watch. Let's hope the next two weeks are more of the same for the Birds.

Eagles/Browns Inactives: Brown still benched

The Eagles and Browns have announced their inactives for Monday Night:

Eagles: OL Shawn Andrews, WR Reggie Brown, RB Correll Buckhalter, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, OL Chris Patrick, TE Matt Schobel, DE Bryan Smith

Browns: S Hamza Abdullah, LB Beau Bell, CB Travis Daniels, LB Kris Griffin, RB Jerome Harrison, DL Santonio Thomas, TE Kellen Winslow, OG Scott Young

For the Eagles, all of their inactives are the same as last week except Correll Buckhalter returns to the lineup to replace Lorenzo Booker. Wideout Reggie Brown still can't find the field. The fact that he doesn't play special teams makes him useless to the Eagles.

The Browns will be without Kellen Winslow, one of their top receiving threats. The rest of the players are no-names to me.

The Eagles pretty much control their own destiny if they win out. They have to take care of business against a weak Browns team this week and then we can really start talking about playoffs. GO BIRDS!

Phillies re-sign Old Man Moyer

The old man will be back. Right on the heels of the Chan Ho Park signing, the Phillies agreed to a two year deal with Jamie Moyer. Moyer is 46 and can barely throw faster than his age but he was an extremely valuable member of the Phillies Championship rotation. Not only did he win 16 games for the Phils last season, he also served as a mentor for the rest of the pitching staff. Having Moyer around is basically like having a second pitching coach.

While one might question how effective Moyer will be at the end of the deal when he is 48 years old, we should all know by now that Moyer's pitching style isn't one that should degrade. For 2009, he will slot in as the 4th pitcher in the rotation behind Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Joe Blanton and will hopefully leave Park out of the mix. I would look for Carlos Carrasco, J.A. Happ or Kyle Kendrick in the 5th spot of the rotation.

This signing likely completes the Phillies pitching rotation and will be the last big move of the Phillie offseason. They may still look for some complementary parts but they won't be signing any other everyday players. Your 2009 Phillies will look nearly the same as the 2008 version, not that that's a bad thing!

Ugh: Phillies sign Chan Ho Park, may use him as starter

There's nothing like signing a pitcher who hasn't been good since 2001 to help you defend your World F'n Championship: the Phillies have signed Chan Ho Park to a one year deal worth a minimum of 2.5 million dollars. Park, 35, is a 15 year veteran who started his career with the Dodgers but has since bounced around with the Rangers, Padres, Mets and back to the Dodgers last season. He has a career record of 117-92 and a career ERA of 4.34.

The signing of Park as a bullpen option would actually be a pretty good move, he could make a good long relief option. Unfortunately, it looks like the Phillies want to give him a shot at the rotation since Park stated that one of the reasons he signed was because the Phillies "considered me a starter". Let's hope the Phils were just saying that to be nice because there is no way Park should be a starting pitcher on any team that thinks they are going to the playoffs.

If the signing of Park is meant to replace Jamie Moyer then the Phillies are clueless. At this point of his career, Park is beyond washed up as a starter. He could still be effective out of the bullpen, as he was last year with the Dodgers, so let's hope the Phillies envision him as a long reliever who will get the occasional emergency start.

Of course, I will be more optimistic of this signing if he drops kicks a few Mets.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sixers fire Mo Cheeks

After signing Elton Brand in the offseason, the Sixers were supposed to get to the next level and compete for a top spot in the Eastern Conference. Instead they have come up well short of expectations as the Sixers are currently in last place with a 9-14 record. Unfortunately, any time a team makes a big free agent acquisition and then underachieves, someone has to pay the price. The man that will be paying the price this time is head coach Maurice Cheeks.

The Sixers have fired Cheeks and will replace him with an interim coach, director of player personnel Tony DiLeo. Cheeks spent three years coaching the Sixers and never led them to a winning record nor did he ever win a playoff series but he did about all that could have been expected with the limited talent he was given in previous years. Now that he has better talent, more was expected of him and the results just weren't there. I don't know much about his replacement, Tony DiLeo, but he's likely a placeholder until the team can bring someone else in with some experience.

The Mo Cheeks coaching era is over in Philadelphia and it was certainly less accomplished than his playing career as a Sixer. He had his moments and he should be commended for leading the Sixers to the playoffs last season when they had no business getting there. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a good track record coaching teams with talent, so the Sixers felt it was time to move on. If they can't improve this season, and fast, you may see some more big changes coming down the line.

