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[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 06:12:48 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Rumors: Bill Belichick coming to the NFC East?

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Yikes

Following ESPN’s thorough report on the New England Patriots’ dysfunction, speculation emerged that Bill Belichick could actually leave the organization after this season. And now there’s talk he could be going from the AFC East to the NFC East.

“I’m sure Bill knows this is his last chance to be the Giants coach,” a source close to Belichick said Friday. “Bill sees an opening — an opening to get to the Giants.”

The source has not spoken to Belichick since the story came out, but is very familiar with The Hoodie’s desire to coach the Giants.

The source also said he’s not certain if the reported friction and tension in New England will prompt Belichick to force his way out, but if he does, he said he is certain, “The Giants are the only place he wants to be.”

“He wants to be the Giants coach. I know that for a fact,” the source said. “That would be pretty cool. My guess is if he wants out, the Giants already know. He would be great with Gettleman. Bill is a football guy. Gettleman is a football guy.”

Yikes! Belichick to the Giants would, uh, certainly not be great news for the Philadelphia Eagles, or the rest of the division for that matter.

The bad news is that it’s not totally far-fetched from the Giants’ side. They love hiring people who have experience with the organization and Belichick coached in New York from 1979-1990. During his time with the Patriots, he helped the G-Men win two Super Bowls when they really had no business doing so.

Belichick might try to force his way out of New England, but that doesn’t mean the Patriots have to just let him go. I can’t imagine the Pats would just let the best coach of all time walk out the door so easily.

For the Eagles’ sake, hopefully Belichick doesn’t come to the Giants. Please, feel free to take Jim Schwartz instead. Preferably don’t take him, either, but if it comes down to those two, well, bye Jim.

Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how the Giants’ head coaching search progresses.





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 05:47:43 EST from rss

Subject: Donovan McNabb fired by ESPN

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Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been fired by ESPN following sexual harassment allegations that were brought to light last month, according to SportsBusiness.

ESPN cut ties with Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis following a monthlong investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at another network. Last month, ESPN suspended the two former NFLers from appearing on air after they were named in a lawsuit filed by a wardrobe stylist at NFL Net. In the lawsuit, McNabb was accused of sending inappropriate text messages, while Davis was accused of rubbing his body against the woman and engaging in lewd talk.

This firing marks the second time McNabb has been forced out of a media job in his post-playing career. McNabb resigned from Fox Sports in 2015 after being arrested for his second DUI in a two-year span.

McNabb, one of the most prolific players in Eagles franchise history, wasn’t known for having off-the-field troubles while serving as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback. But No. 5 has clearly been involved with some issues in retirement. Such incidents have jeopardized his media career.





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 05:27:53 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Against the Spread 2018: Wild Card Playoff Games

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Here are some suggestions when trying to beat the odds.

Before the Wild Card round of the 2018 NFL playoffs kicks off, let’s have some fun by taking a look at the spreads for today’s games. (Click here for Wild Card picks without regard to the spread.)

Here are suggestions when trying to beat the odds. You can find all of today’s NFL betting lines and more via SB Nation. My regular season record finished at 111-101-9. Let’s get to the picks.

Wild Card Games

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9): The Titans aren’t a good team. Tennessee ranks 18th overall in DVOA and 16th in point differential. Mike Mularkey is on the hot seat despite making the post-season, and rightfully so. Marcus Mariota hasn’t made progress in the his development. If anything, he’s gone backwards. So yeah, the Titans, they’re just not good enough to take on the road here. The Chiefs went through a rough patch earlier this season but Andy Reid has his team back on track. Kansas City should be able to take care of business at home. PICK: Chiefs -9

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-6): This line opened with the Rams as 5.5 points and hasn’t shifted much since then. The sense is that the Falcons have a chance to pull off the upset, or at least cover. Los Angeles isn’t really a tough place to play compared to other playoff environments. Make no mistake, the Rams are a very good team. I also think Atlanta is arguably the least threatening team to the Eagles in the NFC playoffs. But again, I think there’s upset potential here, so taking the points is tempting. I believe in Sean McVay, Todd Gurley, and Wade Phillips. Jared Goff really isn’t scaring me still, though. PICK: Falcons +6

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9): The Bills are in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Congrats, Buffalo. Your reward is that you’re nine point underdogs on the road to a team quarterbacked by Blake Bortles! Speaking of Bortles, he’s the reason why I’m leaning taking the points here. You just can’t rule out an awful performance from him. I don’t think Buffalo wins this matchup, but I do think they could keep it to a one-possession game. It’d be pretty weak if the Bills went down easily in their first post-season game in forever. PICK: Bills +9

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7): The Saints beat the Panthers twice in 2017: 34-13 in Week 3 and 31-21 in Week 13. Those weren’t fluky wins, either. The Saints looked like the better team for the entire game. New Orleans isn’t flawless but they’re very clearly a legitimate team. The Panthers, meanwhile, have some fraud vibes to them. I’m not saying they’re going to get blown out, but I have no confidence picking them on the road. I like New Orleans to cover and win here. PICK: Saints -7





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 04:54:58 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Jay Ajayi says he

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/6/18.

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

Will Eagles ride Ajayi? He’s ready to ‘punish people’ - NBC Sports Philadelphia
The highest number of carries Ajayi has had with the Eagles came in Los Angeles, when he carried the ball 15 times against the Rams. But if the Eagles want more out of him in the playoffs, he’s ready to deliver. ”It’s not something I haven’t done before so I’m excited to embrace that role if that’s what ends up happening this postseason,” he said. “Just being ready for it. It’s something I’ve done before. Just getting my mind right for war. Getting ready for these next couple games and just be physical and punish people.” Thanks to the Eagles’ running back rotation and his lessened workload, Ajayi said he feels really good heading into these playoffs. He’s had 55 fewer touches this year than last.

Report: Texans interested in Eagles executive Joe Douglas for general manager job - BGN
The Houston Texans are interested in Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas for their general manager vacancy, according to a report from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Houston has a vacancy at the position since current Texans executive vice president of football operations and general manager Rick Smith is taking an extended leave of absence as his wife battles cancer.

Eagles sacks-allowed tally: 2017 - PhillyVoice
There was a very clear dropoff in play from Peters and/or Johnson to Halapoulivaati Vaitai, which is to be expected. Still, Vaitai’s five sacks-allowed were generally very ugly, as in, there was no gray area. He simply got smoked by the edge rusher across from him. Going forward, the Eagles should view Vaitai as a swing tackle only, though an effective one, but they should not feel confident that he is a long-term answer as a starter, in my view.

Big Honor for the Big Boys - Iggles Blitz
Carson Wentz gets most of the attention, but the Eagles don’t win 13 games and score eleventy billion points without the Big Sexies doing a good job up front. Today, a couple of them got the recognition they deserved.

