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[#] Wed Dec 06 2017 21:40:06 EST from rss

Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Editing and Content

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Kyle, Adam and Russ discuss sync issues, Old Fashioned videos, Sixers, and new media challenges.   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 Overcast and just search…

[#] Wed Dec 06 2017 22:21:57 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Zach Ertz still in concussion protocol

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Update on the Eagles-Rams injury situation.

The Philadelphia Eagles released their first official injury report on Wednesday in advance of their Week 14 game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Two Eagles players did not practice: starting tight end Zach Ertz and backup defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao.

Ertz is still in the league’s mandatory concussion protocol. He’ll need to pass through that in order to be eligible to play on Sunday.

The good news is that Ertz has been able to participate in meetings. Doug Pederson also said that Ertz is one player who could afford to miss practice but still be able to play in the game. So it sounds like there’s at least a shot Ertz could play this week, depending on how he progresses.

As for Vaeao, he’s listed with a shoulder injury. No word on the severity of that issue. Elijah Qualls will be active this week if Vaeao can’t play.

Eagles middle linebacker Joe Walker returned to practice as a full participant after missing the Seahawks game. He could potentially be on pace to return this week. Najee Goode mostly filled in during Walker’s absence.

Derek Barnett and Jason Kelce are also listed as full participants. They were both limited in practice last Thursday but they suited up against Seattle.



TE Zach Ertz (concussion)

DT Destiny Vaeao (shoulder)


DE Derek Barnett (groin)

C Jason Kelce (ankle)

LB Joe Walker (neck)


The Rams did not hold a formal practice on Wednesday due to the wildfire situation in California. Instead, they held a walk-through.

Six Rams players sat out on Wedensday: starting inside linebacker Mark Barron, starting outside linebacker Connor Barwin, starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, starting center John Sullivan, starting offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, and starting wide receiver Robert Woods.

Barron, Sullivan, and Whitworth were all given rest days, so they should be fine for Sunday’s game.

Barwin is expected to be out this Sunday. That’s a shame because he won’t get to face off against his former team.

Ogletree is expected to play this week despite getting banged up against the Cardinals in Week 13.

Last week, Rams head coach Sean McVay said Week 15 was a more likely return date for Woods. McVay didn’t completely rule out Woods returning earlier than expected, but with Woods sitting out of Wednesday’s walk-through, it looks like the Rams will be without their leading receiver this week.


LB Mark Barron (not injury related)

OLB Connor Barwin (forearm)

LB Alec Ogletree (elbow)

C John Sullivan (not injury related)

OT Andrew Whitworth (not injury related)

WR Robert Woods (shoulder)


RB Malcolm Brown (knee)

[#] Wed Dec 06 2017 23:56:24 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Power Rankings Roundup Week 14

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A look at what the experts are saying about the Birds.

Today we continue our weekly roundup of how various media outlets have ranked the Philadelphia Eagles in their NFL power rankings. It’s always interesting to see how the Birds stack up from an outside perspective. But first we’ll start by revisiting mine.

Bleeding Green Nation

3 - After blowing out a bunch of bad teams, the Eagles went to Seattle and made too many mistakes against a good team. It was an uncharacteristic performance from the Eagles. Doug Pederson lacked aggression and Carson Wentz wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be. Wentz’s fumble at the goal line for a touchback ended up being a 14-point swing. That’s how much the Eagles ended up losing by. (LW: 1)

SB Nation

4 - A 24-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks really doesn’t mean anything for the Eagles’ playoff chances with the NFC East all but clinched. But the defeat does mean a couple of things: The Eagles are no longer the No. 1 seed in the NFC. A familiar face is back on top of the power rankings. (LW: 1)


2 - First-round pick Derek Barnett has 5.0 sacks this season, but the Eagles are getting big production from rookies they didn't even draft. Undrafted rookie Corey Clement has six touchdowns and Jake Elliott, who was drafted by the Bengals, has gone 19-of-23 on field goals, including a game-winning 61-yarder in Week 3. (LW: 1)

2 - The first dip in these here rankings since Week 3 for the Eagles -- and the first time not in the top spot since Week 8. The Eagles have been perched atop the league's hierarchy because of their balance on offense and defense, as well as the MVP play of the quarterback. All three factions were marginalized by the Seahawks on Sunday night. Russell Wilson reintroduced himself into the MVP race. Seattle's offense paid off drives in the red zone. Most noticeably, though, the Seahawks changed things up defensively more than the Eagles, who got pressure with their front four but didn't dedicate extra numbers to contain Wilson. Interestingly enough, it was this very franchise that made spying a thing. From 1988 through 1990, Randall Cunningham terrorized so many defenses with his legs that the DCs were forced to react. Next up for these Eagles: at Rams. Wow. (LW: 1)

CBS Sports

4 - They would be the second seed now in the conference after losing to Seattle and they face a tough road game against the Rams. That's a tough turnaround. (LW: 1)

Yahoo! Sports

2 - This is how quick the NFL can turn: The Eagles were on top of the world before they kicked off against the Seahawks on Sunday night. In an eight-day stretch, they could go from leading the NFL to needing help over the last three weeks to get a bye. If the Eagles lose to the Rams on Sunday, the Vikings win and the Saints lose (avoiding a three-team tie), Philadelphia would be the No. 3 seed in the NFC after 14 weeks. It would be crushing to start 10-1 and not even end up with a first-round bye. (LW: 1)

Washington Post

4 - The Eagles are still a very good team, even after the defeat in Seattle. They still have a chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. But they might not be the conference’s Super Bowl favorite any longer. The Vikings have, at the very least, achieved co-favorite status. (LW: 1)

Bleacher Report

2 - This was the worst Carson Wentz has played all year, and this was the worst the Eagles defense has looked all season. Yet, it was still a seven-point game on the road in Seattle in the fourth quarter. That's how good Philadelphia is. I'd actually blame a lot of this loss on coaching. The defense was too aggressive and played too much man coverage. It's risky to do that against Wilson because no one is better at buying time and allowing his receivers to win their individual matchups. Of course, this will be a learning experience for the Eagles if they have to play Seattle in the playoffs. Practice cannot emulate what Wilson does. The offensive game plan was too conservative, and Wentz was off. Several of his throws were low, and his fumble while in scoring position was a game-changer. That's not like him, and one bad game shouldn't cause Eagles fans to panic. Philadelphia is still awesome and still the best team in the NFC. (LW: 2)

USA Today

5 - They're lucky NFL doesn't use college football playoff system. Philly's resume highly suspect with just one win against team currently above .500. (LW: 1)


2 - Beyond challenge flags, injuries, and Russell Wilson's magic feet, Doug Pederson's game plan going into Sunday was flawed from the beginning and corrected too late. Carson Wentz flashed his brilliance when allowed, but the run first strategy left the Eagles in a 14 point hole in the third which they were never able to recover. There's no time for excuses as the Eagles travel to sunny Los Angeles and a date with Jared Goff and the Rams for control of the NFC. (LW: 1)

Sporting News

4 - Their weak schedule didn't prepare them well for what happened in Seattle, and now they have to bounce back in another tough NFC West road game. (LW: 1)

Pro Football Talk

4 - Fly, Eagles, fly. Right in to a Wolf Grey window. (LW: 1)


