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[#] Wed Nov 15 2017 17:09:00 EST from rss

Subject: Ezekiel Elliott drops appeal, will serve full six game suspension

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Zeke is out until late December.

Ezekiel Elliott’s long, drawn out court process is over. The Dallas Cowboys running back is dropping the appeal of his six game suspension, according to Elliott’s representation.

Elliott was already set to definitely miss four out of the six games this season. But now he’ll serve the extra two games he potentially could have avoided missing in 2017.

The Cowboys predictably struggled without Elliott in their 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Dallas couldn’t establish the run, which put more pressure on Dak Prescott to carry the team with his arm. He couldn’t do it. Atlanta was able to take advantage of Tyron Smith’s absence and hit Prescott all game long.

Here’s a look at remaining five games left on Elliott’s suspension.

Week 11 - vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Week 12 - vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Week 13 - vs. Washington Redskins

Week 14 - at New York Giants

Week 15 - at Oakland Raiders

Elliott will eligible to return for the Cowboys’ home game against the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve in Week 16. Then Dallas travels to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in Week 17. That final game could end up being meaningless depending on how things shake out for the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC playoff race.

The Eagles will have a big chance to make Week 17 irrelevant by beating the Cowboys this weekend on Sunday Night Football. Dallas really could have used Elliott against Philly’s No. 1 ranked run defense. Instead, he’ll be out.

Of course, Elliott could have been active for this week’s Eagles-Cowboys game if he didn’t appeal his suspension and served it at the beginning of the season instead.

Or if he didn’t put himself in position to be suspended in the first place.

[#] Wed Nov 15 2017 21:32:29 EST from rss


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Shop now Shut up and take your money. Is that how this works? Our designer Conrad Burry (@ConradBurry) has done it again. Twice. And then once again on Sunday. GET THEM WHILE THEY’RE HOT. Shop now Here’s the deal: Last year, if you’ll recall, I worked my fingers to the bone trying to deliver you…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 02:12:52 EST from rss

Subject: Joel Embiid Just Planted His Flag Among the Philadelphia Sports Immortals

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Oh Sweet Baby Jesus. While you were sleeping, or maybe if you were still awake, Joel Embiid gifted all of us one of those “wait, what am I seeing” performances against the largely not good enough Lonzo Ball and his Los Angeles Lakers. Embiid posted your basic 46/15/7/7 on the heads of the feckless Lakers…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 06:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: If you think about it, do goals even exist?

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

*Who among you is ready for Steve Mason to shut out this team? I know I am baby! The Flyers are back tonight, all the way up in the ‘peg, and here’s hoping they score >1 hockey goals. But ahead of that game, let’s look at what we learned from the last one. [BSH]

*This game is as close to a homecoming as Nolan Patrick is going to get, so here’s hoping the kid is ready to go for tonight’s game. [TSN]

*Danick Martel seems to be doing one thing really well, and that’s scoring goals. The Flyers could use some of that. So why not give it a try? []

*The Flyers may not have scored a single goddamned goal Tuesday night, but how’d the forward lines look? Sometimes we can find promise in underlying numbers and whatnot. [BSH]

*Sam Morin is back! This is excellent news. One assumes we’ll need him at some point. [Sons of Penn]

*We are going to see some pretty nice looking jerseys for the outdoor games this year. [SB Nation]

*So ex-tough guy John Scott is trying out an acting career. That’s pretty fun. [Associated Press]

*And finally, turns out being told that you’ve made the roster is not the best news a hockey player can get. [Yahoo Sports]

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 06:34:23 EST from rss

Subject: Staples of the Eagles

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A look inside one of Doug Pederson’s money plays

Waiting through the Eagles’ bye week was a bummer. To help ease the absence of our favorite 8-1, Super Bowl-bound team, I’ve decided to compile a mini-series that focuses on plays the Eagles run with frequency out of different formations with different personnel and how they’re successful. You can find the previous installations of this series here.


Today I’ll be taking a look at the dagger route concept. The dagger concept is one that’s most effective against cover 1, cover 2, or a coverage with two deep safeties, or a split safety look.

I want to start off with the primary read of dagger. The purpose of the route combination, which features a dig route (square-in route broken off around 12-15 yards downfield) and a go/fade route (running straight downfield). The dig route will pretty much always be ran by the receiver on the outside, while the fade is ran by the receiver shaded inside of him. What the purpose of the concept is is to clear out an area by occupying a deep safety or linebacker with the fade route, opening up an area for the dig route.

Unfortunately the play above is from the preseason and peasants like myself don’t have access to preseason all-22. Fortunately, Fran Duffy of the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast did have access to this play and confirmed it to be dagger.