Eagles’ best- and worst-case scenarios for divisional round - ESPN
The best possible outcome for the Eagles is to lock talons with the reigning conference champs. That says plenty about the potency of this NFC field. Atlanta appeared to be battling a Super Bowl hangover for much of the year but won six of eight down the stretch to secure the sixth and final playoff spot, beating the likes of the Seattle Seahawks, Saints and Panthers over that span. So they’re coming in pretty hot. That doesn’t necessarily apply to quarterback Matt Ryan. He was just OK statistically over the last quarter of the season (59 percent completion rate, four TDs, four INTs) but finished sixth on the year in passing yards with 4,095. Atlanta experienced a big scoring dip this year, averaging 22 points per game compared to 34 PPG in 2016. Star receiver Julio Jones (ankle/ribs) and running back Devonta Freeman (knee) enter Saturday’s game banged up.

A To-Do List For Offensive Success - PE.com
More offense? Yes, the Eagles need it when the playoffs begin next Saturday and they need it from all 11 players on the field and from the coaching staff calling the plays and making adjustments to the game plan. Here is a to-do list for the Eagles to get the offense where it needs to be to win in the postseason …

Several Philadelphia Eagles say they’ll watch wildcard games but will wait to start studying - PennLive
“The way we work everyday and the way we are wired, we can’t watch a game for only entertainment value,” Allen said. “You know so many of the schemes and the plays, you know the players on both teams. So we’re not going to be doing film study or anything, but you’re always thinking about it.”

Can Eagles win a playoff game without scoring many points? It isn’t easy, but … - Inquirer
But the real bottom line is that Foles and the offense, which totaled just 10 points in the last five quarters he played, probably have to put some significant points on the board to win. In the previous 10 seasons, of the 70 games played in the divisional round and beyond, only four were won by teams that scored fewer than 20 points. Even if you include the wild-card rounds, which are more apt to contain a pretender or two, it has happened only nine times in the 110 postseason games over that span. That’s a fairly consistent mandate to score at least 20 points, and the Eagles know it. In all likelihood, their ability to advance to the conference championship game will depend on the ability of Foles to create and convert scoring opportunities.

Eagles Q&A with Joe Banner: On headhunting firms, interviewing Andy Reid and a Super Bowl prediction - The Athletic
He wore a suit and he was very, very serious, although you could tell there was a dry sense of humor in there. But he was very, very serious. He came in as the very determined, fighting to win Andy Reid that those of us that know him well see as the essence of him. The story’s well known. The most impressive thing from Andy’s interview was he came in with this notebook at least 6 inches thick that he wouldn’t leave with us but he shared with us. It had sections on everything he had done and learned and written down in what he had been doing for 10 years to prepare for the day that he’d become a head coach. He had never thought of himself as anything but a head coach and even preparing and documenting almost a diary. He had notes from like Mike Holmgren’s opening speech to the team the first day of training camp in this book. By far the most impressive thing in the book was he had every single position coach, from quality control through his coordinators and strength and conditioning coaches, he had graded from one to 10 who he thought were the top coaches at every one of these positions in the country.

The more critics doubt Eagles’ chances, the more players believe in themselves - Delaware Online
“It’s just about us in this room, our team,” rookie defensive end Derek Barnett said. “I don’t think we’re too concerned with what we’re hearing from outsiders because what’s going on in here is what matters. That’s what we’re focused on.” “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the outside world thinks,” running back Jay Ajayi said. “When you’re on a team, it’s a bubble. We believe what we have in this team. ”Obviously the media comes out with the storylines and everything about what’s going on. We don’t buy into that. We believe in what we have. We understand what’s in front of us and we’re in a great position to go achieve our goals. Other teams are at home right now. We’re ready to go get it done next week.”

All-Pro voting has some clues about MVP - PFT
First, cross Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz off the list. Though he finished with more touchdown passes than Tom Brady, and despite the fact that Wentz’s value was highlighted by his absence from his team’s last three games, Brady got 47 of the All-Pro votes at quarterback. Wentz got two.

SB Nation’s 2018 NFL Playoff Guide - SB Nation
Check out this cool playoff bracket and preview info.

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[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 10:00:07 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Blues preview: Goulbourne looks to bring energy in NHL debut

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The 2013 third-round pick is finally set to make his NHL debut for the Flyers.

The Flyers look to build off their 6-4 win over the Islanders on Thursday night with another win before their upcoming bye, a five-day stretch without games.

But before their bye, the Flyers must face back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday with the Central Division leading Blues first up for a matinee at the Wells Fargo Center.

The two teams will finish their season series after the Flyers took the first game, a 2-0 shutout, in St. Louis back on Nov. 2. Brandon Manning and Claude Giroux scored goals for the Flyers in that one while Michal Neuvirth stopped all 33 Blues shots in the win.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol would love another result like that, but the Blues are hot and winners of three-straight following a stretch that saw them lose five of six games from Dec. 17 through Dec. 29.

While Mike Yeo’s team has picked it back up in their past three games, they haven’t scored a power play goal in seven games (0-17), which is good news for the Flyers’ 29th-ranked penalty kill. Something’s gotta give as the Flyers have seen both the Penguins (2-2) and Islanders (1-1) take advantage of their power plays to start the new year.

Getting things done for the visitors are some familiar names: Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko. Schenn, who made a living off power play tallies in Philadelphia, has just four of his 17 goals on the man-advantage this season. He’s clearly benefiting from playing even strength minutes with Tarasenko, who’s one of the best players in the league and is having another fine season once again (17G, 22A).

But where the Blues really excel is goal prevention, where they’re third in the league allowing just 2.44 goals-against per game. They’re tied for fourth in team save percentage and shots allowed at 30 per game. Goalies Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have been very good for St. Louis.

It wasn’t easy scoring on Jake Allen last time around for the Flyers, who managed just one goal in their last matchup before notching a second goal with Allen on the bench for an extra attacker late. Up for the challenge is a red-hot Flyers power play coming off a three power play goal game against the Islanders. The Blues will need to slow down Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, who each have seven points in their last five games.

Looking for a boost in the energy department, the Flyers recalled Tyrell Goulbourne from the Phantoms, but a frozen toilet on a flight from Toronto prevented him from making his debut on Thursday. Per Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post, he’ll make his Flyers debut Saturday on Dave Hakstol’s fourth line.

In goal, the Flyers could turn to Brian Elliott for a 16th-straight start, he’s is 4-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in his career against his former team. While his workload has gotten a bit crazy lately, he’ll give way to Michal Neuvirth on Sunday and will have that five-day break as well.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Raffl - Filppula - Voracek

Weal - Patrick - Simmonds

Lehtera - Laughton - Goulbourne

Defense

Provorov - Gostisbehere

Hagg - MacDonald

Manning - Gudas

Goalie

Elliott

(Neuvirth)





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 11:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Checking out the competition: St. Louis Blues with Trevor Kraus

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We talk about something besides Brayden Schenn, swearsies.

