Subject: How good are the Flyers in offensive and defensive games this season?
Hakstol wants his team to play a defensive-minded game, but a case could be made that the team should lean more towards the offensive.
On this week’s episode of BSH Radio, the crew talked about whether the Philadelphia Flyers’ inability to produce at even strength has more to do with coaching or the overall skill of the team. With concerns over lack of scoring against teams that focus on defense first, or low-event hockey, it’s fair to ask if the Orange and Black would perform better by attempting to play high-event hockey over low-event hockey.
To determine this, guidelines to determine the team’s success in games with high-event hockey (when teams consistently trade chances) and low-event hockey (teams tighten up defensively) had to be defined. Entering Wednesday night’s action, the range of total shot attempts (for and against) per 60 at 5-on-5 play went from the Chicago Blackhawks’ high pace of 126.69 events per hour to the Buffalo Sabres’ low pace of 109.09 per hour.
When it comes to pace of play, the Flyers ranked 27th in the league entering Wednesday’s games, with 111.16 events per hour ahead of only the Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, and Buffalo.
Since the top nine teams in terms of pace average 119 events per 60 or higher, it’s fair to say Flyers’ games that produced 119 events per 60 or higher as high-event hockey games. At the other end, the bottom nine teams averaged under 115 events per 60, which will be the cutoff for low-event Flyers’ games.
With these guidelines in place, it’s not surprising to see Philly has endured a lot of low-event hockey games to start the season. Of their 34 games this season, 24 Flyers games have been low-event hockey:
Flyers’ games with under 115 events/60:
11-16-17, PHI@WPG, 3-2 SOL: 89.56 events/60 (50.75 for, 38.81 against), 50.6 xGF% (1.32 xGF, 1.29 xGA)
11-14-17, PHI@MIN, 3-0 loss: 94.52 events/60 (57.89 for, 36.63 against), 56.69 xGF% (2.07 xGF, 1.58 xGA)
12-18-17, LAK@PHI, 4-1 loss: 97.3 events/60 (48.65 for, 48.65 against), 36.56 xGF% (1.36 xGF, 2.35 xGA)
11-11-17, MIN@PHI, 1-0 loss: 97.35 events/60 (53.58 for, 43.77 against), 49.61 xGF% (1.72 xGF, 1.74 xGA)
10-24-17, ANA@PHI, 6-2 loss: 101.04 events/60 (49.08 for, 51.96 against), 46.67 xGF% (1.87 xGF, 2.13 xGA)
12-16-17, DAL@PHI, 2-1 win: 101.39 events/60 (50.05 for, 51.34 against), 61.83 xGF% (1.89 xGF, 1.17 xGA)
12-14-17, BUF@PHI, 2-1 win: 101.6 events/60 (53.11 for, 48.49 against), 56.68 xGF% (1.88 xGF, 1.44 xGA)
10-30-17, ARI@PHI, 4-3 OTL: 102.76 events/60 (54.27 for, 48.49 against), 43.76 xGF% (1.66 xGF, 2.14 xGA)
11-2-17, PHI@STL, 2-0 win: 104.35 events/60 (42.24 for, 62.11 against), 48.73 xGF% (2.41 xGF, 2.54 xGA)
10-28-17, PHI@TOR, 4-2 win: 105.85 events/60 (49.32 for, 56.53 against), 39.72 xGF% (1.75 xGF, 2.66 xGA)
12-7-17, PHI@VAN, 4-1 win: 106.23 events/60 (35.91 for, 70.32 against), 42.63 xGF% (2.17 xGF, 2.92 xGA)
10-7-17, PHI@ANA, 3-2 win: 106.41 events/60 (53.9 for, 52.51 against), 44.77 xGF% (1.69 xGF, 2.09 xGA)
10-14-17, WSH@PHI, 8-2 win: 107.28 events/60 (58.62 for, 48.66 against), 70.31 xGF% (3 xGF, 1.27 xGA)
12-12-17, TOR@PHI, 4-2 win: 107.3 events/60 (61.16 for, 46.14 against), 58.53 xGF% (2.16 xGF, 1.53 xGA)
11-28-17, SJS@PHI, 3-1 loss: 107.34 events/60 (36.23 for, 71.11 against), 33.86 xGF% (1.82 xGF, 3.55 xGA)
10-10-17, PHI@NSH, 6-5 loss: 108.12 events/60 (44.52 for, 63.6 against), 31.25 xGF% (1.78 xGF, 3.91 xGA)
12-6-17, PHI@EDM, 4-2 win: 108.36 events/60 (52.73 for, 55.36 against), 45.71 xGF% (1.85 xGF, 2.19 xGA)
11-4-17, COL@PHI, 5-4 SOL: 108.97 events/60 (62.27 for, 46.7 against), 65.92 xGF% (2.32 xGF, 1.2 xGA)
11-1-17, PHI@CHI, 3-0 loss: 109.05 events/60 (59.84 for, 49.21 against), 44.54 xGF% (2.3 xGF, 2.86 xGA)
10-26-17, PHI@OTT, 5-4 loss: 110.83 events/60 (64.97 for, 45.86 against), 69.04 xGF% (3.39 xGF, 1.52 xGA)
11-18-17, CGY@PHI, 5-4 OTL: 113.04 events/60 (63.89 for, 49.15 against), 57.55 xGF% (2.71 xGF, 2 xGA)
12-2-17, BOS@PHI, 3-0 loss: 113.4 events/60 (53.11 for, 60.29 against), 38.45 xGF% (1.33 xGF, 2.13 xGA)
10-19-17, NSH@PHI, 1-0 loss: 113.75 events/60 (48.75 for, 65 against), 63.11 xGF% (1.89 xGF, 1.11 xGA)
12-20-17, DET@PHI, 4-3 win: 113.95 events/60 (69.95 for, 44 against), 57.11 xGF% (2.69 xGF, 2.02 xGA)
That’s 70.59 percent of the team’s games this season. In those 24 games, Philadelphia is 10-10-4 for a 41.67 winning percentage and a 50 points percentage. The Flyers posted higher Corsi-for-per-60 rates in 12 of these games, going 5-3-4 in those tilts, and a higher expected goals for rate in 11 of them, going 5-3-3 in such games. They are 5-5-1 this season against the other eight teams that average under 115 events per 60.
When it comes to high-event hockey, only eight (23.53%) of the team’s contests this season have resulted in high-event hockey:
Flyers’ games with over 119 events/60
11-27-17, PHI@PIT, 5-4 OTL: 139.66 events/60 (56.95 for, 82.71 against), 44.29 xGF% (3.06 xGF, 3.85 xGA),
11-21-17 ,VAN@PHI, 5-2 loss: 137.11 events/60 (88.5 for, 48.61 against), 45.76 xGF% (2.06 xGF, 2.44 xGA)
11-9-17, CHI@PHI, 3-1 win: 129.33 events/60 (54.11 for, 75.22 against), 51.04 xGF% (3 xGF, 2.87 xGA)
11-22-17, PHI@NYI, 4-3 OTL: 128.48 events/60 (58.18 for, 70.3 against), 62.06 xGF% (4.14 xGF, 2.53 xGA)
10-17-17, FLA@PHI, 5-1 win: 126.88 events/60 (53.11 for, 73.77 against), 45.58 xGF% (2.24 xGF, 2.67 xGA)
10-4-17, PHI@SJS, 5-3 win: 122.1 events/60 (59.08 for, 63.02 against), 53.88 xGF% (3.16 xGF, 2.71 xGA)
10-5-17, PHI@LAK, 2-0 loss: 119.75 events/60 (61.37 for, 58.38 against), 52.2 xGF% (2.89 xGF, 2.64 xGA)
11-24-17, NYI@PHI, 5-4 OTL: 119.69 events/60 (62.19 for, 57.5 against), 44.4 xGF% (2.02 xGF, 2.53 xGA)
The Flyers are 3-2-3 in these games for a 37.5 winning percentage and a 56.25 points percentage. Although they are 0-2-1 in the three of these high-event games where they posted a better Corsi for per 60 than their opponent, Philly is 2-1-1 in the four high-event games where they produced the better expected goals for percentage.
