Tag Archives: Seattle Seahawks

Countdown to Eagles Football — 43 Days: How Did Chip Kelly Do in HIs First Offseason with Full Control of the Roster?

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first part can be found here

Unlike yesterday’s question, the answer to this one is a lot more complicated and significant in terms of determining both the Eagles short and long-term outlook.

When Chip Kelly demanded final say over all roster decisions thus removing Howie Roseman’s title and responsibilities as Genera Manager in early January, he did it with one motivation in mind:

To make personnel decisions that would help take the franchise from good to great. Despite back-to-back 10 win seasons and an NFC East title in 2013, Kelly made the determination that the Eagles were too much of a fringe playoff contender and not close enough to competing for a Super Bowl where a few roster tweaks could get them there. He needed something more.

The merits of Kelly’s estimation can certainly be argued. As a counterpoint to Kelly’s findings, the Eagles beat a Colts team on the road that won 11 games and advanced to the AFC Championship.

They hung with the then defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks on the scoreboard in December before succumbing to a 24-14 defeat but were thoroughly outplayed and beaten up throughout the game.

Perhaps the biggest game in favor of Kelly’s argument was the embarrassing 53-20 mid-November loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field where Kelly’s Eagles were outclassed by a Green Bay team that ended up being minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl over Seattle.

Regardless of how the determination was made, it happened, and Kelly set out to overhaul a roster that will have at least 10 new starters come September 14th in Atlanta.

After three wild trades, some controversial departures, several free-agent acquisitions, thousands of Marcus Mariota rumors and one surprisingly calm draft, how did Kelly do in his first offseason running the show?

On the surface, it appears Kelly made parts of the Eagles better. The addition of Kiko Alonso in the LeSean McCoy trade gives the Eagles their most talented inside linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter’s first stint in midnight green.

Whether or not DeMarco Murray can come close to repeating a career year in 2014 remains to be seen, but him and Ryan Mathews give the Eagles more running back depth while simultaneously weakening their biggest division rival.

Byron Maxwell is an instant upgrade in the secondary, one that was in desperate need of improvement when facing Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, and DeSean Jackson twice a year.

Rather than overpaying to retain the services of Jeremy Maclin, Kelly elected to go the cheaper route and attempt to replace him with rookie first round draft Nelson Agholor. Had the Eagles overpaid for Maclin, they may have been unable to afford a guy like Maxwell.

All of these moves on paper make sense. On the opposing side of things, Kelly did not do much to upgrade offensive line depth or talent at the safety position, two spots that are glaring question marks as the Eagles head into camp. Any injury to the likes of Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, or Malcolm Jenkins could spell doom for the birds rather quickly.

Then, there’s the biggest move of all. Kelly’s first offseason will largely be defined by the successes or failures of Sam Bradford in his system and Nick Foles in St. Louis. Kelly did not simply elect to swap quarterbacks with him getting the less accomplished one. He also surrendered a 2016 second round draft pick for the oft-injured Bradford who is scheduled to make 13 million dollars this season in the final year of his rookie contract while Foles is scheduled to make less than two million with the Rams.

The previous two sentences underscore the biggest question mark about Kelly as a GM. It is abundantly clear to anyone who has watched the Eagles over the past two seasons that the man can coach, and his ability to identify talent going back to his Oregon days is impressive.

The unknown lies in the asset management component of being a genera manager, something that can often be overlooked but essential in ensuring that the team is set up well for both the present and future.

Would a more experienced GM have been able to execute the Bradford-Foles trade without giving up the extra draft pick, something that maybe could have enticed the Titans more in an offer for Mariota. When Kelly signed Maxwell and Murray, was he bidding against himself in those negotiations and did he need to pay them as much as he did?

When Roseman had heavy influence in the draft, there are stories of Kelly overvaluing certain players like Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Taylor Hart, wanting to select them a round before most other teams would have, and having to be walked back by Roseman, assuring him that they would be available when they picked again.

Maybe veteran GM’s wouldn’t have the guts to do what Kelly is doing, and if Bradford stays healthy and turns into the franchise quarterback that the Rams once hoped he would be, no one will care very much about the lost second round pick.

