The Philadelphia sports scene is already overcrowded. But here's one more thing.
The Philadelphia sports scene is already overcrowded. But here's one more thing.
Published January 2, 2021
We are almost at the finish line of this wretched season, although the powers that be just had to extend our misery by flexing this game into the Sunday night slot since Washington will be playing for the division title. Of course they did, because nothing can ever be easy, even ending our suffering.
From an Eagles fan perspective, there’s little reason to watch. What are you going to learn about this team that you don’t already know, and will some unexpectedly dominant performance do anything to change the outlook for the offseason/2021? No. The Eagles just need to lose and be done with it, as I posited earlier this week. Thankfully, it appears that the tank is on, with numerous players out for a number of ailments that would suddenly be healed if this game actually mattered for them. Let’s just hope that burn victim Michael Jacquet overcomes his “calf injury” to play this week.
This will give us one last chance to evaluate Jalen Hurts before we head into the offseason, and it’s far from an ideal situation. Plus, since he’s without so much of the supporting cast, you can pretty much throw out any results. Maybe he’s surprisingly good and runs wild, but the sustainability factor of such a thing is low. You couldn't base any future decisions on it. I’d hate to be in this organization’s shoes when it comes to sorting out the QB position this offseason. Do you sell low on Wentz, see what you can get for the kid, or keep them both and have an open competition? There is no palatable scenario, so good luck with that.
Notice that I’m not really talking about the actual game here, because there’s no reason to. No fans will be there to give the Eagles a deserved sendoff of jeers, which would have at least been cathartic to watch. The only suspense will be if the Eagles can manage to lose, as it guarantees that they’ll pick no lower than sixth in this year’s draft. They could even move as high as #3 with some help from other games.
A win, meanwhile, would bump them down a few slots and supposedly make them feel good about themselves by not allowing Washington to celebrate on their home field. They called it the “no hat rule”. Get bent. I understand professional pride and still trying to win, but it would be absolutely infuriating if they put up one of their best performances of the season after lying down like dogs in other games that mattered. Again, though, it looks like these mysterious injuries are conspiring to at least help them achieve the goal of losing on Sunday.
Making this even more ridiculous is the fact that we don’t even know if WFT quarterback Alex Smith will be able to go. If he doesn’t, then Taylor Heinicke will get the call since the team cut dummy Dwayne Haskins this week. And the Eagles’ defense will probably still be overmatched. That’s how bad it’s gotten.
Iggle Prediggles have gone 9-5-1 this year, and I’d really like to get to double digits. Come on, Birds, help me out by losing. Let’s just stick a fork in this year and allow the Washington...team to become probably the worst club to ever make the playoffs. Don’t screw it up by letting the Cowboys or Giants sneak in.
In a welcome bit of symmetry, let’s end this horrible season the same way it began: by losing to a football team without a name.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Football Team 26, Eagles 16
Will this be the Eagles' final ever meeting with "the Football Team?" (Inside the Birds)
Published December 26, 2020
Remember the last time these teams played, and the Eagles almost lost to Ben DiNucci? Do you also remember that the Birds actually won that game by 14 points, which is their largest margin of victory this season? Despite that, it was the cringiest, most hollow-feeling victory over the Cowboys that any of us have ever seen. In the wake of it, I heard all the usual ‘dumb fan’ takes over the following days about how it felt like a loss and was somehow even worse than the tie against the Bengals. At least those asinine comments were comforting reminders of normal life in 2020.
But, turning to the game at hand, it’s Jalen Hurts time, baby. The Eagles, despite going 1-5 since that last win over Dallas, are somehow still alive in this thing. And their rookie QB is turning heads all over the place after a huge upset win over the Saints and a valiant effort in a losing cause against the Cardinals.
Now he gets his first ever crack at the Cowboys and, even though you can’t call this a marquee matchup, both teams have something to play for. This game could set a nice tone for his career trajectory as it serves as an introduction of what he’ll be expected to do over the next decade or so. What’s that, you say that Carson Wentz still might end up being the long-term QB? Yeah, ok.
The offensive gameplan from Doug and company was pretty good last week, and I’m hoping for more of the same. Miles Sanders will need to at least equal the 17 carries that he had, and Hurts would be well-advised to spread the ball like he did against Arizona. Six Eagles topped 30 yards receiving, including the out-of-nowhere Quez Watkins, last week. Nine players had receptions. For a team without top tier options, this is what you need to do to win. Keep it going.
As for the negative, the defense was once again gouged by a top tier receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), and that trend is going to need to stop here and now. Maybe Darius Slay’s return will help, as he’s got to finally get the better of Amari Cooper or whatever wideout he’s matched up against. The D-line will also need to get back to its sacking ways (looking at you, “Pro Bowler” Brandon Graham), and that should at least be somewhat easier this week against the statue of Andy Dalton than it was against Kyler Murray. Dalton has been very quick to release the ball this year, however, so nothing is guaranteed. In addition, Fletcher Cox’s status is in question as of this writing, so let’s hope he plays, as their ability to turn pressure into sacks will be hindered if they are Cox-less.
As I said, these teams are playing for something, but that could all be rendered moot if Washington wins their game against Carolina, which was moved back a few hours to coincide with the kickoff of this game. At least we’ll all go into this under the guise of it actually mattering, even though that could change as the game wears on. Still, it’s not too much to ask for us to see the Birds give us a late Christmas gift with a win over these bums.