Kelly is joined by Trevor Kraus of the St. Louis Game Time publication to have a nice little chat about the upcoming meeting between the St. Louis Blues and our Philadelphia Flyers. Topics include:

  • How to switch Jori Lehtera into “hockey mode”
  • The magic of Vladimir Tarasenko
  • How much we all love Brian Elliott
  • The difference between St. Louis fans, who love their useless fourth line role players, and Flyers fans, who want them all to go away

We’ve got an afternoon start today; puck will drop at 1PM on the NBC Sports Philly network and on 97.5FM on your radios. Let’s go Flyers!





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 11:59:01 EST from rss

Subject: Previewing the NFL Wild Card playoff games

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Listen to BGN Radio on SportsRadioWIP!

BGN Radio, our site's podcast, will be streaming live on SportsRadio 94WIP this afternoon (Saturday, January 6) from 1:00 - 4:00 PM ET. (Click here to listen to us) We’ll be talking about the Philadelphia Eagles and taking your calls! Join the conversation by dialing 888.729.9494. Tweet at us on Twitter: @BGN_Radio.

John Barchard, James Seltzer, and Brandon Lee Gowton (that’s me) will be broadcasting live from the Tastykake Studios to talk about the Wild Card games, who you should want the Eagles to play in the divisional round, Nick Foles, Joe Douglas, Jim Schwartz, John DeFilippo, NFL picks, and much more.

Listen to the WIP show via online stream by [CLICKING HERE] or turning your radio to 94.1 FM. Listen on your phone by downloading the brand new Radio.com app.

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[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 12:00:03 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Blues lineups, start time, TV, radio, live stream and discussion

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The Flyers’ pre-bye week back-to-back starts with a home game against one of the best teams in the West, as Tyrell Goulbourne likely makes his NHL debut.

Today’s game begins at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be:

  • Seen on TV locally via NBC Sports Philadelphia (or via stream on the NBC Sports App)
  • Heard via radio locally on 97.5 The Fanatic
  • Seen in St. Louis via Fox Sports Midwest
  • Seen or heard elsewhere via Sportsnet (in Canada), NHL.tv, NHL Center Ice, or Sirius XM

Projected Flyers lineup:

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Raffl - Filppula - Voracek

Weal - Patrick - Simmonds

Lehtera - Laughton - Goulbourne

Defensemen

Provorov - Gostisbehere

Hagg - MacDonald

Manning - Gudas

Goalies

Elliott

(Neuvirth)

Projected Blues lineup (via):

Forwards

Sobotka - Stastny - Thompson

Upshall - Schenn - Tarasenko

Berglund - Brodziak - Steen

Jaskin - Barbashev - Paajarvi

Defense

Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo

Edmundson - Parayko

Gunnarsson - Bortuzzo

Goalies

Allen

(Hutton)





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 12:40:32 EST from rss

Subject: Wildcard Weekend: Four Saturday For Sures

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*determinedly ignoring the impending end of 2017-2018 NFL football*

Happy Wildcard Weekend, sports fans!

Despite no Philly football this weekend, I’m still here to peer into my crystal ball and predict the future with shockingly, mystically, impossibly average accuracy.

Though I am the regular-season champion among BGN writers for straight-up picks this season, so maybe this go-round will be more successful than predictions of the past. (Never mind that the BGN Community beat everyone in straight-up picks; that’s not important.)

Let’s get it kickin’. (All point spread from Top Bet.)

Saturday (1/6), 4:45 EST, ESPN/ABC — Tennessee v. Kansas City (-9)

Fun fact for you, kiddos: if your coach is on the hot seat, relative to his team’s performance in a playoff game...you never should have made it to the playoffs in the first place.

It’s widely recognized that Mularkey runs a prehistoric offense that fails to capitalize, not only on young QB Marcus Mariota’s athleticism and accuracy on the run, but on his two big RBs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, and the stretch abilities of his TE Delanie Walker. It was Walker who said, last week, re: Marcus Mariota’s play, “Sometimes you gotta overcome coaching.”

In short, I think the team—and fans—want Mularkey gone, so they should likely root against the Titans today? Weird stuff.

Either way, Andy Reid’s path to bungling the eventual championship game just got a whole lot easier. I like the Chiefs, 23 - 13.

Saturday (1/6), 8:15 EST, NBC — Atlanta (+5.5) v. Los Angeles

This is the best game of the week, in my opinion—and I’m sure in the opinions of many others as well. A lot has been made of Sean McVay, whiz kid coach for the LA Rams—but coaching in a playoff game is a different beast entirely, and I think Atlanta has a nice match-up coming against Los Angeles.

Atlanta has won six of their last eight contests—the two losses coming at home to Minnesota (#2 seed) and on the road in New Orleans (#3 seed). It’s worth noting that, during that stretch, they also beat New Orleans at home, Seattle on the road (which ended up being huge for playoff seeding), and fended off Carolina (#6 seed) in Week 17 to ensure their playoff berth.

Atlanta’s been playing some good, tough football. And I know I picked LA in the BGN Wild Card picks...but I’m here to make an eleventh-hour switch.

Remember, we’re only 1 year removed from what should-a been, could-a been, would-a been a Super Bowl-winning season for the Atlanta Falcons. They have a defense that can really fly, which will help suffocate the spacing on which McVay’s offense is predicated, and they benefit from a marked advantage in playoff experience.

The Rams’ greatest hope rests in the Wade Phillips-led defense—but that squad has incurred some injuries and weakened against the pass as of late. I expect a shoot-out, and in a shoot-out, give me the QB I trust more in late-game situations. That’s Matty Ice. Falcons, 34-31.

*Ben Solak, Bleeding Green Nation, and all affiliates are not responsible for any predictions if Aaron Donald says “Screw this” and goes Super Saiyan

Sunday (1/7), 1:05 EST, CBS — Buffalo v. Jacksonville (-8.5)

God bless you, were you fortunate enough to be with a Bills fan during the afternoon slate on New Year’s Eve. A holiday predicated on renewal can only become all the more magical when a 17-year playoff drought is snapped.

I was not so fortunate—I was with a good buddy, who was proudly wearing the white Joe Flacco jersey without which he never wakes up on Sunday morning.

I want to believe in Buffalo—so, so, oh so badly. And I’ll tell you this—put them up against any of the other 4 AFC playoff teams—aye, even the Pats and Steelers—and I think Buffalo would put up a four-quarter fight for the ages.

I just can’t see it against Jacksonville.