Still, football players are not acquired in a vacuum. There is an opportunity cost, both present and future, to every decision made, and whether or not Kelly can master the asset and resource allocation part of the job remains to be seen.

As I have stated previously on Twitter and in 10 Things I Think I Think, I don’t believe Kelly’s offseason has the Eagles worse than the 2014 season, but there is a small fear that he rearranged chairs on the Titanic as opposed to strengthening the collective roster.

Ultimately the Eagles are in better shape with Kelly doing everything as opposed to Kelly coaching somewhere else and doing nothing at all. Time will tell whether he is as capable of a general manager as he is a coach.

The first seven months have sure been something

Stay Alive and Survive: Cody Parkey Kickoff Contest Week 16 Edition

Happy Saturday football, folks.

After not tasting victory for nearly three and a half weeks now, I’m hungry for one again. Cody Parkey only kicked off six times last week, and frankly, I want more today. For reference, Parkey kicked off eight times in the first Redskins game back in Week 3. The rookie also hit a key 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference as the birds held off the Skins 37-34.

Most of you know the scenarios by now for the Eagles, and we’ll be sure to update them as Week 16 begins to unfold. Let’s hit the contest.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff today guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Redskins average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I got (4, 19). 

While not a ton of points have been given out since Thanksgiving, the leaderboard remains tightly contested and could change quickly with a couple correct predictions, so make sure to get your guesses in.

All of your pertinent information is below along with our chart that will of course be updated throughout the afternoon.

Stay live, survive, root for Andrew Luck tomorrow.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 87 kickoffs in 14 games
  • 72 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 42 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.81
Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18
2 Colts 1 Yes Yes 20 [18.25], 20
2 Colts 2 No No 27 [19.2] 23.5
2 Colts 3 Yes No 27 [20] 24.67
2 Colts 4 Yes Yes 20 [20] 23.5
2 Colts 5 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.8
2 Colts 6 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.33
3 Redskins 1 Yes No 18 [19.86] 18
3 Redskins 2 Yes No 13 [19.4] 15.5
3 Redskins 3 Yes Yes 20 [19.43] 17
3 Redskins 4 No No 41 [20.71] 23
3 Redskins 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 22.4
3 Redskins 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.63] 22
3 Redskins 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.6] 21.71
3 Redskins 8 Yes Yes 20 [20.57] 21.5
4 49ers 1 Yes No 20 [20.55] 20
4 49ers 2 No No 22 [20.61] 21
4 49ers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.58] 20.67
4 49ers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.56] 20.5
5 Rams 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.54] 20
5 Rams 2 Yes No 26 [20.74] 23
5 Rams 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 22
5 Rams 4 Yes No 24 [20.83] 22.5
5 Rams 5 Yes No 18 [20.73] 21.6
5 Rams 6 Yes No 21 [20.74] 21.5
5 Rams 7 Yes No 21 [20.75} 21.43
6 Giants 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.73] 20
6 Giants 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 20
6 Giants 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.69] 20
6 Giants 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 20
6 Giants 5 Yes No 24 [20.76] 20.8
6 Giants 6 Yes No 24 [20.84] 21.33
7 Cardinals 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.82] 20
7 Cardinals 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
7 Cardinals 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.78] 20
7 Cardinals 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.76] 20
7 Cardinals 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.74] 20
8 Texans 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.72] 20
8 Texans 2 Yes No 8 [20.44] 14
8 Texans 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.43] 16
8 Texans 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.42] 17
8 Texans 5 Yes No 6 [20.16] 14.8
9 Panthers 1 No No 19 [20.13] 19
9 Panthers 2 Yes No 31 [20.36] 25
9 Panthers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.35] 23.33
9 Panthers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.34] 22.5
9 Panthers 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 22
9 Panthers 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 21.67
9 Panthers 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.32] 21.43
9 Panthers 8 Yes No 37 [20.61] 23.38
10 Packers 1 No No 16 [20.53] 16
10 Packers 2 No No 20 [20.52] 18
10 Packers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.51] 18.67
10 Packers 4 No No 22 [20.54] 19.5
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17
15 Redskins 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
15 Redskins 2 No No 27 [20.87] 23.5
15 Redskins 3 No No 16 [20.82] 21
15 Redskins 4 Yes No 17 [20.77] 20
16 Redskins 5 Yes No 35 [20.93] 23

Don’t Look at Mock Drafts Just Yet: Eagles Playoff Scenarios

If the NFL playoffs started right now, the Eagles would unfortunately be on the outside looking in, as the seventh seed in an NFC field that includes six teams.