As you can see in Fran’s clip, the Dolphins are running a single-high coverage. Based on how the defense is aligned pre-snap it looks like man coverage, confirming cover 1. The job of the slot receiver — Nelson Agholor — who is running the fade route is to carry his man and the safety deeper to clear out the middle of the field to make the underneath throw to Alshon Jeffery — the receiver running the dig route — easier. The Eagles run this concept here off of play action which pulls the linebackers up, making the window and throwing lane wider. Jeffery easily gets inside leverage on his man and breaks off of his route to the middle of the field where the inside help is vacant due to play fake.

The Eagles ran dagger again here against the Redskins in Week 7. This pass wasn’t completed because the protection couldn’t hold up long enough to allow the route to develop. Wentz had a chance to potentially make an anticipation throw — a throw to a spot that anticipates the receiver will be right on time when it arrives — but the defender was playing with inside leverage and Wentz wants to keep the ball out of harm’s way if possible.

While the dagger combination hasn't been quite as successful for head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles this year, he’s doing an excellent job of building plays within a play, giving Carson Wentz as many options as possible and taking advantage of the voids the dagger concept creates. In the play above, from the same Redskins game, the Eagles run dagger to the right side of the formation with three receivers. The two outermost receivers execute the route combination, while Zach Ertz who is in a tighter split runs a deep over route. The deep defender identifies the vertical route on dagger and runs with it, but what that does is clear area for Zach hertz to run to. The other safety on the field came up on the crossing route that Alshon Jeffery ran from the left side of the formation, completely vacating the area Ertz was running to. He should allowed Jeffery to be funneled towards the sideline, but drives, vacating the deep area of the field. This leaves the deep safety in a bind where he can’t abandon the vertical clear-out because the Redskins have seen this concept before, and have been burned on it.

Just as the play before, Pederson has concepts built into the dagger concept that serves as a secondary option is Carson Wentz doesn't like the dig route. The second option here comes in the form of Zach Ertz, who is running a drag route underneath. The route carries him into the area of the field that was vacated by defenders because of the dagger concept. This works in a similar way as the high-low read concepts I mentioned yesterday. All of the working route concepts are kept in front of Wentz so that he can make a decision based on how the defense reacts to the concepts they’re presented with.

I’ve mentioned that the fade route is primarily a decoy that, much like the fade route in the flood concept, rarely sees any action, but it is possible based on the personnel and how the deep safety reacts that the inside receiver could become an option. I mentioned earlier that the Redskins had been burned by the Eagles on the fade route, and the play above is where that happened. This took place in 2016 and was one of the early indicators of Pederson’s ability to scheme and Wentz’s talent. The Redskins come out with two deep, split safeties. The safety at the bottom of the screen widens as the receiver running the dig route gets vertical. This opens up the middle of the field for Jordan Matthews who is matched up against a defender that is trying to carry him to the deep part of the field. Matthews is able to eat up the cushion and get a little bit of separation on this throw. The play is made more so by Wentz, who put the pass on Matthews’ outside shoulder, where only he could make a play the ball.

This concept is limited by personnel and formation to an extent. You can run it with two and three receiver sets to either side, but it does require speed and the ability to break in quickly and separate. As I mentioned earlier, Pederson has done an excellent job to build in concepts and present as many options as possible for his young quarterback.

I hope I was able to shed a little light on how the Eagles utilize scheme and personnel to get looks that they like. If there are any other plays you notice with frequency, feel free to drop a comment or send a tweet to @TJackRH, where you can follow me for more analysis like this. Now that I have a few of these rolling, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Hope you enjoyed!

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 07:01:19 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia has the best red zone offense in the league

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/16/17.

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

Ranking every NFL offense by red zone scoring efficiency - PFF
The Eagles are one of the game’s best offenses, so it’s no surprise to see them maintain those standards once they hit the red zone. Their heavy use of run/pass-option plays also gives them a boost that other teams don’t get. This season the Eagles have used 27 more of these plays than any other team, and it allows QB Carson Wentz to simplify his reads and stretch defenses schematically. They have been more prolific from a passing standpoint in the red zone, and no team as has many passing scores from inside the 20 this season.

Vinny Curry has quietly stepped up for the Eagles this season - BGN
Among the Eagles’ starters, then, that leaves Vinny Curry as the most under the radar player. In his first year as a starter, the 29-year-old defensive end has been real solid. Curry has 18 tackles and three sacks through the first nine games of the season. While that might not seem overly impressive, consider Curry ranks second overall in PFF’s Run Stop Percentage (stops constitute a "loss" for the offense). Curry has 11 stops in 92 run snaps played.

Dawkins the Hall - Successful Launch! -
Hey, Bleeding Green Nation! Our Dawkins in the Hall campaign is off to a great start! I want to thank you for helping us get this off the ground. Brian Dawkins means so much to the people of Philadelphia and, together, we can return the love by getting him into the Hall of Fame! The response on social media has been incredible but what’s stood out even more is our petition. WE HAVE OVER 1000 SIGNATURES roughly 24 hours after we’ve launched! We’re so thrilled that you’re taking the time to sign and share our petition. With your support, we hope to double that number in the coming days.