My Iggle Prediggles are 9-4-1 this year, which goes to show you how easy it’s been overall since the Eagles have been generally bad enough that you can predict losses with ease. This, however, is one of the few toss-up games that we’ve come across this year. I’m going to say that the Jalen Hurts Experience keeps rolling, and he scores a big win for the Eagles to set up a winner-takes-the-division clash next week vs. Washington. Or just a regular game that doesn’t matter, but either way, Eagles win.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Eagles 30, Cowboys 24
Can't be any worse than their last meeting. I think. (4thandjawn.com)
Published December 19, 2020
Well, you can’t win ‘em all, at least in terms of picking the Eagles to lose, like I had been succeeding at for weeks. But at least the Eagles can win SOME of ‘em. And I’m going to give myself minor credit for saying they’d cover against New Orleans. I thought they’d hang in, but I didn’t see them being dominant for stretches and then managing to cling to victory in the end. It was a welcome departure from the lousy football we’ve been seeing for three months. Now, can they keep it going against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals?
Let’s start with Murray. After looking like a viable MVP candidate earlier this year, the second-year QB has slowed down a bit. He’s running the ball less, and he’s guided the team to just two wins in their last six games, with one of them being the ridiculous Hail Mary against Buffalo. So let’s not pretend that the Cards are some juggernaut that the Eagles don’t stand a chance against.
What I can tell you is that the Arizona rushing attack is pretty good overall, ranking fourth in the league at 151.2 yards per game. The Eagles have played two of the teams above them in that category this year (Ravens, Browns) and have allowed about as many yards on the ground as you’d expect, so time of possession could become a big problem for the Birds on Sunday if Murray, Kenyan Drake, and Chase Edmonds (if healthy) get their legs moving.
But the biggest challenge, of course, is going to be covering DeAndre Hopkins. Darius Slay won’t be around to cover him this week, which might be a good thing after the way he’s been torched repeatedly for the last several games. So, is there anyone who is healthy and trustworthy enough? Not really, so you might need to just double Hopkins all game to take him out, and cross your fingers that something else doesn’t go horribly wrong. I would say that I believe Jim Schwartz will come up with a more elaborate game plan, but, you know…
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. Eagles football is moderately fun again! At least, it was for one week. Let’s see what Jalen Hurts has up his sleeve now that the element of surprise isn’t on his side any longer. I don’t think we can count on him to scramble his way to 100 yards again, so we’ve got to have another productive effort from Miles Sanders, plus big games from at least a couple of the receivers.
I’m not contending that the Eagles’ receiving group is elite by any means, but look at what you have here. If Hurts can spread the ball around effectively, there is actually decent balance here. Imagine if the likes of Dallas Goedert, Greg Ward, Zach Ertz, Jalen Reagor, and the ghost of Travis Fulgham each hauled in just three or four passes each. It’s not that crazy. It’s also not going to happen most likely, but I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable. Oh, and Alshon. I guess he’s there.
I’m going to look for Hurts to get more comfortable in the pocket this week, coming nowhere near last week’s rushing totals but succeeding in the air. Overall, I think this game is going to come down to one big turnover, because I don’t expect too many of them. Arizona is middle of the pack in both giveaways and takeaways, while the Eagles have done a poor job taking the ball away for almost the whole season until last week. A crucial fumble or INT could tell the tale.
Last week, I said the Eagles would hang tough, but I didn’t expect them to get a win. I hate to repeat myself, but that’s what I see happening once more. If Jalen Hurts leads this team to victory again, however, then all bets are off going forward.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Cardinals 28, Eagles 26
Remember when they were in the same division? That was dumb. (PhillyInfluencer.com)
Published December 12, 2020
As you are well aware, I nailed yet another Prediggle last week, as I called a 37-16 loss to the Packers and it came out 30-16. I’m having my best year yet doing this, at 8-3-1. Unfortunately, that’s primarily a result of the Eagles being so bad and the last several weeks being utterly predictable. But a win is a win for these picks, just like a loss is a loss for the Birds.
But let’s turn our attention to this week, as Jalen Hurts gets his first career start against the #1 defense of the New Orleans Saints.
I won’t beat the dead horse of all of the Wentz discussion that went on this week. The bottom line is simply that a change had to be made at this point in time. Doug Pederson held out for as long as he possibly could before pulling the plug. You’re a total fool if you think this season is all Carson’s fault, but the guy clearly has zero confidence now, and the organization did him no favors by making him look over his shoulder by drafting a rookie QB.
What’s done is done, and it’s now imperative for the team to find out what they have in Hurts over the final quarter of this wasted year. It’s not an ideal situation to thrust him into this week, but at some point you’ve got to let him off the leash. At the very least, his presence under center this week will force the Saints to work harder than they would have had to if Wentz played. It also should give all of us the rest of us pause when forecasting the result of this game. New Orleans is the better team, no matter how you slice it. But the element of the unknown makes this a much more intriguing game.
The return of Malcolm Jenkins is also a big storyline this week, although it’s really been muted since no fans will be there to witness it. I’m not going to pretend like he needs extra motivation. He’s a veteran Pro Bowler and doesn’t just turn up the intensity when he feels like it. But it would be kind of great if the Eagles could challenge him early and often so that we could up the entertainment factor from what we’ve been seeing this year.
Jalen Hurts will also benefit from the fact that the horrendous Jason Peters experiment is finally over. The O-line still has issues, of course, but Hurts’ mobility and the way he looks cool under pressure (in a small sample size so far) could hide things well enough to keep the Eagles in this game and subsequent ones.
In the end, it’s exciting just to see something different this week. It won’t necessarily be better, but I don’t really see how it could be worse. Hurts isn’t going to work any miracles, not with the deficiencies around him. Still, there’s something about this that feels like the Eagles are bound for better performances in what remains of 2020.