Thankfully the playoffs will not become official for 14 days.

The easiest way for the Eagles to get to January is to win their final two games and have the Cowboys lose one, realistically at home to the 10-4 Indianapolis Colts next week.

A few other scenarios exist, but they are a bit less likely as Detroit, Seattle, or Green Bay would have to lose both of their final two games while the Eagles win both of theirs.

Green Bay faces the lowly Buccaneers next weekend, so let’s rule them out.

Seattle has two tough games at Arizona and home against the Rams, who play all opponents tough and beat the Seahawks earlier in the season, but it is difficult to envision them dropping two straight considering their strong play recently.

That leaves Detroit, the current leader of the NFC North by way of a tiebreaker over the Packers. The Lions will likely be heavy underdogs in the Week 17 bout at Lambeau, but in order for that game to matter to the Eagles, they would need to lose on the road to the struggling Bears next weekend.

Is that possible? You decide. I don’t trust Jay Cutler as far as I can throw him, but the Lions certainly didn’t look like world-beaters in a narrow win over Minnesota today.

Still, the Eagles easiest road remains a backdoor NFC East title with the Cowboys following a December tradition and dropping a pivotal game late.

For all of the issues that went wrong tonight, the Eagles should be far superior to their remaining opponents in the Redskins and Giants.

If help comes, it ideally comes next week by way of the Colts, but stranger things have happened (Think Week 17 in 2008 with the Raiders and Texans opening up a door for them).

Tonight hurt, but it was not a death sentence, and with the birds playing a day early on Saturday, a win will put the pressure squarely on the Cowboys who have struggled at home.

Hope NIck Foles gets cleared, beat a bad Washington team, and bite your nails on Sunday.

The Eagles need help, but it ain’t time to look at mock drafts quite yet.

Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest: #BeatDallas Again Edition

Afternoon, folks. How we feeling heading into tonight?

For me, it’s a mix of cautioned confidence and anxious nervousness, but should the game rest on Cody Parkey’s leg late, I feel just fine.

During the Thanksgiving beatdown of the Cowboys, Parkey was incredibly busy as he kicked off eight times. Last week against the Seahawks was a different story as the Eagles offense struggled to move the ball most of the day against the defending Super Bowl champions. Parkey kicked off only three times.

Seattle’s defense Dallas is not though, and tonight will hopefully resemble Thanksgiving once again.

Let’s hit it as the battle for control of the NFC East goes down.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff tonight guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Cowboys average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I will go (5,21).