Cowboys injury issues put Eagles' success, despite injuries, into perspective - PhillyVoice
Objectively, the Eagles have had far more injury adversity than the Cowboys this season, according to the website (MGL), which tracks the number of cumulative injuries suffered by each team in the league. According to their data, the Eagles have missed a cumulative 96 games by their players. MGL doesn't name those players, but I believe I've pinpointed them as follows. To note, starters are in bold green print:

Who Are You? - Iggles Blitz
I also think part of what makes this team special is they have some “mutt” to them. LeGarrette Blount scored 18 TDs last year and the Patriots had basically no interest in bringing him back. Jay Ajayi got traded away from Miami because he was seen as a character problem on a team where the OL coach films himself doing lines of coke. Patrick Robinson didn’t exactly have a lot of teams trying to sign him. The Ravens dealt Tim Jernigan for the right to move up in the 3rd round. Wentz wasn’t highly recruited at all and ended up at North Dakota State. When the draft rolled around and he looked like a franchise QB that just about every team should want, the Rams said “We prefer Goff” and the Browns said “You’re not good enough”. I know Wentz still went 2nd overall, but you could imagine him feeling a bit slighted by the situation.

Identifying the best, most important games of NFL Week 11 - ESPN
It turns out Tyron Smith is very, very important. In Weeks 1-9, the Cowboys allowed their quarterback to be pressured on 19.9 percent of non-blitz dropbacks, 13th in the league. That number probably sells the offensive line a little bit short because Dak Prescott, being mobile, tends to hold the ball a little longer than average. Still, 19.9 percent isn't bad. But last week, with Smith out against the Falcons, that number rose to 37.8 percent. Facing pressure when the defense has a full set of defenders in coverage is a quarterback's worst nightmare, and Prescott was not his usual self in that contest. Smith's status is up in the air for this critical divisional bout, and clearly that is an important factor here.

Lawlor: The NFL Is The Survival Of The Fittest -
Football is a tough, physical sport. Players are going to get hurt, whether it's in the offseason, the preseason, or the regular season. Teams must be prepared for injuries. Head coach Doug Pederson talks about the “next man up” all the time. That's not just a phrase for the media. It is a mentality for his team. Pederson puts action behind those words. He gives his young players a chance to show what they can do. It gives them a feeling of confidence and helps to keep all the backups motivated.

'Dallas Week' intensifies for the Eagles - Inquirer
Some of the hype is admittedly media driven, but the players and coaches have a sense of what Eagles-Cowboys games mean to the Philadelphia fans. Coach Doug Pederson said as a player in 1999, he remembered hearing about it all week leading up to Sunday. “It was like you just [say], ‘I don’t care what else happens the rest of the year, you just have to beat the Cowboys,'” Pederson said. “That’s the mind-set of the city. … If you do win the football game, obviously the city of Philadelphia is, it’s big, it’s big for the city.” Quarterback Carson Wentz is playing in his third Eagles-Cowboys game. He said he’s “heard all sorts of stuff” from fans about the rivalry. “We don’t take it lightly, either,” Wentz said.

From home brewing to beekeeping, Dave Fipp may be NFL's most interesting coach - The Athletic
Fipp is one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL. But he's not afraid to admit he has other interests. “I hear guys say, ‘It’s all football. My whole life is football.’ And I’m like, ‘I could never be like that,'” he said. “I’m all football when it’s time for football. But when there’s not enough keeping me busy with football, when we’re in the offseason, then I need to find something else because I can’t sit in the house and relax. “I don’t know whether that’s unique or not. I also think there’s a lot of people who say, ‘My life’s all football’ because they think that sounds good on the outside. I’m not afraid to say that I’ve got a lot of interests and a lot of things that keep me interested. I’ve got no problem with that.”

Carson and Dak discuss the Wentz-Prescott rivalry - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Carson Wentz understands why people look at this weekend's matchup against the Cowboys as a matchup that pins him against Dak Prescott. Wentz knows it's a good thing for the conference, the division, and even the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry. He's just not about making this Wentz vs. Prescott. "At the end of the day, we're playing the defense," Wentz said. "I'm not playing Dak Prescott. I'm playing the Cowboys' defense and as a team, we're playing the Cowboys. I don't look into it too much. I really just focus on what we can do to beat this defense."

Will Beatty aiming to revive career in familiar setting - PennLive
Beatty, who said he arrived in Philly at about 300 pounds but plans to gain weight, had been working out at a training facility in Arizona this fall along with former Eagles guard Evan Mathis. He did his best to stay in shape but conceded Wednesday that it's tough to replicate the speed of an NFL practice. Still, Beatty said he's trained to ensure his past injury woes are behind him. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle and a rotator cuff injury in 2015 that derailed his career.

