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[#] Sat Nov 11 2017 20:46:30 EST from rss

Subject: Running a college offense: Why the NFL has accepted the spread

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The college and pro styles of offense aren’t nearly as far apart as you think

This is a story about the ever-narrowing divide between college and NFL football. This is a story about Chris Harris Jr., Kyle Juszczyk, and Urban Meyer. This is a story about Philadelphia fans reacting proportionally and reasonably.

That last one’s a lie.

But can you blame us? Our Birds had just smacked the Broncos around, laying 31 points on an esteemed Denver defense in the first half. That last happened in 2012, at the hands of the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Having passed every proverbial test set before them—4-1 Carolina on the road Thursday Night; Washington in an early season revenge game; Denver’s top-flight defense without Jason Peters—the Eagles were rolling into the bye on a seven-game win streak. The MVP front-runner was sitting at the helm of the undisputed best team in the NFL, and Philly fans were feelin’ it.

As such, when a resentful opponent, licking the wounds of his sound drubbing, lashed out at Philadelphia in the media, Bleeding Green Nation rose up.

They run this college offense,” said Chris Harris Jr., All-Pro corner for the Denver Broncos. There’s more to the quote—but this sound bite alone stirred up Philly’s anger.

Folks read it as an insult. Collegiate offenses are anecdotally considered more basic, more gimmicky—facsimiles of real offense, contrived to account for the drop-off in talent. The “spread” system is a bunch of track stars running four verts, slants, and bubble screens; “Air Raid” teams either complete a 30-yard pass or take a sack; the “triple option” is that annoying offense you had to face in high school a couple of times. Running a college offense in the NFL is the equivalent of button mashing: artificially generating production without real nuance or skill.

But Chris Harris Jr. then went on to say: “They had a great game plan. Carson Wentz is a great quarterback. It seemed like the Chiefs' offense. They just executed a lot better. We played a great offense. It's the best offense we've seen."

And here we are: The same player called Philadelphia’s offense “college” and “the best we’ve seen.” If our pre-assumed notions of college and NFL offenses are true, then there’s a divide to reconcile here.

This example, however, reveals a larger issue: one both schematic and systemic, and it’s currently plaguing NFL decision-makers as they look to acquire talent for their rosters. On the chalkboard, what separates a college scheme from a pro-style scheme? And which scheme will be used in the NFL for the years to come?

I can’t claim to know the answers—not for certain, at least. But here’s what I do know:

“Back in my day,” your belligerent father grumbles from his armchair, brandishing his beer bottle at the flat screen. “You ran the ball on first down. Second down too! Straight up the gut! Give ‘em the ol’ one-two! Rock ‘em, sock ‘em! Hoo-ah!”

Okay, the end got a little dicey there.

That for which your father pines, however, is more so the pro-style ideology than it is the pro-style scheme. Pro-style teams were known, distinct from college teams, for their intricate offenses and ability to impose their will on defenses. The pro-style coach looked to run an offense that, when executed properly with the necessary personnel, simply could not be stopped, no matter the defense it faced.

That mindset will find itself at odds with the college mindset—but first, we have to understand what those systems look like on the field.

Seeking insight, we’ll take a trip down to Santa Clara (I hear it’s lovely there in the winter). Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers give us a good look at both pro-style and spread offensive concepts.

This is a quintessential pro-style formation: the “I.” This formation lends itself to a downhill running style, as the quarterback (under center) is directly in front of the running back. All handoffs will occur with the RB moving, at the worst, at a 45° angle in either direction. He will, invariably, get north quickly.

Also in the backfield is football’s black rhinoceros: the fullback. Kyle Juszczyk (6-1, 240 lbs) operates from this position as an extra blocker, to pave the way for the running back. A pro-style system invariably employs a fullback.

However, only 19 NFL teams still roster a fullback, and of those 19, Tommy Bohanon of the Jacksonville Jaguars saw the greatest percentage of his team’s offensive snaps last week: at 23%. Only two (Andy Janovich of Denver and Jay Prosch of Houston) received “starter” designations.

The fullback—the hallmark of the pro-style offense—is a dying breed. Kyle Juszczyk is obsolete, and he’s being replaced...

...with Kyle Juszczyk.

This a “spread” formation, despite the fact that the personnel on the field is exactly the same. What have we changed?

  1. The quarterback is now in shotgun
  2. The tight end is off of the line of scrimmage
  3. There’s a third “wide receiver” (it’s really RB Carlos Hyde) on the field

That’s all.

Despite the fact that these formations really aren’t that different, they radically change what the offense can execute. From the shotgun, most runs will begin moving horizontally, as that is the relationship of the QB and RB. Furthermore, the potential for the zone read—we’ll get to that crucial play later—appears.

In the passing game, the quarterback can throw the ball far earlier in the play, as he needn’t drop back in the pocket. Because that third wide receiver is so far to the outside, passing plays that attack the boundaries of the field—away from the thick middle of the defense—are often utilized with success.

This is crucial to understand: delineating between spread and pro-style offenses isn’t about the personnel on the field. It’s about how the personnel is deployed, and what that deployment allows the offense to do.

Juszczyk is made noteworthy by his transcendence above the fullback position. He isn’t just a slightly smaller, slightly quicker offensive lineman. His agility and pass-catching ability make him a valuable piece for San Francisco (and earned him the largest FB contract ever). With Juszczyk on the field, the Niners can line up in a pro-style formation and ask him to lead block, but they can also...

Line him up as a doggone wide receiver in a 4-WR set and have him run routes down the field!

If the calling card of the pro-style offense is the fullback, then the calling card of the spread offense is a fullback as a wide receiver. Spread offenses align their pieces to stretch the defense horizontally, even if they aren’t as effective in those places; pro-style offenses leave the pieces where they belong, even if it makes the job easier on the defense.

San Francisco’s deployment of both spread and pro-style formations leaves us with an undeniable truth: the formations, personnel deployed, and even plays you run don’t necessarily make you a spread or pro-style team. It goes deeper than that.

From this moment forward, your football fan card is provisionally revoked. Read Chris B. Brown’s The Essential Smart Football, and you can have it back.

Brown opens this work, which covers some of football’s watershed moments, Hall of Fame players, and greatest innovations, with the evolution of Urban Meyer’s spread option offense. Meyer, currently the esteemed head coach at THE Ohio State University, changed the game of college football by popularizing the wide-open, high-octane offenses we see today. These are the despicable “college” offenses up at which many NFL fans turn their noses.

But Brown’s chapter on Meyer’s offense reveals the inner mechanics of this seemingly simplistic scheme, and those cogs are what interest us.

“In his book, Meyer recalled a moment when, after a loss to Nebraska in 2001, he found one of his best players, David Givens, crying at his locker because he felt he had been unable to help his team win: he hadn’t touched the ball the entire game. Meyer then swore to run an offense that delivered the ball to his playmakers.”

While this sentiment may seem self-evident, it represents a paradigm shift from the pro-style ideology. At the NFL level, the talent on all sides is sublime—wide receivers, punters, centers, everyone. As such, when one team emerges the victor, their win is typically attributed to better execution of the game plan, of the scheme. Essentially, winners at the pro level could say: “Our eleven players did their jobs better than your eleven players did, so we won.”

Wherever he is in the world, Bill Belichick is smiling. (Can he smile?)

But in college, with less practice time and inferior talent, every team has gaps somewhere across their roster. The delta of talent between Givens and the next guy was likely far larger than the one between two NFL players. Meyer couldn’t run a system that ran on eleven guys—he didn’t have eleven good ones. He needed a system that could say “Two/three of our players did their jobs better than two/three of yours, so we won.”

In developing that system, Meyer helped forefather today’s college system; today’s spread offense.

The staple of Meyer’s offense: the zone read run.

Because the QB can choose to hand the ball off if the “read key” defends the edge (shown above), or keep the ball if the “read key” closes in on the RB, the offense generates a numerical advantage in the running game. With this play, you can:

  1. Run the football with your quarterback (who is likely a good athlete). That serves the maxims Meyer outlined above: get your playmakers the football, and win with your most talented players.
  2. Hide inferior offensive line talent. That serves the same purpose: keep the fate of the game with your best pieces.
  3. Neutralize one of the EDGE defenders of the defense. That serves to prevent the other team from fulfilling the same maxims, by eliminating one of their most impactful defenders.

Now, tag that zone run with a pass option, and you have yourself an RPO that can expose defensive alignment/numbers in the secondary as well. If you get 10-yard cushion on the boundary, for example:

Quick curl to the WR picks up a first down.

If that wide receiver is one of your two/three guys, your two/three playmakers, he can potentially break this tackle and pick up even more yardage. If he’s not, you just eeked out a first down from an inferior player, not by attacking a match-up, not by asking him to run a complex route or outrun the corner down the field...but by attacking simple leverage.

These plays are the bare bones of the modern spread offense, and as such, they can best represent the theory behind the spread. In Brown’s words:

Meyer...wanted to be shotgun focused, to spread the field, to throw the football effectively, and to run the ball on run option or quarterback read plays. The simplicity comes in how few schemes are needed to cover all of these bases, and how almost cliché they are in practice...