Get your guesses in. Don’t piss off Claude.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 81 kickoffs in 13 games
  • 68 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 41 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.93
Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18
2 Colts 1 Yes Yes 20 [18.25], 20
2 Colts 2 No No 27 [19.2] 23.5
2 Colts 3 Yes No 27 [20] 24.67
2 Colts 4 Yes Yes 20 [20] 23.5
2 Colts 5 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.8
2 Colts 6 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.33
3 Redskins 1 Yes No 18 [19.86] 18
3 Redskins 2 Yes No 13 [19.4] 15.5
3 Redskins 3 Yes Yes 20 [19.43] 17
3 Redskins 4 No No 41 [20.71] 23
3 Redskins 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 22.4
3 Redskins 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.63] 22
3 Redskins 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.6] 21.71
3 Redskins 8 Yes Yes 20 [20.57] 21.5
4 49ers 1 Yes No 20 [20.55] 20
4 49ers 2 No No 22 [20.61] 21
4 49ers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.58] 20.67
4 49ers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.56] 20.5
5 Rams 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.54] 20
5 Rams 2 Yes No 26 [20.74] 23
5 Rams 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 22
5 Rams 4 Yes No 24 [20.83] 22.5
5 Rams 5 Yes No 18 [20.73] 21.6
5 Rams 6 Yes No 21 [20.74] 21.5
5 Rams 7 Yes No 21 [20.75} 21.43
6 Giants 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.73] 20
6 Giants 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 20
6 Giants 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.69] 20
6 Giants 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 20
6 Giants 5 Yes No 24 [20.76] 20.8
6 Giants 6 Yes No 24 [20.84] 21.33
7 Cardinals 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.82] 20
7 Cardinals 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
7 Cardinals 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.78] 20
7 Cardinals 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.76] 20
7 Cardinals 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.74] 20
8 Texans 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.72] 20
8 Texans 2 Yes No 8 [20.44] 14
8 Texans 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.43] 16
8 Texans 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.42] 17
8 Texans 5 Yes No 6 [20.16] 14.8
9 Panthers 1 No No 19 [20.13] 19
9 Panthers 2 Yes No 31 [20.36] 25
9 Panthers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.35] 23.33
9 Panthers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.34] 22.5
9 Panthers 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 22
9 Panthers 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 21.67
9 Panthers 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.32] 21.43
9 Panthers 8 Yes No 37 [20.61] 23.38
10 Packers 1 No No 16 [20.53] 16
10 Packers 2 No No 20 [20.52] 18
10 Packers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.51] 18.67
10 Packers 4 No No 22 [20.54] 19.5
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17

Sad Eagles-Seahawks Haiku

When I used to cover Penn State, I found that a few of my better game stories came after emotional losses. They were a team playing with nothing to lose. Victories were fun, but defeats were — for me at least — easy to shake off given the situation they were facing.

Unfortunately, the Eagles — my first love — produce different emotions, and trying to throw something together about that game is proving to be difficult.

Ten days ago, it felt like the Eagles were on top of the world. and the defending Super Bowl champions sent them crashing back down to earth. Thanks to a muffed punt and some gutsy play-calling by Chip Kelly, the Eagles took a 7-0 lead.

The euphoric feeling quickly evaporated though as they would only score seven more points throughout the day as Russell Wilson did Russell Wilson things en route to 24 for the Seahawks.

Some less than stellar officiating may have helped them get to 24, but the Eagles were so thoroughly dominated on the stat sheet that I don’t feel I can devote a ton of space to bashing officials without pointing out the lopsided numbers.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 8.32.35 PM

Not pictured in that screenshot is that Doug Baldwin, a rather pedestrian wide receiver, had more receiving yards than the entire Eagles team. After playing an efficient game in Dallas, Mark Sanchez never truly looked comfortable.

This was the lowest point total for the Eagles in a game since their last regular season home loss — against the Giants on October 27 last year — and it may have been the most out of sync the offense has looked since then, save for maybe the 49ers game earlier this season.

The Eagles were outplayed in a lot of areas and shown how far their quarterback and secondary play still needs to progress before they can hang with the Seahawks, and yet there are some plays and moments where it’s hard not to wonder ‘What if?’

The ineligible Seahawks lineman downfield on their first touchdown drive that wasn’t called, the ill-advised timeout with a minute remaining in the second quarter, the pass that sailed through the hands of Zach Ertz early in the fourth quarter, and last but certainly not least, the Malcolm Jenkins dropped interception later on in the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, the Eagles are EXACTLY where I expected them to be after 13 games of this season. What I did not expect is some other teams like the Cowboys and Lions to have the exact same record. The NFC playoff picture is really tight, and 9-4 doesn’t go as far as it may have in past seasons.

It is still very likely the Eagles find themselves in the NFC playoff field. It will be a near certainty should they beat Dallas again next Sunday, this time at the Linc where they are 6-1 on the season, but rather than playing for a complete division clinch and a potential inside track on a first round bye, both are a bit dicier than they would have been with a statement victory today.

Like most losses, today really sucked, but it wasn’t a death sentence, just a wake-up call, and we’ll all feel more awake after we beat Dallas at home on Sunday night next week.