Obviously, the limited health—even if he does play—of RB LeSean McCoy plays a big factor, no matter the opponent. But as Jacksonville is the toughest team in the AFC on which to throw the football, McCoy’s gimpiness and potential absence look all the more glaring. I, for one, do not want rookie Zay Jones and the meniscus-less Kelvin Benjamin trying to separate against A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.

This also comes down to narrative. No storyline could stand to Buffalo’s triumphant return after an apparent exodus of talent and bungled QB situation—but Jacksonville’s comes pretty close. A defense that perennially underachieved finally looks ravenous; a revamped commitment to running the football protects QB Blake Bortles; also, swagger out the wazoo.

I want Buffalo to win—I just think Jacksonville is the worst possible opponent. Jags, 27-10.

Sunday (1/7) 4:40 EST, FOX — Carolina (+7) v. New Orleans

Though I called Rams/Falcons the game of the weekend, I think Carolina and New Orleans is still a sneaky good match-up. I know Carolina is sorely lacking in weapons at WR, and that their defense can be a little, shall we say, touch-and-go. To me, it boils down to this:

It’s very hard to beat a team three times in one season (New Orleans has already beaten Carolina twice).

Firstly: these two teams know each other—they’re divisional rivals, and that familiarity always makes games closer than they should be. Despite all of their injuries, Carolina will have WR Devin Funchess and G Trai Turner for the match-up, which are two big boosts for a struggling offense.

The battle to watch, however, comes on the other side of the ball for me: having 8 full quarters of game tape on New Orleans’ offense against their defense, I expect DC Steve Wilks and HC Ron Rivera to come out on Sunday with enough adjustments to really make this New Orleans offense work. Unlike the Saints of yore, this team wants to get an early lead, then step on your throats in the running game—Carolina has invested enough in the defensive front-seven that they simply must turn in a better performance in the box (297 rush yards allowed across 2 games v. New Orleans).

Win on the ground; put the ball in Drew Brees’ hands; make this an aerial battle. Again, I’m taking the QB I trust more in that situation—Brees—but I think this’ll still be tight.

27-23, NOLA.

Divisional Round:

Atlanta v. Philadelphia

Kansas City v. New England

Jacksonville v. Pittsburgh

New Orleans v. Minnesota





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 15:51:29 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers 6, Blues 3: Strong first two periods push orange and black to big win at home

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The Flyers stormed out of the gate and powered their way to a win with their second straight impressive offensive performance.

We reached the halfway point of the Flyers’ season this afternoon, and say what you will about it, but this sure does seem like a team that saves its best performances for good teams. (Which is probably why they played poorly last Tuesday against the Penguins, am I right?)

A game that featured Tyrell Goulbourne’s NHL debut saw the Flyers get out to a scorching-hot start (in no small part thanks to an outstanding first shift by Goulbourne), and the big guns would take over from there, pushing the Flyers to six goals for the second straight game en route to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

Sean Couturier would tally two goals (one an empty netter), setting a career-high in points in the process. Scott Laughton, Claude Giroux, Jordan Weal, and Wayne Simmonds would also score for the Flyers. Brian Elliott, up against his old team and playing in his 16th consecutive game, stopped 28 out of 31 shots against his old pals.

Re-live the magic with us below as I react minute-by-minute to today’s win.


12:52 p.m.: So I’ve been on vacation for the past week and a half and I saw about four minutes of Flyers hockey during that time. I followed along while I was gone (like vacation stops me from checking Twitter 83 times an hour lol), but I gather that in the past nine days, the Flyers split four games. During that time, it would appear that they laid an egg against Pittsburgh, lost to a bad Florida team AND beat the best team in hockey both within just over 24 hours, called up Tyrell Goulbourne for some reason or another, didn’t have Tyrell Goulbourne make his debut because a toilet on an airplane was broken, and have played Brian Elliott a lot.

Business as usual, then! And now they’ll face off with another one of the best teams in hockey. Good times.

12:58 p.m.: Goulbourne does NOT get the start in his first-ever NHL game, as we’ll get the top line and top pairing alongside Elliott in what is, I believe, his 462nd consecutive start.

1:03 p.m.: I’m not sure if you knew this, but Brayden Schenn used to play for the Flyers. Did you know that? A lot of people don’t know this. Anywho, Brayden Schenn (who used to play for the Flyers) (in case you didn’t know that) will start for the Blues.

1:09 p.m.: Goulbourne is wearing number 56. I’m OK with it! Also, we’re underway. Also also, Giroux sends Schenn to the ice

1:11 p.m.: Gotta say, I dig Jake Allen’s pads.

1:12 p.m.: lmaooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TYRELL GOULBOURNE MESSES UP TWO BLUES ON HIS FIRST NHL SHIFT AND SCOTT LAUGHTON DEPOSITS THE PUCK INTO THE NET IT’S 1-0 FLYERS

1:14 p.m.: Awesome. Also, not to be lost in all of this is a very nice shot by Laughton. Seems like he’s been up to some good things lately.

1:17 p.m.: Jim Jackson mentioning how many guys involved in this game have played for both teams here. Schenn, Elliott, Jori Lehtera, Scottie Upshall, Craig Berube. Sharing is power.

1:19 p.m.: Them’s the breaks! An attempt at a pass by Giroux on a 2-on-1 bounces off of a prone Colton Parayko’s butt and past Jake Allen. 2-0 Flyers and we’re not even at the first commercial break. This seems good.

1:23 p.m.: The Blues finally get (I think? their first shot on goal as a long pass to Schenn leads to a close chance in front. Another, longer shot a few seconds later is held by Elliott and we’re at the first break of the game about halfway through the period. Flyers got the first seven shots of the game before those two by St. Louis. Quite a start.

1:24 p.m.: Here’s that second goal. Feel free to make your favorite butt joke here.

1:27 p.m.: The Blues get the puck in their own zone aaaaaaand play is whistled dead as Wayne Simmonds is hurt back behind the play. I’d very much prefer he not be hurt. We’ll see what that was after the break.

1:29 p.m.: The Flyers did, indeed, air a Brayden Schenn tribute during the last TV timeout. That’s nice. (He used to play for the Flyers, in case you forgot.)

1:30 p.m.: Turns out Simmonds’ boo-boo was on his face, due to a high stick by Vladimir Sobotka. But he is OK, and the Flyers will head to the power play for the first time this afternoon. Can live with it!

1:32 p.m.: No goals on the PP. First and second units both had some pressure, and they held the puck in the zone for probably about 30 seconds after the PP ended. Just a lot to like from this first period.

1:35 p.m.: So Brandon Manning joined the second power play at some point while I was on vacation, it appears. JJ out here on the broadcast saying that it has something to do with a “shooting mentality”, which the beats are also saying. If you’re going to scratch Travis Sanheim (which, why?) and want someone who’s going to just fire the god damn puck, why not just put Gudas back there? No one loves to shoot the puck more than he does.