2 - Carson Wentz threw for a season-high 348 yards Sunday against Seattle but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles waved goodbye to their nine-game winning streak. Nelson Agholor scored Philadelphia’s lone touchdown in the game while finishing with a career-high 141 yards. That’s more yards than Agholor had in his previous five games combined. LeGarrette Blount’s eight carries Sunday were his fewest since Week 2. (LW: 1)

Sports Illustrated

4 - No explanation (LW: 1)

Pro Football Focus

3 - The winning streak had to end at some point for the Eagles. Against the Seahawks on Sunday night, Carson Wentz was actually better when pressured (93.1 rating) than when kept clean (75.4 rating). He was under constant duress behind a left side of an offensive line that allowed two sacks, seven quarterback hits and 10 hurries to a good Seattle defense. Their lack of an ability to run the ball certainly didn’t help matters, with their backs producing only 68 yards on 20 carries (only 17 of which occurred before contact). This week’s matchup in Los Angeles will go a long way towards telling us whether the 10-1 start was due to a soft schedule (the easiest by our metrics) or signs that Philadelphia is a legitimate contender in the NFC moving forward. (LW: 2)

Football Outsiders

2 - No explanation (LW: 1)


2 - No explanation (LW: 1)


The rankings range from as high as 2 to as low as 5. The most common ranking is 2. The average ranking is 3.0, which is down from last week’s average of 1.18.

No surprise to see the Eagles taking a hit after losing to the Seahawks. You just know everyone was dying to put the Patriots at No. 1.

The Eagles will drop even further if they lose to the Rams this week. If they win, however, they might be able to make up some ground. It’s a tough test for Philly.

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 00:32:29 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers 4, Oilers 2: Two in a row in Alberta

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This winning thing is kinda fun isn’t it?

1st Period

Surprisingly enough, the new look fourth line had the first bit of sustained pressure for the Flyers in this one.

Jordan Weal got around the Oilers defense and tried a wrap around on Laurent Brossiot, which was followed shortly there after by a short side shot by Taylor Leier. The Flyers would continue hemming the Oilers in their own zone with solid fore-checking, leading to a penalty taken by Matt Benning resulting in the game’s first man advantage.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, they were unable to convert on the powerplay despite a very passive penalty kill from Edmonton. Wayne Simmonds had the best chance with a backhand shot from in tight, but Brossoit was up to the task.

The Flyers should have been given another powerplay on what looked like interference on Sean Couturier dumping the puck in, but just a few minutes later they were paid back as Claude Giroux was interfered with following a face-off. However, this powerplay had the same fate as the former, no goals to show for it.

From the 15:30 mark of the period to the 17:00 minute mark, the Flyers had one of their best shifts in years. The forecheck was insufferable for Edmonton and although they weren’t able to put too many quality scoring chances on net, they controlled play for over a minute and a half and put together a strong finish to a solid first period.

1st period heatmap/gameflow

2nd Period


The Flyers controlled pace of play for the most part in the first, but they really took it to Edmonton in the second and it finally resulted in goals.

The period was not without adversity, however, as just 3:41 into the period the Oilers capitalized on a 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity to put them up 1-0. That shorthanded goal was scored by Leon Draisaitl assisted by Connor McDavid. That’s just disrespectful, Edmonton.

Redemption would be had later in the period though by Jordan Weal, who received a beautiful tic-tac-toe pass from Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux on the powerplay to tie the game up at 1.

Then....the unthinkable happened. (I know he’s scored three goals this year, shush, you wouldn’t have expected this either)


The Flyers were making a line change and Giroux entered the zone looking to just set up control of the puck. Weise came over the boards on the line change, received the pass from the captain, and went five-hole on Brossoit to put the Flyers up 2-1. I’ve watched this a few times now and I’m still in shock it happened.

2nd period heatmap/gameflow

3rd Period

After an uneventful first three minutes of the third, Michael Raffl broke up a pass, then Voracek hit him with a beautiful breakout pass which lead to a Raffl breakaway. He promptly sniped one by Brossoit and just like that, the Flyers get a two goal lead.

A theme that was present in the third period vs Calgary: the Flyers continued their strong back-check in their efforts to keep the Oilers at bay. The strong checking resulted in many Oilers turnovers and while the Flyers didn’t do much with these turnovers, they continued to force them.

The first real threat in the period to the two goal lead was a two on one featuring, you guessed it, McDavid and, you not so much guessed it, Milan Lucic. Brian Elliott was in perfect position however and made a strong stop on Lucic, allowing no rebound.

The Flyers continued to play ultra-conservative as the period wound down, and it eventually bit them. Patrick Maroon fired one toward Elliott from a sharp angle, and even though Elliott made a fantastic stop on a shot in close from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mike Cammaleri was there to deposit the rebound. 3-2 Oilers.

The refs had been letting holding go for much of the game, so it just figures that the Flyers get a late penalty for holding, setting up a wild end to this game.

The Flyers would kill it off brilliantly, leaving the Oilers a minute and a half of empty net time to try and tie the game. Despite some anxious moments, Simmonds got a pass from Valtteri Filppula and buried the empty netter, Flyers win 4-2.

After adjusting for score and venue, the Flyers finish out the night with a team CF% of 53.05, a solid mark for a team who turtled for basically the entire third period after Raffl’s goal. Leier, Scott Laughton, and Travis Sanheim lead the way in adjusted CF%.

Final heatmap/gameflow

(ok Natural Stat Trick’s hetmap isn’t working at the moment so here’s the team’s expected goals for which is a decent substitute)

PHI xGF: 3.66

All stats and images courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 06:00:03 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: It

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 12/7/17.

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

Eagles need to get more out of Torrey Smith, or replace him - PhillyVoice
If Smith isn't making plays down the field, or at least keeping opposing defenses honest with the threat of the deep ball, he doesn't bring much value to the offense. If the Eagles don't get back to using him that way, they should strongly consider replacing him with rookie Mack Hollins, who has caught 13 of his 14 targets for 201 yards and a TD, despite playing fewer than a third of the snaps that Smith has.

Eagles are now underdogs against the Rams after opening as favorites - BGN
You shouldn’t sleep on the Birds.

Lawlor: Important Lessons Eagles Must Learn For Playoff Push -
Failure is a great teacher. Coaches preach to players about issues that need to be corrected. When those talks come after a 28-point win, the lessons don't have the same kind of impact as when they come after a tough loss. Athletes are extremely competitive and they tend to have big egos. Losing really gets to them. Eagles coaches have a lot of lessons to dish out after Sunday night's performance. Eagles players will definitely be paying attention. They fell to the Seahawks 24-10 in an ugly, frustrating loss. The game wasn't fun for the players, coaches, or fans.

Any Given Sunday: Seahawks Over Eagles - Football Outsiders
It has become a common Twitter crusade this year to lament the fumble out of the end zone. It was involved in the high-profile Austin Seferian-Jenkins overturn against New England, a result that felt aesthetically stupid no matter what the rulebook says. It also just seems like a weird punishment to take the ball away from the offense for fumbling it out of bounds there as opposed to any other spot on the field, where they retain possession if the ball leaves the field of play. This rule played a big turning point in this game, as the Seahawks forced Wentz to cough it up on a run towards the goal line. The ball rolled out of bounds. Seahawks ball. The huge +22.4 percent bump you see in the chart above is exactly how much this swung the game, taking a drive that could have tied the game or put Philadelphia within four and instead giving the Eagles a goose egg. Russell Wilson's huge downfield pass to Doug Baldwin, running the corner on safety Rodney McLeod, set Seattle up with first-and-goal and moved the win chances about 14 percent on its own.