The team also hasn’t played in one of these types of games since their 5-4 overtime loss to The Pittsburgh Hockey Club on November 27th (season high 139.66 events-per-60 rate) going 7-3-0 since their road loss late last month. When it comes to playing against high-event hockey teams, the Flyers are 7-2-2 in nine games against the teams averaging 119 events per 60 or more.
It’s also worth pointing out that of those eight games that could be considered high event, four took place in the midst of that 10-game losing streak, where it felt as though the Flyers would have lost no matter how they approached each contest. In the four games of high-event hockey outside The Losing Streak, Philadelphia is 3-1-0 with their lone loss being the 2-0 defeat in Los Angeles.
Talent to compete?
It seems as though teams with more high-end talent push towards playing high-event hockey. Just looking at the events-per-60 rates from this season, five of the top eight teams (Chicago, Edmonton Oilers, The Pittsburgh Hockey Club, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Toronto Maple Leafs) are teams with some of the best players in the league. I’m not going to say the Flyers high-end players can match these teams’ high-end talent, but they do have two of the better players in the league in Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Dynamic players like Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny could keep up with the best players on opposing teams, while two-way monsters Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov probably wouldn’t miss a beat either. Pushing towards a more end-to-end game also wouldn’t hurt speedy or smooth skating players like Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal, or Travis Sanheim.
What these teams also have (or had last year, but lack this year) is superb goaltending that can cover up chances that may be going the other way. According to Corsica.hockey, 30 goalies have played 700 minutes at 5-on-5 this season. Among those goalies, Andrei Vasilevskiy is first with a .941 save percentage, Corey Crawford is second .939, and Frederik Andersen is 11th with .929. Last year, Cam Talbot led goalies in 5-on-5 ice time and finished seventh with a .929 save percentage among the 20 goalies who played 2,500 minutes, while Pittsburgh finished ninth as a team with a .926 save percentage 5-on-5 save percentage.
This season, Elliott is fourth among those 30 aforementioned goalies with a .935 save percentage at 5-on-5. His numbers during the end of that losing streak may have not been pretty, but the Flyers do tend to break even, if not better, in terms of 5-on-5 goal differential when they play high-event hockey. Of those eight high-event hockey games this season, the Orange and Black have only posted a negative goal differential once at 5-on-5, which was once again that 2-0 loss on the road to the Kings (with Michal Neuvirth in net).
Dave Hakstol is obviously not going to flip the script and instill a high-flying offensive system tomorrow, but the team isn’t lacking so much skill or reliable goaltending that it couldn’t open things up just a little bit. To the point the gang made on the podcast, this team wouldn’t hurt itself by letting the skilled skaters actually show off their skills and trade chances with the opposition at times.
Subject: Eagles Injury Report: Two players didn
Update on the Eagles’ injury situation ahead of the Raiders game.
Mills is a new addition to the injury report. Barnett has been on previous injury reports due to a nagging groin issue. If Mills can’t play this week, it could be Rasul Douglas or Jaylen Watkins starting opposite of Ronald Darby. If Barnett is out, look for Steven Means to be active as the fourth defensive end.
Wisniewski got hurt in Week 14 and sat out against the Giants. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to return this week, but seeing him listed as limited is better than him not practicing at all. As for Kendricks, it would be very bad for a struggling Eagles defense if he can’t play. Philadelphia lacks ample depth at linebacker.
It’s good to see that Robinson is fully back at practice after entering the concussion protocol following Sunday’s game against New York. It seems like the Eagles’ slot corner should be able to play this week. Warmack’s a new addition to the injury report, but he was full go so that’s not a big concern.
Note that rookie cornerback Sidney Jones is beginning his second week of practice with the team. He’s still on the non-football injury list. Philadelphia has 21 days from when they first practiced him last week to either promote him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the season. There’s been no indication as to what the Eagles have planned for Jones. It’d be ideal to see him get snaps in Week 17, assuming Philadelphia has their playoff seeding locked up by then.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (THURSDAY)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Jalen Mills (ankle)
DE Derek Barnett (groin)
OG Stefen Wisniewski (ankle)
LB Mychal Kendricks (foot)
CB Patrick Robinson (concussion)
OG Chance Warmack (hamstring)
OAKLAND RAIDERS INJURY REPORT (THURSDAY)
Official Raiders injury report to be announced - check back for updates.
Subject: Joel Embiid Is
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Christmas edition!
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*I’m on record as being a tiny little bit worried about Nolan Patrick’s lack of production thus far, but the kid is confident that his production will come once he’s earned a bigger role. [Courier-Post]
*So Robert Hagg got his first goal Wednesday night and that’s pretty dang cool. [Philly.com]
*Another thing that’s pretty dang cool? The resurgence of Claude Giroux. After a down year last season he’s on pace to have his best season yet and it’s very fun to watch. [NBC Sports Philly]
*The Flyers seem to be playing a defense-first style this season (we actually talked about this a bit on this week’s BSH Radio if you’re interested), but should they be emphasizing the offense more? [BSH]
*After a first half of the season that has seen the Flyers play nearly every game against Western Conference opponents, the back half is absolutely loaded with the games that will make or break this season. [Philly.com]
Finally, we’re having a big BSH fam get together on Saturday night to watch the game and have some fun, and we will be taking food donations for Philabundance. If you can make it, we’d love to see you. If you can’t, we hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday. Thanks for being the best Flyers community ever!
Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Blowing It and Making Sense
Subject: Eagles News: Ronald Darby apologizes to the fans
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 12/22/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Ronald Darby regrets Twitter rant - NBC Sports Philadelphia
On Tuesday morning, Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby dealt with some of his. During a series of three tweets to his 46,000-plus Twitter followers, Darby said "half way fans that sit around and wait for mistakes to talk trash" would be getting blocked. He quickly realized that probably wasn't a good idea. "I was just in my feelings," Darby said on Thursday afternoon. "I gotta grow up. I had a horrible game, probably one of the worst games I have ever played. And that ain't nobody's fault. People expect highly of us. I do apologize ... to y'all too for that. That was childish. And I'm too grown for that." Darby, still just 23, said he realized he made a mistake with the tweets when his supporters began to baby him. He called playing in the NFL a "grown man game." Darby isn't the first player to take criticism too hard. And he won't be the last.
Come to the biggest Philly sports holiday party in town! - BGN
THE BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT NIGHT OF THE YEAR IS ALMOST HERE! You’re not going to want to miss this.
Two Eagles assistants among list of 12 head coaching recommendations distributed by NFL - PhillyVoice
The Eagles' extraordinarily successful 2017 season was fueled in part by the staff the Eagles assembled during the 2016 offseason. They may need to replace some of their star assistants soon.
Just What They Needed - Iggles Blitz
The last two weeks were long, awkward games. There were moments when the Eagles were on the verge of taking complete control of the games and playing to their dominant potential. But then something would happen and they found themselves trailing or holding on for dear life. That made the games less about fun and more about relief when the Eagles came away with tight wins. I wrote my column for PE.com on how the tough games will actually help the Eagles out. Playoff football is usually more about close, tough wins that blowouts or comfortable victories. Those games helped prepare the Eagles for January.
Carson Wentz, Nick Foles transitioning into new roles - ESPN
Wentz has been taking small steps in his long road to recovery over the past week. He was back in the building on Tuesday. Time spent at the NovaCare Complex is short for now -- he's primarily there for rehab and out the door by around 9 a.m., according to coach Doug Pederson -- but that didn't stop him from taking in a team meeting and hanging out in the quarterback room with Sudfeld and his replacement, Nick Foles. "The three of those guys are really close," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I still remember Jim Kelly, who was the franchise future Hall of Fame quarterback [for the Bills]. It means so much to me to this day that when he got hurt, the support that he gave me. I know that's the kind of support that Carson is giving to Nick and Nate. I think it says a lot about that room, I think it says a lot about Carson that he wants to contribute however he can."
Doug Pederson Has Team On Winning Schedule - PE.com
Doug Pederson stands in front of his football team each morning at the NovaCare Complex, laying out his daily message, detailing the schedule and providing some words of wisdom. He asks his players to commit to the moment, and this moment is a special one: The Eagles are one win away (or an improbable Packers win over visiting Minnesota on Saturday) from clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs ...