Anthony Hitchens will try to replace Sean Lee at weakside linebacker - PFT
Anthony Hitchens wants to be the best version of . . . Sean Lee he can be. The Cowboys play three games in an 11-day span, beginning with Sunday night’s showdown with the Eagles, and Lee could miss all three with a hamstring injury. That will force Hitchens to slide from middle linebacker to weakside linebacker. Jaylon Smith and Justin Durant will share middle linebacker duties.

Goff And The Rams Weren’t Supposed To Be This Good - FiveThirtyEight
The Los Angeles Rams had a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs at the start of the season and were projected to win just six games, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions. When they improved to 7-2 with a 33-7 demolition over the Houston Texans in Week 10, the Rams exceeded our projected win totals and now own a 71 percent chance of making the postseason. You can forgive our Elo algorithm for being so low on the Rams in the preseason — they did have the NFL’s worst offense last year1 and did finish on a seven-game losing streak as part of a 4-12 record. This season’s truly incredible transformation has taken place under the league’s youngest-ever head coach — Sean McVay, who was hired when he was 30 years old — and thus far, L.A. ranks among the best teams in the league (the same can’t be said about their fans though).

Why do NFL teams ignore kickers? - SB Nation
Kickers account for nearly a third of all NFL scoring, yet no team — except one — is focused on coaching technique.


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[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 08:00:03 EST from rss

Subject: The Eagles are better than the Cowboys, and 4 other random Birds thoughts

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It’s Dallas Week.

It’s Dallas Week, ladies and gents.

Before you run through a brick wall (and use a helmet, please), here’s five random thoughts on the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles ...

  1. The Eagles are better than the Cowboys. Duh! We all read the standings. Somehow, I don’t think that applies here, because, well, there’s always going to be debate over the Birds and ‘Boys until the two actually face each other. And yet I am prepared to defend this — until, inevitably, I am proven wrong on Sunday. It took a semi-leap of faith to proclaim the Eagles as likely favorites over Dallas before the season, but it’s more obvious now: Philly is way more prepared to handle losses of depth, and Carson Wentz reigns supreme. That’s not a dig at a certain other quarterback (see the next point), but it is a dig at Dallas’ depth chart. It’s understandable that the Cowboys are struggling without their running back, left tackle, middle linebacker and kicker, but the Eagles have lost a running back, left tackle, middle linebacker and kicker, and they, my friends, are 8-1, fresh off a 50-point game, with no signs of slowing down.
  2. Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott are both good. I wonder if this sentiment will become as tired as the debates centered on which one is better. It should. Listen, QB talk is always fun, and there were plenty of Donovan McNabb vs. Tony Romo discussions had years ago. But just as many Eagles fans eventually gave props to Romo for being a competent, albeit annoying, signal-caller, it’d be in everyone’s best interest, I think, to enjoy Wentz’s magic rather than worry about simultaneously slamming Prescott. It doesn’t mean Philly shouldn’t get hype to root against Dak, but it’s OK to accept the Cowboys might have a good quarterback — and then let the Eagles’ own good quarterback beat him on the way to the playoffs.
  3. If the playoffs started today, the Eagles would probably be NFC Championship bound. Not going to lie — it wasn’t easy to write that and fully believe it, as much as Wentz and Co. have made things look easy in 2017. That’s because, in all honesty, we’ve yet to see what the Eagles look like against the not-to-be-overlooked Los Angeles Rams, and the Seattle Seahawks are no easy out in the postseason. (Oh yeah, and because the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since 2008.) But Seattle is banged up in a bad way, Philly is right there with L.A. and has the edge at QB, and the Carolina Panthers, as we’ve seen, are far from immune. The point here isn’t to guarantee a Super Bowl run, but it is this: The Eagles are good. Very good. It’s OK to be excited.
  4. Howie Roseman is on some reverse “Dream Team” stuff. Everyone’s pouring the praise on the Eagles’ unofficial general manager and rightfully so. Has he overseen a playoff victory? No. Has he outdone himself in the worst of ways at times? Yes. But what he’s also done, in a remarkably short amount of time, is build the Eagles into a team that should be able to compete for it all right now and for years to come. It’s like the 2011 roster fully realized, without all the individualistic characters. Unlike that year, when Philly stockpiled veteran depth in hopes that the new pieces would catapult the Birds into contender status, 2017 has seen Roseman stockpile veteran depth to supplement an already promising foundation — one headlined by a homegrown commodity at quarterback and one that was chiefly responsible for the team’s meteoric rise.
  5. There hasn’t been a year so aligned in the Eagles’ favor in some time. Again, let’s take it easy with any championship talk. We know things change in a heartbeat in the NFL. But I can’t recall a season, outside of maybe 2004, that unfolded so beneficially for the Birds. That’s not a discredit to what Roseman and Co. have assembled. Doug Pederson is running a family, not just a team, right now, and it’s paying dividends on the field, where the team has overcome otherwise crushing losses of leadership in the form of injuries to Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos. The external help, however, has been abundant. From the Cowboys’ somewhat predictable tumble and the New York Giants’ inexplicable collapse to the utter unpredictability of the NFC North and a lack of truly scary teams in the AFC, the odds are in the Eagles’ favor. Now it comes down to staying on track.