Jim Schwartz Has Turned Around the Eagles Defense, and He Isn’t Thinking About His Next Job - Sports Illustrated
After transforming the Bills into of the best defenses in the league—and then being run off by Rex Ryan—the Eagles’ coordinator has done the same in Philly. He should be a hot head coaching candidate in the next few months, but for now he’s got the Rams and 2017 on his mind.

A look into the Eagles' first practice at Angel Stadium in Anaheim - NBC Sports Philadelphia
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Eagles kicker Jake Elliott missed the first field goal he attempted at Angel Stadium on Wednesday afternoon in Southern California. Foul ball. It was a pretty unusual scene on Wednesday afternoon, when the Eagles took to the makeshift practice field in the middle of the Angels' stadium. The Eagles' offense was at the field for its walkthrough on Tuesday, but Jim Schwartz's unit got its first look at it on Wednesday, when the whole team practiced there beginning at 2:40 p.m. local time.

Alshon Jeffery first offered an upgrade for Carson Wentz; now he provides stability - Inquirer
The contract doesn’t just enrich Jeffery; it ensures that Wentz’s development will include stability at wide receiver. “We’re both pretty stoked about what the future holds,” Wentz said. “At the same time, we’re really focused on this year, too. But I’m really thrilled that he’s going to be here for a couple of years.”

Jeffery looking to 'refocus' ahead of matchup with Rams - ESPN
Alshon Jeffery tells Sal Pal, while having a catch, that he and the Eagles are looking to move past the Seahawks and make the best of their week out West.

'It ended up working out': Eagles' Carson Wentz reflects on draft before facing Jared Goff - PennLive
While Philly is far from his North Dakota home in Bismarck or his college campus in Fargo, Wentz said Philadelphia appealed to him, just as Goff said he seemed suited for LA. "I felt a great connection with this coaching staff, with the city -- just kind of the blue-collar work ethic," Wentz said. "I just kind of fell in love with it. And I think it ended up working out for both of us."

NFL 2017 Week 13 - Team of the Week - PFF
Special teamer: Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles. Burton had two tackles on special teams in the loss to the Seahawks, but also impressed with his blocking of a pair of kickoffs.

DeMeco Ryans is the 49ers assistant most likely to become an NFL head coach - Niners Nation
We don’t know anything yet about Ryans’ work as an assistant on Robert Saleh’s defensive coaching staff, but we know what people have said about him in the past. Chip Kelly has said Ryans is the current or former player he has coached who would make a great head coach. Robert Saleh has said Ryans will be a head coach one day, and Saleh would be going to him for a job.

NFL picks 2017, Week 14: Experts divided over Eagles, Vikings games - SB Nation
Can’t miss picks from our expert panel for every game this week.

The Rights To Ricky Sanchez & BGN Radio present: We Were Right Before Christmas - Underground Arts
Here we are, standing on the right side of history. It will be one night, and the two biggest Philly sports podcasts in the world, as Rights To Ricky Sanchez and BGN Radio perform separate podcasts, then come together for one big combo pod. Come and spread some holiday cheer with the guys and their special guests.


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[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 06:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Winning feels....good?

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

*Now they’ve won two in a row and are getting things like “secondary scoring”. I don’t know what’s happening anymore [BSH]

*There are a lot of bad things happening to and around the Flyers right now, but this is very easily the WORST thing that has happened all year. [Sons of Penn]

*Was anyone else surprised to learn that Brandon Manning and Michal Neuvirth are hurt pretty badly? Seemed to come out of nowhere. Anyhoo, Brennan, Lyon, you’re up! [BSH]

*Shayne Gostisbehere tells his hockey story and also talks about this current team. It’s a great read. [The Players’ Tribune]

*Tyrell Goulbourne is in a contract year and he’s playing like a guy who really wants to keep his job. [Courier-Post]

*It seems pretty clear, at this point, that the remainder of this season isn’t going to be spent on playoff hopes, it’s going to be about figure out what is next for this team. We have some ideas. [BSH]

*So many ideas, in fact, that in addition to Kurt’s fancy words we also spent a whole hour (plus) talking about this on BSH Radio! It’s a lot. We’re at a crossroads, fam. Go Team. [BSH]

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 08:00:04 EST from rss

Subject: The NFC East is all out of ideas

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Even this picture is from 2016

The Eagles played terribly and lost on the road. The Redskins had one of their worst defensive performances in a loss as the season slips away. The Giants went on the road to an AFC contender and got beat. The Cowboys offense didn’t play great, but it was enough for a win.

That was Week 13 in the NFC East. In 2016.

And it was the same in 2017. The NFC East is out of new ideas.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2)

Last Week: Added another installment of “The Eagles have a memorably terrible game against the Seahawks.”

This Week: Jared Goff vs Carson Wentz in the greatest matchup of QBs taken 1-2 in NFL history. (Seriously, this is the first time QBs taken 1-2 have faced each other with winning records.)

2016 idea: Stupid blunder costs the Eagles a huge play in Seattle.

2017 recycled idea: Stupid blunder costs the Eagles a huge play in Seattle.

Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

Last Week: Kept the dream of actually making the playoffs alive for another week.

This Week: Visit the new look Giants, which kind of resemble the old look Giants.

2016 idea: Dak Prescott completes about a dozen passes for less than 150 yards, wins.

2017 recycled idea: Dak Prescott completes about a dozen passes for less than 150 yards, wins.

Washington Redskins (5-7)

Last Week: Held the Cowboys scoreless in two quarters, gave up 38 points in the other two.

This Week: Visit the Chargers. The Redskins have given up 4+ sacks in five of their last seven games. The Chargers are 4th in the league in sacks.

2016 idea: Follow up a needed win in primetime with a bad divisional loss.

2017 recycled idea: Follow up a needed win in primetime with a bad divisional loss.

New York Giants (2-10)

Last Week: Played so poorly that Ben McAdoo finally got his ass fired.

This Week: Eli Manning gets his starting job back in time to throw his 27th interception against the Cowboys in his 27th game against them.

2016 idea: Ben McAdoo fails to coach his team to a 30 point game.

2017 recycled idea: Ben McAdoo fails to coach his team to a 30 point game.

Let’s take a moment to remember Ben McAdoo, in his own words.

Please leave your condolences your Ben McAdoo looks like ________ in the comments.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the Week, college edition

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 09:00:08 EST from rss

Subject: BSH Radio reacts following a 4-2 victory over Edmonton

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The Flyers beat the Oilers and didn’t even need Brandon Manning to shutdown Connor McDavid

The Flyers have won back-to-back games for only the second time this season and Bill is on the Facebook Live Postgame to talk about it.

Michael Raffl scored his second straight game-winner, Wayne Simmonds had his first two point performance since October 21st (also against Edmonton), while Ivan Provorov and the defense held Connor McDavid to only one shot on Brian Elliott, sealing a team win to sweep the Alberta leg of this three-game road trip to Western Canada.