LeVine: In my 81 years, I've never seen anyone like Carson Wentz - Inforum
You are Carson Wentz. A once in a lifetime national representation and presentation of the state of North Dakota. Recently, your season ended and we on the northern plains exhaled disappointment. You sustained one of the worst football injuries, a torn-up knee. It wouldn't be wrong to call it broken or busted. Your season, and maybe ours, ended on that play. But no. Wait! You got up, walked to the sideline, announced you were going to finish the drive and did. On one good leg you trotted back out there, tossed a touchdown pass. and you were finished for the season. The storybook fable had become true. Many believe your faith in God made it happen. Who knows? What matters is that you did it, and your millions of Carson fans from Philadelphia to North Dakota will never forget it.
NFL Week 16 Preview: Raiders at Eagles - PFF
G Gabe Jackson vs. DI Fletcher Cox – After receiving a huge contract extension in the offseason, Jackson has underachieved this year. He’s the 30th-ranked guard this season with a 70.8 overall grade, which would be the lowest grade of his four-year career. Jackson has only allowed one sack this season, but hasn’t been as strong in the running game, with a 45.0 run-block grade that ranks 47th of 78 qualifying guards. He faces a tough matchup this week in Cox, who is the fourth-ranked interior defender with a 91.1 overall grade. Cox’s 91.3 pass-rush grade is second-best among interior defenders, and he ranks fourth with 48 total pressures. He hasn’t been as stout against the run, with a 4.6 percent run-stop percentage that ranks 107th of 124 qualifying interior defenders.
Eagles-Raiders fantasy football preview: Who to start, sit - Silver And Black Pride
There is not a lot of data on Nick Foles this season considering it has been just two weeks since Carson Wentz went out with a season ending knee injury. However, Foles looked very sharp in his first start of 2017 throwing for 237 yards and four touchdowns. Oakland’s defense has been stout against quarterbacks since they turned the unit over to John Pagano, but the Eagles have too many weapons on offense as well as a great coaching staff. The team showed almost no drop off last Sunday despite having their backup quarterback in the ball game. Foles might not tear this defense apart with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin’s improved play late, but expect Foles to be a solid start and to throw for a few touchdowns against an all-but eliminated Raiders football team. Philadelphia’s new quarterback also threw for seven touchdowns last time he faced the Silver and Black. So who knows what he will do this time.
What to watch in Eagles-Raiders | Early Birds - Inquirer
No. 1 rush defense vs. “Beast Mode”: The Eagles still have the No. 1 rush defense, limiting opponents to 71.5 rushing yards per game. However, they’ve allowed opposing offenses to top 100 rushing yards and 4 yards per carry in three of the past five games. Marshawn Lynch isn’t putting up the same numbers as he did with Seattle a few years ago, but “Beast Mode” is still a tough runner — especially late in the season. He’s rushed for 248 yards and 5.95 yards per carry during the past three weeks. It will be a challenge for the Eagles defense, but that’s been its strength all season.
How a fresh Fletcher Cox and a season of D-line rotations could boost the Eagles come playoff time - The Athletic
The defense has not looked great the past couple weeks, but it has also been playing with its regular-season rotation. Armed with at least one bye (home-field advantage could be locked up in Week 16) and an awareness of the facts above, we might expect to see a much shorter bench for the playoffs – and perhaps a commensurate bump in performance once the do-or-die games begin.
NFL Future General Managers: Annual List of Who’s Next in Line to Lead Team Personnel - Sports Illustrated
Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas: Hidden in Baltimore for years, Douglas’ work is no secret anymore. And I’d bet Philly will do something to make it worth his while to stay.
Saints send Kenny Vaccaro to injured reserve - Canal Street Chronicles
The wrist injury was brought to light for the first time earlier today. Whatever your opinion of Vaccaro’s level of play (personally I think he’s become something of a liability), losing a starter this late in the season and at such a crucial moment looms large for New Orleans. In the short-term, this means the Saints will be looking to younger players like Vonn Bell, Rafael Bush, and Chris Banjo to step up in Vaccaro’s absence. P.J. Williams may also see more action as Vaccaro had basically been the starting slot cornerback. Hopefully those guys are up to the task and can effectively fill in.
Eagles help ‘Ryan’s Case for Smiles’ support young patients and their families - NFL Player Engagement
Donnie Jones and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles had just spent 10 days on the West Coast after playing back-to-back games against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. The team’s charter flight landed in Philadelphia, Monday morning around 4 o’clock, and later that day Jones, the team’s veteran punter, and kicker Caleb Sturgis, were at New Eagle Elementary School doing their part for Ryan’s Case for Smiles– an organization that brings comfort and support to young patients and their families. Jones and Sturgis spent the afternoon with third graders at the school, building coping boxes that will be sent to siblings of children who are in the hospital battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Why Coaches And QBs Should Divorce After Five Years Of Not Winning - FiveThirtyEight
Marvin Lewis’s time as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals is expected to come to an end after this season. It has been a remarkable run of longevity given that Lewis has compiled a 0-7 playoff record in 15 seasons on the job. No head coach in NFL history has more playoff losses without a win than Lewis. Lewis, who was hired by Cincinnati in 2003, is one of seven active coaches to have started his current job prior to the 2010 season. It’s an illustrious group that includes Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. Next to those names, Lewis sticks out for an obvious reason: Every coach on the list has won a Super Bowl on his current team. But perhaps more telling, each one of them did so within five seasons on the job.
Chart Party: The Browns live in hell - SB Nation
In the season finale of Chart Party, we finally visit the Browns, who are doomed to toil in football agony until the end of time.
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Subject: Trust the Prosthetic: Four Observations from Raptors 114, Sixers 109
Subject: Your Friday Morning Roundup
Subject: Fantasy football start/sit advice guide: Best and worst picks for NFL Week 16
Helping you pick your lineups.
Disclaimer: Starts and Sits are relative to where a player is ranked on the aggregate. In other words, a “Start” is someone I like more than most, and a “Sit” is the opposite. So if I say to start Jerick McKinnon and sit Ezekiel Elliott, that doesn't mean I'd start McKinnon over Elliott, it just means I think McKinnon will exceed his expectations while Zeke aka D-Bag will underperform his. Cool? Cool. -Seltz
Quick Post Disclaimer Note: Yoooooooo! It's that magical time of year – the time when regular old nobodies become legends and find eternal glory. That's right, it's fantasy playoffs time! And for many of you, the FANTASY CHAMPIONSHIP!!! Did I oversell that? Yeah, I probably oversold it. Either way, the fantasy playoffs are important to you if you're in them – so I'm going to try and honor that with more starts and sits, and (hopefully) less of my long-winded blabbering. Is blabbering a word? We're already off to a bad start. Let's get into it before I dig a hole I can't pull myself out of – but in case I forget to say it later (I will), good luck in your playoff matchups, I wish you nothing but W's. Lots and lots of Double U's . Alright, let's hit it.
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Nick Foles (vs. OAK) – I told you to start Foles last week. That seemed to worked out ok, no? Sooooooo let's just re-rack what I wrote last week and hope for the same result: “Pro Bowl MVP. He left the field with the lead. 27-2. #Next”
Philip Rivers (@ NYJ) – Rivers has one bad game and everyone jumps off the bandwagon? For reals? Remind me not to have a bad column or everyone will leave. But you guys would never leave me, right? Guys? Uhhh...guys? *sticks head in hands; takes a deep breath; embraces the deafening silence and powers forward* Anyhoo, Rivers averaged 365.6 yards and 2 touchdowns per game in the three games prior to last week's debacle. This week he faces a Jets defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to QB's over the last month and the fifth-most all season.
Case Keenum (at GB) – I've got a bad Case of the Keenums! Yikes. That was terrible. Thank goodness you all bailed on me and no one read it. Which does beg the question of why I'm still talking to “you” in the first place, but I got nothing there so let's just go with me being a weirdo. Speaking of weird, how weird is it that Case (manager) Keenum is actually good? Not going to lie, it's pretty freaking weird to me. But he is. Good, I mean. And Green Bay is bad. Really, really bad. They've allowed the more fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last month than any team in the league...by a lot. Point being, we can now consider the start Keenum case...closed. Nailed it.