The simplicity of spread systems doesn’t make them inferior; it makes them beautiful. Were the goal of an offense to be complex and impressive, then perhaps pro-style offenses would trickle down into the collegiate ranks; perhaps players like Lamar Jackson would move to wide receiver. But the goal of an offense is to score touchdowns, and spread offenses are doing that just as well—if not better—than pro-style offenses.

Ready for the plot twist?

Pro-style offenses aren’t even real.

Remember our important distinction: despite the fact that offenses still may run pro-style plays from pro-style formations, they need a pro-style mindset to be a pro-style team. That team simply no longer exists.

Over the past six years, the incidence of the aforementioned 21 personnel has decreased each season per Football Outsiders, from 20% in 2010 to 8% in 2016. Across the same time span, 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) has climbed from 40% to 60%, and in 2016, every single team used 11 personnel as their primary deployment.

The fullback has been replaced by a third wide receiver. Both the offense and defense are more spread out horizontally. Teams are throwing the football more frequently. If you’re hoping your team doesn’t succumb to this passing fad of running quarterbacks and quick throws, I have bad news for you: dawn has already passed. College offenses have arrived.

NFL teams don’t run the pure, true, spread offense—that’s not at all what I’m saying. They needn’t rely upon the “trickeration” of leverage and alignment as heavily as collegiate teams do. But NFL teams do recognize, accept, and even thrive in the spread mindset: that running a simpler offense, from fewer formations, with insanely athletic and even hybrid personnel (like Kyle Juszczyk), helps you maximize your best players.

Necessity mothered invention: it was the lack of NFL personnel and parity that birthed college offensive concepts. But it is those very same collegiate concepts that are now making NFL players all the more dangerous.

Take a look at the biggest surprises in the NFL thus far: Philadelphia at 8-1? College concepts everywhere (more RPOs than any other team in NFL), and TE Zach Ertz is enjoying a career. Did you expect the Saints at 6-2, or the Jets at 4-5? Neither did I, but both teams are running Air Raid style offenses, as New Orleans capitalizes on rookie RB Alvin Kamara, while WR Robby Anderson and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins have woken up in New York.

Other top offenses, you say? Kansas City runs the most spread-y offense in the NFL. Alex Smith played in an Urban Meyer system in Utah, and is now enjoying career numbers. The Los Angeles Rams work in a little bit of everything. Houston, under Deshaun Watson? Spread. Dallas under Dak Prescott? Read options everywhere.

Scoff when you hear NFL draft prospects criticized for operating spread systems; chortle when enemy fans ridicule your team for using college plays. As every play passes, their favorite team uses more and more spread concepts—they just don’t know it yet.

So, was Chris Harris Jr. truly lashing out, looking to undermine Philadelphia’s offense when he called it “college?” I can’t claim to know the answers—not for certain, at least. But here’s what I do know: I’m takin’ it as a compliment.

[#] Sat Nov 11 2017 21:45:29 EST from rss

Subject: Wild 1, Flyers 0: Stingy defensive effort keeps Flyers off the board

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The visitors shut down the Flyers’ attack all night long and finally broke through offensively in the third period.

Tonight, the Flyers proved unable to string together consecutive wins against Western Conference foes, as they dropped a tough 1-0 contest to the Minnesota Wild. Jason Zucker scored the only goal of the contest early in the third period. Brian Elliott stopped 26 of 27 shots in the loss.

Below, you can relive all of the drama (admittedly, that’s a rather liberal usage of the term “drama”) as you see my minute-by-minute thoughts from start to finish. Enjoy.


6:48 p.m.: Some crazy stuff has happened the past couple of times that the Flyers have played the Wild in Philadelphia. In particular, two big late saves have won the game for the Flyers in those games. Remember this, from Michal Neuvirth a couple years back?

And then last year, Steve Mason did this to preserve a win in a similar setting (oddly enough, on this exact same weekend last November)?

Let’s aim for the same result here tonight, but maybe with a little less crazy? Or the same amount of crazy. Hell, I can handle more crazy if necessary. I don’t really care. Just win, baby.

7:03 p.m.: Courtesy of the Flyers’ “Club Playing Roster”, the Giroux/Couturier/Voracek line (as if there was any other choice) will be starting tonight’s game, as will Ghost and Manning. Let’s do this thing.

7:10 p.m.: We’re underway here in Philadelphia. Errant neutral zone pass by Couturier turns into a Wild chance in the opening seconds, but a nice carry-in by Provorov leads to a good shift from the Konecny/Filppula/Simmonds line.

7:13 p.m.: And we’re right off to the power play as Chris Stewart boards Radko Gudas. Gudas appears to be OK, but that looked painful. Man, tough couple of weeks here for Gudas.

7:15 p.m.: Woof. Nice stretch of offensive zone pressure by the top unit for the first minute or so of that PP, but Couturier and ____ tussle for the puck out in the neutral zone and it ends in a breakaway for Mikko Koivu. Great work by Elliott, who got taken wide by Koivu but stayed patient and made a nice stick save.

7:21 p.m.: We get our first stoppage in about five-ish minutes here as Minnesota ices the puck. Not a ton of quality chances were found in the time, but steady back-and-forth action nevertheless as we get going here. Good shift by the fourth line early in that stretch was probably the highlight of it. Aaaaand now Provorov shoots off the faceoff and Dubnyk stops it, and we’ll go to commercial for the first time.

7:26 p.m.: A couple of offsides here for the Flyers within about a minute of one another. Minnesota doing what it can to shut things down in the neutral zone — passing is going to have to be on point.

7:30 p.m.: Voracek tries to center it out from behind the net, but the Wild are there in front of Dubnyk to clean things up. Like the idea, though.

7:31 p.m.: Dangit. Good sequence of passes — starting with Simmonds in his own zone — leads to a nice shift for that second line, but a cross-ice pass by Filppula is just a bit in front of Konecny and he can’t one-time it home.

7:35 p.m.: Apparently (Jim Jackson just said this on the broadcast) the Flyers are currently the best faceoff team in the NHL. Who’d have thunk it? I think faceoffs are a little overrated in value, but it’s clearly still better to win them than to not, so good to see. (Also, NHL dot com actually has them at third in the league, with a 52.9 win percentage, as of this writing, so who knows where JJ is getting that number from, but still, pretty good.)

7:40 p.m.: Flyers’ forecheck has been really strong in these past few minutes. Minnesota struggling to really do much of anything under control in the neutral zone. Seems like the visitors haven’t had a shot on goal in a while.

7:42 p.m.: Right on cue there, a solid shift by Minnesota in the period’s final seconds is deflected in front of Elliott, but the Moose is there to make the initial stop and the rebound is cleared out. (That, for the record, was Minnesota’s first shot on goal in 9:20 of game time.) It’s bagels for each side after one period. Neither side had much in the way of quality chances that period, but the Flyers clearly had the puck more. Hopefully the second part of that continues.

7:46 p.m.: Per Natural Stat Trick: the Flyers allowed just six shot attempts by the Wild in the game’s first 18 even-strength minutes. Not bad.

8:00 p.m.: Underway in the second and we’ll quickly see the Flyers’ penalty kill as Voracek kind of holds Mikael Granlund, I guess?

8:03 p.m.: Outside of one moment there where Hagg got caught flat-footed in the defensive zone and Jason Zucker skated past him to get a chance on Elliott, pretty strong PK by the Flyers.

8:07 p.m.: Minnesota with a lot more pep in their step this period. A couple of Flyers get caught deep and the Wild have a 3-on-1, albeit one that they probably could have played a bit better/more creatively. Elliott — who’s had a busy start to the period — makes the save there on Niederreiter.

8:08 p.m.: Lotta point shots from Flyers defensemen tonight. Very 2016-17-ish.

8:13 p.m.: Apropos of nothing, it’s still pretty crazy to me that this fourth line, which has been together in nearly every game this season and has played well via the eye test and nearly any number you can find, has only two goals this season. That has to change, right? Maybe tonight. Score a goal tonight, the fourth line.

8:14 p.m.: Odd-man chance for Minnesota leads to a penalty, as Giroux hooks Joel Eriksson Ek (who has two last names, for some reason) to prevent a chance on a cross-ice pass. Sounded like Giroux yelled a rather angry word after being called for that penalty. It may have been “fart”. Something like that. Began with an F, at least.

8:17 p.m.: A shot high and wide on the shorthanded rush by Simmonds turns into a chance the other way, and while Gudas is able to alter Mikael Granlund’s drive to the net at the last second, Elliott still has to turn around to corral the loose puck in his crease. He’s been very strong tonight.

8:19 p.m.: PK has expired, but Minnesota still gets a good chance once the teams are at five-a-side. Good work by Brandon Manning to get in the way to block a potentially dangerous shot in the slot there.

8:21 p.m.: Gaaah a long shot by Hagg sees a rebound spit out to Couturier, who can’t get to it in time to tap it into the open net. Looked like he got tied up by someone on that Minnesota defense there. Best chance the Flyers have had this period.

8:28 p.m.: Hectic sequence in these past couple minutes. Shot off the rush by Konecny then turns into a good shift by the fourth line, then Sanheim mishandles the puck at the blue line and Minnesota turns that into a 2-on-1 that doesn’t amount to much. A mostly-boring hockey game has started to look like a slightly less boring hockey game.