The Saints don’t have any obvious weaknesses, and they’re still playing important games here despite a 10-2 record. There won't be any let-up. But maybe the Eagles get a little lucky and catch them looking past this week and forward to their showdown with the Chiefs next Sunday. I’m not going to hang my hat on that, but I think that Hurts and the Eagles can keep this game close and stay within a score. And they won’t need good ol’ garbage time to do it. I’m not nutty enough to think the Birds are going to win, but I expect a competitive game and some positive signs from the young quarterback.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Saints 27, Eagles 22
Winner gets the coveted Hollis Thomas Trophy. (PhillyInfluencer.com)
Published December 5, 2020
The Eagles needed garbage time to make it a one-score game in last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks...wait a minute. Starting the Prediggle article like this feels oddly familiar. At any rate, congratulations if you took the Birds and the 6.5 points, as they pulled off the cheapest cover in NFL history. But back to reality.
I don’t think we’re going to be seeing the Eagles hanging by a thread, making things look respectable with meaningless points at the last minute this week in Lambeau Field against the Packers. No, I’m expecting pretty much a dominating effort by the home club, a far cry from the thrilling Eagles win on a Thursday night last season when these two teams last met.
If the Eagles thought last week was a challenge, this game may prove to be even tougher, with Green Bay currently leading the league in points per game. Aaron Rodgers may be having his finest season yet, 16 years into a Hall of Fame career. Fun fact: Rodgers averages 0.48 interceptions per start for his career, while Carson Wentz averages 0.75. It’s numbers like these that give you a glimpse into how to be successful in the NFL for long periods at a time.
Project an INT rate like that over a full season, and a guy like Rodgers will turn the ball over about four less times than what Wentz is doing. Any team would have a better chance of success having to deal with fewer instances of potential momentum-killing or game-changing turnovers like the picks that Wentz throws, to say nothing of his penchant for fumbling. (Wentz has fumbled more times than Rodgers in each of his five years in the league).
I’m kind of procrastinating by just harping on this one element of the game and only looking at the two QBs, so allow me to briefly go over a few other things…
Not only do the Eagles turn the ball over a lot, but they don’t take it away. Their three interceptions are tied for fewest in the league this year with Houston. They’re also -10 overall in the takeaway department. Only Denver and Dallas are worse. Don’t expect any of that to improve this week.
Since the Eagles pulled off that upset win at Lambeau last September, the Packers are 19-6 overall and the Eagles are 10-13-1, playoffs included for both teams. Good times.
The Eagles couldn’t really move the ball against the Seahawks, despite the fact that Seattle has the worst pass D in the league by far. The Packers are allowing about 100 yards less per game through the air. So this sure doesn’t look promising. In truth, Green Bay is about middle of the pack (no pun intended) in everything related to defense, but it’s not gonna matter a whole lot if the Eagles go with the same stale play-calling and bone-headed style of offense. But hey, maybe Jalen Hurts will go 1-for-1 for 7 yards again during his two snaps.
Lastly, it seems like Zach Ertz will be back in action for this one. It feels like something that should make a difference, but it’s really not, which is a shame. Even more disappointingly, Ertz’s missed time this year has likely cost him a chance to become the Birds’ all-time receptions leader. He came into the season just 64 behind Harold Carmichael for the top spot, a number that he’s topped easily for five years running. But he only brought in 24 passes over the six games he played earlier this year, and he sure doesn’t seem like he can make up the last 40 in just five games. Still, if this is going to be his last stretch as an Eagle, let’s at least try to enjoy it and appreciate what he’s done.
Iggle Prediggles are 7-3-1 this year, a total flip of the Eagles’ actual 3-7-1 mark. It’s going to continue this week.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Packers 37, Eagles 16
I got this image off of Pinterest somehow. At least someone was being crafty with the Eagles.
Published November 29, 2020
The Eagles needed garbage time to make it a one-score game in last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, so how much hope really is there for the Birds to keep things competitive against the 7-3 Seattle Seahawks in front of the whole country on Monday Night Football this week?
To refresh your memory, the Eagles have lost their last six meetings with the ‘Hawks, most recently a pair of 17-9 finals last year, including the playoff loss that might have been the turning point of Carson Wentz’s career. Furthermore, those 8-point margins of victory were the closest of the last six meetings, with Seattle typically coming out on top by 10 to 14 points when they play the Birds during the Russell Wilson era.
Reaching back even further, the Eagles last beat the Seahawks in Philadelphia in 1989, although that long span only encompasses six losses.
Does any of this matter, as it relates to Monday’s game? No, not really. But it’s just an exercise to show how much difficulty the Eagles have had with this opponent even when things weren’t spiraling out of control, as 2020 is for them. What, then, can the Eagles possibly do to make this close and possibly even pull off a big upset to reclaim first place (uggggggh) in the NFC East?
Run the ball. Commit to it and stick with it. Things were going great early on last week before Miles Sanders butterfingered it away. That didn’t completely spell the end of the ground game, but Doug Pederson and company totally abandoned it once Wentz gifted a lead to the Browns. Ball control and time of possession have to be the name of the game this week if the Eagles are to stand any chance.
On the flip side, and this might seem directly to the contrary, you’ve got to take shots downfield. Maybe you’re laughing at my first suggestion that the Eagles pound the run, because Seattle allows the fourth fewest yards per game on the ground this year. But there’s a reason for that. Teams haven’t needed to do it very much because the Seahawks’ pass D is so bad (343.7 yards per game, most in the league by a mile).
It’d be nice to think that the Eagles could simply air it out and have a chance in this game, but their receivers and O-line simply aren’t good enough to offer Wentz (or Jalen Hurts?) an opportunity to win this game via the pass alone. If the Birds aren’t running to a sufficient degree for Seattle to worry about it, then the Seahawks can do enough to contain the Eagles’ passing attack. Essentially, you’ve got to run to keep them honest, which will hopefully allow you to exploit the many issues in their pass defense. One hand washes the other. I feel bad for even explaining this, because you’re obviously already very knowledgeable about football if you’re reading this site.