Blake Bortles (@ SF) – What has the world come to? I'm telling you to start Blake Bortles two weeks in a row (kinda). WTF is that? It's 2017, that's what. It's the year of weird. Bortles has been a top 12 fantasy QB for a month straight and faces a Niners defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to QB's this season. So as gross as it is, Bortles is a legitimate start this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (@ HOU) – The legend of “Home Ben” has been well documented in this space. In fact, all the way back in Week 2 I chronicled the tale of Ben's home glory and nothing has changed in the 14 weeks since. “Home Ben” is the hero we all want and don't deserve. However, for every hero there has to be a villain, and “Road Ben” is the villain of this epic tale. This week, “Road Ben” takes center stage by destroying what seemingly should be a good opportunity against a bad Texans pass defense. “Road Ben” even went so far as to (partially) tear Antonio Brown's calf to ensure his evil victory this week (unconfirmed). And his victory, is our defeat. Unless you sit Ben, of course.
Dak Prescott (vs. SEA) – Dak is back...to playing second fiddle. Because Zeke is actually back and the Cowboys offense will run through him, again. As it should. As it has whenever Zeke has not been serving a suspension for being a POS. Also, Dak is coming off an atrocious performance against a bad Raiders defense and faces a Seattle pass defense that has held up surprisingly well despite the injuries.
Alex Smith (vs. MIA) – Smith was better than expected last week, after being crappier than expected the week before, and way better than expected the week before that, and dogshit the month before that. All of which is to say, you can't count on him. Ever. Also, Miami has been sneakily mediocre against the pass, particularly of late. Yet Smith is the consensus #8 QB heading into the weekend. As Alex Smith himself would say, “that's cray, yo.”
Kirk Cousins (vs. DEN) – “You like that!” is something Kurt Coupons has not said this season. You know why? Because he hasn't liked “that,” or anything for that matter. He's playing on a mediocre team, behind an offensive line that may be worse than some rec league lines, with the prospect of a new non-Daniel Snyder owned team and millions (and millions and millions and millions and...you get the idea) of dollars only two games away. You think Coupons wants to eff with a suddenly not-terrible-again Broncos D? Yeah, me neither.
Devonta Freeman (@ NO) – Devonta is Deshit. Nope. Obviously you're starting Freeman in your fantasy championships if you own him, so this is more of a DFS recommendation for y'all (y'all?). Since DFS pricing usually comes out on Monday, before Devonta ran all over the Bucs, his price is way lower than it should be. As a result, he's my favorite DFS play of the week. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, Devonta is DeDFSplay. Swing and a miss, again.
Dion Lewis (vs. BUF) – Remember the good old days of never trusting a Patriots running back? Man, those were good (terrible) times. But those days are gone. They're so gone in fact, that we've been able to trust two Pats running backs on a weekly basis. However, one of those running backs got hurt (see ya, Rex) and now the little guy stands alone. Lewis has received double-digit touches nine weeks in a row as it is, and could see a season-high against the league's worst run defense on Sunday. Boom.
Jordan Howard (vs. CLE) – Look, I get it. Howard has sucked three out of the last four weeks. But to have him as the consensus #14 RB at home against the Browns is...is...outrageous. It's absurd. It's a joke. Don't fall prey to this grievous injustice (too much?). Start Howard against a Browns run defense that has been up and down over the last two months of the season.
Christian McCaffrey (vs. TB) – Yet again I have a bone to pick with “the consensus” who've deemed McCaffrey the #15 RB this week. However, they've done so in spite of a Panthers offense that seems to be clicking, with McCaffrey right at the heart of it. He's coming off an 18-touch, 136-yard, 1-touchdown performance and faces a Bucs defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs over the last month (fifth-most this season). Suck on that, consensus.
Jerick McKinnon (@ GB) – The Packers are really bad at defending running backs in the passing game. How bad, you ask? Funny you should ask, they're the worst in the league at it...handily. You know who's a running back who's good in the passing game? Yeah, you know. McKinnon had 7 catches for 114 yards last week and could do even better this week. Even. Better.
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. SEA) – Ok. I know this kind of contradicts what I said about Dak. Luckily, no one read that. Either way, it's not that I think Zeke will have a bad week, because I don't. I think he'll be solid based on volume alone. But he's the consensus ranked #3 RB this week. That's too high for a guy who may have been sitting on a beach the last six weeks for all we know. Either way, this is a case where you're starting him in seasonal leagues (if you survived without him), but I'd shy away in DFS formats, personally.
Leonard Fournette (@ SF) – This is another DFS-related sit. Fournette is expected back after missing last week's game with a quad strain, so you probably don't have better options in your fantasy championships, but I'd be nervous about trusting him past that. After sucking against RB's most of the season, the Niners have turned it around lately, big time. In fact, they've allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs over the last month and should be able to limit Fournette enough to force Bortles to have to beat them.
Carlos Hyde (vs. JAX) – Same game alert! The Jags have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to RB's over the last month and Hyde has disappointed in two of the three games Jimmy G has started. Make it three of four after the Jags are done with him aka Hyde yo kids, Hyde yo wife, but most importantly, Hyde yo Carlos Hyde.
Marshawn Lynch (@ PHI) – Speaking of disappointments, man the Eagles defense sucked ass last week. Having said that, they still stopped the run. They always stop the run. Ipso facto, Marshawn Lynch's runs will be stopped. Done and done.
Jamaal Williams (vs. MIN) – Minnesota. Vikings. Defense.
Adam Thielen (@ GB) – I've been banging on the consensus a lot today, because it's the right thing to do, but I think it's time to give them their due. I'm a fair man. I don't hold grudges. I've long been calling Thielen a top 5 WR and getting rebuffed by the consensus. Well, I'm happy to report that Thielen is the consensus ranked #4 WR this week, marking the second week in a row I haven't had to yell about his ranking. For what it's worth, you can make a strong argument he should be the #1 ranked wide receiver this week, but let's not go down that rabbit hole. Thielen is awesome and should be started in all formats from now until the end of eternity. Or the season. Whichever comes first.
Michael Crabtree (@ PHI) – Alright, let's tighten this ish up – my whole not being long-winded thing isn't working out so hot. Let's not make me a liar. Or let's not let me make myself look like a liar. My head hurts. Focus. The Eagles just got roasted by Eli Manning and four guys you've never heard of, while Crabtree was just scored a pair of touchdowns and received an eye-popping 17 targets (30 over last two weeks). #Brevity.
Mike Evans (@ CAR) – Don't get me wrong, I still hate Mike Evans. He's still the opposite of my spirit animal. But in classic a-hole fashion he's waited until I'm eliminated from the playoff to decide to stop sucking. Last week he converted 8 targets into 5 catches, 79 yards, and a tuddy. This week he faces a Panthers defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers over the last month. So, ugh, start Mike Evans.
Jarvis Landry (@ MIA) – Back to hating on the consensus – they rank Landry as the #18 WR this week despite a matchup with a Chiefs defense that has allowed the third-most points to wide receivers this season. Landry got 13 targets last week and is averaging over 10 targets per game. In other words, ranking Landry at #18 is preposterous simply based on volume alone. Yes, preposterous.
Kendall Wright (vs. CLE) – Looking for a home run play? Well guess what, I've found the Wright guy for you! See what I did there? All hilarity aside, Wright has been quietly productive the last two weeks (17 catches, 188 yards) and has led the team with 24 targets in that span. Most importantly, he's facing the Browns.
A.J. Green (vs. DET) – Look, this is another one of those “you're not sitting him in your fantasy championship but stay away from him in DFS formats” kind of guy. The reason he's not a “start across the board” kind of guy is a young man named Darius Slay. The Lions, led by Slay, have been the league's 3rd best team at shutting down opposing #1 WR's (according to Football Outsiders). So when it comes to A.J. Green, don't get slay'd, stay away.