1:37 p.m.: Good shift for the Blues off of the faceoff coming out of the commercial break. That’s maybe ... the second good shift of the period for the Blues? That’s a fine ratio.

1:41 p.m.: Rebound on a point shot leads to Lehtera, of all people, getting interfered with in front of the net, and the Flyers will head to the power play. Come on, guys. You played with Jori Lehtera for three years. You know he’s not scoring there.

1:45 p.m.: That was a wholly uninteresting power play by the Flyers that is now over, as is the QUITE interesting first period. 2-0 Flyers after 20 minutes. Lots to like.

1:51 p.m.: Shot attempts that period were 24-13 Flyers overall, 19-12 Flyers at 5-on-5. Scoring chances were 12-4 Flyers overall, 9-4 at 5-on-5.

2:02 p.m.: Second period is underway.

2:07 p.m.: Flyers doing a fair bit of defending early on, but they get the best chance of its early minutes as Voracek and Filppula get a 2-on-1. Perfect pass by Voracek as he attempts to pad his league lead in assists, but Allen gets over in time to stop Filppula’s shot.

2:11 p.m.: Blues are definitely off to a better start than they were in the first. Flyers get a bit lucky when they can’t keep a puck in the blue line after some pressure, and the Flyers turn around and get a chance of their own. Still no score in the frame.

2:15 p.m.: Gudas makes a great play in the defensive zone to strip the puck away, then proceeds to meekly shoot it on Elliott. (He stopped it. No harm done.)

2:16 p.m.: First line gets a couple of swipes at the net. Travis Konecny looks nice and spry this afternoon.

2:18 p.m.: Jordan Weal with the power move off a give-and-go with Voracek! 3-0 Flyers! This is cool and good!

2:20 p.m.: Only get a brief look at Voracek’s assist here, but either way, great work by Weal to drive the net. That’s what made him successful last year; hopefully he’s getting going again.

2:23 p.m.: Giroux to Couturier. Couturier scores his 20th goal. Ties his career high in points. The Chicken Dance song is playing. Rout, for now, is on. 4-0 Flyers.

2:29 p.m.: Flyers nearly get another one, as Konecny gets in on a breakaway that doesn’t go and the top line holds some pressure for a bit longer. The Blues were pushing early in the period, but basically ever since the Flyers made it 3-0 they’ve been pouring it on. What a performance.

2:32 p.m.: Aaaaaand so ends the good stuff. (Momentarily.) Great pass from Tarasenko in his own end turns into a 2-on-1 for St. Louis, and Barbashev pops it backhand over Elliott. 4-1 Blues. AMac got caught pinching there and Tarasenko’s pass took him out of the play. He’s good, I guess. It happens.

2:36 p.m.: Scrum along the boards leads to some shoving and apparently Brandon Manning gets the only penalty out of that? Huh. Flyers will head to the penalty kill for the first time this afternoon with under four minutes left in the period.

2:37 p.m.: Did not know until this moment that the Blues have the 28th-ranked power play in the NHL. Brayden Schenn living in a world where he scores at evens but plays on a bad power play? That is wild to me. Anywho, here’s a fun experiment in Stoppable Forces and Movable Objects.

2:38 p.m.: Advantage goes to the Movable Objects, as the Blues pass the puck around a bunch but don’t get much in the way of actual chances.

2:40 p.m.: One last chance started by Voracek ends with Raffl just getting stopped by Allen and we’ll head to intermission up 4-1. Hell of a second period.

2:49 p.m.: Shots were 13-9 Flyers in that period, 9-6 at 5-on-5. Game kind of went into cruise control once the Flyers went up 4-0, but you can see the Blues’ early push and the Flyers’ in-kind response. Overall shots are 29-16 Flyers, which is quite an impressive edge considering that the Flyers have led wire-to-wire.

2:58 p.m.: Third period is underway and uhhhhhhhhh the Blues have a goal. Tarasenko with a ridiculous drive around Provorov at the blue line, goes to the net, sends it across to Stastny, and he taps it past Elliott. 4-2 just 12 seconds into the third period. Let’s not with this?

3:01 p.m.: Blues are pressing hard. They get two decent shots on Elliott within 90 seconds of that goal. Gotta push a bit here in the third; this team has too much talent to think it just won’t score.

3:04 p.m.: Big shot there by Nolan Patrick, in what is I think the first time I’ve noticed him today.

3:12 p.m.: We get to our first commercial break with 11:23 left in this one, which is crazy, because I think I’ve been watching this third period since I woke up this morning.

3:14 p.m.: NBCS Philly showing us Carter Hart highlights as they come back from intermission. I approve of this action.

3:15 p.m.: Blues nearly get within 1 on two separate chances there following a great move by Parayko to enter the zone. Clock is ticking, but still a pretty uneasy period.

3:17 p.m.: St. Louis is back and pressing again annnnnnnnd there’s a penalty. An offensive zone penalty by the visitors! Looks like another Jori Lehtera drawn penalty! That’s a good thing! Holding along the boards, and the Flyers will get a chance to possibly ice this one.

3:20 p.m.: And they do. A few seconds after Simmonds can’t find the puck in front of an open net, a Ghost shot is deflected by the Wayne Train in front and it’s 5-2.

3:22 p.m.: Classic Shayne and Wayne. That’s some hustle by Claude to get the puck out to exactly where Ghost needs it, too.

3:23 p.m.: And here come the woos. Know what? Why not. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

3:23 p.m.: Vladimir Tarasenko, who has done some freakishly good things in this game, gets called for, uh ... lightly tapping Sean Couturier with his stick in front of the net. That is a horrendous call. And I’m OK with it! Flyers back to the power play.

3:25 p.m.: Take it back take it back this has been a very bad power play. Most of this first minute has taken place in the Flyers’ own zone, and after a stoppage they’ll get the top unit out.

3:26 p.m.: Simmonds almost gets his second goal of the period as he drops to a knee with a shot from the slot, but Allen gets over in time, Much better effort once the first unit comes out, but no goal as the man-advantage expires.

3:27 p.m.: Flyers ice the puck with just under six minutes left, and the Blues go straight to the extra attacker. Know what? I like the idea (for them, at least). Gotta score somehow.

3:28 p.m.: Eep. Flyers can’t clear it, and a long shot from Parayko at the blue line sneaks through traffic and past Elliott into the top corner. 5-3 with 4:31 left. Breathe. Just breathe.

3:30 p.m.: Simmonds has been getting shifts with the fourth line in Goulbourne’s place this period, and that line manages to stall a bit and keep the puck in the offensive zone. Blues get it back with about three minutes left and pull Allen again at that time.