8:30 p.m.: And then a 3-on-2 for Minnesota turns into a blocked shot and another save by Elliott. It took a while, but things are definitely picking up here.

8:32 p.m.: That’ll continue into a Flyers power play, as a strong cycle shift by the Filppula line ends with the Finnish vet getting hooked in the slot and sending the Flyers to the man-advantage with 1:26 left in the second period.

8:34 p.m.: Upon review, that waaaaaaaas a pretty weak hooking call. I’ll take it!

8:35 p.m.: Nothing much happening on that power play. There’ll be 34 seconds left on it when we get back to action in a few minutes. Still zeroes on both sides after 40.

8:40 p.m.: Definitely a more active second period, and a pretty even one. Overall shots on goal 11-9 Flyers; 5-on-5 attempts are 13-10 Flyers. Both goalies playing pretty well in this one.

8:56 p.m.: A fairly lame power play comes to an end shortly after the third period begins. Gotta get something done here, guys.

8:57 p.m.: Oops. Point shot blocked off of Travis Konecny bounces off of the back boards and to Zucker right to the side of the net, and he banks it in off of Elliott’s blocker pad from the angle to open up the scoring. Crappy bounce. 1-0 Wild.

9:02 p.m.: A kind of lazy pass by Gudas ends up at the stick of Stewart, who gets in for his second breakaway of the night. Gudas, though, recovers just enough to dive and get a stick on the puck before Stewart gets a real good chance at Elliott.

9:04 p.m.: Nearly an outstanding pass by Laughton ends up on Leier’s stick in front of the net, but Leier’s taken out at the last second. Minnesota still doing a good job of cutting off the Flyers’ passing lanes.

9:06 p.m.: Elliott’s looked a bit more frantic in this period. Big rebound out there allowed Minnesota another chance to double its lead. Fortunately, they did not take advantage of it, and we’re still tied with 12 minutes left in the period.

9:09 p.m.: Great play by Provorov to pinch and keep the puck in the offensive zone, and then Voracek is held behind the net and the Flyers will get another power play. Bruce Boudreau is not happy about it. Bruce Boudreau can eat my shorts. (I’m not wearing shorts. It’s very cold out today, folks.) Anywho, big, big chance here for the orange team.

9:12 p.m.: That big, big chance did not amount to anything particularly interesting. Some shoving between Granlund and Hagg as they exchange words, and we’ll head to commercial with just over nine minutes left.

9:16 p.m.: Eight minutes left and the Flyers just played the Fall Out Boy song about lighting mups. Seems like a bad omen.

9:21 p.m.: A brief offensive zone shift there for the top line, but we’re still scoreless with 5:26 left. Flyers just can’t find anyone open in a dangerous area tonight.

9:24 p.m.: Great pass from behind the net by Raffl leads to a point-blank shot by Laughton, but Dubnyk cuts the angle off on it. Damn. Also, Sanheim is hurt on the bench. On replay, looks like he just gets tangled up with Daniel Winnik and falls awkwardly. Still on the bench, so hopefully he’s OK.

9:25 p.m.: Aaaaaaand the Flyers will be on an inopportune penalty kill as Voracek holds Jonas Brodin behind the net. Jake, like his friend Claude did earlier, had some rather impolite words to say about that call after the fact. 3:49 left on the clock as the kill begins.

9:27 p.m.: Heck of an effort by Laughton there to nearly chase down a loose puck in the neutral zone and force the Wild to retreat a bit, killing more time on the PK.

9:28 p.m.: There was just a fly or a bug or something like that flying in the NBCS Philly camera for a solid five seconds or so during this PK. I have nothing to add to that, I just thought it was funny.

9:29 p.m.: PK is over and Elliott is to the bench with 1:25 left.

9:31 p.m.: Following a timeout and something drawn up on the whiteboard, a biiiiiiiit too much passing along the perimeter leads to a save by Dubnyk on a long shot. Stoppage with 35 seconds left.

9:32 p.m.: MASS OF HUMANITY IN FRONT OF THE NET and the puck doesn’t go in. Flyers finally got the puck into the slot, and Dubnyk’s able to eat that puck in the crease before Voracek can get a stick on it. 4.2 seconds left. Miracle time?

9:33 p.m.: We’re going to have to wait to find out if it’s miracle time, because the Wild have called timeout.

9:34 p.m.: It is not miracle time. Point shot by Ghost is blocked by Staal and the Flyers lose 1-0 to a Central Division foe for the second time this season. Final shot count is 32-27 Flyers; 5-on-5 attempts were 42-34 Flyers, but the difference here was Minnesota keeping the Flyers out of the slot for the overwhelming majority of the game. So it goes. Hope they were taking notes, because they’re all going to Minnesota to do this again on Tuesday night. See you then. Go Flyers.

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 04:28:53 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Against the Spread 2017: Week 10 Games

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Here are some suggestions when trying to beat the odds.

Before the 10th Sunday of the 2017 NFL regular season kicks off, let’s have some fun by taking a look at the spreads for today’s games. (Click here for NFL Week 10 picks without regard to the spread.)

Here are suggestions when trying to beat the odds. You can find all of today’s NFL betting lines and more via SB Nation. My regular season record after the ninth week is 66-52-4. Another strong performance by me last week. Let’s get to the picks.

NFL Week 10 Games

New York Jets (-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Jets have the second best record ATS in the NFL this year at 6-2-1. The Bucs have the worst record ATS in the NFL this year at 1-6-1. I’m gonna eat this W and roll with the Jets. They’ll be familiar with how to shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick, as if they needed that to beat Tampa Bay. The extra rest coming off Thursday Night Football is another reason to pick NYJ. PICK: Jets -2

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) at Indianapolis Colts: Pittsburgh’s average margin of victory on the road this year is only five points. Their only road win by 10 or more was a 17-point victory against Baltimore. So I’m not necessarily convinced this is a slam dunk, but I can’t take the Colts. Pittsburgh’s defense should be able to limit the Indy offense. I just have some concerns about the Steelers offense, which ranks 19th in offensive points per game. PICK: Steelers -10

New Orleans Saints (-3) at Buffalo Bills: The Bills are undefeated at home this season (4-0). Their average margin of victory is 10.5 points. I don’t fully buy this Buffalo team; I’m not surprised they lost to the Jets on Thursday night last week. But I do like them a lot more at home in the cold against a dome team like the Saints. The home dog is a tempting pick here, so I’ll go with it. PICK: Bills +3

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-5): Chicago is 5-3 ATS this year while Green Bay is 3-5. If you’re picking this game straight up, the Bears have to be the choice. Brett Hundley just isn’t very threatening at all. Picking the Bears at -5 is more difficult, which is the point of this thing. I don’t think they’re that good in relation to the Packers. But coming off the bye and playing at home ... I’ll roll with Chi-town. They’ve played relatively well at Soldier Field all season. Plus the Packers are playing on a short week. PICK: Bears -5

Minnesota Vikings (-2) at Washington Redskins: Case Keenum has been playing OK and the Minnesota defense is good but I just don’t really feel strongly about the Vikings. Kind of waiting for them to have a letdown game or two. Maybe that happens here on the road. Washington needs this win a lot more than they do. I like the home dog once again here. PICK: Washington +2

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5): The Jags have been inconsistent so they could due for a loss here. But I like Jacksonsville’s defense to take care of the Chargers. Tough spot for Los Angeles traveling to the East Coast to play a 1:00 PM start. PICK: Jaguars -4.5

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions (-10.5): The Browns are terrible. They have a rest advantage since they’re coming off their bye and the Lions played on Monday night but that’s not enough to matter much here. Detroit is getting their starting left tackle (Taylor Decker) back so that’s a nice boost for the Lions. PICK: Lions -10.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (-5): Tennessee is 3-1 at home this year. Cincinnati is 1-3 on the road this year, with their sole win coming over the winless Browns. I don’t feel really strongly about either team so I’ll go with the home side. PICK: Titans -5

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams (-13): The Texans are completely hopeless with Tom Savage starting. The Rams are No. 1 in point differential and DVOA for a reason. They’re good and they can put up points. Just don’t see how you could take Houston here. They lost to the friggin Colts last week. At home. PICK: Rams -13

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5): A Falcons win here would sure be great for the Philadelphia Eagles. It certainly seems more possible with Ezekiel Elliott not playing. The bad news is that Atlanta just doesn’t seem very good. They’re 2-6 ATS this season, which is the second worst record in the league. The Falcons’ defense isn’t very inspiring. I’ll take the Cowboys (5-3 ATS) here. And if I’m wrong, oh well. PICK: Cowboys +3.5

New York Giants (-3) at San Francisco 49ers: There’s part of me that wants to take San Fran. The New York Giants are a mess, after all. But the 49ers are just so bad. I can’t trust C.J. Beathard. I’ll take New York and then probably regret it later. I’d avoid betting this game, obviously. PICK: Giants -3

New England Patriots (-8) at Denver Broncos: Lmao, the Broncos are starting Brock Osweiler again. The Patriots, who are coming off their bye, are the easy pick here. PICK: Patriots -8

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers (-9): The Panthers are 12-0 straight up and 10-1-1 ATS since 2010 as home favorites of seven or more points. History says to go with them. I don’t fully trust Carolina but I think the Dolphins, who rank 31st in DVOA, are legitimately bad at this point. PICK: Panthers -9

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 05:30:42 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Carson Wentz says he doesn

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/12/17.

Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

Carson Wentz ‘Not Big On Celebrating Success Up To This Point’ - CBS Philly
Angelo Cataldi bluntly asked Wentz if he hates the Cowboys yet. “I’m not a fan, I’m not a fan,” Wentz admitted on Friday. “I think it’s cool, anytime any of these NFC East games, they’re all rivals. Obviously, with it being a Sunday Night Football game, that’ll be fun. That’ll always be a fun one and I know our fans really love that one extra, and so do we.”

Which NFL team is the biggest threat to the Eagles? - BGN
Can anyone stop the Birds?

Friday Conversations: Ben Livingston & Charles McDonald -
John Barchard goes over the Eagles extension of Tim Jernigan and what kind of impact that has now, the offseason and beyond. Plus he welcomes in Ben Livingston from the Carlin and Reese Show on 94WIP, along with Charles McDonald from the Falcoholics, Football Outsiders & the Setting The Edge Podcast to chat QBs, Cowboys & more!

Identifying the best, most important games of NFL Week 10 - ESPN
Cowboys vs. Falcons: No game this week has as much on the line in terms of the playoff race than this one. Both teams can see their potential playoff prospects swing fairly dramatically depending on the outcome. Dallas may hold the sixth seed in the NFC in the "if the season ended today" scenario, but the season doesn't end today, and according to FPI, the Cowboys face the most difficult remaining schedule of any team in the league. Dallas still has two division games against the Eagles (FPI's top-ranked team), including the home encounter in Week 11, and tough games at Oakland and home to Seattle still to come. When factoring in FPI's projections for the rest of the season, Dallas has a 49 percent chance to make the playoffs, seventh best in the NFC. A win would get the Cowboys to a more comfortable 66 percent and a loss would drop them to 32 percent, the biggest difference of the week.

Smart Coaches Don’t Punt - Slate
The coach that Lewis and his NFL brethren should look to for inspiration is Philadelphia’s Pederson—one of the front-runners for the NFL’s coach-of-the-year award. Overall, the Eagles have faced 13 different fourth-and-1 situations this year. They’ve gone for it seven times and have converted all seven. With results like that, expect Philadelphia to keep being aggressive and for that to remain the smart decision.

Jared Goff and Carson Wentz's scheme secret; five big questions -
Both the Rams and Eagles invested heavily in weapons in the offseason, allowing their young QBs to spread the ball around, as Ryan did so well last season. (Take away the players, and Shanahan's offense -- which opposing scouts have told me for years is really hard to defend schematically -- can be fundamentally the same and much less effective, as you're seeing right now with the 0-9 San Francisco 49ers.) And like all good coaches, the Rams' Sean McVay (who worked with Shanahan in Washington), Eagles' Doug Pederson and their respective staffs are in tune with their identity and play to their strengths.

Eagles' Chris Long discusses charity, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres - PhillyVoice
Long also touched on why he was one of numerous New England Patriots members to not attend a customary ceremony at the White House for Super Bowl winners. "My man kind of lost me with his campaign," Long said of President Donald Trump. "I don't think I would feel like a real guy if I didn't follow my heart and say, 'That's just not for me.' I think people going is fine. That's not an indictment on them for showing up. But for me, it didn't jive with my personal ideologies and opinions.

Game Review – PHI 51, DEN 23 - Iggles Blitz
2017 has been a season of tests for the Eagles. Could they win on the road? Could they win close games? Would Carson Wentz take a big step forward? Could they overcome injuries? So far, the Eagles have passed every test. Last Sunday they had a new one, facing the #1 defense in the league. This was our chance to see Pederson, Wentz and company show what they could do against a legitimately dominant unit. Denver had not allowed any team to score more than 29 points or gain more than 276 yards all year. So how did the Eagles do? They piled up 51 points and 419 yards. Denver is no longer the #1 defense.

The Kids Are Alright - McNabb or Kolb
Carson Wentz’s start to the 2017 season has garnered national plaudits for his stewardship of the Eagles’ league-leading offense. But it being 2017, there lurks a coterie of skeptics who claim his underlying ability is “horrendous” like Blake Bortles or merely pedestrian like Andy Dalton. Even more emphatically, poor Jared Goff was confidently pronounced a bust after one season. Is it fair to judge a quarterback solely on his rookie year? What about after the first nine weeks of his second season in the league? And how might one systematically evaluate a developing quarterback, relative to historical data?

No word on when Eagles rookie Sidney Jones will play, but he has been a part of all team activities - Inquirer
The coaching staff is trying to keep Jones as involved as possible this season while he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in March. He hasn’t taken a snap for the Eagles in a game or even a practice, but they have made sure the second-round pick is like any other player in every other setting – whether it’s in team meetings or on the team plane. “Hasn’t missed one meeting. Hasn’t missed a practice,” defensive backs coach Cory Undlin said. “He’s out there every single day. He’s right next to us. He gets every call in every period. I call on him in the meetings as if he was playing. He knows the defense.”

Emphasis, execution of tackling by corners key to defense's success - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Sure, they've had good tackling cornerbacks before. Eric Allen loved being physical. Troy Vincent rarely missed a tackle. Sheldon Brown during his prime was as good as any cornerback in the league bringing down receivers. But this? A secondary where every cornerback is a capable and willing tackler? This is uncharted territory. One of the reasons the Eagles go into the bye week 8-1 with a seven-game winning streak is the ability of this defense to prevent big plays. And that's all tackling. By everybody. Not just the linebackers, safeties and guys up front. Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson and Jaylen Watkins, the four guys who've gotten virtually all the cornerback reps this year, have all proven to be exceptional tacklers. And it really sets the Eagles apart from other defenses.

2017 NFL mid season special team rankings - PFF
2) Philadelphia Eagles - The second-best team in our PFFELO rankings is also the second-best team in terms of special teams so far. Rookie kicker Jake Elliott has been a revelation, making five of his six attempts from 50 or more yards, while forcing an average starting field position of the 23.4 yard line on 53 kickoffs so far. Kenjon Barner has the third-highest graded punt returner in his six games played, averaging over 11 yards per return while settling for only six fair catches. Kamu Grugier-Hill leads the team with seven total tackles in coverage.

Salute to Service: Eagles Chris Long holds veterans in high regard - NFL Player Engagement
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long doesn’t have to look far to find popular and successful family members. There is his father Howie, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, who was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection for the Oakland Raiders and is now one of the stars on Fox’s NFL pre-game show. There is also younger brother Kyle, a starting guard and a 2013 first-round pick of the Chicago Bears. And older brother Howie, Jr., who works in the Raiders’ personnel department. Go way back and you’ll even find ties to Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Chris, himself, is a 10-year NFL veteran and came into the 2017 season sixth among active players in sacks. Football and athletic accomplishments aside, two other family members who Long admires and appreciates even more are his cousin Nicole Addonizio, and his grandfather Frank Addonizio, who both served in the Army — Frank during World War II.

Salute To Service More Than A Game For Eagles Cheerleader Ally -
For Eagles Cheerleader Ally, the Eagles Salute to Service game this past Sunday against Denver was one that was most special to her. Her younger brother, William, was deployed to Afghanistan in the fall of 2016. But Ally hasn’t seen him often since he graduated from high school. William joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Vanderbilt and was deployed only months after earning his degree which was tough for Ally and her family. “It was shocking but it was kind of like, ‘Here we go, we knew this was going to happen,'” says Ally. “It was time to get prepared and deal with it and take it one day at a time and that’s really what it was. It was a challenging long nine months for my family.”

Do Thursday Games Cause More Injuries? - Football Outsiders
It's not hard to find players going on the record about how much they hate Thursday Night Football (TNF). Their concerns center around player health, safety, and fitness to play after just a four-day rest period. These concerns were on display in last night's TNF matchup, where Doug Baldwin attributed his groin injury to short rest and Richard Sherman reportedly ruptured his Achilles after nursing soreness in the tendon for at least two weeks (when his Achilles first popped up on the injury report). Would Baldwin have avoided injuring his groin and Sherman avoided exacerbating his Achilles if the game had been played on Sunday instead? It's impossible to know in any individual case, but I was curious if these concerns would show up in NFL-wide injury reports. Are there higher rates of reported injuries for weeks with short rest, as opposed to normal or even extended rest?

From Baghdad to Iwo Jima, an anthem for the dead - SB Nation
Two Marines — one a veteran of Iraq and the other a survivor of Iwo Jima — remember the fallen and weigh the meaning of a national anthem.


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[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 06:28:42 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Playoff Picture: Eagles fans rooting guide for Week 10

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What should you be watching today?

The Philadelphia Eagles are off today since it’s their bye week. At 8-1, the Birds own the best record in the NFL. Their playoff odds are around 98% and their chances of landing the No. 1 seed are 47%.

The Eagles are in a great spot right now. But things can get even better for them if they get some help. (Not that they need it.) With that in mind, here’s what Eagles fans should be rooting for on Sunday.