Let’s hit the haiku, win the game next week, and check on the health of Nicky Foles.

Refs bad Sanchez worse

Outclassed by Russell Wilson

Trust Chip after loss

Five Numbers I Hope to See in the Box Score when Eagles-Seahawks Concludes

Before the season, I predicted that the Eagles would head into today’s game with a 9-3 record and a 6-0 mark at home. And then I picked them to lose to the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, thinking Pete Carroll’s defense would be too much for them.

Well, sure enough, the Eagles enter this highly anticipated NFC showdown at 9-3 and undefeated at home, and the more I look at the matchup, the more I think they’re going to improve to 10-3 and 7-0 at home.

Even after holding both the Cardinals and 49ers to three points in back-to-back weeks, the Seahawks just don’t scare me that much away from CenturyLink Field. The Eagles have been lights out at the Linc this season, and I expect that to continue today.

Let’s hit the five numbers that I believe could help make it happen and hope to see in the box score as this one concludes:

  1. Less than 70 rushing yards for Marshawn Lynch — The Seahawks essentially run their offense through two players, Russell Wilson and Lynch. With Golden Tate in Detroit and Percy Harvin exiled to the Jets, that’s it. Contain them, and you win the game. Seattle is 3-3 this season in games where Lynch is held below 70 yards. They are 5-1 when he eclipses that mark. After holding the NFL’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray to a season low 73 yards on Thanksgiving, the Eagles front seven should be ready to go.
  2. At least one sack for Fletcher Cox — The third-year defensive end has a sack in three of his last four contests and had his formal coming out party in front of a national audience on Turkey Day with two tackles for loss to go with the sack. It really seems like Cox is coming into his own after battling consistency issues early on in his career. Dropping Russell Wilson one or more times today would be a great way to show that.
  3. Mark Sanchez completing at least 63 percent of his passes — After dealing with some accuracy issues and only completing 56.7 percent of his attempts against the Panthers and Seahawks, Sanchez has been on point over the past two contests going 50-for-72, equating to 69.4 percent. I don’t expect that today against the Seahawks secondary, but staying above the 60 percent mark will be key in keeping the offense moving in perhaps his toughest challenge to date.
  4. Darren Sproles returning a punt at least 20 yards — If the Eagles have a distinct advantage in one area today, it is special teams. I’m expecting an impact play from either Sproles or Huff Daddy, and ideally there will be way more Seahawks punts than Seahawks kickoffs.
  5. LeSean McCoy averaging more than four yards per carry — Reports of McCoy’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Eagles Pro Bowl running back has looked electric over his past two games, but the Titans and Cowboys front seven is no Seahawks. Running room will be tougher to come by today, but the Eagles are 5-1 this season when McCoy averages four or more yards per carry. Let’s make it 6-1 and push it to three straight games in a row over the century mark.

The Jeremy Maclin-Richard Sherman matchup gets an honorable mention and warrants watching as well obviously. I don’t expect Maclin to go for 150+ yards like he has three time prior this season, but he should be able to hold his own.

There you have it, folks. Seventy, one, 63, 20, four, and hopefully double digit wins and playing for a second consecutive NFC East title next Sunday night.

Fist pump away, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF

Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest: #BackInBlack Seahawks Edition

Yours truly is a bit under the weather, and Eagles rookie Cody Parkey has been dealing with a bit of a groin injury, but neither is going to stop us from our weekly contest today and another All Black Everything day at the Linc.

Ten days ago, we were blessed with Parkey facing Dan Bailey, and now he opposes arguably an even better kicker than Bailey in Steve Hauschka, and perhaps the one thing standing behind Parkey and a Pro Bowl berth.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 2.05.17 PM

Things will be incredibly interesting should today’s showdown against the defending Super Bowl champions rest on the leg of either kicker late in the contest, but ideally, the Eagles will be able to put things away before that, in part due to their rock solid special teams.

You know the drill. Let’s hit it.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff today guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Seahawks average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I’ll take (4, 21). 