As for the whole Wentz/Hurts thing, it looks like the training wheels are finally coming off. The Eagles are supposedly going to allow Hurts to run a few plays without daddy on the field. Baby steps, but it’s a start. At any rate, going with different looks in this game might be just the kind of necessary gimmick to keep it from being a rout.
I do have to bring this back down to earth, though, because I don’t see much reason to think that this Eagles defense can stop Wilson and the Seahawks’ stable of weapons. The Philadelphia defensive unit has really been a mixed bag this season, but this is the best offense they’ve faced so far, and they haven’t shown the kind of big play ability necessary to turn the tide of a game.
I’m expecting this game to remain close for almost a half, but for the talent gap to show itself as Seattle blows it open after that. It’s going to take a lot of luck and nearly perfect execution for the Eagles to even get within shouting distance. They’ll be headed to 3-7-1 while the Iggle Preddigle machine moves to 7-3-1. As usual, I hope I’m wrong.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Seahawks 34, Eagles 14
Zero people are upset about not being able to go to this game. (PhillyInfluencer.com)
Published November 21, 2020
It finally happened last week. After half a season of all of us teetering on the brink of coming to grips with the Eagles being a bad team, they finally pushed it over the edge with a stinker at the Meadowlands. In so doing, they failed to get to .500 and basically take a stranglehold over their pathetic division, while letting the 3-7 Giants back in the race somehow.
Do we really have to keep doing this?
Why are we putting ourselves through this miserable season, and why do I (and others) keep spending time writing about this football team? I feel that it’s a good outlet for the frustration, and it helps keep emotion from completely taking over. But man, this team is so bad. And while a bad team can win games on occasion, this stretch ahead looks so daunting that nobody would be surprised if the 3-5-1 Eagles transformed into the 3-10-1 Eagles over the next month.
It’s objectively sad that we’re all viewing this weekend’s game at Cleveland as a tough test. Cleveland. Come on. But the Browns are actually good at 6-3, including a 4-1 mark at home in front of their fans...oh wait, never mind. Still, they feature an explosive rushing attack and a defense that has done a nice job of shutting down the ground games of opposing teams. As for QB Baker Mayfield, he’s not exactly setting the world on fire, but the third year signal caller looks like he has settled comfortably into the “game manager” role. His numbers aren’t spectacular, but they’re superior across the board to whoever the Eagles’ quarterback is. The point is, it’s not like the Birds are going to take advantage of some kind of inexperienced opposing QB.
The real concern here, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, is what the Eagles are going to get out of their own QB. I’ve just put up an article over at Section215 looking at some Wentz career trends that fit the situation this Sunday, and let’s just say they’re not great. Added all together, historical context plus the good ol’ “eye test” are really making things look pretty grim for the Birds against the Browns.
The Eagles got one bit of luck when it was announced that Myles Garrett will miss the game for Cleveland. So that’s one big concern that won’t have to be dealt with. But I really do feel like a total jerk saying that my football team caught a break because the other team’s best player got put on the COVID reserve list. The mere fact that this is a thing really puts a damper on everything and makes you contemplate the pointlessness of sports. Would I feel differently if the Eagles were any good? It’s hard to say.
Sunday is probably going to feel like a total slog, a word that I’ve used far too often to describe this football season. We’re all hoping for surprises, but it’s not worth getting upset if things play out the way that we’re expecting them to.
Look, this Eagles team can still have its moments. But it’s going to be insanely difficult to string together enough of these moments over the final seven weeks of the season to make any kind of meaningful impact and bring this team back from the dead. I think they keep it relatively close this week, but in the end, they’re no match for the Cleveland Browns.
They’re not good enough to beat the Cleveland Browns.
I want to curl into a ball and shrink into nothing.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Browns 30, Eagles 23
I'm still waiting for an explanation about why their helmet is orange. (PhiladelphiaEagles.com)
Published November 14, 2020
Let’s just keep on beating that dead horse. The Eagles are in the driver’s seat of the pathetic NFC East despite a 3-4-1 record, and it’s so bad that they’ll STILL be in first place by themselves after this week is over even if they lose to the Giants and Washington wins in Detroit (Dallas has a bye). What a cushion.
This all sets up another “statement” game, like the one that the Birds managed to win two weeks ago when they put up the most unsatisfying 14-point win in NFL history. Because of that, plus the fact that they narrowly escaped with a win over these same Giants the week before, the Eagles simply can’t afford to sleepwalk through big portions of this rematch against New York. The Giants are not great. They’re 2-7. But they’ve shown steady improvement and can clearly at least hang with good teams (which the Eagles really aren’t). At any rate, we should all be thankful that Saquon Barkley isn’t playing, because the Giants might be the prohibitive favorites in this division if he was healthy.
We can go back to the well and say that Carson Wentz can’t turn the ball over, but we’ve just got to accept it at this point, I guess. It’s going to happen. Probably a couple times. The question is, will he do enough positive things to counteract the mistakes, and will the defense hold its own once again?
It sure would help if Wentz had the likes of Lane Johnson and Miles Sanders back in the fold, but I'll believe it when I see it. Speculating on injured Eagles and the question of whether or not they're going to suit up is a fruitless endeavor. We may also see Alshon Jeffery, but we've been hearing that for months, so who really cares. Even if these guys return, this doesn't look like it's going to be the breakout week where the Eagles score 37 points that we've all been waiting for. The truth is, that game may never come with this squad. But are 27, 24, even 21 points enough against the middling Giants? They might be.
On the other side of the ball, there's really not much to be scared of, not as long as Daniel Jones keeps making mistakes at a Wentzian level and falling down with nobody around him. He's been better since we last saw him, though, so we can't just laugh this off as another bad QB taking the field. The Eagles can't afford to do that anyway, not with the murderer's row of QBs and opponents coming up on their schedule.