Check out the video for reactions to the fourth line’s third period ice time, Alex Lyon’s call-up and the baffling case of Edmonton’s awfulness.

Posted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 09:09:50 EST from rss

Subject: Your Thursday Morning Roundup

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Since losing 10 straight games, the Flyers have won two straight. Is a huge turnaround on the horizon? The Flyers completed the Alberta sweep with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. It’s only the second time the Flyers won two in a row. The other time it happened this year was the home opener…

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 09:30:49 EST from rss

Subject: FOX Desperate for Rams Fans to Show Up, Puts Out a Casting Call

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It’s an unquestionably big, BIG, game this Sunday between the Rams and Eagles. The storylines are rife with drama. You’ve got Jared Goff and Carson Wentz going head to head for the first time with, no less, the inside track to a first round bye in the NFC playoff picture at stake. The two leading…

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 09:55:53 EST from rss

Subject: Old School Hockey

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  There was something a little bit different about the Flyers last night as they won consecutive games for only the second time all season. They continued the notion of secondary scoring being key, as they got four more goals from guys not named Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek – a trio that…

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 10:00:05 EST from rss to ams

Subject: Crunching The Numbers: Los Angeles Rams

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Will the Eagles get a bounce-back game against Pederson’s biggest competition for Coach of the Year?

We’re coming down the home stretch with Crunching The Numbers, as there are only four games left to play this season. For those who may be new here, Crunching The Numbers is a weekly series in which I preview the Eagles’ upcoming game by comparing them to their opponent using a few select statistics. If you’d like to read previous entries (and an explanation of why I chose the statistics I use), click here.

I won’t go too much into last week’s game, since I doubt any of you want to relive it. Unfortunately, my fears about the Seahawks having the Eagles’ “kryptonite” proved to be valid. In an uglier twist, disgraced former coach Chip Kelly actually had a soundbite during his introductory press conference at UCLA about the difference between college and pro coaching: situational football. The Eagles bested the Seahawks in several areas, including net yards, first downs, times punted (really), yards per play, and time of possession, just to name a few. Where they lost? Red zone efficiency, goal-to-go efficiency, turnovers, and penalties. The Eagles fell flat in situational football, which is probably a symptom of Pete Carroll being a seasoned head coach and Doug Pederson being, well, a second-year head coach. Russell Wilson’s experience as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback trumps Carson Wentz as well.

The good news with this is that Sean McVay, for all his success, is still a rookie head coach, and Jared Goff is a sophomore quarterback like Wentz. They should also be facing a friendlier environment than the hostile confines of CenturyLink Field. Doug Pederson should have the upper hand here. Is he helped out at all by the statistics?

Matt Takes

Well... yes and no. Even after they were unable to defend the scramble drill against the Seahawks, the Eagles are still fourth in OY/CMP, while the Rams are all the way down at nineteenth. That 0.9 difference might not seem like much, but it’s the difference between a first down and fourth-and-inches on 3rd and 10. The Eagles also have the edge in time of possession by almost three full minutes. That’s not terribly surprising as clock control has always been a staple of Doug’s game plans.

In the other categories, the Rams have a clear statistical advantage. Even with PTS/1HLF, where the Eagles are ranked right behind Los Angeles, it’s a distant third with a 3.5 point difference (New England is first in this category at 18.1). The most concerning difference is with OY/PT. As I noted last week, the Seahawks were much more efficient in this area than the majority of the Eagles’ opponents and held them to 10 points. At the time, they were ranked thirteenth. The Rams are ranked fourth.

Given that the Eagles have somewhat of an uphill battle here, with a first round bye now on the line, what can they do to come out on top?

When The Eagles Have The Ball

The Eagles and Rams feature the league’s top two scoring offenses, with exactly 361 points scored each (30/game). As noted above, the Rams have a defensive advantage with OY/PT, meaning that (statistically) the Eagles will need to work harder for their scores than Los Angeles will. Considering this, the name of the game is ball control. Simply put, the Eagles should aim to have more possessions during the game than the Rams. Los Angeles goes down the field and scores first? Go to hurry up on the next drive. Eagles hold the Rams, or have first possession? Chew clock and pound the rock. Mix-and-match hurry-up to put yourself in a place to have that crucial possession at the end of the half - or game.

Given the Rams’ tendency to allow longer completions, I would expect Doug to install some concepts to work the middle of the field. He did a terrible job of getting the Eagles’ most reliable receivers involved early last week, so some slants, posts, and corner routes for Jeffery and Agholor could go a long way to cure their ails from Seattle. Toss in some dig routes for whomever lines up at tight end and you’re good to go.

When The Rams Have The Ball

Jared Goff, for all the public abuse he took in his abysmal rookie season, has been somewhat of a revelation this season. He’s guided his team to an impressive 9-3 record and is third in the league in YPA. Therefore, the Eagles’ top priority on passing defense is to shut down the deep ball. With Jordan Hicks out, they’ve opted for more single-high looks over a two-deep safety look. This might be the week to bring those two deep safeties back into the gameplan to make sure the receivers running the go route are covered. Make Goff dink and dunk his way down the field, and when he’s faced with a third-and-long, DON’T LET HIM THROW PAST THE STICKS. If the Eagles can force the Rams to play timid football on offense, they have a good shot at winning this game.

With how quickly the Rams score, an unorthodox approach early in the game might be to let the Rams catch a few passes over the middle, and then just destroy them with big hits. The old Raiders teams would do this all the time, and while it’s more difficult to do with today’s rules, sending a message early that the Eagles are not going to play nice could get them out of their element. Slowing Todd Gurley down is an obvious choice for this strategy, but that plan is more or less a given with the way Philadelphia plays the run.

Closing Thoughts

Like the Seahawks game, this should be a tough contest. Unlike the Seahawks game, the Eagles shouldn’t be outclassed the entire game. When the season really spiraled out of control late last year, Pederson showed that he can get his team motivated with the resolve to compete down the stretch. This team is much better than last year’s, so we should see a similar bounce-back with better results.

Beating the Rams is vital. If the Eagles drop a second straight game, they’ll lose a first-round bye two weeks after sitting high and mighty with homefield advantage. In addition, defeating a playoff-caliber team in December should go a long way to reassuring the locker room that they can accomplish the same feat in January. Then again, looking ahead might have been part of their undoing last week. After a sobering loss, it’s back to one game at a time, and the Rams are next up on the docket.


[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 11:00:05 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers 4, Oilers 2: What we learned from a second-straight win

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Claude Giroux is back (has been), Michael Raffl is fuego, and Ivan Provorov is perfect.

O Captain! My Captain!

Previous reports of Claude Giroux’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Wednesday night Giroux displayed everything you’d want and dream of a man wearing the “C.” Giroux’s compete level was on full display, winning tough puck battles along the wall and throwing his weight around in those scrums.

It was the Dale Weise goal that really stood out in Giroux’s game last night. The captain was already late into a shift and instead of cruising to the bench, hustled to beat a pair of Oilers to a loose and then dropped the puck to Weise for the goal.

If anyone was concerned with leadership during this tough stretch, Wednesday was a good reminder that Claude Giroux leads by example and still has lots of great hockey ahead of him. His no-look pass across to Voracek on the Weal power play goal was underrated, but his work on the Weise goal was exceptional.