Marvin Jones (@ CIN) – Man I'm killing it with the word play today #RhymeGame. Marvin Jones has been killing it too. Well, maybe not killing it, but he's been good for the most part. Having said that, Jones is another victim of the consensus being dumbasses. He's over-ranked as the #12 WR, despite facing a Bengals pass defense that is, at the very least, solid. For reference sake, Crabtree, Evans, and Landry are all ranked below Jones, but I'd start any of the three over him.
Robby Anderson (vs. LAC) – This actually has way less to do with Bryce Petty than it should. Don't get me wrong, Petty hurts Robby, but less than he hurts other receivers because they have chemistry, and history together from the scout team before Robby busted out and all that jazz. This is more about the Casey Heyward and the Chargers being terrific at shutting down opposing receivers. But also Bryce Petty.
T.Y. Hilton (vs. BAL) – This is more of an honorary sit than anything. No one in their right mind would start Hilton after his horrendous, embarrassing, disaster of a season. But I just wanted to take one more opportunity to call T.Y. a sit, just for old times sake.
Kyle Rudolph (@ GB) – Rudolph has five touchdowns over the last four weeks and faces a Packers defense that has yielded more tuddies to tight ends over the last month than any other team in the league. #OnlyNeededOneSentence
Jack Doyle (@ BAL) – Jack Doyle Rules! Sorry, had to. Doyle is Indy's most targeted receiver this season and faces a Ravens defense that has struggled to control tight end production. So I guess in this case, Jack Doyle does indeed rule.
Eric Ebron (@ CIN) – So let me get this straight, Ebron has sucked basically forever – then he has 10 catches one week, a touchdown the next, and all of a sudden he's a star? Is that what's happening here? Cause that's the way it seems. Well count me as one of the few not hopping on the Ebron bandwagon. For what it's worth, outside of Ebron's 10-catch, 94-yard performance two weeks ago, he's averaging 3.6 catches and 29.8 yards per game over his other 13 outings. Just sayin.
Jason Witten (vs. Seattle) – No team has allowed less fantasy to points to tight ends over the last month than Seattle. Also, Dallas sucks.
Minnesota Vikings (@ GB) – The Vikings are the #7 ranked defense according to the consensus. Like, seriously? Against Brett Hundley? You're telling me that one of the league's two best defenses is ranked #7 despite facing BRETT FREAKING HUNDLEY?!? I can't even.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. OAK) – This is 100% an attempt to motivate the Eagles' defense. Show me something, fellas. That is all.
Some guy who's playing in a dome or who's on a team with a good offense.
Any guy who doesn't qualify the above set standard for “Start.”
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Subject: NFL Picks Week 16 2017: Predictions by Football Writers
Predicting the winners of this week's NFL games.
The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for Week 16 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 15, the collective BGN Community is still in sole possession of first place. But your lead is slipping with two weeks to go!
The Philadelphia Eagles are big favorites to beat the Oakland Raiders at home on Christmas this week.
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.)
Subject: Eagles defense needs to bounce back on Christmas (and they can)
Subject: Flyers vs. Sabres preview: Let
Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Flyers get the lowly Sabres.
The two teams square off for a 7 p.m. puck drop from the KeyBank Center tonight on NBC Sports Philadelphia in the Philly area and MSG-B in the New York market.
Philadelphia has won seven of their last eight games, including a 2-1 win over these same Sabres last Thursday. The Sabres, meanwhile, have lost four of their past five and sit in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers dispatched the Red Wings, 4-3, in a back-and-forth game on Wednesday that saw a bunch of lead changes. It was a Sean Couturier third-period goal that ended up as the game-winner for the good guys. Claude Giroux stayed hot, racking up three helpers in the game and Robert Hagg’s first NHL goal provided a great moment for the rookie defenseman.
While there is top-end talent on the Sabres’ roster with the likes of Jack Eichel and Evander Kane among others, the results on the ice have not been there for this team in recent seasons. One of the areas they’ve struggled has been on the power play, where the Sabres rank 30th overall. They do have the league’s 8th-best penalty kill, and will lean on that against a hot Flyers power play.
Between the pipes the Flyers will likely again roll with Brian Elliott, who has been fantastic over his last ten starts while his backup Michal Neuvirth remains sidelined due to injury. Elliott has a 2.67 goals-against average to go along with a .912 save percentage so far this season.
Buffalo has leaned on Robin Lehner in net, and he’s posted a 2.76 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 26 games this season but has just seven wins to show for it.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Weal - Patrick - Weise
Leier - Laughton - Konecny
Provorov - MacDonald
Hagg - Gostisbehere
Sanheim - Gudas
Subject: The Philadelphia Flyers 2017 Secret Santa Extravaganza
It’s Christmas, let’s get weird.
Empathy. Introspection. The human condition. What do these things have to do with the ice blade game? Only everything, you dunce!
Unfettered skill and unmatched ability is what draws a spectator to sport, but the human element is what makes a fan. We love The Players’ Tribune because their stories offer insight into the inner machinations of the people that make up our favorite stars. Thinking of our favorite athletes as regular human beings gives us a sense of closeness to them. Jocks: they’re just like us!
“What’s the point?” I hear you scoff. I do not blame you. I was beating around the bush, and now I will get to the point.
Kurt’s Christmas present to me was this idea: a thought experiment. A very good gift indeed. I am ashamed. All I got him was a pair of socks.
This particular thought experiment will consist of me putting myself into the very big shoes of the twenty-three rostered Philadelphia Flyers as of December 20th, 2017, and imagining what these big boys with big shoes would get for each other for a locker room Secret Santa. I am going to dedicate all 3000 percent of my empathic ability to astral projecting myself into the minds of men I have never met and never will meet. (All matches were randomized.)
You know what they say: get busy gifting or get busy dying. Jumping right in…
The way I see it, Claude Giroux is kind of a goofy boy. Loves a good joke, loves to party, loves to fuck around. He’s a perfect wingman, an excellent host, and a total prankster. That all seems pretty well documented. He also seems incredibly thoughtful, though, which makes me think that Giroux would love to get his darling first line center a silly present that holds either some sentimental value or took a bit of consideration. A strong laser pointer seems like a contender. Couturier’s cats would love it, and who doesn’t love watching a cat go nuts over a little red light? A fun gift that belies the thought behind it. Perfect.
Neuvy is on injured reserve, which means two things. One, there is no God. We knew this already, but it’s nice to confirm. Two, Michal Neuvirth has time to burn. What, you think he’s just putzing around, dick in hand, waiting for his body to stop killing him and his career? No, sir. Michal Neuvirth has things to do. And it just so happens that, throughout Neuvirth’s injury-riddled life, he happened to pick up a talent for knitting. In my head, at least. Flip’s new to the team, so a comforting, cozy sweater seems like an ideal present.
The gift: A selection of craft beer
Given by: Jori Lehtera
Lehtera is also new to Philly, looking to fit in and make his new teammates like him. (I’m sure it is not hard, what with Jori Lehtera’s very, very good face.) And even if you don’t know people very well in a Secret Santa, you learn in Gift Giving 101 that alcohol is a very safe bet. Plus, imagine Jori Lehtera walking through a Total Wine, eyes glazing over at the sheer volume of selection while trying to figure out what type of beer Claude Giroux would like best. Isn’t that just the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever heard of? I know. I know!
I was delighted to see these two paired up. Absolutely, dizzyingly elated. Radko Gudas is a murder dad, and Travis Konecny is his murder son. You think Radko would even hesitate here? Like, he would google “what’s the most violent form of fighting”, see “krav maga” listed among the most deadly styles of fighting, and then would immediately go purchase a class. Fuck. This is so good. I almost wanna write him a letter to make sure this happens. Oh jeez, what if they took it together? I need this.
The gift: A ushanka
Given by: Sean Couturier
I think Sean Couturier might be just about the nicest boy in the entire world. I don’t have, like, definitive proof or anything, and I haven’t crunched the numbers on this, but ... call it mother’s intuition. A gut feeling. He’s winning the Selke this year, sure, but I’ve already bestowed upon him the most prestigious award of all: Softest Boy. As team Soft Boy, Sean Couturier would get a very sweet gift for his friend Scott, and that would be a big fuzzy hat, so that people on the internet would stop making fun of his hairline.