NFC Standings


Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons: The Cowboys are riding a three-game win streak heading into Atlanta. Now Dallas has to prove they can win without Ezekiel Elliott, who is suspended for at least four games. A Dallas loss here would be great for the Eagles. The Cowboys’ playoff odds drop to 32% with a Falcons win today. It would also take pressure off the Eagles in their Week 12 matchup against the Cowboys set to take place in Dallas next Sunday night. I question the Falcons’ ability to get this done since they haven’t looked great lately; Atlanta is 1-4 in their last five games. Zeke being out at least gives the Falcons a better chance. Root for the Cowboys to lose.

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins: This isn’t a scenario where the Eagles want their NFC East rival to lose. Washington is less of a threat to Philly since they’re 4-4 and the Birds already have a head-to-head tie-breaker over them. The 6-2 Vikings pose a bigger threat to the Eagles’ quest for a No. 1 seed. Washington beat the Seahawks in Seattle last week so they should have a fighting chance to help the Eagles out here. If Washington loses, seeing them drop to 4-5 won’t be a terrible consolation prize. Root for the Vikings to lose.

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers: With the Giants at 1-7 and the 49ers at 0-9, this game obviously doesn’t have any playoff implications. Eagles fans should be rooting for the Giants to win in order to hurt their draft position. New York is reportedly scouting quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft so it’d be ideal for their pick to be as worse as it possibly can to hurt their chances of landing the passer they want. Root for the 49ers to lose.


New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills: This is a very important game for Eagles fans to keep an eye on. The 6-2 Saints, who have won six in a row, look like the biggest threat to Philly in the NFC. A Saints loss in Buffalo would give Philly some more breathing room. The Eagles don’t play the Saints in the regular season so it’d be nice to get some help here. Root for the Saints to lose.

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams: Like the Saints, the Rams are a threat to the Eagles in the NFC. Philly will have a chance to beat the Rams and earn a tie-breaker over them. But it’d be even nicer if that head-to-head victory wasn’t necessary. A Texans win would be great here. It’s just so unlikely, though, with “Tom Savage” starting for Houston. Root for the Rams to lose.

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers: This Monday Night Football matchup isn’t super important to the Eagles since they already have a head-to-head tie-beaker over 6-3 Carolina. A Panthers loss wouldn’t hurt, though. Root for the Panthers to lose.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: This game probably doesn’t matter a lot as far as the Eagles are concerned. Still, I’d rather keep seeing the Packers lose just in case there’s a chance of Aaron Rodgers somehow returning late in the season. Root for the Packers to lose.

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions: Obvious decision to root for an AFC team when they’re playing an NFC team. With that said, rooting for the Browns is pretty futile. And I want to be able to keep tweeting out Cleveland’s record since they passed on Carson Wentz (currently at 1-23). But a Lions loss is better for the Eagles. Root for the Lions to lose.

New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 2-6 Bucs are far from threatening an Eagles. But you should keep rooting for them to lose in the hopes they can get a better draft pick than the Giants can. Root for the Buccaneers to lose.


Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts: AFC matchup that doesn’t matter a ton. A Colts loss would be preferable when it comes to hoping the Giants get a worse pick. Root for the Colts to lose.

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars: Another AFC matchup that doesn’t really matter. Root for the Chargers to lose because of the Giants draft pick thing. Root for the Chargers to lose.

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans: Same logic as the two games above. Root for the Bengals to lose.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos: There’s two different ways you can go with this one. You can hope the Broncos lose so that the Giants have more competition for acquiring a quarterback in the draft. Or you could hope the Patriots lose because 1) they’re the Patriots and 2) the Eagles own their fourth-round pick, so the more they lose the better it (potentially) is for that selection. But with Brock Osweiler starting, the Pats ain’t losing this game. Root for whatever you want, I guess.

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 07:07:03 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Week 10 Games Schedule: Start time, online streaming, TV channel, how to watch, announcers, and more

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Read on for more information on how to watch the NFL Week 10 games.

Sunday is here which means it’s time for Week 10 of the 2017 NFL regular season schedule. There are a total of 13 games on today featuring 26 different teams.

The Philadelphia Eagles are off today since it’s their bye week. Here’s a guide of which teams Eagles fans should be rooting for/against today.

In the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys are on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. The Washington Redskins will host the Minnesota Vikings. The New York Giants will try to avoid losing on the road to the winless San Francisco 49ers.

Here's everything you need to know about how to watch the games. Click here to see which game is broadcasted in your region. The Philly area is set to receive the Vikings-Washington game on FOX.

Here's who the BGN writers are predicting to win. Here's advice when picking against the spread.

Read on for more information on how to watch the NFL Week 10 games. Treat this as your early games thread. There will be a separate thread for the Cowboys-Falcons game, so make sure you look for that.

Online Streaming

NFL Sunday Ticket | NFL Game Pass | Watch CBS Sports online | FOX Sports GO | Stream Sunday Night Football on's Live Extra for free

Sunday, November 12

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: CBS
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: CBS
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: CBS
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: CBS
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: FOX
Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: FOX
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis

New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: FOX
Announcers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

Start time: 1:00 PM ET
TV channel: FOX
Announcers: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams

Start time: 4:05 PM ET
TV channel: CBS
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons

Start time: 4:25 PM ET
TV channel: FOX
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

Start time: 4:25 PM ET
TV channel: FOX
Announcers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

Start time: 8:30 PM ET
Channel: NBC
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Monday, November 13

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers

Start time: 8:30 PM ET
TV channel: ESPN
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden


Note: This is an open thread. Discuss NFL Week 10 games here in the comment section.

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 09:00:03 EST from rss

Subject: Wild 1, Flyers 0: Snoozefest, PA

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Some observations for your morning...

Wake up! Wake up! You’re not late for school, but the game is over, and it’s time to read about it. Here’s what we learned.

All stats and graphics via Corsica.Hockey, ESPN, HockeyViz, Natural Stat Trick, and

1. An early regression

Guys? We just talked about how stellar of an effort the Flyers put up in the first period of Thursday's game. Things were looking good. They had cleaned up the issues. We thought things were turning around. We were wrong.

Pretty much from the get go, the passing looked less sharp and controlled to start the first period. And the implications of the bad passing stretched beyond just a failure to establish a rhythm, as the Flyers found themselves giving up turnovers and having to work to break up the Wild's attempts to break out on them. The Flyers were definitely strong on the forecheck last night, so this didn't prove to be much of an issue for them, but it was a situation that they would have rather avoided altogether.

But the feeling of discontinuity wasn't entirely a result of the broken plays— the Flyers also hit a period of time where they couldn't seem to stay onside to save their lives. And momentum was broken further.

They left the period having outshot the Wild 12-5, and managed to hold the edge in possession, but couldn't seem to capitalize where it mattered.

2. Let’s talk about the power play

The Flyers’ power play started off the season looking, on the whole, pretty sharp, but have since then tapered off. Currently, they sit ranked respectfully at 12th in the league, with a conversion percentage of 19.6. So despite the eye test and recency bias, the Flyers’ power play has been doing, relatively, fine.

But last night’s performance was a different story. The Flyers were unable to score on any of their three opportunities, and were only able to bring a moderate amount of pressure while they were on the ice. And one of the reasons for this was one of their most effective tools being shut down.

In an article last week on The Athletic, Tyler Dellow began to break down the efficiency of the main power play units across the league. In looking at the Flyers’ top unit, he identified them as having a rebound percentage— that is, shots on goal that result in rebounds— of 11.8 percent, towards the middle-upper end of percentages recorded by the 15 teams examined. So the first unit has done well to create rebound opportunities for potential goals, but this work was foiled last night by Dubnyk’s solid rebound control. And they couldn’t find a way around it, and their slump continued on one game further.

3. Elliott steady again, despite the result

If last night's game saw itself hit with bumps of inconsistency, the most notable exception to that was Elliott. Coming of a solid game against Chicago, he again remained solid in last night's performance. A lower-event game, he still stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced, posting a save percentage of .963 percent.

The one goal he allowed was, to be sure, an unfortunate one, but a fair amount of the blame can be placed on the bad bounce the puck took. As Hakstol said after the game, "it was a good play by [the Wild] to throw it back to the net and off of [Elliott's] pad," and credit should be given where due, on that.

But just like on Thursday, Elliott came up with the big saves, when necessary, and kept them in the game when the deficit could have been a lot worse.

4. Shooting locations

From a shots generated standpoint, the Flyers did pretty well. Over the course of the game, they held the edge in shots on goal, ending the sixty minutes with 32 to Minnesota's 27. So, as they failed to put up a goal, quantity of shots wasn't the problem. But what about the quality?

Against the Wild, the Flyers leaned, especially early in the game, on shots from or near the point. We've seen them using this method before— blast the puck in on net and hope to generate some rebounds, some confusion in the crease where a goal is more likely to originate. The only problem last night was that Dubnyk wasn't giving up any rebounds.

The later period of the game saw them working to generate some chances from elsewhere, but they still fell back on attempting those high to low plays, even when they weren't really working for them. So one wonders what the game may have looked like if they had made adjustments and pulled away from this method, but the results still remain. A learning experience it ended as, and back to the drawing board they go.