Friday, December 12, 2008

NFL Week 15 Predictions

Here are my picks for Week 15. Remember, all picks are made without taking the spread into consideration. If you're looking for a place for picks with the spread, try the free football picks at

Record Last Week: 12-4, .750
Overall Record: 133-74-1, .642

Thursday Night Game:

Saints (7-6) @ Bears (7-6)
Finally a good game on Thursday night. These two teams are pretty even overall but I like the Bears at home in the freezing cold to slow down Drew Brees and the Saints. My pick: Bears

Sunday Day Games:

Bucs (9-4) @ Falcons (8-5)
I'm sticking with my plan of taking the home team in these NFC South match-ups. I also really like the Falcons and their "Big Three" of Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White. They should be good for years to come. My pick: Falcons

Redskins (7-6) @ Bengals (1-11-1)
The Redskins are slipping but not far enough to lose to the terrible Bengals. I also expect Clinton Portis to go off and prove to his coach that he should never be benched. My pick: Redskins

Lions (0-13) @ Colts (9-4)
The Lions missed their best chance at a victory. The Colts are back to being the Colts and that means another blowout win. My pick: Colts

Chargers (5-8) @ Chiefs (2-11)
This one should be close but the Chargers are still too talented to fall to the Chiefs. My pick: Chargers

Packers (5-8) @ Jaguars (4-9)
The Packers are an absolutely maddening team, they should be much better. How did they lose to the Texans at home last week? Aaron Rodgers is a good quarterback but I don't think he knows how to win yet. That said, the Jags have given up so the Packers should come out on top. My pick: Packers

Titans (12-1) @ Texans (6-7)
The Titans might be ripe for the picking and the Texans seem like the type of team that could knock them off but I still believe in Tennessee. The Texans are playing great football right now but I don't see them slowing down the Titans running game. My pick: Titans

Seahawks (2-11) @ Rams (2-11)
Who cares? I guess I'll go with Seattle because of their near win last week against the Patriots. My pick: Seahawks

Niners (5-8) @ Dolphins (8-5)
Here come the Dolphins in the AFC East! They will continue to be in the mix with their easy schedule. My pick: Dolphins

Bills (6-7) @ Jets (8-5)
Boy, the Jets really laid an egg against the Niners, didn't they? They ruined their division lead but they'll bounce back this week. My pick: Jets

Vikings (8-5) @ Cardinals (8-5)
The Cardinals are home this week against a Vikings team that has difficulty stopping the pass. Kurt Warner's eyes will light up all day. This is definitely a game I would look to put some money on over at the sportsbook at My pick: Cardinals

Broncos (8-5) @ Panthers (10-3)
I am sure I have said it before, but the Broncos could be the worst division winner ever. The Panthers look really solid coming off their Monday Night win, and who knew that Deangelo Williams was such a stud? My pick: Panthers

Steelers (10-3) @ Ravens (9-4)
Whoever gets to double digits first will win this game. I really like how the Ravens are playing but the Steelers are still the better team. My pick: Steelers

Patriots (8-5) @ Raiders (3-10)
Who would have thought the Pats would still be in the hunt for the AFC East title with the way they are playing. They will stay at the top after stomping the Raiders. My pick: Patriots

Sunday Night Game:

Giants (11-2) @ Cowboys (8-5)
The Giants may have been exposed by the Eagles a bit. With Plaxico Burress out, teams can play to stop the run because the Giants don't have anyone you really fear on the outside. It's the old strategy of making Eli beat you. Of course, the Cowboys have issues of their own. As an Eagles fan, I love the fact that Dallas is unable to win any big game. This is a big game, so expect Tony Romo to come up small. Again. My pick: Giants

Monday Night Game:

Browns (4-9) @ Eagles (7-5-1)
You have to like the Eagles in this one, they are playing their best football at just the right time. With their backs against the wall, and possibly their career in Philadelphia on the line, Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid have responded by playing great football and making good play calls. Reid has finally gotten the hint that you need the run the ball to win in the NFL. The Vegas Line for this one is somewhere near two touchdowns, I look for the Eagles, if they play the way they have the last two weeks, to cover for sure. My pick: Eagles

Those are my picks for Week 15. Agree or disagree? Leave a comment!