Get your guesses in before 4:25 p.m. Don’t piss off Claude.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 78 kickoffs in 12 games
  • 67 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 41 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 21.09

Your chart will of course be updated throughout the game.

Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18
2 Colts 1 Yes Yes 20 [18.25], 20
2 Colts 2 No No 27 [19.2] 23.5
2 Colts 3 Yes No 27 [20] 24.67
2 Colts 4 Yes Yes 20 [20] 23.5
2 Colts 5 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.8
2 Colts 6 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.33
3 Redskins 1 Yes No 18 [19.86] 18
3 Redskins 2 Yes No 13 [19.4] 15.5
3 Redskins 3 Yes Yes 20 [19.43] 17
3 Redskins 4 No No 41 [20.71] 23
3 Redskins 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 22.4
3 Redskins 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.63] 22
3 Redskins 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.6] 21.71
3 Redskins 8 Yes Yes 20 [20.57] 21.5
4 49ers 1 Yes No 20 [20.55] 20
4 49ers 2 No No 22 [20.61] 21
4 49ers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.58] 20.67
4 49ers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.56] 20.5
5 Rams 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.54] 20
5 Rams 2 Yes No 26 [20.74] 23
5 Rams 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 22
5 Rams 4 Yes No 24 [20.83] 22.5
5 Rams 5 Yes No 18 [20.73] 21.6
5 Rams 6 Yes No 21 [20.74] 21.5
5 Rams 7 Yes No 21 [20.75} 21.43
6 Giants 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.73] 20
6 Giants 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 20
6 Giants 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.69] 20
6 Giants 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 20
6 Giants 5 Yes No 24 [20.76] 20.8
6 Giants 6 Yes No 24 [20.84] 21.33
7 Cardinals 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.82] 20
7 Cardinals 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
7 Cardinals 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.78] 20
7 Cardinals 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.76] 20
7 Cardinals 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.74] 20
8 Texans 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.72] 20
8 Texans 2 Yes No 8 [20.44] 14
8 Texans 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.43] 16
8 Texans 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.42] 17
8 Texans 5 Yes No 6 [20.16] 14.8
9 Panthers 1 No No 19 [20.13] 19
9 Panthers 2 Yes No 31 [20.36] 25
9 Panthers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.35] 23.33
9 Panthers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.34] 22.5
9 Panthers 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 22
9 Panthers 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 21.67
9 Panthers 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.32] 21.43
9 Panthers 8 Yes No 37 [20.61] 23.38
10 Packers 1 No No 16 [20.53] 16
10 Packers 2 No No 20 [20.52] 18
10 Packers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.51] 18.67
10 Packers 4 No No 22 [20.54] 19.5
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67

Sunday Morning Haiku and Trying to Stomach Rooting for the Patriots

(Screenshot via NFL.com)

Morning, folks.

As you’re well aware, the Eagles do not play today following Thursday’s Thanksgiving beatdown of Dallas. If you need a break from Sunday stress, you have a one week respite.

If you’re anxious to get back at it like me, there are other games you can keep an eye on that will impact the jumbled playoff picture in the NFC.

The two games in particular to hone in on are the Falcons hosting the Cardinals at 4 p.m., and even more importantly, the Packers hosting the Patriots slated for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.

The Eagles currently lead the Packers by half a game, but the Packers of course have the tiebreaker over the birds after a blowout victory in Lambeau two weeks ago.

I actually think the Cardinals could lose a few more games. They have only scored 17 combined points in their past two games and have a tough stretch against the NFC West coming up.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.19.43 AM

The Packers on the other hand, have a pretty favorable schedule following their date with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick today.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.21.35 AM

The Eagles at some point need to get ahead of them by a game in order to avoid a potential January date in Lambeau, and the Patriots might be their way of doing it.

For a multitude of reasons, it is hard to root for the Patriots, but to make the Eagles path to the Super Bowl easier, that is the task today.

Enjoy today before Seahawks week, and a fantastic matchup between my favorite coach in sports (Chip Kelly) and my third favorite coach in sports (Pete Carroll).