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 09:16:50 EST from rss

Subject: The Joel Embiid Game: Five Observations from Sixers 115, Lakers 109

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This post is brought to you with limited advertising and no surveys by TalentFleX Solutions. TalentFleX Solutions is a full service business consulting firm offering contingent, contract and project based professionals in the Information Technology, Data Analytics, Finance & Accounting and Human Resources fields. Our model provides for flexibility in hiring needs from project, to contract to…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 09:25:05 EST from rss

Subject: Your Thursday Morning Roundup

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Show me the money. Robert Covington has plenty of it now as the Sixers’ sharp shooter from beyond the arc got the rumored big contract extension, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to the Woj bomb, RoCo’s deal is four years, $62 million and will keep him under contract in Philly through the 2021-22 season. Derek…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 10:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Crunching The Numbers: Dallas Cowboys

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How do the Eagles stack up against their biggest division rival?

With the bye week come and gone, it’s time for another edition of Crunching The Numbers, a weekly series in which I preview the Eagles’ upcoming opponent using a few select statistics. To read more about why I chose the statistics I use, and to see previous posts in this series, check out this hub.

As always, before getting to the Cowboys, I want to revisit what I wrote about the last team the Eagles played, the Denver Broncos. Philadelphia ended up absolutely dominating that game as they dropped a fifty burger on Denver for the first time in seven seasons. The three big points I made for the Eagles gameplan were:

  1. Be aggressive (if they establish the run)
  2. Use slants in zone coverage and matchup advantages in man coverage
  3. Stop the run and build at least a 7-point lead by halftime

With the first point, the Eagles definitely established the run (197 yards) on the day, and didn’t shy away from being aggressive. They attempted four 4th downs, some when the game was already out of hand, and converted two. While I technically saw some matchup advantages in man coverage (see: Trey Burton’s touchdown) and some underneath stuff in zone, I won’t really comment on it too much because the Eagles were firing on all cylinders. They were trying everything in the book, and it was all working. When you can literally do whatever you want, specific strategies kind of get lost in the shuffle. And as for stopping the run and building “at least” a 7-point lead by halftime... LOL.

My one big blunder was that I predicted the outside receivers wouldn’t do much, which I felt was a safe bet since they would line up against Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Then Alshon Jeffery went out and had his first two-touchdown game since 2014. Oops.

Okay, enough of the Broncos. That’s old news. Onto the Cowboys, who got slaughtered by the Falcons on national* television.

(*Unless you live in stupid Connecticut, where FOX felt enough Giants fans would tune in to show the New York-San Francisco abomination.)

Matt Takes

Now, before I get into the stats, I’m going to open this with a controversial statement: I like Dak Prescott. Not as a member of the Cowboys, of course - when he plays I hope he loses - but he seems like a nice enough guy and yes, he is a good quarterback. On the whole, good quarterbacks are good for the NFC East and good for football, as they make the sport more enjoyable.

As for the needlessly rabid “Dak vs. Wentz” debate, I think it’s a little silly how obsessed people get over it, but for the record I (obviously) think Wentz is better. I’ll admit that Cowboys’ fans’ point that “last season you complained Wentz had no weapons, but now crucify Dak when he has no weapons,” is fair. What sticks out to me, though, is how Dak absolutely melted down last week in the face of constant pressure, when he was sacked eight times and the Falcons routed them, 27-7. Interestingly, Wentz was in a similar predicament earlier this season, when he was sacked six times by the Chiefs and the defense also gave up 27 points.

The difference? Well, the Eagles managed to score 13 more points (even if 7 came off a late touchdown) and were a hail mary pass away from overtime. Additionally, the Eagles totaled 440 yards of offense, with Carson passing for 333 and rushing for 55 more (388 yards total). That’s 88.2% of the Eagles’ offense that day. Meanwhile, against the Falcons, the Cowboys only managed 283 yards of offense, with Dak passing for 176 and rushing for 42 more. That’s 77.0% of the Cowboys’ offense, which is still a considerable number, but nowhere near the volume or the results Carson managed to get. Simply put, both quarterbacks can “put the team on their back,” but Wentz is more likely to actually keep you competitive in that situation.

Now that I’ve preached to the choir enough about this, what should the Eagles actually do when they play against Dak?

When The Eagles Have The Ball

It appears Sean Lee will not suit up for this game, which means that I think the Eagles should lean on the run game a LOT in order to set up play-action passes down the field. The Cowboys are very good at limiting big plays, as they are third in the league with 9.3 OY/CMP. Couple this with the fact that the Cowboys can score early on in games (4th overall at 14.8 PTS/1HLF), and you end up with somewhat of an urgency to push the ball downfield and score quickly. The play-action pass is a great tool to help accomplish that.