Mo’ Raffl Mo’ problems

Michael Raffl’s hot stretch continued on Wednesday night, finishing off a breakaway and a great stretch pass from Jake Voracek to stretch the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 early in the third. Raffl showed confidence in shooting the puck from well out on the play and beating Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit easily on the blocker side.

Raffl got loose on another breakaway later that he couldn’t get by Brossoit’s blocker, but again wasn’t shy about shooting the puck and showing the confidence that has spawned for the forward over the last seven games (4G, 2A) after going scoreless in 21 games to start the year.

It’s been no secret that the Flyers have struggled to get secondary scoring outside of the Giroux/Couturier/Voracek trio, and getting production from Raffl on the score sheet gives coach Dave Hakstol a versatile player that can be moved throughout the lineup.

Penalty kill comes up huge late

Scott Laughton took a disastrous holding call with less than four minutes left and the Flyers clinging to a 3-2 lead following a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal. Laughton chipped the puck in past Kris Russell but got his left hand on the shoulder of the Oilers defenseman as he tried to get past him and get to the puck.

It was an avoidable penalty, but the ensuing penalty kill from the NHL’s 26th-ranked unit was enough to seal the win against a dangerous Oilers power play. Brian Elliott was calm in his crease and stood his ground as the Oilers fired pucks into his crease to no avail.

Though social media was in an uproar and expecting another blown two-goal lead after the Laughton penalty, the penalty kill was up to the task and likely saved a point in this one.

Break up the top line!

Game two without the Giroux/Couturier/Voracek trio again yielded good results for coach Dave Hakstol and the Flyers. Simmonds swapping with Voracek hasn’t crashed the first line ship as they produced five points on the night after having a similarly productive outing in Calgary.

As for Voracek, he setup Weal on the power play and worked well with Raffl and Valterri Filppula even if the metics don’t show it. The line finished with a 44% Corsi For on the night, but had a few chances to shoot the puck (Looking at you, Filppula) that could have easily made those numbers seem much better.

You have to figure these combinations will stay the same for a bit as Voracek and Raffl have clicked, and the former is on a tear, providing badly needed secondary scoring. And at this point you could probably put me on that line of Giroux and Couturier and still get production.

Flyers limit time/space for Oilers and their stars

The Flyers did a great job limiting the time and space for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on Wednesday night. There would be long stretches where you would forget McDavid was even out there - and that is impressive.

McDavid saw a ton of Ivan Provorov, and the Flyers second-year defenseman proved to be the perfect solution to slow McDavid. Provorov’s skating ability and positioning kept McDavid from getting loose and burning the Flyers.

The power play had an uneven night

Going in to Wednesday you figured the Flyers would be able to take advantage of the Oilers’ league-worst penalty kill. While that wasn’t necessarily the case in the box score, there was more to it than that.

In the end the Flyers went 1-for-4 on the man-advantage, but also surrendered a shorthanded goal to Leon Draisaitl to start the scoring. On that power play that Draisaitl notched the shorty, the puck movement was great from the Flyers and they nearly took advantage of a very passive Oilers penalty kill.

Wayne Simmonds got a pair of chances in front and the Flyers moved the puck around well but were doomed by a Sean Couturier turnover and a less than ideal play by Shayne Gostisbehere on the ensuing two-on-one against Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

The Flyers got quality chances against a bad penalty kill, but were only able to pot one goal on the tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Jordan Weal finishing it off in front. The shorthanded goal was disappointing, but the power play overall did some good things and could very well have rewarded more.

Slow start in third was very Flyers

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who later scored, hit the cross bar behind Brian Elliott less than 30 seconds in as the Flyers came out sleepy protecting a two-goal lead to start the third. Andrew MacDonald iced the puck right after and gave glimpses of the recent struggles this team has had while protecting leads.

They were able to withstand the Oilers’ early push and weren’t really threatened until Nugent-Hopkins’ goal with 6:40 left, but showed the nerves playing with leads that plagued them recently but not on this night.

Inside the Flyers’ shot selection

We’ve talked a lot about the Flyers’ tendency to take a ton of shots from the outside, but that wasn’t the case against the Oilers. The broadcast team was all about getting the puck on net from anywhere, but the Flyers did a nice job working around the dots to generate quality chances over quantity of chances.

Weal gets in on the act

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not hard to figure out why the Oilers have the worst penalty kill in the league. They’re far too passive on the kill and almost invited the Flyers to control the puck and generate chances on goal. They’re clearances were also terrible all night.

Anyways, the Oilers penalty kill left both Nolan Patrick and Jordan Weal wide open on top of the crease at different points during the night. The pass to Patrick was tipped away but Voracek’s pass to Weal found his tape and then the back of the net. Credit Weal for finding the soft spot in the defense and keeping his stick on the ice and giving Voracek a perfect target for the pass.

If it looked easy it’s because it was, and it’s good to see Weal getting rewarded with the goal following up another strong performance from the diminutive forward in Calgary.

Bonus: The Rogers Place organist is phenomenal

So not only does the Oilers’ new home look like a spaceship (it does), but the organist inside the arena was just the best last night. The rendition of MGMT’s Kids —a personal favorite of mine— was awesome, and make no mistake there were others too.

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 11:09:59 EST from rss

Subject: Browns fire one of Cleveland executives who passed on Carson Wentz

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Not a top 20 league executive.

The Cleveland Browns officially fired executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown on Thursday.

This is relevant to the Eagles because Brown was one of the key decision makers who decided to pass on Carson Wentz in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Browns have gone 1-27 since passing on Wentz.

It seems Brown lost out on a power struggle with Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam released a statement showing commitment to Jackson beyond this season, despite the head coach’s terrible win-loss record.

Interestingly enough, there was a recent story detailing how Jackson actually wanted Wentz in 2016.

When Jackson and then assistant head coach/offense Pep Hamilton worked out Wentz privately before the draft, they were blown away -- and instantly sold on him as their quarterback of the future, the sources said.

They had sent Wentz a package of plays the day before, and when they put him on the board to diagram them, he had memorized everything -- something no one else they worked out privately was able to do, especially not so quickly.

Wentz's football acumen pushed him over the top into No. 1 status for them, the sources said. He already had all the physical tools, and Jackson wasn't scared off by him playing at North Dakota State, because he had coached Joe Flacco out of Delaware as a rookie.

Now, I can’t help but feel like this type of story was leaked in order to wipe the blame away from Jackson. Hue is known for having good relations with the media so he knows how to work that angle. But maybe it’s true, I don’t know.

The Browns aren’t cleaning house entirely. They still employ chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, who once was said the Browns didn’t believe Wentz would be a top 20 quarterback. Whoops!

Cleveland is set up well for the future with a lot of draft picks and cap space. But they don’t have a franchise quarterback, which matters most. Maybe they can use their assets to acquire one and build for a brighter future. We’ll see.

In the meantime, the Eagles are contending for a Super Bowl this year thanks to a second-year quarterback who belongs in the MVP conversation: Carson Wentz.