3:31 p.m.: Simmer, who was stuck on the ice without a stick, recovers to get the puck out to the neutral zone, where Laughton just misses on an empty net goal. Hagg ices it from there, but the refs then send the faceoff out to center ice. Just about two minutes left in this one.

3:33 p.m.: Top line (with Voracek in Konecny’s place) takes the defensive zone faceoff, clears, and misses on about four different chances at the empty net, but they manage to kill off about a minute in doing so.

3:34 p.m.: FINALLY. After about 45 more seconds of several different Flyers trying and failing to hit an empty net, Couturier finishes it off, and he’s got a career-high in points. 6-3 is your final. Good win. Good welcome-back from vacation to me, so thank you for that, the Flyers.

And with that, we are now at the halfway point of this Philadelphia Flyers hockey season. Time flies, doesn’t it? Buffalo tomorrow, and then we head to the bye week. Just do this again? Please? Go Flyers.





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 18:48:32 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Playoff Schedule, Rams vs. Falcons: Channel, kickoff time, online streaming and more

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Read on to learn how to watch Saturday’s game.

The second game of the 2018 NFL Playoffs is here. It features a matchup between two NFC teams: the Los Angles Rams and the Atlanta Falcons.

The Rams made the post-season this year thanks in part to the strong work rookie head coach Sean McVay has done to turn the team around. The Falcons, meanwhile, aren’t quite the same time that won the NFC championship game in 2017. But they still made the playoffs, so they probably won’t go down without a fight.

As far as Philadelphia Eagles fans are concerned, the interest in this game stems from rooting for the Falcons to win in unconvincing fashion. Atlanta is arguably the best matchup for the Eagles in the playoffs.

If Atlanta wins this game, the Eagles will host them at Lincoln Financial Field next Saturday, January 13. If Atlanta loses, the Eagles will host the winner of Sunday’s Saints-Panthers game instead.

Here is all the information you need to know in order to watch tonight’s game.

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams

Game Time:

8:15 PM ET

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Location:

Los Angeles Memorial Stadium | Los Angeles, California

TV Channel:

NBC

Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter)

Radio Information:

WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Scott Kaplan

SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Atl), 82 (LAR)

XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Atl), 82 (LAR)

Online Streaming:

Live on NBC Sports Live Extra

NFL Game Pass

Odds via SB Nation:

Falcons +6 (-115)

Rams -6 (-105)

Over/under: 48.5

Here’s our gambling advice.

Referee:

Ed Hochuli

...

Note: This is an open thread. Discuss this Wild Card game here.





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 18:38:15 EST from rss

Subject: Report: Giants couldn

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Delaying the process.

Earlier this week, NFL insider Adam Schefter reported the New York Giants were set to interview Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in Philadelphia this weekend. As it turns out, that interview did not take place.

According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the Giants couldn’t work out the scheduling to interview Schwartz.

This means the Giants can’t interview Schwartz until the Eagles are eliminated from the 2018 NFL Playoffs ... OR ... until the Eagles’ bye week prior to the Super Bowl, if Philadelphia makes it there. And that’s assuming the Giants haven’t already hired a new head coach by then.

It’s possible the Giants are just willing to be patient. But the feeling here is they would’ve been more eager to interview Schwartz this weekend if he was truly the “favorite” for the job.

Although multiple national media outlets have propped up Schwartz as a major candidate for the Giants job, Gary Myers of the New York Daily News has consistently maintained New York isn’t hot for Schwartz. The Giants’ lack of desperation to interview Schwartz lines up with Myers’ reporting.

In addition to being a potential candidate for the Giants’ vacancy, reports indicate the Arizona Cardinals also plan to interview Schwartz.

If Schwartz fails to land a head coaching job, he’ll return as Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator in 2018. That would be good for the Eagles.





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 20:05:38 EST from rss

Subject: Who is more important: head coach or quarterback?

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A special bonus episode of BGN Radio!





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 20:27:42 EST from rss

Subject: Report: Eagles block Texans

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No Douglas for you ... for now.

The Philadelphia Eagles have declined the Houston Texans’ request to interview Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, according to a report from NFL reporter Albert Breer.

Houston’s interest in Douglas was first reported on Friday. The Texans are looking to hire a new general manager since current executive vice president of football operations Rick Smith is taking a leave.

It’s no surprise the Texans have interest in Douglas, who is considered one of the league’s top GM candidates.

It’s also no surprise to see the Eagles deny Houston’s request. Douglas is a key part of Philadelphia’s front office. He runs the team’s draft board and complements Howie Roseman well.

The Eagles can currently block the Texans from hiring Douglas because Philadelphia’s season isn’t over yet. The Eagles can continue to delay Houston’s opportunity to interview Douglas by winning in the playoffs.

Douglas is just one of several NFL executives the Texans have been connected to so far. Eagles fans should hope Philadelphia can retain Douglas.





[#] Sat Jan 06 2018 23:34:55 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Playoff Results: Eagles will host Falcons in the Divisional Round

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It’s official.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ opponent for the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs is set. It’s going to be the Atlanta Falcons.

By virtue of playoff seeding, the Eagles are set to host the lowest remaining seed in the playoffs since Philadelphia finished No. 1 in the NFC. The game is set for 4:35 PM ET on Saturday, January 13.

The No. 6 seed Falcons upset the No. 3 seed Rams in Los Angeles in the Wild Card round on Saturday evening. The Falcons won by a final score of 26 to 13.

There’s an argument to be made the Falcons are one of the most favorable matchups for Philadelphia in the playoffs.

Yes, they’re the reigning NFC champs. Yes, they employ Julio Jones. But the Falcons are just 1-4 against playoff teams this year, Matt Ryan (19 TDs, 12 INTs) has been mostly pedestrian and Atlanta has consistently been undone by untimely penalties. Oh, and they’ve been in 10 different games that were decided by less than a touchdown. Simply put, they’re the messiest of the NFC’s contenders. If you’re thinking way ahead, however, maybe you don’t even want them in the playoff picture if they’re not going to beat up on a potential Eagles opponent in the Wild Card Round.

The Eagles defeated the Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field in 2016 by a final score of 24 to 15. Jim Schwartz’s defense held a dangerous Atlanta offense to season lows in points scored, total net yards, first downs, offensive plays run, and time of possession. Philly will likely need another big defensive performance to win in the post-season, especially given the Eagles’ offensive concerns. There’s optimism to be had about Schwartz’s unit.

In other playoffs news, the No. 2 seed Minnesota Vikings will now host the winner of Sunday’s battle between the No. 4 seed New Orleans Saints and No. 5 seed Carolina Panthers.





[#] Sun Jan 07 2018 00:32:48 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles open as home underdogs against the Falcons

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No respect.