Past history be damned. Root for the Patriots if you can stomach it, and don’t get too used to Sundays without Eagles football. Aside from a Week 16 Saturday game in D.C., we’ll hopefully be going all the way through the first day of February.

Let’s hit the haiku:

Super Bowl champs loom

As playoff picture takes shape

Go Patriots Go

The Eagles-Cowboys Showdown is Important Today But Contrary to What Any National Narrative Might Suggest It Won’t Necessarily Decide the NFC East

By the time I finish writing this post, kickoff between the Eagles and Cowboys with first place in the division on the line will be less than nine hours away.

We’re getting closer, but that’s still a ton of time for more hype to be generated about the Thanksgiving matchup. This game has been circled on the slate for many since the schedule was released in late April, but the circumstances are a bit different than most expected, certainly a contrast to what I anticipated.

Yes, the Eagles head to Dallas with the exact same record as I thought they would at 8-3, but the Cowboys are also a surprising 8-3 when many picked them to win only five or six games. I like to think my predictions have been mostly decent, but Dallas right now, pending a ridiculous collapse that I don’t think even they are capable of, appears to be the big miss right now.

If you told me in August that the Eagles would head into this game 8-3, I would have told you that they would have the NFC East virtually clinched already, but they don’t, and despite what anyone tells you to create excitement, neither team will be that close to winning it as people loosen their belts tonight and settle in for Seahawks-49ers.

Today’s contest is no doubt important, and whichever team does win will have a bit of an easier path to the division crown, but unlike the Week 17 virtual playoff games in 2008 and 2013, this isn’t a do or die type of deal.

I do think though, that the Eagles head into today with a bit of a long-term advantage over Dallas. Let’s examine why:

These are the current NFC East standings:

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.16.05 AM

Take a look at that seventh column from the left there — The division record one.

You will see that the Eagles are undefeated in the division at 2-0 while Dallas sits at 2-1 after dropping a home game to Washington exactly one month ago to the day. That is so significant because if the teams split their two games and finish with the exact same record, it will be the first tiebreaker used to decide the division winner.

Below are both teams’ remaining schedules, with the Eagles first and the Cowboys below them.

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.21.33 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 8.21.47 AM

Discounting the two games against each other in a three week span, the Eagles common opponents have a combined record of 13-20 while the Cowboys face teams with a cumulative record of 15-18.

Since the Eagles have not yet lost within the division, they could split their two games with Dallas, win all of the others, and take the division at 12-4. The same does not hold true for Dallas. Going 4-1 down the stretch would certainly put them in the playoffs, but if the Eagles matched them and took a game from them, they get the NFC East crown, a home playoff game, and quite possibly a first round bye.

Such a scenario would have the Eagles with a 5-1 record in the division while Dallas would only be 4-2.

How realistic is it to expect the Eagles to win all three games against the Seahawks, Redskins, and Giants?

That is up to your interpretation. They have already defeated the latter two at home, and Seattle looks like a much different team away from CenturyLink Field, currently holding a 2-3 road record.

The Eagles have not been road juggernauts this season though, also holding a 2-3 record away from Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants and Redskins are certainly not the 49ers, Cardinals, or Packers, but playing back-to-back NFC East road games late in the season is never a slam dunk, even against squads who have packed it in.

In stark contrast to the Eagles, the Cowboys are undefeated on the road and currently hold a 3-3 home record. Three of their last four games after today will be played elsewhere, but that might not be so bad if you think their strong road play holds up.

We have examined a lot of hypothetical scenarios, but quite honestly, the Eagles path to the division is in theory quite simple:

Win at least one game against Dallas and don’t lose any others.

How you feel about things over the next month ultimately depends on how you feel about different elements of the Eagles right now. Do you trust Chip Kelly down the stretch? I sure do and personally think you should, especially with extra time to prepare for the Seahawks. Do you trust Mark Sanchez to beat Dallas at least once if Nicky Foles isn’t back in two and a half weeks? That answer might be a bit more dicey for some.

I am not intentionally trying to downplay today’s matchup. It should be fun. It may be stressful, and like a lot of you, I will probably be doing battle with a food coma right before kickoff from eating an early dinner.