The gift: A bottle of wine
Given by: Taylor Leier
I don’t know much about Taylor Leier besides the fact that he is fast, handsome, and a good brother. I mean, how much is there to learn besides that? I know that he’s probably closer to the younger dudes on the team, and while not complete strangers with good ol’ Jori, probably not best buddies either. A simple, no frills gift, then: alcohol.
The gift: This picture framed
Given by: Shayne Gostisbehere
Nothing stays with me more than when Shayne Gostisbehere and Taylor Leier were called up to the NHL together, and Leier was quoted as saying that they “hugged so hard.” I legitimately can’t focus on anything besides that, so this picture? After Shayne Gostisbehere scored the overtime game winner against the Canes? And Taylor Leier hugged him so hard? And we all got to enjoy it? Sorry, this has to be the present. What a treasured memory this must be for both of them! Ah!
How serendipitous! Another father and son! Brian Elliott has a face that has seen empires rise and fall like the sun, a face that has seen the Earth conquered a dozen times and a dozen more. He has seen chaos and order, terror and joy. This is a man who has seen the world burn, who watched as a bird spread its wings and flew from the still-warm ashes, resplendent and red. To put it plainly, Brian Elliott, the watcher of the world, has seen some shit. Still truckin’, though! I don’t think it’s weird to label him as co-team dad, and even though he has only known Nolan Patrick for a couple months now, I believe he feels the paternal urge to protect said rookie. What’s more protective than socks? Everyone knows the importance of a good pair of socks.
“I heard you were really into conspiracy theories?” Travis would say, presenting the bag with red and green tissue paper overflowing at the top. “This seemed right up your alley.”
What do you get the man who has the world? This is absolutely the question that would rattle its way through the young defenseman’s mind, and is currently rattling its way through mine. I mean, something for his beautiful dogs would be a safe bet, and Robert Hagg is nothing if not safe. A couple bones, obviously. A ball or two, maybe one with the rope attached. And a frisbee, perhaps? They do call it a Flyer, after all.
The gift: A knife
Given by: Scott Laughton
You know that video of the little kid running around the pool? A concerned young woman says “let me see what you have!” And the boy raises his fist before shouting “a knife!” exuberantly? Then the video ends with the young woman yelling “no!”, angry and frustrated? For some reason, I was reminded of that video.
The gift: A six pack of Velkopopovický Kozel
Given by: Jakub Voracek
It’s hard to get past my “Wild Czech Santa Claus” characterization of Jakub Voracek. Chaotic good, through and through. I think he’d absolutely use this as an opportunity to prove that Czech beers are better and would then boast about it. I love Jake Voracek. I hope Jordan Weal likes beer.
The gift: Homemade nanaimo bars
Given by: Jordan Weal
What’s nicer than giving someone a little piece of home? Just kidding, the question was rhetorical.
The gift: Matching Christmas sweaters for Shayne, Gina, Cooper, and Pippa
Given by: Alex Lyon
Alex Lyon hasn’t seen NHL ice time yet, and maybe never will considering how Brian Elliott is trying to save me from the clutches of the devil, but that doesn’t mean he would be excluded from a fun holiday event! Alex most likely knows how important Shayne Gostisbehere is to the team and to the city, so he would feel some pressure to really knock it out of the park with his present. Family sweaters would be pretty adorable.
The gift: Boxing gloves
Given by: Wayne Simmonds
Radko Gudas got rocked by Kevin Bieksa, and I doubt that Wayne Simmonds would let him forget it. “Maybe sharpen up the skills.” And then Radko would give him a noogie. Man, I love Christmas.
The gift: A bottle of 15 year old Glenfiddich Scotch
Given by: Ivan Provorov
Ivan Provorov is a very serious young man who would give serious presents, and there is nothing more serious than scotch. What a nice boy.
The gift: A new pair of New Balances
Given by: Valtteri Filppula
Valtteri is a smart cookie, and let’s face it, Andrew MacDonald is such a dad. Guaranteed he’s been thinking about ordering a new pair of Dad Sneaks for himself off Amazon, so trust good ol’ Flip to beat him to the punch. A Christmas miracle!
I don’t think that this is what would happen in real life, but the thought of Brandon Manning being presented with a Connor McDavid jersey is enough to send me into a fit of giggles, so ... it stays.
The gift: A bottle of vodka
Given by: Brandon Manning
Brandon Manning would hear he was buying for Ivan Provorov, and he would immediately drive to the nearest liquor store to get his shopping out of the way. I doubt his thought process would extend past “he’s Russian.” And then someone would have to explain to him that Ivan Provorov isn’t of legal drinking age yet. Yet!
The gift: Dinner
Given by: Nolan Patrick
New boys, new boys, new boys! Ah, I love that these two got paired up. I love them both very much, and they are both very special to me. Young Flyers being buddies makes me happy, and I think Travis would be delighted by the offer to pay for dinner. Maybe he would demand Moshulu. You deserve the best, my boy.
The gift: Mel Brooks box set
Given by: Andrew MacDonald
Just a couple of old dudes over here. What do dads love? Well, in my experience, they love Mel Brooks movies. I’m sure Andrew wants to give Brian some laughs...which might explain some of his defense! Hah! Got him!
The gift: Waffle maker
Given by: Michael Raffl
In an attempt to seem normal while fitting in among the humans, Raffl would absolutely try to study Alex Lyon’s habits in order to get him a perfectly normal present. He would see Lyon eating waffles at a team breakfast once, immediately go to Pottery Barn, and buy the most expensive waffle maker they had (complete with the complimentary gift-wrapping, seeing as he is incapable of doing it himself) without seeing how goofy it would be for a man named Raffl to get someone a waffle maker.
The gift: Camo-printed baseball hat
Given by: Travis Konecny
Travis Konecny is not a boy who gives gifts. Travis Konecny takes gifts for his own. I’m honestly trying to picture him shopping for a present, and the picture simply will not manifest. Maybe he would wander around Cabela’s for an hour before settling on buying Neuvy the same camo baseball hat that he possesses? I’m at a loss.
Merry Christmas, friends!
Subject: No Phillie Will Wear Roy Halladay
Subject: Eagles vs. Raiders Game Preview: Five questions and answers with the enemy
Scouting the Eagles’ Week 16 matchup.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders are set to play each other this Monday at Lincoln Financial Field. In order to preview the Eagles’ Week 16 game against the Rrrrrrrrrraiders, I reached out to our enemies at Silver And Black Pride. Levi Damien took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let's take a look at the answers. (Also don't forget to check out my Q&A exchange at SABP.)
1 - After going 12-4 in 2016, the Raiders are now 6-8 and virtually eliminated from the playoffs with two games left to play. What’s wrong with this year’s team?
That's quite a question. But I'll try my best to sum it up. It's a team that was carried by it's offense last season. It didn't see any major changes/additions on defense, so when the offense stumbled, everything fell apart. They had the 26th ranked defense, but didn't add anyone in free agency, saw their top two picks miss basically the entire season with injury, and get no production from any other draft pick. They had the 6th ranked offense and changed offensive coordinators. This should be in the handbook on how to destroy a promising team.
2 - What’s the Raiders’ biggest strength at this point?
It might be odd to say this about a team that is 22nd in the league in sacks, but it's probably the pass rush. Early in the season, they were looking worse than last year, which is saying a lot considering they were the worst pass rushing team in the league with just 25 sacks. But since Ken Norton Jr was fired and John Pagano took over as the defensive play caller, Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, and Denico Autry have caught fire. They have 13.0 sacks between them over the past four games under Pagano. With the sack from NaVorro Bowman, the Raiders have half their season total (28) sacks in the past four games alone. Had they been putting up those numbers all season, they'd have the second most sacks in the league (49) right now.
3 - I noticed the Raiders’ defense ranks 32nd overall in DVOA. What are the issues there? How have teams been exploiting Oakland?