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 12:01:45 EST from rss

Subject: Game-by-game Eagles notebook: Week 14

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Recapping the 2017 season one chunk at a time

Week One: Eagles 30, Redskins 17: Year Two of the Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson regime started with the Birds ending a five-game losing streak to the Redskins at FedEx Field, where Jim Schwartz’s front-four rotation led the way. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles, the second of which was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Cox, sealing a two-score, fourth-quarter lead. After fellow cornerback Ronald Darby was carted off with an injury, Jalen Mills also aided an Eagles “D” that gave up just 64 rushing yards and three third-down conversions, intercepting Kirk Cousins on a red-zone pass when the ‘Skins trailed by two. With uneven protection and a non-existent running game, Wentz (26-39, 307 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTs) was the victim of a Ryan Kerrigan pick six but channeled his inner Donovan McNabb on an opening-drive scramble and 58-yard TD heave to Nelson Agholor, then extended plays with tight endZach Ertz (8 receptions, 93 yards) to set up three Caleb Sturgis field goals and a Gatorade bath for Pederson.

Week Two: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20: Late-game grit and a stout start for Jim Schwartz’s defense weren’t enough for Doug Pederson to best ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs used a 53-yard touchdown run from rookie Kareem Hunt, back-to-back fourth-quarter scores and six sacks of an overburdened Carson Wentz to decide a close one. Big stands from a banged-up Eagles secondary offset a rare Darren Sproles fumble on a punt return inside Birds territory, holding Kansas City to a 6-3 halftime lead, but heavy pressure on the Eagles QB led to a tipped interception and more red-zone chances for Reid’s unit. Still, Wentz (25-46, 333 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) started efficiently (7-of-9), spread 19 first-down throws to Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Zach Ertz and scrambled his way to a team-high 55 rushing yards on another dismal day for the backfield. Down two scores with :14 left, his 9-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor preceded a perfect onside kick from fill-inJake Elliott, who made up for an earlier 30-yard field goal miss and set up a game-ending Hail Mary try.

Week Three: Eagles 27, Giants 24: They were without four injured starters on defense, gave up 366 passing yards to Eli Manning and lost a 14-0 lead after 21 unanswered Giants points, but Doug Pederson found — and stuck with — a rushing attack, not to mention a clutch kicker, as the Eagles sent New York to 0-3. LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement battered their way to a combined 160 yards on the ground, the former putting Philadelphia up 7-0 in the first. Clement tied the contest at 21 on a 15-yard fourth-quarter run after back-to-back-to-back TDs from the Giants — two acrobatic grabs by Odell Beckham Jr. and a 77-yarder by Sterling Shepard. But rookie kicker Jake Elliott, in his second game replacing an ailing Caleb Sturgis, was the real Eagles hero, booting a team-record 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Carson Wentz (21-31, 176 yards, 1 TD) again found tight end Zach Ertz for a score, while the Eagles “D” had a goal-line stand and stout play from young cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the latter of whom had a pick along with Patrick Robinson.

Week Four: Eagles 26, Chargers 24: With Eagles fans turning Los Angeles’ StubHub Center into an unofficial home game, Doug Pederson kept the pedal to the metal, pushing Philadelphia atop the NFC East with a run-first approach sans an injured Darren Sproles. LeGarrette Blount (16 carries, 136 yards) led the way with a 68-yard Marshawn Lynch-esque gallop on a fourth-quarter drive that prefaced a diving Wendell Smallwood (79 total yards) touchdown and helped the Eagles dominate time of possession. Corey Clement also got five third-down carries for an offense that didn’t turn the ball over and set up four field goals, including a 53-yarder, from Jake Elliott. The Chargers kept it close as Philip Rivers (347 yards) extended drives with Keenan Allen, found Tyrell Williams for a 75-yard score and pulled L.A. within two with 6:48 to go shortly after a 35-yard TD run by an untouched Austin Ekeler. But the Eagles defense set the tone with an opening-series takeaway, a Chris Long strip sack, and helped establish an early 7-0 lead on a throw from Carson Wentz (17-31, 242 yards, 1 TD) to Alshon Jeffery.

Week Five: Eagles 34, Cardinals 7: A career day for Carson Wentz (21-30, 304 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) and a suffocating start for Jim Schwartz’s defense all but put the Cardinals away after one quarter, when the Eagles led 21-0 after consecutive Doug Pederson-scripted marches down the field. A 15-yard lob from Wentz to tight end Trey Burton started the scoring, and a 76-yard punt return from recently reacquired Kenjon Barner (133 total yards) preceded TD passes to Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith, the latter of whom went 59 yards. Arizona’s Carson Palmer found John Brown for a second-quarter TD, but otherwise, the contest was all Eagles — the D-line got in Palmer’s face, the Cards got just 31 rushing yards and Philly’s Patrick Robinson broke up pass after pass, also blocking a field goal try. Barner and LeGarrette Blount also found lanes vs. a typically feisty Arizona “D,” and receiver Nelson Agholor’s 72-yard third-quarter bomb, with a juke and backward fall into the end zone a la DeSean Jackson, was the icing on the cake. Safety Rodney McLeod forced a fumble to stop a potential last-minute Cards TD.

Week Six: Eagles 28, Panthers 23: On the road with three days of rest, the Eagles overcame 10 penalties -- to Carolina's one -- and a scrappy Panthers defense that capitalized on injured tackle Lane Johnson's absence to pressure Carson Wentz and force an opening-drive fumble. Quarterback Cam Newton kept Carolina close with a 16-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 10, plus a late throw to rookie Christian McCaffrey that kept his team within one score. But Philly also engulfed his ground support via linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham (25 combined tackles), and cornerbacks Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and Rasul Douglas all intercepted him -- Douglas after Fletcher Cox pressure, Robinson off a juggled dump-off and Mills on a wayward deep ball that headlined back-to-back defensive stands with about three minutes left. Two of the turnovers came deep in Panthers territory, where Wentz (16-30, 222 yards, 3 TDs) found Ertz for two TDs and, later, slot receiver Nelson Agholor for a 24-yard catch-and-run. A two-point try and two Jake Elliott field goals at one point had the Eagles up 28-16.

Week Seven: Eagles 34, Redskins 24: If 2017 is the year of Carson Wentz’s magical leap forward, Monday night vs. Washington was when the rest of the country got the memo. Dogged by four Eagles penalties and a punt-like pick on the opening series, Wentz (17-25, 268 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) quickly took command of the game, finding rookie Mack Hollins, tight end Zach Ertz and reserve back Corey Clement for three straight scores — Hollins on a 64-yard bomb and Clement on an improbable sideline touch pass that came with Redskins swarming an off-balance Wentz. While erasing a 10-3 deficit, the quarterback also gained a team-high 63 rushing yards, 17 of which came on an inexplicable escape from a scrum in the pocket. The Eagles defense, which lost an injured Jordan Hicks, gave up two Jordan Reed touchdowns as Washington pulled within 10. It also sacked QB Kirk Cousins four times, forcing an easy Corey Graham interception. Philly later lost left tackle Jason Peters to injury but sealed a Redskins sweep with a fourth-quarter Nelson Agholor TD and two Jake Elliott field goals.