It may seem like I am cautioning you against a letdown throughout this post, but I actually think the Eagles are going to win 30-27. Provided Mark Sanchez can exorcise some demons of Thanksgiving past and not turn the ball over more than once or twice, the birds should be able to move the ball against a better than expected but still somewhat vulnerable Dallas defense and contain DeMarco Murray.

Just keep things in perspective. If we’re celebrating a huge road victory tonight, the Eagles will be in a prime position to repeat as NFC East champions, and I’ll be pumped as all hell, but don’t panic and go jumping off the Walt Whitman in a tryptophan induced rage should things not go right.

The national narrative might be that the winner today gets the division, but either way, there is a lot more work to be done.

Five Eagles-Giants Numbers That I Would Like to See Around Midnight

Ah, another edition of Eagles-Giants Sunday Night Football is upon us.

Following two 1 p.m. kicks against the NFC East rival last season, it is nice to be back in primetime again. After all, this was an annual thing from 2007-2012 before a brief hiatus in 2013.

The Eagles are winners of the last four Sunday Night matchups against the Giants going back to December 2009, but getting to five may be tougher than originally expected. The birds are sitting somewhat pretty at 4-1 but have not looked great doing it and enter the highly anticipated contest with a depleted offensive line and banged up linebacker core.

After losing to Drew Stanton at home to fall to 0-2, the Giants have gone from the brink of disaster to winners of three straight. They are confident, and in a way, the game may be more important to them. The Eagles will at worst go into their bye week 4-2, but Tom Coughlin’s squad travels to face the surprising Cowboys next Sunday and then follow that up with a stretch against the Colts, Seahawks, and Niners after their bye.

A lot is at work, but if the Eagles win, they will be in excellent shape in a shockingly decent NFC East regardless of how this Seahawks-Cowboys game ends.

Here are five numbers that I believe could lead to a big home victory tonight:

  1. At least two Eli Manning interceptions — In the Eagles most recent five wins in this rivalry, Manning has thrown nine total interceptions. He looks like a reborn man under new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but part of the reason I am picking the Eagles is because I’m banking on a couple key second half turnovers (and subsequent Manning faces). You hearing this, Malcolm Jenkins?
  2. Less than 60 yards for Victor Cruz — Since becoming a part of this rivalry in 2011, Cruz has averaged 90.5 yards per game and turned in five touchdowns in six contests. When he plays well against the Eagles, the Giants seem to play pretty well against the Eagles. It will be up to Brandon Boykin to stop that from happening tonight.
  3. More than 70 yards for Zach Ertz — After racing out to an insane start through two games, Ertz has been pretty quiet as of late. He has not totaled more than four receptions or more than 43 yards over his most recent three games and even had a costly fumble against the 49ers two weeks ago. I think him exploiting the Giants linebackers could be key to jumpstart Nicky Foles and the Eagles offense should they go stagnant at some point. The stars come out on Sunday Night. Do the damn thing, my dude.
  4. A minimum of six carries for Darren Sproles — In Week 1 against the Jaguars, Sproles carried the rock 11 times for 71 yards. Since then, he has received only 14 carries. If the Eagles are going to make a deep January run, LeSean McCoy will need to find his 2013 self at some point, but right now, they need to win a key divisional game, and Sproles is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He needs to touch the ball. Please, Chip.
  5. One special teams or defensive touchdown from the Eagles — The Eagles have scored at least one special teams touchdown in their last three games and at least one defensive touchdown in past two games. Conventional wisdom would suggest that has to end at some point, right? Yes, but maybe not tonight as there is some history here. DeSean Jackson comes to mind, but the Eagles also scored in this matchup last season at Lincoln Financial Field when Najee Goode swooped up a muffed punt. Goode is injured and Jackson is obviously not here, but Sproles is here, and so is special teams ace Chris Maragos. Keeping the streak alive one more week would go a long way toward keeping the Giants out of a first place tie in the division.

There you have it. We got two, 60, 70, six, one, and hopefully a big W to head into the bye week at 5-1.

Take it away, Chip.

Fist Pump GIF