Mostly through the air. The coaches will tell you everything is connected, and there is some truth to that. They played timid early in the season. Like they were so afraid to give up the big play, they would give up everything else instead (and the big play too on occasion). They were getting dinked and dunked to death. Jay Cutler completed his first 16 passes against them. Tom Brady completed his first 12 passes. Those were consecutive games. And the team set a new record for games to start a season without an interception (10). They beat the only record by FOUR GAMES. That's when Norton was fired. Since then they have four interceptions in four games. And as mentioned above, the pass rush has come alive. It's really amazing how impotent this defense was. That's not to say it's great now -- it still has it's issues to be certain -- but at least now they are making plays and giving the offense a chance.
4 - Which one Eagles player would you steal if you could have them on the Raiders? If you were FORCED to help Philly, which best Raiders player (besides Khalil Mack) would you put on the Eagles?
Earlier in the season I would have said Mychal Kendricks. He's a Cal guy and an inside linebacker which the Raiders didn't have. But since they signed NaVorro Bowman midseason, he has shown he is the answer there. So, I'm gonna go with Fletcher Cox. Such a beast on that interior defensive line. Last season the Raiders were the worst pass rushing team from the interior defensive line. They keep hoping Mario Edwards Jr will be the answer there, but he's inconsistent and injury prone. In fact, they have selected an interior pass rushing defensive lineman on day two of their last three drafts and have failed to find the answer. With the force Khalil Mack (and at times Bruce Irvin as well) is from the outside, having someone on the inside getting pressure as well would be something.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction?
Eagles win it. That defense is for real. And it's in Philly too. In December. I expect Mack to get to Nick Foles a couple times, but Foles will still have a fairly good day. The Raiders secondary can't keep anyone down. Eagles 27, Raiders 13
Subject: Eagles release
Eagles-Raiders injury update.
The Eagles held a walk-through instead of a full practice on Friday, so note that today’s injury report is an estimation.
The good news is that no one sat out of practice entirely.
Three players were limited: starting cornerback Jalen Mills, starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski, and backup defensive end Derek Barnett. The Eagles still have one more practice left before Monday’s night game so there’s still time.
Mills seems to feel pretty good.
Jalen Mills was listed as limited on the #Eagles injury report but when asked how his ankle felt he said “good” and then jumped up and touched the top of the doorway to prove it.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) December 22, 2017
Mychal Kendricks was full go on Friday after being limited on Thursday. That’s a good sign.
Patrick Robinson and Chance Warmack were full participants for the second day in a row.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (FRIDAY)
OG Stefen Wisniewski (ankle)
CB Jalen Mills (ankle)
DE Derek Barnett (groin)
CB Patrick Robinson (concussion)
LB Mychal Kendricks (foot)
OG Chance Warmack (hamstring)
OAKLAND RAIDERS INJURY REPORT (FRIDAY)
Official Oakland Raiders injury report - check back for updates.
Subject: Flyers at Sabres lineups, start time, TV, radio, live stream and discussion
A road back-to-back stands between the Flyers and the Christmas break. They’ll play the first of those two games tonight in Buffalo.
Tonight’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be:
- Seen on TV via NBC Sports Philadelphia (or via stream on the NBC Sports App)
- Heard via radio locally on 97.5 The Fanatic
- Seen in Buffalo via MSG-B
- Seen or heard elsewhere via Sportsnet (in Canada), NHL.tv, NHL Center Ice, or Sirius XM
Projected Flyers lineup:
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Weal - Patrick - Weise
Leier - Laughton - Konecny
Provorov - MacDonald
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Sanheim - Gudas
Projected Sabres lineup (via):
NHL All-Star Zemgus Girgensons - Eichel - Reinhart
Kane - O’Reilly - Okposo
Pouliot - Josefson - Pominville
Wilson - Larsson - Nolan
Scandella - Ristolainen
McCabe - Bogosian
Gorges - Beaulieu
Subject: Sabres 4, Flyers 1: Somehow the Flyers lost to the Sabres
Yeah, I don’t even know.
And it’s Friday night hockey! Were you watching? Do you have a life? Is your life watching hockey? I know mine is. So I’m here to recap tonight’s action for you.
The Flyers kicked things off with some speed, nearly immediately swinging the puck around into the Sabres’ zone, on just the first shift. But the Sabres brought the first shot on the next shift. But it wasn’t a particularly dangerous, one, as it was blocked easily by Hagg and sent out of play.
But this would give the Sabres an offensive zone faceoff and a chance to generate some sustained pressure in the zone. A handful of shots and some effective blocking later, this pressure was managed, and both teams went off on a change.
The SEPTA key to success, courtesy of Chris Therien? Don’t do the thing you did at the start of last game. Don’t sit back on your heels. And oh, will you look at that. The game’s back on and they’re doing just that.
The Flyers swung back into the offensive zone and looked for a moment like they might turn things around. But a Hagg turnover let Kane spring from the zone on a breakaway, to be ultimately interfered with and draw a penalty shot.
And we were nervous as hell. After a bit of delay, Kane flew in on goal, went high glove, but Elliott had the answer. And still we were scoreless.
But the Flyers would go back on the attack from there, with the fourth line (I refused to call them the Honey Bees in the absence of Taylor Leier) kicking things off. Shuffling the puck around the zone and dipping low around the crease, they were able to generate some near chances, but no results. But it was the start to a collection of shifts settled in the offensive zone. So things were good for a bit there.
But that good thing was broken. And then Hagg took a hooking penalty at the 11:01 mark, and the Flyers had to go on their first penalty kill of the night.
After a bit of cycling by the Sabres, Filppula and Raffl were spring on a breakout and brought a near-goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Sabres would swing the puck back into the zone and start chipping again, leaving Elliott to make a beautiful save on Eichel’s stick side attempt. And it took just two more clears to kill off the penalty, and two more clears were had.
And on the next shift, more of Michael Raffl! Another shot and another close chance! Robbed twice and the game’s only just begun.
The game swung into a bit more back and fo-- OH MY GOD WHAT WAS THAT. IT WAS A WOO. A WOO IN BUFFALO. OH MY GOD
As I was saying, from here it was more back and forth. Both the Flyers and Sabres would pull play back into their respective offensive zone and move the puck around, generate a chance or two, before the play was broken up and sent moving in the opposite direction.
And we should extend a nod to Konecny, who was taken down along the boards in the offensive zone and was slow to get up, reaching for his face. But instead of heading off to the bench, he sped into the defensive zone where the Sabres were working to get a play going. But that play was broken up, and it was Konecny who shot into the zone on a breakaway. But, as the story of the period has gone, it was a good look, but he couldn’t capitalize.
The rest of the period was more of the same. More pressure from both sides. A few more shots. No goals. The buzzer sounds. Maybe the Flyers will do something next period.
AFTER ONE: Flyers 0, Sabres 0. Shots 16-11 in favor of Buffalo
It was not a good start to the period for the Flyers. The puck was sent into the Flyers’ zone off the opening faceoff, and the Sabres went to work. With more scrambling, the rush was ended by Elliott making yet another excellent save. Turned sideways and spinning, he somehow stopped the puck with his pad, before smothering it.
And man oh man, the Flyers could not seem to get the puck out of their own zone. It wouldn’t be until well into the third minute of the period that the Flyers were able to get even a taste of extended pressure in the offensive zone. They spent the next minute cycling the puck around the zone, but generating pressure between different lines. This push would only be broken up by Hagg drawing a hooking penalty on Kane, and the Flyers were off to their first power play attempt of the evening.
It was the second unit that got the start and kicked things off, getting a nice bit of puck movement, but no results. And it was more of the tsame from the first unit who, while able to generate some shots and good looks, couldn’t get it done. And it was back to five on five.
And things got so bad from there! The Sabres immediately got to work in the Flyers’ zone, and Elliott had to make not one or two but four saves on that shift in quick succession before the puck was iced and they got a bit of a breather.
Yo, Brian Elliott pic.twitter.com/v8B7gMTmpx— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 23, 2017
But the Flyers would get another power play chance! After Couturier, on a breakaway drew a holding penalty, the Flyers were back at it on the man advantage.
So, good things are coming, right? Well, not exactly. With even less pressure brought on this one, the Sabres were able to collect the puck and keep it cleared with relative ease.