Week Eight: Eagles 33, 49ers 10: It was an off day in the rain for Carson Wentz (18-32, 211 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), who gave the 49ers an easy third-quarter pick and felt pressure behind a Jason Peters-less line, but the Eagles used two turnovers and four sacks from four different players (Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Mychal Kendricks) to beat up on the rookie pairing of coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback C.J. Beathard. San Francisco kept Philadelphia to three points up to the two-minute warning in the first half, but a short TD throw from Wentz to tight end Zach Ertz came just 17 seconds before cornerback Jalen Mills picked off Beathard and weaved his way to a 37-yard score. A 51-yard Jake Elliott field goal put the Eagles up 20-0 early in the third, and a 53-yard connection between Wentz and receiver Alshon Jeffery on a jump-ball sideline pass countered the Niners’ only TD of the day, a shovel-pass catch-and-run by Matt Breida. A 12-yard fourth-quarter scoring run by LeGarrette Blount, tipped-pass INT by safety Rodney McLeod and late field-goal block by rookie Derek Barnett helped seal the win.

Week Nine: Eagles 51, Broncos 23: Even without an injured Zach Ertz, the Eagles out-schemed one of the NFL’s top-ranked defenses, racking up 419 yards and moving at will on another monster day for Carson Wentz (15-27, 199 yards, 4 TDs). Right tackle Lane Johnson kept Denver’s Von Miller at bay, and the Eagles owned the trenches to go up 31-9 by halftime. Leading the way behind the line, Jay Ajayi (77 yards) broke off a 49-yard TD run five days after arriving via trade, and No. 3 man Corey Clement went off for three scores — one on a screen pass and another on a perfect option pitch from Wentz. Wideout Alshon Jeffery (6 receptions, 84 yards, 2 TDs) also got behind the Broncos secondary with ease, and tight end Trey Burton corralled a 27-yard touch pass for Wentz’s third TD of the first half. Denver, meanwhile, mustered just two field goals and two garbage-time scores, including a strip-sack TD off Eagles backup Nick Foles, after going up 3-0 in the first. With picks from corner Patrick Robinson and safety Rodney McLeod, the Birds muzzled quarterback Brock Osweiler and held Denver to 35 rushing yards.

Week 11: Eagles 37, Cowboys 9: Desperate Dallas contained the Eagles early on, forcing four three-and-outs after a touchdown run by Philadelphia’s Kenjon Barner and leading 9-7 at halftime thanks to three field goals. But the Eagles ultimately overtook Jerry Jones’ house, scoring 30 unanswered points and rattling Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (18-31, 145 yards, 3 INTs). Reserve Corey Clement found paydirt on an 11-yard run behind a mauling line to start the second-half surge, and a 71-yard sprint by Jay Ajayi set up the next TD, an 11-yard strike from Carson Wentz (14-27, 168 yards, 2 TDs) to wideout Torrey Smith. Early in the fourth, Alshon Jeffery got his own TD catch on a diving fourth-down grab over the middle, and a 37-yard fumble return score by linebacker Nigel Bradham, after one of two sacks by rookie Derek Barnett, came three plays later. Rodney McLeod, Malcolm Jenkins and the newly healthy Ronald Darby all picked off Prescott, and the Eagles padded their lead with three two-point conversions after linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill replaced an injured Jake Elliott as emergency kicker.

Week 12: Eagles 33, Bears 3: Four fumbles and 11 penalties had the Eagles looking sloppy, but a stingy showing from the front four made rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (17-33, 147 yards, 2 INTs), Pro Bowl runner Jordan Howard (7 carries, 6 yards) and the Bears look worse. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox had sacks, limiting Chicago to eight first downs — the Bears moved the chains just once in the first half, when safety Malcolm Jenkins picked off Trubisky but then lost a fumble. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz (23-36, 227 yards, 3 TDs) found Zach Ertz (10 receptions, 103 yards) and Alshon Jeffery (52 yards) with regularity, floating short scoring passes to each and putting Philadelphia up 24-0 at halftime. Receiver Nelson Agholor also scored twice, first on a sprint and flip across the goal line after a second-quarter screen, then on a fourth-quarter recovery of a Jay Ajayi fumble into the end zone. Celebrating along the way, the Eagles also converted three fourth-down tries, got 97 rushing yards from LeGarrette Blount and a pick from safety Corey Graham, holding Chicago to just a field goal.

Week 13: Seahawks 24, Eagles 10: Under the lights in Seattle, the Eagles had an off night in every sense, as rare Carson Wentz (29-45, 348 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) miscues — misfires on would-be scores and a third-quarter goal-line fumble out of the back of the end zone with Philly down seven — accompanied seven penalties, some spotty play-calling and poor protection against Seattle’s front. MVP-caliber play by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (20-31, 3 TDs) didn't help. Brandon Graham had 1.5 sacks for the Eagles, but Wilson avoided countless others, finding Jimmy Graham for an early TD, leading an 11-play scoring drive and putting the 'Hawks up 14 immediately after a heroic fourth-quarter gasp from Wentz, who connected with wideout Nelson Agholor (141 yards) on a 51-yard heave as he went to the ground, then on a 27-yard TD. Out-executed and maybe intimidated at times, the Eagles trailed 17-3 at halftime, initially mustering just a Jake Elliott field goal against Seattle’s ailing but chippy defense. A last-minute deep-ball pick by ex-Eagle Byron Maxwell sealed the ugly contest.

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 12:23:56 EST from rss

Subject: No Fun League: NFL Players Must Embrace NBA

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Roger Goodell and the National Football League have rightfully received significant criticism for giving lip service to the issue of player safety but not really doing anything about it. Money has been suggested as the root of that nonfeasance. Goodell doesn’t exactly cover himself in glory on this issue, either, when he says stuff as dumb as…

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 13:00:35 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Week 14 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 14 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 14, the collective BGN Community is still in sole possession of first place. Still way out in front.

The Philadelphia Eagles are underdogs against the Rams in Los Angeles this week. It’s a pretty big game!

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 Dec 07 2017 14:21:30 EST from rss

Subject: Leave Lonzo Ball Alone

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The Sixers are back in action tonight, hosting the NBA’s most divisive figure, the guy who shoplifted in China and was (allegedly) bailed out by President Trump. Wait, that’s not him, that was his brother. Let’s try this again… The Sixers are back in action tonight, hosting the NBA’s most divisive figure, the guy who…

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 15:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Checking out the competition: The Vancouver Canucks with Kent Basky

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Taking it back to the old school...

Welcome to the first throwback version of Checking Out the Competition for the season! Many, many years ago, before The Great Pivot To Video of 2k17, Broad Street Hockey used to exchange pre-game questions with our friends at the other SB Nation NHL hockey blogs via e-mail and we’d write all of those words here on this website. And people would read them. It was very quaint. We decided to take it back there for our preview of tonight’s Canucks game with our pal Kent Basky from Nucks Misconduct for fun artistic and nostalgic reasons (definitely NOT because of technical difficulties nope). Here we go:

BSH: The Canucks are sitting in the third spot in the Pacific, right ahead of San Jose and Calgary. How's the overall feeling around the Canucks at this point in the season? You guys happy with how things are going?