This brings me to my next point. The Cowboys currently rank 24th in OY/PT. Every opponent the Eagles have faced since I debuted this feature in Week 5 have ranked 20th or worse in this category. In fact, the average rank during this time span is 24th, and the Eagles have also failed to score fewer than 28 points during this span. It is this stat that leads me to seemingly always say that the Eagles should be aggressive, as “points are there to be had” and so far this assertion has held up. Will the Eagles score 28+ points against the Cowboys? We don’t know for sure, but as long as they continue playing as well on offense as they have so far this season, there’s good reason to believe they will against this breakable Dallas defense.

They should also savor these times while they last. They will face a few teams down the road that won’t give up points so easily.

When The Cowboys Have The Ball

I’ve touched on how the Cowboys score early already, but as we saw last week that feature of their offense seems to rest entirely on whether or not Tyron Smith is playing. If he’s not, this will make the game all that much harder for Prescott, who is averaging a pedestrian 6.5 YPA this season. He is quite simply not getting the ball downfield, making it much easier for opposing defenses to play the run. Since Schwartz has an affinity for two-deep looks in the secondary this season, the Eagles should run a lot of their “big nickel” package in this game, where they bring Jenkins down into a pseudo-linebacker position and bring Corey Graham onto the field as the other safety. I wouldn’t be surprised if Graham played more than 50% of the snaps on Sunday night. Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden are talented running backs, but if the Eagles are in a position to play flexibly in the secondary and challenge Dak to beat them deep, they won’t get much.

The wild card here, of course, goes beyond the stats: Tyron Smith. The Cowboys showed a national audience last Sunday that they have zero depth at tackle. If journeyman Adrian Clayborn can have a field day against the Cowboys’ backups, Curry/Barnett/whoever lines up at RDE are going to feast. They will still have to be careful to set the edge, which is a critical part of the Wide 9. Letting Dak turn the corner would go a long way to neutralizing the pass rush and the run defense, to an extent. I also expect the Cowboys to incorporate more rollouts and naked bootlegs into their gameplan this week, so Graham and Long will have to remain disciplined.

Closing Thoughts

While the Eagles have the advantage in almost every category here, this is still a division game. Dallas is facing a must-win situation as a loss will severely hurt even their wild card chances, since the NFC is surprisingly competitive this year. If both teams play mistake-free football, I think the Eagles squeak out a close one. But even one or two mistakes could give Dallas the life it needs to pull out the win.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.


[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 09:48:47 EST from rss

Subject: Morning Wood: Historically Good

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Welcome to the moment. That’s the Sixers’ slogan, right? Last night was the moment we were all waiting for. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons entered the Staples Center for the second game in a row, penetrated the paint, scored at will, and didn’t even bother buying Lonzo Ball breakfast when they were done. Let’s skip the…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 11:00:04 EST from rss

Subject: Checking out the competition: Winnipeg Jets with Robert Dalton

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Kelly has a chat with Jets Nation’s Robert Dalton about what to expect from tonight’s big game.

Ahead of tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, we’re joined by Robert Dalton of Jets Nation to find out what we should expect from this first game of the year against the team from Manitoba. Topics include:

Tonight’s game airs at 8PM on NBC Sports Philly; let’s go Flyers!

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 11:41:45 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Week 11 2017: Predictions by Football Writers

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Predicting the winners of this week's NFL games.

The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for Week 11 of the 2017 regular season schedule! Each week we'll predict the winners of each and every NFL game. We'll tally the results along the way and see who comes out on top at the end of the season.

After Week 10, the collective BGN Community is still in sole possession of first place. You guys are killing it.

In case you weren’t aware, the Philadelphia Eagles have a pretty big game on Sunday. It’s Dallas Week. Everyone here is taking the Eagles to beat the Cowboys. Duh.

Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games. I’ll tally those results in a “BGN Community” column. Vote in the polls beneath the table. (Click here if you can’t see the polls.)

Let's get to this week's picks!


Vote for YOUR picks below. (Once again, click here if you can’t see the polls.)

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 12:00:08 EST from rss

Subject: The NFC East

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Unless you were the Eagles

When we last checked in on the NFC East, the Eagles were comfortably in first place. A week later and they’re even more comfortable! Murphy’s Law says that "anything that can go wrong will go wrong" and that’s pretty much what happened in Week 10 in the NFC East. If only every week was that easy. *looks at schedule* This week looks like it could be another no good, very bad week for everyone else.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)

Last Week: Didn’t play and increased their lead on the division. And you can’t beat the hours.