Thanks for the memories Pat Burrell: Phillies sign Raul Ibanez

Pat Burrell's career in Philadelphia is over. The Phillies signed corner outfielder Raul Ibanez, formerly of the Seattle Mariners, to a 3 year, 30 million dollar deal today. He will replace Burrell, a free agent, in the everyday lineup.

Ibanez, 36, will add another lefty bat with some power to the lineup. He has topped 20 homers and 100 RBIs in each of the last three seasons. He also hits for solid average, hitting between .280 and .304 in the last two seasons. While his age concerns me, he's a professional hitter who was signed to a reasonable contract. The only issue I have with the signing is that Ibanez is yet another lefty. With Burell likely gone, the Phillies lack a big right-handed bat in the middle of the line-up.

Burrell ended his tumultuous Philadelphia career on the highest note possible. He's gone from one of the most heckled players to one of the cities most loved. Wherever he ends up next season, Phillie fans will be rooting him on and they will give him a standing ovation when he comes to town.

Good luck Patty B, thanks for helping us win a championship. Now we are going for the next one with a hitter that brings a little more to the table.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Soul may yet be able to defend Arena Championship

The Philadelphia Soul may be the final Arena Football League Champions, although some news came out today that could change that. Despite rumors swirling that the AFL was going to shut down for the 2009 season, it appears that there is still a chance the league will continue on. On Wednesday, the league directors voted to not suspend the league for next season, but that still doesn't guarantee that the AFL will continue. The league has still yet to release a schedule or allow free agency to occur so clearly some things need to be ironed out before the 2009 season is officially put back on.

While all of the talk right now is of suspending the league for just one season, I don't see how the league could come back if they took a year off. Not only will many players and coaches look elsewhere for jobs but whatever little fan interest there was might also look elsewhere for entertainment. Taking a year off could spell death for the AFL.

I guess the Soul were just too good and now everyone wants to quit! Thank goodness the Phillies won a championship so we don't have to cling to the Soul as our only champions. This league seems headed nowhere fast.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Charlie Manuel gets much deserved extension

The Phillies made their first major, and possibly most important, move of the offseason today when they extended manager Charlie Manuel's contract for another season. Manuel's contract was set to expire following the 2010 season so the Phillies went ahead and gave him a one-year extension through 2011.

What a difference a championship makes. A year ago, most Phillies fans wanted to run Manuel out of town. Now, with a World Series title under his (rather large) belt, Manuel won't ever have to buy another drink in this town. While I question how much longer the 64 year-old will want to manage, the Phillies will be smart to extend him a year at a time past the current season so he doesn't become a lame-duck manager.

Congrats Charlie Manuel, you deserve all the praise you are getting after all the crap you had to put up with over the years. May your gut continue to serve you well.

Phillies rumored to be a part of 4-team deal involving Jake Peavy

The Phillies may be involved in the long-rumored Jake Peavy trade, but not in a way you should get too excited about.  Apparently the Phillies, Cubs, Orioles and Padres are having talks about a four team trade that would send Peavy from San Diego to Chicago.  Philadelphia's involvement in the deal would be as a middle man, they would send J.A. Happ and probably another prospect to the Padres and they would get back Mark DeRosa from the Cubs.  The other big names in the deal would be Felix Pie, who would end up in Baltimore, and Sean Marshall and Garrett Olson, who would end up in San Diego.

While this deal seems impossibly complicated and is very likely to fall through, it is still interesting to look at from the Phillies perspective.  Once the initial disappointment that the Phils won't end up with Peavy wears off, you are left with the idea that the Phillies will be getting Chase Utley's injury replacement and a pretty good utility player in Mark DeRosa.  While I don't love the idea of giving up on J.A. Happ, especially since he was supposed to challenge for a spot in the rotation this year, DeRosa would be a solid addition to the lineup with 20+ home run potential and a .280 average.  When Utley comes back, DeRosa would then be a super-utility player who can play first, third and both corner outfield positions.  Heck, DeRosa even played an inning at short last year.

While everything is purely speculation at this point, it's nice to see the Phillies are being proactive about trying to improve the club.  They have also been rumored to be in talks with the Twins about acquiring outfielder Delmon Young.  These World Champions don't plan on sitting back, they are actively trying to improve the club.  Let's see what they manage to pull off.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hope remains alive: Eagles run over Giants

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Where has this Eagles team been all season? With their playoff hopes essentially on the line every week, the Eagles continue to play their best football of the season. Last week it was their impressive performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Thanksgiving, this week it was their all-around effort in dismantling the defending Super Bowl champions, the Giants.