Kent: I think the overall mood of Canucks fans right now would have to be cautious optimism, tempered with the feeling that it's all going to fall apart. Since 2011, it's been a pretty harsh downward spiral, and this fan base has been clamoring for change. And with a new coach, and (some) of the youth movement getting their opportunity, we're beginning to see results. That being said, we haven't forgotten what division we're in, and know that an extended losing streak at any point could spell doom. The real question is what's the worst outcome: Missing the playoffs by a couple points, or making the playoffs? Is even moderate success hindering the attempts to rebuild (because they obviously don't have all the pieces yet). There are a lot of things to be happy about, though. Brock Boeser appears to be the real deal, and probably the first legitimate pure goal scorer this team's had since Pavel Bure. The Sedins are playing extremely well in a reduced roll. They're getting good goaltending from Jakob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson. The PP doesn't suck for the first time since 2011. The addition of Derrick Pouliot is starting to look like the Canucks fleeced the Penguins, and even Tomas Vanek's addition in the offseason has been far better than anticipated. But with the loss of Dorsett (more emotional than an actual on ice loss, as it's allowed the Canucks to get Nikolay Goldobin into the lineup) and a potential long term injury to Bo Horvat show that this team could just as easily be battling the Oilers for draft lottery supremacy. Also, screw the Oilers. How on earth can they be given all they have, and still not get it right. They make the case for AHL relegation look reasonable.

BSH: Speaking of the Pacific, the Golden Knights continue to be a thing, which still blows my mind. You guys have played them twice and they've beaten you both times; since you see them more than we do out here, do you think they're the real deal?

KB: I still don't know what to think. I mean, on the one hand, they've done incredibly well at home, and went through that ridiculous stretch of goalie injuries and it didn't stop them. Hell, they took Luca Sbisa and they're still in a playoff spot! But I think we need to stop looking at them as an expansion team, because there's never been an expansion team that was set up to succeed the way Vegas has. Whether you agree with it or not, the NHL changed the rules to ensure this team wasn't going to be like the Washington Capitals in their first season. They had to be a success for their own fans, and not just be a destination for opposing team fans looking for an excuse to go to Vegas. There's a lot of hockey to be played still, and we'll see how it all plays out.

BSH: Back to tonight's game: when we played you guys a few weeks back, it didn't go well for the Flyers. We were midway into our epic losing streak, Brock Boeser was all over the ice, Michal Neuvirth wasn't great for us, and the 'Nucks won 5-2. Is this a game that a Canucks fan is at all worried about?

KB: When you're a Canucks fan, you're worried about every game. They've won 3 in a row, including a win over the Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada, and a shutout against Carolina. A fan of another team might look at this game and think "Here's a great opportunity to go 4 straight". Canucks fans know this could be one of those games where they get embarrassed on home ice. I will say though I am not as fearful about it as I was before the Flyers beat Calgary. And, hey... thanks for that.

BSH: Speaking of, Boeser is the guy I'm most excited about watching when I catch a Canucks game, because he's preeeeeetttttty ridiculous. Any Flyers players you look forward to watching?

KB: I have always enjoyed watching Claude Giroux. Criminally underrated guy. Shane Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek are fun to watch, as is Wayne Simmonds (would love to see him in a Canucks jersey, honestly). And let's not forget the emotional return of the man we call Dutch Gretzky: Dale Weise. [I am laughing so hard right now —Ed.]

BSH: And finally, you guys are coming off a win over Carolina and a few days off, and the Flyers are on the tail end of a back-to-back out there in Western Canada. What are your overall predictions for this game?

KB: I think it depends on the results of two things: The game against the Oilers and Bo Horvat's MRI. This game has emotional letdown, Canucks style written all over it. Should be fun to watch, as games against the Flyers always are.

Be sure to get your coffee in today, Flyers fans, as tonight’s game doesn’t start until 10PM on the NBC Sports Network on television and on 97.5 on your FM radios. Let’s Go Flyers!

[#] Thu Dec 07 2017 14:30:41 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers at Canucks preview: Closing out the Western Canadian swing

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Our third and final edition of Flyers After Dark awaits.

Hey! Hey guys! You know what’s better than a game that starts at 9:30 at night?

A game that starts at 9:30 and then a game that starts at 10:00 the night after. Who needs to go to bed early?

The Flyers close out their Western Canadian swing tonight in Vancouver. After the ten-game losing streak, they’ve kicked off a newer and fresher streak, with back to back wins on the road for the first time in about a year. And that feels pretty neat.

If you haven’t totally blocked out the Flyers’ last meeting with the Canucks—which, you know, would be reasonable since it was dead in the middle of the ten-game losing streak—you’ll remember that the Flyers dropped that one 5-2. There were two empty net goals involved, so the suggested blowout wasn’t quite a blowout. But it was ugly.

The Canucks have hit a bit of a hot streak, as they sit at third in the division and are in the middle of a three-game win streak. They’re rested after their win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday, but will be without center Bo Horvat, who is estimated to be out for six weeks with a fractured foot. Horvat had been centering their top line, and has 20 points through these first 28 games.

Yesterday, I broke down three things to look for in the game against the Oilers, with two of them being issues or potential issues that needed fixing. And they fixed them.

So, welcome to my articles, the Hockey Team the Flyers. Let’s dig into three things to look for in tonight’s game.

1. Give Maddie one million dollars

No...? Fine. It was worth a shot.

1. Elliott’s strength has to hold

With Michal Neuvirth out for the next week or two, the onus of main goaltending has fallen even harder on Elliott’s shoulders. He’s been given the larger share of work to begin with, and deservedly so, but your backup shifting from “NHL backup” to “AHL backup turned inadvertent AHL starter,” and the defense in front of you consisting of an AHL lifer, two rookies, two veterans under the age of 25, and one Andrew MacDonald, your buffer starts to shrink. And that isn’t a knock on Lyon, who may well actually be a perfectly competent NHL backup, now that he’s up, but the team is still relying on Elliott, and he has to be good. The Flyers have finally begun to show that they can get something sparked, and they don’t necessarily need lights out goaltending, but they certainly need Elliott to show up.

2. Secondary scoring

Once upon a time, the Flyers were able to get this thing called secondary scoring going. It was a mystical time, before the losing streak, even, and we’ve been calling for its return for what feels like ages.

And, at long last, we have been rewarded. With Laughton, Simmonds, and Raffl breaking into the scoring conversation over the last few games, it seems the Flyers have finally solved the secondary scoring question. But if we know anything about this Flyers team, it’s that they’ve been streaky, to say the least. So have they found a permanent solution? Will they slip back into the old trend of the first line carrying the team’s scoring? Only time will tell.

3. Third line has to find its legs

While the shifts to the lines have led to some solid tangible results—namely that secondary scoring thing we just talked about—but it’s also left one line dragging behind. The line of Konecny-Patrick-Weise—third by the ordering but fourth by icetime—has been lagging behind. They’ve been, in short, not great. Against the Flames, they averaged an adjusted CF% of 14.7 percent at even strength, and 38.51 percent against the Oilers. And while the numbers from the Edmonton game still aren’t fantastic, they do mark an improvement, which isn’t nothing. To be sure, they’ve been defensively sheltered and their icetime has taken hits, but they may be taking steps in the right direction. The Flyers looked most dangerous early in the season when they were able to get all of the lines rolling, and this line getting established is the final step in the team getting back to that.

The models over at Corsica again seem to be against the Flyers, on this one, giving them an average of 48.5 percent chance of winning. Can they prove the models wrong two nights in a row? A girl can dream.

You can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below, and we’ll see you at 10 p.m. for our next edition of Flyers After Dark.


Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds

Raffl - Filppula - Voracek

Konecny - Patrick - Weise

Leier - Laughton - Weal


Provorov - MacDonald

Gostisbehere - Hagg

Alt - Sanheim




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