This Week: Visit the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

Big week for the Eagles and Cowboys, who are both missing their left tackle, a key running back, their best linebacker, and a key special teams player. Even bigger week for the media, who will not take this into consideration if Dak Prescott and the Cowboys lose. Even if he plays well and loses, Carson Wentz will be blamed. Heavy lies the crown.

Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

Last Week: Ezekiel Elliott was finally, actually suspended, Tyron Smith was out and the Cowboys lost 27-7 to the Falcons.

This Week: Host the Eagles on SNF, you might want to watch this game.

The Cowboys first game without Ezekiel Elliott seemed a good matchup on paper. The last time the Falcons played at home, they lost to the Dolphins. In half their games, they have failed to score 20 points. They haven’t stopped anyone on the ground. It seemed a good matchup.

Instead, the Cowboys looked like sacrificial lambs for a homecoming game. Adrian Clayborn became the first player in a decade to have six sacks in a game, and Sunday was the fourth time anyone has done that since Clayborn was born. It’s easy to blame that on Tyron Smith’s replacement, Chaz Green, but he was more effective than his replacement, Byron Bell. Green gave up “only” 4 sacks to Clayborn in 46 snaps, Bell gave up 2 in 17 snaps.

The Falcons scored 27 straight points… with Devonta Freeman leaving the game after 2 carries and Julio Jones catching 6 passes for just 57 yards. Matt Ryan’s 215 yards was his lowest of the season. The Cowboys had no Elliott, no Smith, no Lee, no Bailey, and no chance.

Washington Redskins (4-5)

Last Week: Lost to the Vikings, who’s kicker made all his kicks, 38-30.

This Week: Visit the Saints, who don’t really need a kicker.

The Redskins win over the Seahawks, which was the result of Seattle’s kicker missing all three of his field goal attempts, was supposed to be some kind of statement game for WASTEAM. Shouldn’t 29 year old QBs with 50 starts and head coaches in their fourth year be beyond “statement games”? Anyway, statements need substance behind them. There was none for the Redskins, who ground out a 17-14 lead late in the 2nd quarter, then gave up three straight touchdowns to the Vikings, including two in a 1:27 span, similar to their Monday Night Football loss to the Eagles. Case Keenum had a career high 4 touchdown passes, while Kenny Cousins’ 78.7 passer rating was his second worst of the season. Are statement losses a thing? They should be.

It what would be a very fitting set of results for WASTEAM, watch them beat the Saints this week, which helps the Eagles, then lose to the Giants next week.

New York Giants (1-8)

Last Week: Lost to the previously winless 49ers 31-21.

This Week: Does it even matter any more? Like Ben McAdoo’s players, I’m done with this team. (They host the Chiefs.)

Tweet of the Week

Next year, Papa John.

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 12:29:38 EST from rss

Subject: NFL talent evaluators rank Carson Wentz as the league

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Last year, Carson Wentz finished 25th on ESPN’s “Top 25 NFL players under age 25” list. This year, to little surprise, he’s No. 1 overall.

Why should you care about this list? Well, that’s up to you, but do know that the ranking is formulated on the opinions of actual NFL talent evaluators. It’s interesting to get an inside perspective.

Here’s what was said about the 24-year-old Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

Wentz leads the NFL in touchdown passes (24) while ranking fourth in Total QBR (70.5) for an 8-1 team. He leads the league on third-down touchdown passes (10), yards per attempt (9.3), passer rating (125.1) and QBR (91.0). It's not just what Wentz is doing. It's how he is doing it.

"There is an intangible thing I love about Wentz," an evaluator said. "It is just a level of toughness that he plays with. He is not sliding or going down. He might lower his shoulder and try to bull you over in the end zone. There is something about that and putting a team on his back that I love. It does not bode well for longevity, but guys love playing for that."

The executive is clearly referring to that play in the Eagles-Panthers game when Wentz tried to run over a defender near the goal line. Wentz didn’t score on the play, but it was a true testament to his toughness and will to win.

Wentz being No. 1 is a pretty obvious pick. Who else could it be? He’s the NFL MVP so far this year, and it’s only his second season. Wentz has been spectacular.

Wentz is one of just four quarterbacks who finished inside of the top 25. The others include: Dak Prescott at No. 9, Deshaun Watson at No. 19, and Jared Goff at No. 20. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston didn’t make the cut. Neither did any other Eagles player.

Wentz turns 25 years old next month on December 30, so his time on this list is limited. For now, he’s clearly the best. And that’s a great thing for the Eagles.

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 12:46:03 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Jets preview: Wake up call

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It can’t get any worse (right...?)

Hockey is still happening. If you slept through Saturday’s game, and Tuesday’s game, and are still sleeping, well you better wake up! The Flyers are playing the Jets tonight! That’s right, not the Wild! Is game going to be more fun? Almost certainly.