The Eagles won 20-14 over the Giants in the swirling winds of the Meadowlands. They won with something we rarely see from this Eagles team: offensive balance. The Eagles actually ran the ball more often than they threw it in the game, which allowed them to not only wear down the Giants defense but it kept the ball away from Eli Manning and the Giants offense. I don't know if Andy Reid finally figured out that running the ball once in a while can actually win you a football game or if the weather conditions forced the Eagles away from the pass, but the Birds just looked like a much more complete football team.

The biggest beneficiary of the balanced offensive attack was Brian Westbrook who finished with 203 total yards of offense. He rushed the ball a career-high 33 times in the game and has proven once again that when he's healthy he's still a dangerous weapon.

Donovan McNabb didn't put up huge numbers in the game but he did have a solid performance. While he is still prone to skipping the ball to his receivers, he still made a few solid passes into the wind. McNabb also showed great mobility in the pocket and even made some key first down scrambles late in the game.

The Eagles defense once again came up big. The Eagles slowed down the Giants rushing attack and forced Eli Manning to try to beat them through the air. Manning didn't look like the Eli of the past year, instead he resembled the Eli that usually comes up small in December as he made several bad decisions and errant passes. As a result, the Giants failed to score an offensive touchdown until the final minute of the game.

The Eagles now move to 7-5-1 and are very much alive in the NFC Wild Card picture. While the Eagles will likely still need to run the table to get in, their schedule doesn't look as impossible as it once did. The Birds get a bad Browns team next week on Monday Night and they will finish the season off with games against the Redskins and Cowboys. The Redskins game is on the road, but the Skins have really fallen off since their hot start to the season. Cowboys games are always tough but the Eagles always seem to play their best against Dallas at the end of the season.

If the Eagles team that has shown up for the past two weeks continues to show up then the Eagles have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. They look like a great team with their defense playing strong and their balanced offensive attack. Count me amongst those fans that has hope again for this team. As we have learned in the past, you can never count out the Eagles until the season is completely over.

Let's just hope the right Eagles team keeps showing up every week.

Eagles/Giants Inactives: Westbrook to start, Brown benched

The Eagles and Giants have announced their inactives for today's big NFC East clash:

Eagles: OL Shawn Andrews, WR Reggie Brown, RB Correll Buckhalter, QB A.J. Feeley, LB Joe Mays, OL Chris Patrick, TE Matt Schobel, DE Bryan Smith

Giants: DT Jeremy Clark, DT Leger Douzable, OL Adam Koets, CB Sam Madison, DE Jerome McDougle, K Lawrence Tynes, RB Danny Ware

Brian Westbrook will play, as expected. The biggest surprise inactive for the Eagles is Reggie Brown, who isn't injured, he's just fallen that far on the depth chart. What a waste of a 2nd round draft pick. None of the rest of the inactive players are a surprise. Chris Patrick is the player they pulled up from the practice squad to fill Max Jean-Gilles' spot on the roster.

The Giants will be without Sam Madison, meaning Corey Webster will start at cornerback. Former Eagle Jerome McDougle is benched against the Birds once again, proving the Eagles were smart to just let him go. He's made little to no impact for the Giants this season. The Giants will also be without Plaxico Burress, of course.

The season is on the line today for the Eagles, let's see if they can make another one of their late season runs at the playoffs. Go Birds!

Friday, December 5, 2008

NFL Week 14 Predictions

Here are my picks for Week 14. Remember, all picks are made without taking the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 10-6, .625
Overall Record: 121-70-1, .633

Thursday Night Game:

Raiders (3-9) @ Chargers (4-9)
Trust me, I made this pick before the game even though this is being posted on Friday. My pick: Chargers

Sunday Day Games:

Jaguars (4-8) @ Bears (6-6)
The Jags have given up, even Fred Taylor admits that. My pick: Bears

Vikings (7-5) @ Lions (0-12)
This may be the last winnable game for the Lions, but that doesn't win they are actually going to win. Adrian Peterson may go over 300 yards in this game. My pick: Vikings

Texans (5-7) @ Packers (5-7)
The Packers are too good to be 5-7. How many wins would they have if Brett Favre was still the QB? 7? 8?. My pick: Packers