Despite being the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles did not open as home favorites against their opponent in the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs. The Eagles instead opened as 2.5 point underdogs to the No. 6 seed Atlanta Falcons.

To put this in perspective, the average home team in a given matchup usually opens as three point home favorites. The Eagles are 5.5 points below that norm.

Then again, the Eagles certainly aren’t the average home team in this case. Philadelphia will be starting backup quarterback Nick Foles against the Falcons.

Foles really struggled in his final two starts of the 2017 season. In his last 49 attempts, Foles had a 46.9% completion rate, a 48.2 passer rating, and 4.1 yards per attempt.

But all hope is not lost for the Eagles. Philadelphia’s defense has played really well at home since the beginning of 2016. One of Jim Schwartz’s best games actually came against the Falcons last season.

Some other factors working against the Falcons could include travel and the weather. Atlanta has to fly home from Los Angeles after beating the Rams only to fly up north to Philly in time for Saturday’s game. The Falcons, whose home field resides in a dome, will also have to play outside in weather that projects to be 40 degrees and rainy.

It’s up to the Eagles to embrace the “us against the world” underdog mentality as most people will be picking against them. It’s true that the team isn’t as good without Carson Wentz at quarterback. But that doesn’t mean they’ll go down without a fight.





[#] Sun Jan 07 2018 09:40:35 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Eagles players are ready to prove their doubters wrong

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/7/18.

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

Eagles well aware of the skeptics ... and love it - NBC Sports Philadelphia
It might seem strange because they’re the top seed, but the Eagles are taking an “us vs. the world” mentality into the playoffs. ”At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the outside world thinks,” Jay Ajayi said. “Because at the end of the day, when you’re on a team, it’s a bubble. We believe in what we have in this team. And obviously, the media, they come out with the storylines and everything that’s going on, but we don’t buy into that. We believe in what we have. We understand what’s in front of us and we’re in a great position to go achieve our goals. Other teams are at home right now. We’re ready to go get it done next week.”

Who is more important: head coach or quarterback? - BGN
The guys debate which matters more in the NFL: quarterback or head coach? And how about in the specific case of the Eagles? Is Doug Pederson or Carson Wentz more important?

Atlanta It Is - Iggles Blitz
Atlanta is the favorite according to the oddsmakers. That’s just fine. The Eagles will use that as motivation. This is the best possible situation. The Falcons are a good, but flawed team. The Eagles beat them a year ago and really stifled that offense. Doesn’t guarantee it will happen again, but this is better than facing the Panthers or Saints. I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited. Playoff football is a whole other level of intensity.

Behind Carson Wentz’s emergence, Eagles crush season prediction - ESPN
How I fared: Not great! The Eagles exceeded most expectations (including internally) by rapidly developing into one of the league’s best teams in 2017. Quarterback Carson Wentz was the catalyst. He took off like a rocket in Year 2, finishing second in touchdown passes (33) despite missing the last three games of the regular season with a torn ACL. Doug Pederson responded to questions about his coaching chops with a strong showing. Cornerback was the other major concern going into the season, but that group fared better than anticipated even with Ronald Darby’s extended absence due to injury, aided by a quality supporting cast. Assuming Wentz returns to form post-surgery, double-digit wins will be forecast for this team for the foreseeable future.

The moves that turned Eagles from 7-9 to 13-3 and playoffs - Inquirer
The Eagles view roster-building as a continuum – it’s not limited to the busiest days of the offseason calendar. The first day of free agency and the draft weekend are clear pressure points, but the seeds of the Eagles’ 2017 roster also took them from the league meetings in Phoenix in late March to the flight home from Green Bay after the preseason opener in August to the NovaCare Complex offices as Halloween approached. The net result is a 53-man roster for the Eagles’ home playoff game on Jan. 13 with 23 players who were not in the organization last year – a 43.4 percent turnover. It stretches from a big-ticket free agent such as Alshon Jeffery to an under-the-radar signing like Corey Graham; from a high draft pick such as Derek Barnett to Corey Clement, who was signed as an undrafted free agent; from acquiring players via trade such as Tim Jernigan, Ronald Darby, and Jay Ajayi, to poaching a player off a practice squad, such as Jake Elliott. During the 2017 calendar year, Howie Roseman and Co. made more than 130 roster moves, issued more than $160 million in salary obligations, and celebrated their first division title since 2013. Here’s how they put it together.

Unscripted: Exclusive Access Down The Stretch - PE.com
Ever want to be a fly on the wall in the post-game locker room, inside a team meeting, or on the sidelines? We take you to all of those places and more as key players take us inside the team’s final stretch of the regular season.

Blount goes from ‘Last Chance U’ to maybe last chance with Eagles - DelawareOnline
For Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount, his time at “Last Chance U” a decade ago wasn’t close to being his last chance. Blount has had many more chances after spending the 2006 and 2007 seasons at East Mississippi Community College, the subject of a Netflix series called “Last Chance U.” The running back has lasted through eight NFL seasons because of his talent, and despite getting into fights in training camp, suspensions in college and the NFL and getting released twice. So it’s somewhat ironic that now, at the age of 31, Blount has grasped the reality of a last chance in a reduced role – and he couldn’t be happier.

Does the N.F.L. Have a Usain Bolt? Here Are the League’s Fastest Players - NY Times
The majority of N.F.L. players are fast — really fast. So the top speed of the fastest running back is only slightly better than the top speed of the fastest defensive lineman. If the fastest players at each position were able to race 100 yards at their top recorded speed, here’s how they would finish, according to Sportradar. [Lane Johnson named fastest offensive lineman.]

After Falcons’ Wild-Card Win vs. Rams, Consider Dan Quinn for NFL Coach of the Year - Sports Illustrated
Heading into the season, Dan Quinn and the Falcons had a number of mental forces to battle following the Super Bowl. But Quinn managed to not only get the team back into the playoffs, amid a surprisingly strong division, but he also took down the NFC’s No. 3 seed on the road. And for that, he’s not going to get enough NFL Coach of the Year votes.

Falcons-Rams post-game injury report: bloodied Matt Ryan visits medical treatment tent during victory - The Falcoholic
Matt Ryan got absolutely rocked when he slipped on a second down play late in the second quarter. He slipped and was already falling to the ground when a defender hit him from behind, bending his neck awkwardly. The next play also resulted in a sack that caused Ryan’s head to slam into the ground. (Not a good look for the offensive line.) The back of Ryan’s head, right by his ear, was bleeding as he stood on the sideline, and they took him into the medical tent for treatment. Ultimately he was fine but those two plays and their aftermath were unsettling.

Vegas marks John DeFilippo as odds-on favorite to become next Bears head coach - Windy City Gridiron
The quarterback coach for the Philadelphia Eagles has been recognized as a rising star in coaching circles around the league.