The Flyers skate in Winnipeg against the 10-4-3 Jets, who are coming off a win against the Coyotes on Tuesday. Tonight’s storylines include: Nolan Patrick might be back, is back in his hometown, at least. The Flyers have scored exactly zero goals in the last two games, and they’re looking to change that. Oh, and we get to say hey to our old pal Steve Mason tonight. That’s pretty neat.

Quick hits down, here are three things to look for, heading into tonight’s game.

1. More lineup shuffling

The Flyers have been making some big changes to the middle six. On Tuesday, they moved Weal to center, put Weise on the second line, and shuffled Filppula down to center the third line— combinations which, on the whole, didn’t look too bad. Yesterday, they practiced without any lines at all.

If Patrick makes his return tonight, this leaves space for more movement to take place, further shuffling to be done to the middle six. In the event that he does return, we can likely expect a return to the old lines, the more or less consistent arrangements that the Flyers were rolling before he got hurt. If not, they may stick with Tuesday’s lines, and give Weal another chance at center. But they’re being secretive enough, and maybe they’ll pull something weird, something else, altogether.

2. Less shooting from the point, pals

If you’ve been looking at the heamaps over the past few games, you’ll have noticed the hot spots moving closer and closer to the blue line. And after Tuesday’s game, the Flyers have made a nearly full regression to leaning heavily on firing pucks in from the point and hoping to pick up a rebound, and maybe a goal from that. And it isn’t working.

Teams are clogging up the area around the net. Goalies aren’t giving up many rebounds. The Flyers don’t have someone in position in time to tap a rebound into the net. And with scoring slipping into nonexistance, you’ve got to think that this is the first area they look to alter, if they want to increase scoring. In a perfect world.

3. Power play

With secondary scoring slipping and most of the conversation revolving around this, we haven’t been talking too much about the power play. Which has also been not great. The Flyers have scored three power play goals in their last ten games. Here, too they’ve been leaning heavily on point shots, dump and chase, and straying from generating chances off the rush, which had been working effectively for them, early in the season. With scoring across the board slipping, it makes sense that scoring on the power play would follow suit. But here’s hoping they can start to turn that around tonight.

The models up so far at Corsica favor the Jets for this one, giving the Flyers an average of 46 percent chance of winning, with a high of 52.2 and a low of 41 percent.

You can check out the (optimistic) Flyers’ projected lineup below.


Giroux - Couturier - Voracek

Weal - Filppula - Simmonds

Lehtera - Patrick - Konecny

Leier - Laughton - Raffl


Provorov - Hagg

Manning - Gostisbehere

Gudas - Sanheim




[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 13:37:11 EST from rss

Subject: Alshon Jeffery and JJ Redick Are Pretty Much the Same Guy

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There’s a Philadelphia athlete who was brought in on a short-term deal to solve a specific offensive problem. The numbers aren’t amazing, but you see the occasional flash of individual brilliance while he makes the teammates around him better. Sometimes fans become frustrated when #17 fails to do the main thing he was brought here…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 13:40:41 EST from rss

Subject: What's your biggest concern for this Eagles vs. Cowboys game?

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The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #277). In this episode, we preview the Eagles vs. Cowboys game in Week 11, analyze key matchups, and much more.

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 15:06:39 EST from rss

Subject: Dallas Week: Where

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Maybe I’m totally missing something here, but I’m having a hard time finding the juice for Sunday night’s NFC East showdown between the Eagles and Cowboys. It feels like everybody around here is just going through the “Dallas sucks” motions. There’s the usual trash talk, the Carson Wentz vs. Dak Prescott debates, and predictions of…

[#] Thu Nov 16 2017 16:02:20 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Alshon Jeffery says he

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Update on the Eagles’ injury situation.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their second official injury report on Thursday in advance of their Week 11 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The only change from Wednesday’s injury report is that starting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was limited in practice with an ankle injury.

Injuries that pop up during the week usually don’t bode well for a player’s playing chances. For what it’s worth, Jeffery told reporters that he will “most definitely” play against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

Jeffery leads the team in targets and ranks second behind Zach Ertz in a number of key receiving categories (yards, touchdowns, etc.). The Eagles spread the ball around in their passing attack, so it’s not like Philly totally can’t function without Jeffery, but he’s still an important member of the offense. Jeffery’s best games with the Eagles have come recently so the hope is that his progress can continue.

If Jeffery can’t play, the Eagles would be relying more upon rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins. He might get the start on the outside, along with Torrey Smith, with Nelson Agholor working in the slot. Marcus Johnson could also be in line for more playing time. For Philly’s sake, hopefully it doesn’t come to that and Jeffery can play.

In other injury news, Ertz and Ronald Darby are still on track to return to the field on Sunday night. That’s the positive development from Thursday’s practice.


Limited Participation

WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle)

Full Participation

CB Ronald Darby (ankle)

TE Zach Ertz (hamstring)

S Jaylen Watkins (hamstring)


Official Cowboys injury report to be announced - check back for updates.

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