Browns (4-8) @ Titans (11-1)
The Ken Dorsey era begins in Cleveland. The Titans dominance continues. My pick: Titans

Bengals (1-10-1) @ Colts (8-4)
The Colts certainly haven't played that well this season but they've had a lot of fortunate bounces go their way. They won't need any fortune in this one. My pick: Colts

Falcons (8-4) @ Saints (6-6)
I have made a habit of picking against the Falcons too many times and for the Saints too many times. I won't make that mistake this week. My pick: Falcons

Eagles (6-5-1) @ Giants (11-1)
I would love to pick an Eagles win that would catapult them to a late season run at the playoffs but it just isn't going to happen. Even without Eagle-killer Plaxico Burress, the Giants are simply too versatile to lose to Philly. My pick: Giants

Jets (8-4) @ Niners (4-8)
Which Jets team will show up on Sunday? I think it will be the one that whups the Niners. My pick: Jets

Chiefs (2-10) @ Broncos (7-5)
The Broncos are going to get smoked in the first round of the playoffs but they should be able to dominate the Chiefs. My pick: Broncos

Dolphins (7-5) @ Bills (6-6)
The Bills are fading fast and the Dolphins are making their late-season playoff push. Don't count the Fins out yet, they have a cupcake schedule. My pick: Dolphins

Patriots (7-5) @ Seahawks (2-10)
This one is a total "blah" game for me. The Patriots have to win this one to keep their Wild Card hopes going. My pick: Patriots

Rams (2-10) @ Cardinals (7-5)
The Cardinals aren't a good football team, they just play in an awful division. My pick: Cardinals

Cowboys (8-4) @ Steelers (9-3)
The first of three tough picks. Marion Barber and Willie Parker are both banged up, both would have had big games on Pittsburgh's muddy field if they were healthy. The Steelers are the better all-around team. My pick: Steelers

Sunday Night Game:

Redskins (7-5) @ Ravens (8-4)
I think the Redskin's season is fading away while the Ravens are only going up from here. My pick: Ravens

Monday Night Game:

Bucs (9-3) @ Panthers (9-3)
These NFC South games are tough to predict, so I'll just take the home team like I do in the NFC North clashes. My pick: Panthers

Thoughts or predictions of your own? Leave a comment!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Briere to miss a month with groin injury

Just as quickly as he came back, Danny Briere is gone again.

After missing nearly a month, Briere made his return to the ice last night for the Flyers. His night was cut short when he aggravated his nagging groin injury and now Briere figures to miss another month. The questions will linger as to whether the Flyers rushed him back too quickly but for now the team will have to do without their top playmaker.

The loss isn't huge for a Flyers team that has played most of the season without Briere anyway. The team has gotten used to not having their top center and Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne have stepped up their play in Briere's absence. Briere needs to get himself 100% healthy before he returns to the ice, hopefully he won't rush back because there is still plenty of season left.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flyers overcome Downie, Lightning in overtime

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
The Flyers knew that Steve Downie would try to make his presence known in the physical portions of tonight's game but they probably didn't expect him to have as big an impact as he did in the scoring department. After getting his team in an early hole by taking a dumb penalty early (sound familiar Flyers fans?), Downie forced overtime by scoring a goal near the end of the 3rd period. The Flyers went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime when Mike Richards scored a beautiful goal, his second of the game, during a rare overtime powerplay.

Also scoring a pair of goals for the Flyers was the red-hot Jeff Carter. Carter now has 18 goals on the season which ties him for the league-lead with Thomas Vanek of Buffalo. Tonight was just more proof that Carter has finally broken out and become a star in the NHL.

Also from tonight's game, here's a video of the bizarre Scott Hartnell glove-throwing incident that happened at the end of the 3rd period. Can't say I've ever seen that happen before!

Tonight also marked Danny Briere's return to the ice after missing nearly a month. Briere only played 8 minutes and didn't have much of an impact before he had to leave the game. Briere likely felt soreness or re-aggravated his injury, either way the Flyers figure to ease him back into the line-up slowly as he continues to recover from his groin issues.

A game against the slumping Lightning was just what the Flyers needed to get back in the win column. The Flyers are starting to close in on the Penguins for second place in the Atlantic; they currently sit two points behind Pittsburgh. Everyone is still chasing the Rangers who have played three more games than the Flyers.