Yes, after this contest, the Eagles face five straight challenging games outside of their division. It's rare to say that a team holding a 1.5 game lead in their division is facing a "must win", but that's what this Giants game feels like. The Birds need to score a division victory on Sunday, because games like Green Bay and Seattle are going to be far more difficult to win.
I know this has been a whole lot of non-analysis, but really, all that matters is the end result. God, I hope Wentz plays better, but it's far from a guarantee. What I do know is that the Prediggle Machine is 5-2-1 this year (again, let's not talk about vs. the spread) in picking the results of Eagles games. I'm feeling a tad confident, so let's book another victory, albeit a close one.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Eagles 23, Giants 19
Didn't we just do this? (PhillyInfuencer.com)
Published October 31, 2020
I don’t know if it’s humanly possible for a 2-4-1 team to be facing a trap game, but it looks like that may be the case for the Eagles when they meet the absolute disaster that is the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. So strap in and get ready for a bunch of graphics from NBC pointing out how historically bad the NFC East is this year. It’s gonna be so much fun.
Honestly, it’s hard to see the Eagles losing this game. Not with Dallas giving up by getting rid of a bunch of veteran defenders this week, thinning out their league worst D (in terms of points allowed per game) even more. Plus, they’ll be starting Ben DiNucci under center in one of the most lopsided-looking QB matchups in recent NFL history. In a companion piece to this Prediggle, I’ve already outlined how Carson Wentz absolutely cannot lose this game, not against this defense and in a duel with a quarterback whose initials are literally BAD.
You can judge for yourself how critical you think this game is to Wentz’s legacy, but I think it would be the most damaging loss of his career if it happens. The whole season is riding on this game, and the Cowboys look like an absolute joke right now. Regardless of any weirdness that may occur, a true leader must win a game like this. Of course, it would help if he got some support, and guys like Boston Scott, Travis Fulgham, and the defensive unit need to deliver as well. In that case, this game could be an absolute laugher, which the bookies clearly are hinting at since the line has moved from around a touchdown to 11 points over the course of this week.
So, how could the Cowboys hang in this game, and even give themselves a chance to win? DiNucci certainly isn’t going to light it up, but he has enough weapons surrounding him that Dallas can play a ball control game while Zeke Elliott eats up yards and rips off the occasional big run in an effort to wear down the Eagles’ defense. There also is a non-zero chance that Wentz makes one or two of his patented mistakes and gifts the Cowboys with points or field position. Overall, though, it seems like a lot has to go wrong for the Birds to fall to ‘Nooch and the ‘Boys this week. That doesn’t mean it CAN’T happen, obviously, but I’m trying to be objective about it.
My Prediggle Machine is 4-2-1 on the year, although let’s not get too deep into how I’m doing against the spread. Wins are wins, and losses are losses. The Eagles can take a lesson from that. They played way better in their defeats against Pittsburgh and Baltimore (for one half at least) than they did in their narrow win over the Giants last week. I realize they are a work in progress, so nobody should be too upset if they don’t totally beat the pants off Dallas on Sunday. But they’ve gotta win. Losing to this team would be a huge step backwards for the quarterback and the franchise, casting serious doubts that go well beyond 2020.
I’ve said my piece on the matter. This game seems too predictable, but a win should be the expectation. People who are thinking it’s going to be something like 37-6 are barking up the wrong tree, but I feel strongly that it’s gonna be a double digit win for the Eagles and more misery in Dallas. Jerry Jones’ jaw would drop if he could move his face.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Eagles 34, Cowboys 20
Worst first place showdown e'er. (4thandjawn.com)
Published October 21, 2020
It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words, but what can you really say about this Eagles team? They’re not that good to begin with, but they’ve been so decimated by injuries that this whole season feels like a bad dream. And with the state of the offense right now, I wouldn’t give them much of a chance to beat most of the teams in the league this week since they’ve got such a quick turnaround. There are probably only four or five teams that they would have a decent shot against this week, and luckily, the Giants are one of them.
Get ready for what could be a pretty entertaining game, or one that has a distinct possibility to turn into a nightmare slog of unwatchable football.
Regardless of how it turns out, though, the Eagles need to find any way they can to win. Whether it’s Carson Wentz pulling one out of his butt or some unsung heroes coming through in the clutch, we’re not going to be going for style points this week. That being said, if Travis Fulgham wants to continue being an absolute beast, I’ll allow it. And if the players returning from injury do anything, we should all consider it a bonus.
The Eagles figure to run even less than usual with Miles Sanders out, so now would be a great time to throw more Jalen Hurts at the opposing defense. Split him out wide, put him in the backfield, do whatever you can, Doug. It’s officially time to get crazy, because this team is simply not good enough to win games by being sane and conservative.
Is the Giants’ defense good? I don’t know or care. But I do know that they can’t be as good as the Ravens’ D that the Eagles got into the endzone four times against. Yes, it took a while for that to happen last week, but the point is that I don’t see the Birds being completely shut down on offense in this one. Even with a seemingly inane attack, they should still be able to do enough.
D-line pressure should be able to get to Daniel Jones on the other side of the ball. Even in getting the G-Men’s first win of the season the other day, he didn’t do much with his arm, completing 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards. He doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of anyone.
Then again, the Eagles did lose to Dwayne Haskins this year.
But as long as they don’t let Jones beat them with his legs (74 yards rushing last week and 204 on the year), I like the odds of keeping the New York offense largely at bay. With Saquon Barkley out for the year, they’ve got precious little to offer, even less than the Eagles do right now. As I said, things could get ugly, but I’m optimistic that the Eagles will be the team to grind one out.
My patented Prediggle machine is riding a two game winning streak (of predicting two Eagles losses) and I’m at 3-2-1 on the year. I’m feeling good that this will be the first time this year that I pick the Birds to win and they oblige.