5. Defensive game

Last night’s game, on paper, was nothing if not even. The Flyers held a slight edge in 5 on 5 possession, with an adjusted CF% of 51.99 percent, while the Wild held the edge in expected goals with 2.23 to the Flyers’ 1.87. Offense was lacking, and defense reigned nearly completely.

On the Flyers’ end, the line that received the most ice time by a substantial margin, the Couturier line, was also the one that ended up playing the lowest-event game. And the shutdown work that this line has been so praised for came back to bite them.

But throughout the game, as the Wild’s defensive game flourished, the Flyers worked to push back against that. Relating to finding a balance between breaking up Minnesota’s defense while still attacking in the zone, Konecny noted that they “started doing drops at the blue line and pushing their D back and giving our forwards a little more time coming into the zone. And then when we get the puck below their net… they’re congested right there and it’s just important that we win the battle and get it back up to our defense… And then when we go low to high and get shots, guys start moving in the offensive zone and that opens up behind the net and allows us to play our game.”

So the strategy was there, and showed flashes of near-efficacy. And the Flyers will have to hope that they can push this up to the next level, when they meet the Wild again on Tuesday.

6. Secondary scoring

A simple fact for you: we’ve seen goals scored by at least one member of the first line in 13 of the Flyers’ games this season. In the other four? The Flyers were shut out.

This presents a serious concern, as it relates to scoring by the other three lines. We’ve noticed it stagnating and falling behind, but last night was a prime example of why the coaches and the bottom nine need to figure something out.

Over 17 games, the bottom nine forwards have recorded 19 goals to the top three’s 23, with much of this scoring somewhat front loaded to the earlier part of the season. With a team with depth that the Flyers have, with lines that, despite the lack of scoring, have mostly been performing effectively, it seems only a matter of time before the scoring follows the efforts. It feels like, once someone cracks whatever barrier is keeping them from scoring, the flood will be released.

It seems only a matter of time before this happens— but fans are rightful in starting to feel a little antsy in waiting around for it.

7. With or without you

But since we've gone a little general with both power play units, let's hone in on the second unit, looking with a bit more specificity.

With the rash of injuries and the shuffling of personnel, PP2 has certainly taken the biggest hit. And perhaps the area where this lost is being felt the most distinctly is the absence of Nolan Patrick. Now, this isn't news, he's been out and we've all been missing him, but somehow last night served as a particularly strong example of why.

Maybe it was that play where Lehtera kind of just flailed around at the end of a play. Maybe it's the plain fact that they've been terribly ineffective, on the whole. Maybe it's the fact that his efforts in generating plays from behind the net are still unmatched on that unit, and this element is one (that they could use again). And maybe it's all of the above.

Whatever the reason(s), PP2 has been not great, and with Patrick ostensibly getting closer to returning, it feels like this day can't come fast enough.

8. Last minute and a half NOT a snoozefest

Did you make it to the end of the game? Did you fall asleep? I wouldn't blame you if you did.

If you watched even part of the game, you'll have realized that it was, in short, boring. But, if you didn't fall asleep for the last minute and a half or so, you'll have been rewarded with a bit of fun.

When the Flyers pulled Elliott at the end, in hopes of getting things tied up, they were able to spend most of the remaining time in the Wild's zone, generating shots and getting a bit of momentum going.

And maybe it was just the fact that the game was almost over and the stakes were higher, but this felt, without a doubt, like the most engaging and exciting part of the game. It was the push we were looking for, had been wanting to see for the last 58 minutes. And even if the resuls weren't there— despite the pressure, the Wild kept the area around the crease tied up and the Flyers couldn't seem to buy a goal— we felt nearly rewarded.


9. A note on shutouts

Two numbers for you: the Flyers have been shut out in four of their 17 games this season. 4 games. Zero goals.

On paper, this sounds really bad. Despite how good they've looked, otherwise, that's still 23.5 percent of games played where they could not score a single goal.

But when we take a step back, this may not be quite as disconcerting as it may seem at first glance. In the first three shutouts against the Kings, Predators, and Blackhawks— and again with the Wild— the Flyers were playing at least decent hockey in each of those matchups. Some of it may be luck, a hot goaltender, a failure to connect or break through a tight checking team, but none of it is complete garbage play, for which they absolutely deserve to be shut out.

Does four shutouts in 17 games sound bad? Absolutely. But don’t expect for it to be a trend, for this ratio to hold.

10. The only damn thing I know

I think we have a ghost in the Wells Fargo Center.

No, this isn't a set up to a Shayne Gostisbehere joke. Just listen.

Throughout last night's game, I picked up on something happening off the ice. From one section just below mine, all evening a voice moaned.


All night. All throughout the game. When the Flyers had the puck. When the Wild had the puck. When play was moving and active. When a player was holding the puck behind their net. The voice was unrelenting, unidentifiable, untraceable.

This voice haunts me, will likely continue to haunt me. The voice of this poor lost soul.

If anyone has any leads on this phantom's identity, or knows any good ghostbusters, please, get in touch.

There's only room for one ghost in the Flyers' arena.


[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 13:59:10 EST from rss

Subject: Not Quite There Yet

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They kept it close for awhile, then the team with four All-Stars and a couple of NBA titles kicked it up a notch. I think that one played out how we thought it would. The Sixers were up for it, and even though they didn’t get their usual contributions from Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and…

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 15:04:54 EST from rss

Subject: Cowboys vs. Falcons: Start time, game info, online streaming, how to watch

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You know who to root for.

With no Philadelphia Eagles game on today, the most important matchup of the week is this one: the Dallas Cowboys versus the Atlanta Falcons.

A Dallas loss in this game would be very great for the Eagles. The Cowboys’ playoff odds would drop to 32% instead of rising into the 60% range. It’ll be very interesting to see how Dak Prescott fares without Ezekiel Elliott.

Even if the Cowboys win, the Eagles can still effectively end the NFC East race by beating Dallas next week.

Here’s all the basic info you need to know about this game.

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons

TV Schedule

Game time: 4:25 PM EST

Channel: FOX

Date: Sunday, November 12

Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta, Georgia

Online Streaming

NFL Sunday Ticket

NFL Game Pass

FOX Sports GO


Dallas Cowboys +3 (+100)

Atlanta Falcons -3 (-120)

Over/under: 48.5 points

SB Nation Blogs

Cowboys -

Falcons -


Open thread: discuss Sunday’s game in the comments below.

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 19:15:26 EST from rss

Subject: Dannell Ellerbe to sign with Eagles

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The Eagles are adding linebacker depth.

The Philadelphia Eagles are signing veteran free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, according to an announcement from his agent.

This move doesn’t come as a total surprise. The Eagles brought Ellerbe to Philly for a workout a couple weeks ago. Here’s what we wrote at the time.

Ellerbe, 31, has played in 77 career NFL games and made 42 starts since entering the league in 2009. During that span, he’s recorded 272 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

The Baltimore Ravens signed Ellerbe, who went to Georgia, as an undrafted rookie free agent. He played four years there before earning a big money deal with the Dolphins. After two seasons in South Beach, Miami traded Ellerbe and a third-round pick to the Saints in exchange for Kenny Stills. New Orleans waived Ellerbe this summer after he suffered a foot injury in July and was placed on injured reserve.

The Eagles are likely checking up on Ellerbe’s medical status. They clearly already have familiarity with the linebacker thanks to the Joe Douglas connection.

The 6-2, 245 pound Ellerbe has struggled to stay healthy during his career but he has some talent.

The Eagles likely aren’t bringing in Ellerbe to count on him as a full-time starter. He gives them more depth at linebacker with Jordan Hicks being out for the year. Perhaps he’ll see some rotational playing time in place of Joe Walker.

Philadelphia hasn’t officially confirmed this roster move, but a team announcement is expected on Monday. The Eagles will have to cut someone from their 53-man roster to make room for Ellerbe.

Here’s a brief Ellerbe highlights video.

[#] Sun Nov 12 2017 19:22:51 EST from rss

Subject: Cowboys vs. Falcons Final Score: Eagles increase NFC East lead with Dallas loss

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The Dallas Cowboys LOST to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday by a final score of 27 to 7. The Cowboys are now 5-4 after their first nine games.

This loss is obviously great news for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Birds are now have a full three game lead in the NFC East. Here’s an updated look at the standings. Note that all three of the Eagles’ division rivals lost today.

Dallas looked pretty pathetic in their loss to a Falcons team that was 1-4 in their last five games. The absences of star running back Ezekiel Elliott and starting left tackle Tyron Smith were apparent. The Cowboys couldn’t rely on the run like they usually do and therefore had to relying on Dak Prescott’s arm, which unsurprisingly failed them.

Some said Prescott’s success didn’t rely on his strong support system. I’d say today shows otherwise. He certainly didn’t show the makings of a player who steps up when facing adversity.

The Cowboys will return home next week for a BIG game against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. A Philadelphia win will effectively end the division race, if it isn’t over already.

If the Cowboys play anything like they did against Atlanta, the Eagles are going to freaking wreck this team. Of course, division games aren’t always as easy as expected.