And what a surprise! From there we spent more time in the Flyers’ offensive zone. The fourth line was able to spring the puck from the zone, while Laughton drove in on goal for a chance, but was dumped, and back the Sabres went into their own offensive zone.
With little happening, Hakstol opted to shuffle the lines a bit, hoping to spark something. In the spirit of the season, the Gingerbeard Line was reassembled, to frontload their biggest weapons. But oh, oh, would you look at that. Simmonds is back with Giroux and Couturier. Well, it was nice while it lasted.
AND THE KIDS WITH A GREAT PLAY. Patrick broke out of the zone and flew right in on Lehner. He tried to go five hole, and was blocked, but Sanheim was right there to collect the rebound. The puck was spinning too much to control, and the puck just missed the net. But, boy, was that a pretty chance.
Nolan Patrick with an amazing scoring chance, the hands on this guy are pretty darn good! pic.twitter.com/we052fuPvi— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 23, 2017
And it did well to spark something for the Flyers. On the next shift, Travis to Travis, Sanheim was able to get another good shot on goal.
Inside the last two minutes of the period, the Flyers would get into trouble again, as the Sabres once again got them hemmed into the defensive zone. A long shift left them tired and scrambling, but Elliott came up big for them, as he had all night.
AFTER TWO: Flyers 0, Sabres 0.
Were you expecting something new and fresh from the third period? The Flyers would storm out of the tunnel and just absolutely dominate? The light in our eyes would return? Yeah, no. The Flyers were promptly hemmed back into their own zone.
And the hits kept on coming. The Sabres opened up scoring early in the third after a familiar bit of sustained pressure in the zone. Cycling, O’Reilly dipped below the red line and banked the puck in off Elliott who let it leak in.
But the Flyers would get a chance to tie things up, as Voracek drew a holding call on Reinhart. The Flyers went to work moving the puck around the zone, but couldn’t seem to get much going.
But another gift! With 41 seconds left on the power play, the Sabres took a delay of game penalty and sent the Flyers on the 5 on 3. They went passive on that shift, and couldn’t get it done. And with Buffalo back on the 4 on 5 kill, they were able to manage the Flyers well. No goal. Penalty killed. Things are still bad, and getting worse.
After a hot second at even strength, Laughton took a high sticking penalty, and the Flyers were down a man. But the start of the penalty kill didn’t look too bad. Simmonds and Couturier were able to spring out of the zone for a breakout, but their shot was denied. From there they moved back into the defensive zone. The Sabres got moving, but couldn’t convert. They nearly did, after a MacDonald turnover right in front of the net, but the Flyers were able to get possession back, and kill off the rest of the penalty.
Oh, but you think the Sabres need a power play to score another goal? You’d be wrong. Just after the penalty expired, the Sabres got set up again in their offensive zone, and, with a blast from the blue line tipped in by Kane, Buffalo extended their lead to two.
But we saw the Flyers getting a bit more aggressive, from there. They were able to generate some extended pressure of their own, and brought a few good looks, before drawing yet another penalty, this time a “closing the hand around the puck” delay of game.
The second unit again got the start, working to get something started. But the one man advantage wasn’t enough. With the power play ticking down to the last minute, the Flyers pulled Elliott for the two man advantage. And after a rough start, they were able to get some activity going in front of the net. And, picking up the rebound, Raffl drove it home.
And with just under two minutes left on the clock, the Flyers took the faceoff win and pulled Elliott again, to put them on the man advantage. But a lost faceoff would give the puck to Eichel, who sent it down for the empty netter.
And more activity! With a one time blast from Gostisbehere on a screened Lehner brought the game back within one, injecting some more life into the team and once again reminding us that even as things are bad, Gostisbehere is an absolute treasure.
But the joy was short lived. The Flyers pulled Elliott for the last shift and couldn’t keep the puck in play. Eichel picked it up for his second empty netter of the night with under a second left in regulation. And then it was all over.
That’s all she wrote. And that’s all we’ve got.
FINAL: Sabres 4, Flyers 2
Subject: The worst Christmas gifts for Eagles fans
These are worse than coal
Need to find a last minute gift for an Eagles fan in your life? Well, I can’t tell you what you should get, but I can help you with what not to get, which is just as important. Here are this year’s worst Eagles gifts, in no particular order.
The Denny Ukulele is the Official Ukulele of the NFL™. $88.99 might seem steep for product with no obvious use, but it also comes with a case! The only seemingly decent use one could have for this would be to add a layer to a rendition of the Eagles fight song at a tailgate, but then that person will be “ukulele guy.” Don’t have your friend or loved one be Ukulele Guy or Gal.
This is terrifying. Not because it looks scary, but because it is hideous. The face looks like it was molded from Lou Ferrigno after he stubbed his toe. What are you going to do with this? Wear it around the neighborhood? Apparently 191 people gave this a 5 star review.
This is insulting. An Eagles-Steelers couple is not a house divided. I know this first hand, my wife is a Steelers fan.And I have friends with a similar situation, she’s an Eagles fan, her husband is a Steelers fan. It’s not a rivalry, they’re not division rivals, or even conference rivals. In the past 30 years, they’ve played each other 9 times. Nine. During World War II they even merged to form one team to help keep the NFL going. If there’s an Eagles-Steelers house that’s divided, it ain’t because of the football.
Ten years ago this might have been funny.
This one is topical(ish, Darth Vader died three episodes ago) and terrible. It doesn’t make any sense. Yes, it’s a generic template and they have one for every team. But there isn’t much of an audience for this, because nobody underestimates the Eagles, and that goes double for Eagles fans. No other fanbase can reach the depths of self deprecation that Eagles fans can. It’s a badge of honor, and this flag is a badge of shame.
Yeah, steak knives.
Sometimes a gift card isn’t a bad choice.
Subject: NFL Draft Watch: Saturday College Football Bowl Preview
Bowl Season is on its way and with three post season match-ups today; here are the draft prospects whom you should be looking for...
Birmingham Bowl, Texas Tech v. South Florida, 12 PM ET on ESPN
- Deatrick Nichols, Cornerback, South Florida: Despite being a smaller cornerback, Deatrick Nichols has been a player maker and leader on the Bulls defense for a few years now. The senior cornerback has forced 14 turnovers in the last three seasons, including 11 interceptions, and his big play skill set will come in handy today against a high powered Texas Tech offense.
- Bruce Hector, Defensive Tackle, South Florida: Bruce Hector is on of the key pieces in the South Florida front. The 6’2”, 296 pound defender has a good first step and a high motor to generate disruption in the opponents backfield. In his last collegiate game; that motor will need to run hot to create pressure on Texas Tech’s passing game.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, San Diego State v. Army, 3:30 PM ET on ESPN
- Rashaad Penny, Running Back, San Diego State: The nation’s leading rusher takes the field today for the last time in Aztec uniform. The 5’11”, 220 pound rusher has over 2,000 rushing yards this season with 19 touchdowns on the ground, two through the air and three more as a returner. He is a tough, athletic back who can score from anywhere on the field. He is truly among the best draft eligible backs in the country. A big performance today should leave a mark in a lot of people’s minds as he begins his offseason climb up draft boards.
- Kameron Kelly, Defensive Back, San Diego State: With time spent at cornerback and safety; teams will be interested in Kameron Kelly’s versatility as a defender. The 6’2”, 200 pounder has great size, ball skills and has a lot of experience. While Kelly is not a top prospect; he is a guy who could get some run as a mid round sleeper.
Dollar General Bowl, Appalachian State v. Toledo, 7 PM on ESPN
- Tee Sims, Defensive Lineman, Appalachian State: Appalachian State has been enjoying a nice stint in the FBS and their 8 win season can be attributed to some very strong defensive play. Tee Sims is a senior leader on the Mountaineers defense and plays a huge part in the unit’s success. The 6’3”, 260 pound pass rusher has a hot motor and great playing strength. While he is not an elite athlete; teams will be enamored with the level of effort he gives on the field and what he does in run defense. Toledo has a dangerous offense and Sims needs a strong game to give Appalachian State a shot at the win.