So let's get a W and then have a nice, worry free weekend, content in the knowledge that we only have to watch the Eagles play one game over the next 23 days after this one's over.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Eagles 22, Giants 16
Guaranteed win for an NFC East team. Maybe. (Phillyinfluencer.com)
Published October 17, 2020
The 1-3-1 Eagles are amazingly still in the thick of things, and this week they’ll have DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery riding to the rescue to help the offense against the Ravens.
Just kidding, those bums are still hurt. And so the Eagles will bring the same banged-up offense into this one. But things have actually gotten worse with Lane Johnson out, even though we were all told earlier in the week that he would suit up. That’s a big problem under any circumstances, of course, but even worse in light of this week’s opponent.
The Ravens’ defense is good, make no bones about it. They’re always good. It’s been a hallmark of the team in their 20+ years of existence. The organization just breeds defensive excellence for some reason, always producing on-field killers (and sometimes off-field). This matchup simply does not bode well for the Eagles’ O-line, even though they have been good in recent weeks. At some point you reach the threshold of what you can handle, and this may well be it.
Any hope in the darkness sits on the shoulders of Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders. Wentz CANNOT turn the ball over. I don’t care if it’s a bad pick or he’s just a victim of circumstance. Turnovers = death. Wentz also needs to maintain his connection with greatest receiver ever Travis Fulgham and re-establish what he had with Zach Ertz. The Eagles’ tight end is sorely in need of a big game, because things are getting ugly, with the club and player looking like they’re headed for a divorce soon if things don’t improve.
As for Sanders, getting more than ten carries would be nice. Memo to Doug. Use your best weapon. Sanders couldn’t get any kind of rhythm established last week against Pittsburgh following his one monster run. The flow of the game will dictate his usage against the Ravens as well, and so it’s important for him to get carries early. Do I think this is going to happen? Probably not, but it’d be nice.
And the defense? After last week’s garbage, I don’t know what to think. They had been holding it together before that, but they looked absolutely awful and cost the team the game in Pittsburgh. The Ravens’ offense isn’t great, but Lamar Jackson has to be looking forward to his first ever crack at this unit. Wide receiver Marquise Brown also seems like a guy who will give the Eagles fits. Tight end Mark Andrews is a very good player as well, sort of a George Kittle light. Let’s hope the Eagles don’t end up being gouged by him like they were by Kittle.
Safety Will Parks will be making his Eagles debut, and that should help out in the secondary to some degree, but it’s once again going to be imperative for the D-line to put pressure on the signal caller. Again, not rocket science here. If Lamar Jackson has too much time, he will burn the Eagles. They must contain him and make life uncomfortable.
Overall, it feels like the Eagles can again keep this fairly close, and could maybe even shut down the Ravens’ offense for portions of the game. But unless you think that something will change on the other side of the ball, the Birds (as in, the Eagles) will be hard-pressed to put up many points against this Baltimore defensive unit. Failing a game-breaking performance from someone, it seems like we’re ticketed for 1-4-1, despite the presence of some fans at the Linc this Sunday. Speaking of that rowdy crew, I don’t really see them being much of a factor, although I hope they prove me wrong.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Ravens 27, Eagles 17
I'm really tired, so let's just caption this with...Bird Battle. (Inside the Birds)
Published October 11, 2020
Just when you’d written them off (and were entirely correct to do so), the Eagles came out and surprised us all with a gutty win last week against the 49ers. They’re now 1-2-1 on the season, which is the same record I’ve posted in Prediggles so far. Obviously, we are both terrible at what we do.
So, is this the start of an Eagles turnaround, or was last Sunday night merely an anomaly as the Birds took advantage of one of the few teams as decimated by injuries as they are? This week, they’ll be in for a bigger test against a healthy and rested Steelers squad, fresh off their surprise bye in Week 4 after the Titans became more infected than your computer’s browsing history.
Carson Wentz deserves a good deal of credit for the smoke and mirrors last week, but the harsh reality is that this team is extremely light on weapons. No DeSean. No Goedert. No Reagor. We’re all thinking that Alshon Jeffery might do something when he comes back, for some unknown reason. Until such time as health returns to the Eagles’ offense (although it never does), it’s gonna have to be the Wentz show with a healthy dose of Miles Sanders, who had better overcome any lingering fatigue issues.
A big key to the Eagles’ ability to put up points will be the defense providing short fields, as they finally did last week. The D forced three turnovers after going the first three games without one. They’re going to need to continue to produce such results, as well as getting to the QB like they did an excellent job with last week, for this team to succeed. But these are things I probably don’t really need to tell you.
As for the Steelers, it’s been four years since we’ve seen them take on the Eagles, with the Birds beating their pants off in Carson Wentz’s third NFL game. They’re on prime time pretty regularly, but you might not be as familiar with them because of the length of time since they’ve faced the Eagles. Ben Roethlisberger has a stable of reliable offensive weapons, and this will be the biggest test of the season so far for Jim Schwartz and company. One can only hope that the Eagles have figured things out on D, and maybe they have since they’ve seemed to look progressively better each week. It would also help if Fletcher Cox did something, as he played 50+ snaps last week without so much as a tackle to get him on the stat sheet. Whether he’s double teamed or not, he’s paid for results and needs to start pulling his substantial weight right now.
The Eagles aren’t getting too much respect for their W over the limpy Niners, as evidenced by them being about a touchdown underdog against the Steelers. And let’s not forget that there will actually be living, breathing fans in the stands for this one (although Steelers fans may need help remembering how to do rudimentary things, such as using a public restroom). Still, maybe the few thousand yinzers in the crowd will give the Steelers some kind of edge. Thanks, Tom Wolf.
The bottom line is that I don’t think the Eagles have it in them to beat a quality team at nearly full health right now, as the Steelers are. Their play appears to be improving, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to get their record to .500 this weekend. I do think they’ll keep it close; however, and I’d take the points if someone held a gun to my head.