Still, not a bad bye week for the Birds.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 06:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: Still bored, to be honest

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

*The Flyers “played” a “hockey game” on Saturday night, the result of which was a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild. If you “missed” the “game”, well, you didn’t. But anyhoo: RECAP!

*Because she’s a professional, Maddie somehow came up with ten things to take away from what may have been the most boring game of the season thus far. [BSH]

*Saturday’s game was the fourth shutout of this relatively young season. People are starting to talk about depth issues. You guys worried yet? [NBC Sports Philly]

*Anyhoo, on to the good news! Nolan Patrick is expected to skate a full practice today! Oh, Andrew MacDonald too. []

*In prospects news, Cooper Marody is playing very, very well at college. [Courier-Post]

*If you had to predict which current NHL players are absolute locks to be future Hall of Famers, who’d you pick? [ESPN]

*And finally, while it well and truly stinks that the NHL won’t be in the Olympics this year, one cool thing is we’re going to get a lot of stories about guys who were never good enough to make it in the best league in the world finally getting their chance to shine. That’ll be fun. [USA Today]

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 06:27:32 EST from rss

Subject: 2 winners and 4 losers from the Eagles bye week

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The circus doesn’t stop

The Eagles were on their bye, but that doesn’t mean good and bad things can’t happen for them. The weekend could have gone better, but none of it was in the Eagles control.


The Eagles

The Cowboys lost to the Falcons 27-7, putting them 3 games behind the Eagles for the NFC East lead. The Eagles still have to face Dallas twice, so nothing has been clinched, but the road to the division title is almost at its end. Next Sunday night is now a must win game for the Cowboys, who looked terrible against the Falcons. An Eagles win all but clinches the division, a Cowboys win would be the first in a series of outcomes that would need to go Dallas’ way.

The Giants

Yes, that’s right, even though they lost to the previously winless 49ers, the Giants won. Their loss to San Francisco gets them another step closer to having a top pick in the draft to take a QB. Unfortunately for the front office and coaching staff, it also puts the Giants one step closer to cleaning house. But for the Giants franchise, losing out isn’t the worst scenario. For the rest of the division, it’s terrible, having rudderless Ben McAdoo in charge and Jerry Reese, who is apparently fatally allergic to trading up in the draft, finish just out of reach of getting a (potential) franchise quarterback is the idea finish.


The Eagles race for the top seed

The Eagles weren’t able to gain any ground on securing the #1 seed in the NFC. All three 6-2 teams won and are now a game behind Philadelphia, and the Eagles only face one of them this season. The Saints continued their hot form by demolishing the Bills; while the Vikings, who have the head-to-head tiebreaker over New Orleans after beating them in Week 1, beat the Redskins. Then the Rams blew out the Texans, their next two games are at the Vikings and then hosting the Saints, and then two weeks later face the Eagles. The Rams will have a lot of say in the playoff picture either clearing up soon. Or it could get murkier if the Rams beat the Vikings but lose to the Saints, creating a Möbius strip of head-to-head tiebreakers. Whatever the outcomes, those three teams winning yesterday didn’t help the Eagles any.

Ben McAdoo

Here’s a list of coaches who made the playoffs in their first year and were fired after their second year:

  • Norm Barry won the NFL Championship in 1925 with the Chicago Cardinals by virtue of having the league’s best record at 11-2-1 after the 10-2 Pottsville Maroons were suspended. The Cardinals slumped to 5-6-1 in 1926, and Barry was replaced, though financial difficulties may have been a motivating factor, they had to sell star Paddy Driscoll in 1926.
  • Pop Ivy lost the 1962 AFL Championship in double overtime, his first year with the Houston Oilers, who had won the first two AFL titles prior to his arrival. In 1963 the Oilers went 6-8 and Ivy was fired in June, replaced by Sammy Baugh, who Ivy had hired as an assistant in May.
  • Bud Carson took the Bengals to the conference championship in 1989, where the Bengals lost to the Broncos for the third time in four seasons. In 1990 he was fired after a 2-7 start.
  • Lindy Infante went 9-7 to reach the playoffs as a wildcard with the Colts in 1996, losing in the first round, then went 3-13 in 1997, kickstarting a small run of quick coaching changes.
  • In 1997, Wade Phillips and the Broncos were a wild card at 9-7, but after going 7-9 in 1998 Phillips was fired.
  • In 1998 Chan Gailey made the playoffs with the Cowboys and did so again in 1999, but with no playoff wins to show for it he was fired.
  • Bill Callahan went to the Super Bowl with the Raiders in 2002 and got blown out by his old boss, then in 2003 the Raiders went 4-12 and he was fired.

McAdoo is currently 1-8.

The Cowboys offense

How would Dak Prescott do without Ezekiel Elliott (and Tyron Smith)? Woof. Their only scoring drive started on the Falcons 21 yard line after an interception. Prescott was sacked eight times by a Falcons defense that entered the game with 18 sacks. Adrian Clayborn’s 6 sacks on Sunday were more than any Falcon had all season. Prescott threw for just 176 yards on 20 for 30 passing. Cowboys running backs weren’t bad, gaining 65 yards on 15 attempts, but were only able to run the ball 5 times in the second half. Dez Bryant caught 4 passes for 39 yards. Nearly nothing went right for the Cowboys offense against a defense that hasn’t stopped anyone all season.

Cole Beasley

Shook by Howard Eskin. That’s some thin skin.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 07:17:26 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Jason Kelce is having a great season

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/13/17.

Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

Eagles' center Kelce having one of the best run blocking seasons in a decade - PFF
The diversity of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s play calling has had a ripple effect on the entire Eagles team – most notably QB Carson Wentz (85.0 overall grade – fifth among quarterbacks). However, there’s another Eagle on the offense having a career year – center Jason Kelce. Kelce has never shown as a great pass protecting center, but where he excels is run blocking. His 96.7 run block grade this season crushes No. 2 center David Andrews’ 85.6. If the season ended today it’d be the third-highest of any offensive linemen, regardless of position, since 2006. His overall grade reflects that dominance.

Dannell Ellerbe to sign with Eagles - BGN
The Eagles are adding lineback depth.

What went right and wrong around the NFL for the Eagles on Sunday - PhillyVoice
Actually, the Falcons didn't just beat the Cowboys, they dominated them. With no Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys couldn't run the ball effectively, which in turn exposed the Cowboys' offensive line (specifically Chaz Green, who filled in for the injured Tyron Smith) in pass protection. The Cowboys couldn't block the Falcons' defensive line to save their lives, and they are in even bigger trouble next Sunday if Smith can't return to the lineup against the Eagles' front four. The Eagles are now three games up on the Cowboys in the NFC East.

A Good Day - Iggles Blitz
After watching Joe Walker for two weeks, I can understand this move. Walker shows potential, but needs experience. With the Eagles headed for the playoffs, you don’t want a player on the field who isn’t ready for key situations

Eagles' D-line built to dominate for years - NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles might have the best defensive line in the NFL this season, although there are certainly other teams in the conversation. Beyond 2017? It's not up for debate. No D-line is better positioned for future success than the Eagles'. That might've been the case already before defensive tackle Tim Jernigan signed a four-year contract extension worth $48 million on Thursday. A new deal for Jernigan just put the unit over the top. There isn't a defensive line in the league that possesses more high-end talents who are either in their prime or still developing, all under contract for the foreseeable future.

Eagles have been led to where they are by Carson Wentz - Inquirer
As the year has gone along, taking nothing away from a defense that held together much better than expected, Wentz is the clear reason the team is doing what it is doing. Not only is he playing exceptionally well despite his relative lack of experience, but his enthusiasm is infectious. Maybe he’ll get to the point someday where he throws a touchdown pass, tugs loose his chinstrap, and walks to the sideline to accept a handshake or two, but that’s a long way from where he is now. The Eagles are up in large part because they have a leader as rambunctious as a lab puppy, and how can they not follow along?

Rested Eagles Benefit From 0-3 NFC East -
It was early in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys-Falcons game on Sunday when Dallas radio play-by-play announcer Brad Sham summed up the Cowboys’ day: “Pathetic. Just pathetic. That’s what this is.” Dallas lost 27-7, capping an 0-for-3 day by the NFC East as the Eagles enjoyed their bye weekend.

Eagles' top challenger in NFC? Don't count out Case Keenum, Vikings - ESPN
It’s not crazy to imagine this team as a real contender. The Vikings made the playoffs as division champs two years ago and started 5-0 last season before a brutal run of injury attrition on the offensive line cost them any chance of making good on that. They hit the line hard in free agency, brought back the core of a smothering defense, and their wide receiver duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs makes a case as the very best in the NFL. You could convince yourself that they’re a quarterback away, but the way Keenum’s playing, that may be underselling them.

Five thoughts: An Eagles slant to Week 10 in the NFL - The Athletic
Let's start with their next opponent, the Dallas Cowboys. It was the first game of Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, but the bigger issue was Tyron Smith being sidelined with a groin injury as Dak Prescott was sacked eight times. Dallas' offense managed just one score on 10 possessions, and this was against the 29th-ranked (DVOA) Atlanta Falcons defense. It's uncertain whether Smith will be back against the Eagles. He didn't practice last week and has been dealing with back and hip issues in addition to the groin. If Smith is out again, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham and Chris Long may have to have a rock-paper-scissors tournament to see who gets to line up on that side Sunday.