Wait, why is someone holding a gun to my head over a football game? The world is an awful place.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Steelers 26, Eagles 23
The top two football teams in Pennsylvania. (Inside the Birds)
Published October 3, 2020
Do we really have to do this? Do we have to move forward with a prime time game so that the whole country sees how bad the Eagles are? Because, make no mistake, they are friggin terrible, with last week’s Bengals tie showing us all that we needed to see about how dysfunctional and non-explosive this club is.
Aside from that, let’s all get pumped for another week of Eagles football.
Look, I’m not going to tell you that they can’t manage a win tonight or at some point during this seemingly doomed season. Remember, they always seem to surprise us when we’ve totally written them off. But they’ve got a number of things working against them when we look at this Week 4 contest against the Niners specifically.
The injuries, once again, have become a big issue. An offense that was already having problems making plays is now without DeSean Jackson (shocker) and Dallas Goedert. One day this week, Greg Ward was the only wideout on the team healthy enough to practice. This feels like the end of last season all over again, but with even less hope attached to it since Carson Wentz has looked so dismal to start 2020. Jason Peters also went on IR, which sadly doesn’t even really matter at this point. The bottom line is that a team which already looked suspect in the season’s first three weeks is now even thinner on talent.
San Francisco won’t have much sympathy, since they’re missing their quarterback and top rusher at the moment, as well as their best defensive player (Nick Bosa), who is out for the year. But remember this is the reigning NFC champion, and even without a few key contributors, they are a deep team more than capable of handling most opponents even when they’re not at 100%. The good news for them is that tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel will be able to suit up, giving stopgap quarterback Nick Mullens more weapons to work with.
Speaking of that, just how concerned should we be with Nick Mullens?
Based on how good the Eagles made Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow look, I’d say we should be worried. This is Mullens’ third year with the 49ers, and he’s had enough time with their system to look very competent when he has to step in. He beat up on the Giants last week, which shouldn’t count for much, but he’s not a trainwreck that the Eagles can take advantage of. Basically, don’t be surprised if the Birds’ D goes without a takeaway for the fourth straight week. Needless to say, if that happens, they’ll still be winless when they depart the City by the Bay.
If you want to read more about Mullens, here’s a poor article about why his teammate Richard Sherman believes he can be a great NFL QB. It gives you some boring blurbs from Sherman that don’t actually say “why” Mullens can be great, while trying to goad you into clicking on a podcast clip. Enjoy.
Did I do much actual analysis here? Not particularly, but how deep do I actually have to get? If you’ve seen the first three Eagles games this season (God bless you), you’ve seen a quarterback with no confidence and a head coach that seems lost at the moment. You’ve seen a few glimpses of actual football, but they eventually get ruined by either dumb turnovers or the defense getting gouged in a big spot.
The Eagles are floating around a touchdown underdog right now, and maybe if I look hard enough I could find reasons that they’ll keep it that close. But whether they fall behind early and simply trail all game or keep it pretty tight only to have San Fran deal the finishing blow late, I can’t help but feel a double-digit loss leading to a very cranky Monday morning for all of us.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: 49ers 33, Eagles 21
Week 4, and this already isn't fun. (Inside the Birds)
Published September 26, 2020
I correctly prediggled the Eagles to lose last week and am now 1-1 in my picks on the year, although I thought they'd at least keep it close (and we all know how that worked out). Now this burgeoning trainwreck of a season rolls on against the bottom-feeding Bengals.
So, do the Birds have what it takes to beat what might be the worst team in the league? And if they don't, doesn't that make THEM the worst team in the league as a result? Let's figure this out.
Obviously, all of the focus and pressure comes down on Carson Wentz, who's looked like a deer in headlights for two weeks in a row. The O-line was a mess in Week 1 and he was under fire all day, but Wentz didn't even get sacked in Week 2 and still looked uncomfortable in the pocket, missed throws, and made several lousy decisions. So, is he just bad now?
No. At least I hope not. Doug Pederson tried to pull the COVID card this week in explaining his QB and team's slow starts. As much of a copout as it was, there is at least some merit to it. Wentz just starts slow. Period. And this year it's even worse than usual. Look at how good he was at the end of last season with a bunch of scrubs around him. You don't go from that to Bobby Hoying Part 2 in nine months. I don't think.
Wentz should be fine in the long run, and this Cincy D could be just the thing to cure what ails him. Miles Sanders (and the ground game as a whole) should be able to pile up numbers, which should in theory make things easier for Wentz. Maybe he'll even be able to take a couple deep shots down the field this week, as opposed to the "8-yard completion to a guy who is immediately tackled" play that has become a hallmark of this Eagles offense.
I'm not going to break down the Bengals' defensive scheme because I really don't care about them. Common sense just says that the Eagles should finally be able to put up points this week. How's that for deep analysis?
More concerning is the Birds' defense. The front four are getting zero pressure, and they've been methodically picked apart over two games. They can't come up with a big stop to save their lives, and they have zero takeaways this season (special teams recovered a fumble last week).
Other than that, they're doing great.
Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow has looked good so far, but he's been sacked six times through three games and committed a couple of turnovers. If the Eagles can't even rattle and force some mistakes from a guy in his third NFL game, I don't know what to tell you. But mark me down as a believer that they can right the ship this week. They'll pick off at least one pass and put Burrow on the ground three times.