The Jerry Jones vs. Arthur Blank dispute was impossible to ignore during the Falcons-Cowboys game - SB Nation
The chill outside of magnificent Mercedes-Benz Stadium matched the icy pre- and post-game postures of owners Jerry Jones and Arthur Blank. This Cowboys-Falcons clash was a backdrop to a confirmed conflict between two owners once cozy but now split. Two owners at odds on if commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract should be extended and whether Goodell should even remain commissioner at all. Jones, the Dallas owner, supports consideration on both counts. Blank, the Falcons owner, does not. He chairs the ownership committee dealing with Goodell’s contract. He is ready to move forward with Goodell.


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[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 07:33:08 EST from rss

Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Overweight and Under The Radar

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Kyle, Adam and Russ discuss the Flyers’ loss, Joel Embiid not looking like himself, and the NFC playoff competition.   We recommend subscribing in Overcast, the best iOS podcast player, and using the Voice Boost and Smart Speed functions, which improve sound quality (for all shows) and speed up small gaps in the conversation. Download…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 08:34:20 EST from rss

Subject: NFC Playoff Picture: How Week 10 impacted the Eagles

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Updated look at the standings

The Philadelphia Eagles did not play a football game on Sunday since it was their bye week. A number of teams did play football games this weekend, however, and some of them had an impact on the NFC playoff picture. Here’s an updated look at the standings.


If the season ended today (it doesn’t), these six teams would make the playoffs.

1 - Philadelphia Eagles: 8-1 overall, 6-0 conference

2 - Minnesota Vikings: 7-2 overall, 5-1 conference (direct tie-breaker over Saints)

3 - New Orleans Saints: 7-2 overall, 5-1 conference

4 - Los Angeles Rams: 7-2 overall, 4-2 conference

5 - Seattle Seahawks: 6-3 overall, 4-2 conference

6 - Carolina Panthers: 6-3 overall, 4-3 conference

As you can see, the Eagles are in good shape at No. 1 overall. They would’ve been in even better shape if the Vikings/Saints/Rams lost on Sunday. Unfortunately for the Birds, all of those teams won.

The Saints, who have won seven in a row, look like they be the biggest threat to the Eagles right now. New Orleans only ranks third because the Sam Bradford-led Vikings beat them in Week 1.

The good news for the Eagles is that some of these top NFC teams will have to play each other soon. The Rams will play the Vikings in Minnesota and before hosting the Saints in Los Angeles. Then the Eagles will get a crack at the Rams in Week 14.

As long as the Eagles keep winning, they’ll be in control of their destiny for the No. 1 seed. A slip up from the other top NFC teams would give Philly more room for error, though.

Note that the Panthers haven’t played yet since they host the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. With a win, Carolina would move up to the No. 5 seed. A loss would keep them at No. 6. The Eagles already beat the Panthers so this doesn’t matter a ton.

Teams on the playoff bubble in the NFC:

7 - Atlanta Falcons: 5-4 overall, 4-1 conference (direct tie-breakers over Lions, Cowboys, and Packers)

8 - Detroit Lions: 5-4 overall, 4-3 conference

9 - Dallas Cowboys: 5-4 overall, 4-3 conference

10 - Green Bay Packers: 5-4 overall, 4-4 conference


The bad news is the Eagles’ top threats to the No. 1 seed won on Sunday. The great news is that the Eagles’ top threat to the NFC East crown LOST on Sunday. Here’s an updated look at the NFC East:

1 - Philadelphia Eagles: 8-1 overall, 6-0 conference, 3-0 division

2 - Dallas Cowboys: 5-4 overall, 4-3 conference, 2-0 division

3 - Washington Redskins: 3-4 overall, 3-4 conference, 0-3 division

4 - New York Giants: 1-8 overall, 0-7 conference, 0-2 division

The Eagles are in great shape with seven games to play. Philly has a BIG opportunity this week as they’re set to play the Cowboys coming off their bye. A win would put the Eagles are 9-1 and drop the Cowboys to 5-5. That would effectively allow the Eagles to clinch the division.

The Eagles can officially clinch the NFC East by Week 13 at the earliest. Their magic number (AKA the combined number of Eagles wins OR Cowboys losses) is FIVE. If the Eagles win their next three games (at Cowboys, vs. Bears, at Seahawks), for example, and the Cowboys lose their next two (vs. Eagles, vs. Chargers), then it’s all over. At that point, the Eagles would be playing just to make sure they get the No. 1 seed.


Here’s a looking at the Eagles’ remaining schedule.

Week 11 - at Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 19, 8:30 PM ET)

Week 12 - vs. Chicago Bears (Nov. 26, 1:00 PM ET)

Week 13 - at Seattle Seahawks (Dec. 3, 8:30 PM ET)

Week 14 - at Los Angeles Rams (Dec. 10, 4:25 PM ET)

Week 15 - at New York Giants (Dec. 17, 1:00 PM ET)

Week 16 - vs. Oakland Raiders (Dec. 25, 8:30 PM ET)

Week 17 - vs. Dallas Cowboys (Dec. 31, 1:00 PM ET)

There are some tough road games in this stretch, but given the way the Eagles are playing they shouldn’t really fear any of these opponents. Philly has a great opportunity to further prove they’re the real deal by finishing the season strong.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 09:28:01 EST from rss

Subject: Cowboys player gets into argument with Philadelphia reporter

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Thin skin.

Eagles-Cowboys week is here and the back-and-forth banter has already begun. Just not like you’d expect.

Following the Cowboys getting dominated in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the one and only Howard Eskin fired off a tweet about the game.

Howard’s not wrong: Dak Prescott didn’t look very good against Atlanta. Dak went 20/30 for a mere 176 yards (5.6 average), zero touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 82.1 passer rating. He did run for a touchdown, yes, but he also committed two turnovers by fumbling twice.

You can make excuses that Prescott didn’t have his left tackle (Tyron Smith) and his best running back (Ezekiel Elliott), but he was bad any way you slice it. Besides, Carson Wentz is also missing a number of key players but that hasn’t stopped him from being an MVP candidate.

This didn’t stop Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley from chiming in.

Look, I totally understand a player wanting to show support for his teammate. Especially his quarterback.

But this comes off as Beasley having thin skin. It’d be one thing if, say, another NFL player was trashing Dak. But, with all due respect to Howard, this is just commentary from a reporter. Beasley shouldn’t be concerned with Eskin’s opinion.

King fired back at Beasley on Monday morning.

Again, Prescott was legitimately bad on Sunday. Watch for yourself below.

Eagles-Cowboys week is just getting started. Sunday night’s game is going to be a fun one.

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 08:55:11 EST from rss

Subject: Your Monday Morning Roundup

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The next best thing to an Eagles win is a Cowboys loss. With the Birds on bye this week, the latter was the only thing we could root for this Sunday and Dallas delivered. The Cowboys, now without Ezekiel Elliott who is finally serving that six-game suspension, got absolutely trashed by the Atlanta Falcons, who…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 09:50:44 EST from rss

Subject: Trust the Cleaning Process

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How do college kids make the worst part of party hosting fun? You theme it around the Sixers. Cleaning is never enjoyable, but these guys from St. Joe’s get it. One of them is a junior forward on the Hawks’ soccer team. Whoever thought of this idea in the house is a god damn genius:…

[#] Mon Nov 13 2017 10:09:32 EST from rss

Subject: Some NFL owners have discussed forcing Jerry Jones to sell the Cowboys, report says

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So here’s something: NFL owners have discussed forcing Jerry Jones to sell the Dallas Cowboys, according to a report from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

A league source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that multiple owners already have been discussing the possibility, which flows from Article VIII of the NFL’s Constitution & Bylaws. Specifically, Section 8.13 authorizes the Commissioner to determine that an owner “has been or is guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football.” If the Commissioner believes the available sanction (a $500,000 fine) is “not adequate or sufficient,” the Commissioner may refer the issue to the NFL’s Executive Committee, which has the power to compel “[c]ancellation or forfeiture of the franchise in the League of any member club involved or implicated,” with a directive to sell the team.

It’s obviously an extreme outcome, and it surely would trigger years of litigation. But the possibility has emerged primarily because Jones has opted to take family business outside the family. As the source explained it, the primary affront comes from the belief among owners that Jones instigated Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to disparage the NFL, blaming league leadership for ratings declines and, in turn, a reduction in Papa John’s revenues.

Florio notes Jones being ousted is unlikely to happen, but it’s pretty big news to hear that NFL owners have seriously discussed it.

The conflict between Jones and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell really heightened when Ezekiel Elliott received a six-game suspension after a year-long investigation. Now Jones is trying to make sure Goodell doesn’t receive a contract extension.

Goodell is far from perfect, but it’s hard to see how Jones’ self-serving interests are what’s good for the entire league. I agree with this good take from Les Bowen:

It would be pretty crazy to see Jones, who was just inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year, be ousted from the league. Again, it doesn’t seem likely, but the possibility alone illustrates the stakes of this situation.

Perhaps this report is getting to leaked so that it encourages Jones to back off. In any case, this situation is getting ugly.

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