If the Birds win this week, it’s far from a guarantee that they can actually make some noise in 2020. They’ve got a hellacious schedule coming up. But playing at the level they’re capable of and beating a team that they’re supposed to take care of can at least boost their confidence going forward. I don’t think this is going to be a blowout, but I’m taking the Eagles to win while also covering the spread, which is hovering around a ridiculously low 4.5 points.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Eagles 30, Bengals 21
The Eagles really haven't beaten the Bengals since 2000. Better stop that trend. (Inside the Birds)
Published September 20, 2020
I’m off to a predictably bad 0-1 start with the prediggles this year after I foolishly chose the Eagles to beat a talent-starved, nameless team that was playing in front of zero home fans last week. What a dummy I was. But, really, what a kick in the pants to start the season.
Things figure to get at least somewhat more tolerable this week with the return of Miles Sanders hopefully providing a jolt (and some much-needed balance) to the offense, and Lane Johnson’s presence helping out the sad sack O-line. But will that be enough to help the Birds get past a 1-0 Rams team that did everyone a favor by beating the Cowboys last week?
On defense, the Eagles have to be aware of numerous weapons surrounding Jared Goff, who had one of his typically effective games last week when he went 20 out of 31 for 275 yards against Dallas. He didn’t throw for any touchdowns, and he did toss a pick, but things will be looking good for Los Angeles if he manages a repeat performance. That’s why it’s so important for Fletcher Cox to come out of witness protection and lead the defensive charge. The Eagles must be in Goff’s face and interrupt him as much as possible. Failing that, they’ll be burned.
The Eagles’ defense wasn’t especially bad last week against Washington, considering that the “Football Team” had short fields to work with all day. But sometimes you need to cover up for the mistakes of your offense, and Gang Green didn’t pull off any big plays on defense all day. That absolutely has to change this week. If they can’t create any turnovers, the team has virtually no chance to win against a much better opponent than what they faced (and lost to) last week.
When the Eagles have the ball, Carson Wentz has to be better than Week 1’s pathetic performance, at least the one that he put up in the second half. It will help if he’s not constantly under fire, something easier said than done with Aaron Donald on the other side of the line. If you believe the NFL Network’s preseason list, he’s the third best player in the league, and he stands to be an all-day terror for the Birds.
The ability of the Washington front four to consistently gash the Eagles’ porous O-line was the difference last week, and it can’t be allowed to happen again. Wentz will only be able to take so many hits before we’re all shaking our heads about another injury. And so, it’s critical that the Eagles protect him about 400% better than they did last week, while Wentz himself needs to be way smarter with the ball. He can’t take huge sacks, and he needs to be far more decisive about throwing the ball away when a play is clearly dead. It would also be nice if he would tuck and run once in a while, but it doesn’t look like he has any mobility right now. Let’s all hope that the game plan and the execution are much better this week.
I’d really like to pick the Eagles with any kind of confidence. And perhaps I would if this were a normal home game with fans cheering them on at the Linc. But I’m not really liking the lack of big play ability from the Birds D until they show me something, and I’m thinking that Rams corner Jalen Ramsey could have a big day even if Wentz has enough time to get the looks he wants. Picking against the Eagles could also be a case of me employing “reverse jinxology”, something my friend’s dad talked about when I was a kid and that I still lean on from time to time. All you really need to know is that I always get these wrong, so you should probably feel pretty confident about an Eagles win against the Rams. And so...
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Rams 26, Eagles 23
Based on its resolution, Inside the Birds pulled this image from the Compaq Presario I had in 1995.
Published September 13, 2020
Welcome back to this (un)popular feature on Philly Sports Complex, one which I did in 2018 but skipped last year because 2018 went so terribly. But now it’s back...at least until I get so fed up that I stop.
To re-acquaint you, this is an Eagles Prediction column. And that’s it. But I’m going to do it a little differently. No specific sections, just a general overview and some reasoning that leads me to a final prediction (i.e. Iggle Prediggle). This is partially due to the fact that I don’t pretend to know or care very much about other teams and their players. Let’s have at it…
This will be the first ever meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Football Team, which look to be some sort of expansion club since their predecessors in the nation’s capital have been hot garbage for a couple decades. On paper, this looks like an easy win for the Birds, but we all know how that goes.
In this weird NFL landscape where we’ll see no or limited fans and didn’t even have a preseason or proper run-up to Week 1, it’s hard to know what to expect. One sight for sore eyes will be an Eagles offense that will actually have proper weapons for Carson Wentz, who basically finished last season carrying a team full of tackling dummies to the playoffs.
We should all be especially excited to see rookie wideout Jalen Reagor, who seems all set to play after supposedly recovering from his shoulder injury. I had my doubts, but this guy can give the Eagles a big lift if he establishes himself as a viable weapon right off the bat. Miles Sanders being out is a big concern, but the team can do without him for one week if they have to. Hopefully it doesn’t go any longer than that.
The main focus will be on how the Eagles’ banged-up O-line performs against a Washington defensive unit that has given them some fits over the years. A pair of Ryans, Anderson and Kerrigan, lead a stout group. Not only that, but the Washington defensive front now also includes rookie Chase Young, who stands to be a beast for years to come. The Eagles figure to have their hands full each and every time they take the field on offense.
On the other side of the ball, Dwayne Haskins looks to improve after an uneven rookie year, but he looks like he’ll have a hard time doing it. He has one legit receiving option in Terry McLaurin, who torched the Eagles for 255 yards and a pair of scores in their two meetings last year. But that’s about it. There’s nothing here that the Birds’ D shouldn’t be able to handle.
So, yeah, this has all the makings of an Eagles win, and that’s what I’ll pick. But it’s going to be closer than it should be. Most games in the NFL just have a tendency to work out like that for whatever reason. I think the Birds will register a couple of blowouts this year, but it would be too much to expect them to come charging out of the gate and pull it off in Week 1. Still, I believe they’ll play from in front for most of the game and win in a one-score decision. I’ll also pick the most boring, old standby NFL prediction score ever.
IGGLE PREDIGGLE: Eagles 24,
Redsk...Football Team 17
God, this looks stupid. (Inside the Birds)