Giants coaching search: Pat Shurmur a fit for New York? - Big Blue View
Pat Shurmur, who interviews on Saturday for the New York Giants vacant head-coaching position, is an intriguing candidate. At first blush, the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator might seem like just another retread head coach, just another guy who failed the first time and is looking for a second opportunity. There are a lot of those guys out there, including several on the list of candidates the Giants are considering.

The Falcons showed how they can get back to the Super Bowl in wild card win over the Rams - SB Nation
Atlanta’s had an up-and-down season, but the team that showed up against the Rams looks like a contender.

...

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[#] Sun Jan 07 2018 09:30:02 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers 6, Blues 3: Streaking on the homestand

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Some observations for your morning...

And the Flyers just keep on rolling! Yesterday they picked up a lovely win over the Blues, sweeping the two game series for the season, and as always, we have ten observations for you.

All stats via Corsica.Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and NHL.com.

1. New fourth line, who dis

Once again we have to say it. RIP, the Honey Bees. Yesterday we again got a new look to the fourth line, with Laughton remaining, but placed between Lehtera and AHL call-up Tyrell Goulbourne. And it was an arrangement that was something of a mystery, left questions regarding what pace and production it would be able to bring.

As such, we started the game hopeful that they would be able to get something going, and... What? What’s that. Oh well, would you look at that, they’ve already scored.

And so it was the fourth line that was able to open up scoring for the game, and just 2:15 in at that. Storming into the offensive zone, they made their presence known and worked to clear space around the net, and Laughton threw in an absolute laser, unassisted, past Goulbourne and into the goal. And we had a one goal lead.

And while we’re on the subject, that brings us to...

2. Goulbourne Watch 2k17

Just like with Lehtera Watch, earlier in the season, it seems only fitting to rebrand as we try to take a hard look at Goulbourne as he makes his NHL debut. So, how did he do?

Well, he had a big start, that’s for sure. On the opening shift, he made a big hit to the side of the net in the offensive zone, clearing some space for Laughton to take the shot that would lead to the first goal of the game. And that was huge.

But beyond that, he had a pretty quiet game. He only played 5:23, and didn’t see much of the ice in the third period. And we didn’t see him on the penalty kill, as it was rumored that we might. He kept his head down, delivered four hits, and avoided making any big mistakes.

However, he also didn’t contribute much in terms of offense. Over the course of the night, he didn’t register a single shot, but averaged an adjusted CF% of 58.63 percent at five on five. And, to be fair, we shouldn’t expect him to do everything on just his first NHL game, but we will be looking--an indeed likely needing--him to take a step up on the offensive side.

3. What a first period!

Okay, so that slow start thing? That’s over. That’s cancelled. Never happened. The Flyers are good at first periods now, and yesterday’s was a particularly good one.

By the seven minute mark of the first period, the Flyers had seven shots, two goals, and had held the Blues to exactly zero shots of their own. They would exit the period holding a 16-7 edge in shots, a 65.56 percent adjusted CF% at five on five, and zero goals against. Which, on the whole, makes for a pretty collection of figures.

It almost feels strange, at this point, to see the Flyers picking up steam early in games rather than digging themselves into holes, but it’s a good sort of strange all the same. The only question that remains is whether this is some flukey half-shift, or if they’ve really figured out how to be good early in games again.

4. Jordan Weal!

Yesterday’s Nature Boy certainly deserves a nod from us, just as he received from his teammates. (I won’t be wooing, but you guys are welcome to, should you feel so inclined).

Weal picked up a goal in yesterday’s game--his third goal and fifth point in just as many games--and oh boy was it a pretty one.

He started the play to begin moving out of the defensive zone, got the puck to Voracek who created the entry, and then got it right back, skating through three Blues to pot the goal. It was little short of a stellar sequence, and just what we’ve been wanting to see from him. Despite the slow start, he’s been doing the little things well, and the feeling lingered that things would break open for him, eventually. And we may well be at the start of that.

And, would you look at that, you’ve made it through another section about Jordan Weal without having to endure another Weal/Weally pun. You’re welcome, friends.

5. And holy moly that top line is on fire

After seemingly taking a bit of time to get settled and full adjust to the shift in linemates, the first line of Giroux-Couturier-Konecny is finally starting to really come on. And yesterday was a big game for them.

Giroux picked up a goal, Couturier two, and Konecny and assist The trio also averaged an adjusted CF% of 64.34 percent at five on five, leading the team in this metric.

But what is perhaps the most remarkable is how the three are gelling together, and putting together the full-line performances that marked much of the line’s success when Voracek was on the right wing. And this was particularly evident leading up to Couturier’s first goal, in which Konecny’s stretch pass connected with Giroux perfectly as he dipped into the zone to feed Couturier for the goal. And it’s these full line connections that are both a real treat to watch, as well as a look into how well the group can potentially produce, going forward.

6. The penalty kill does the thing

In what was perhaps a shocking turn of events, the Flyers’ penalty kill had a good night.

As they did on Thursday, they were again doing well to stay out of the penalty box in the first place. Over the full course of the game, they only took one penalty--Manning’s holding minor--late in the second period, and were able to stay out of the box completely in the third period, while they worked to preserve their lead.

But given how bad the PK has been to date, we didn’t go into the shift with particularly high expectations. But then something incredible happened: they killed it. It wasn’t a particularly aggressive attempt, but the Flyers were able to keep the puck tied up and, ultimately, cleared, containing the Blues’ efforts to shorten the gap in the score. And while this effort got the job done, it didn’t exactly mark a huge improvement, process-wise, from what they had done in previous games. So while we like the result, we’re still waiting for that process to catch up, for the steps to be taken to make any improvements sustainable.

7. Maintaining dominance

Working through this game, I was thinking a lot about consistency, and how the Flyers of late, have seemed to be really working hard to finally find some. And it’s working. They took a thing that worked for them on Thursday and did it again yesterday, to the same--and even better--results.

One of the strengths of the Flyers’ game against the Islanders was how they were able to keep them contained and limit their momentum and the quality of their chances. And while they weren’t able to close down the slot as well as they did against New York, they were able to limit the number of chances St. Louis was taking. Additionally, they were able to defend well around the blue line, giving the Blues a bit of trouble controlling their entries. They were able to control, for the most part, the momentum of the game, and keep it from swinging too far away from them, and even better than they were able to on Thursday.

So, more of this, please.

8. The power play does one (1) thing

The flip side of the Flyers doing well to not take many penalties was that they were also able to draw a good number, as well. With four opportunities on the man advantage, the Flyers had a few good chances to break the game even wider open than it was, at times. And, if we’re being honest, they fell a little flat.

They were only able to convert on one opportunity, where Gostisbehere fired the puck in on net and Simmonds did the Simmonds thing, tipping it in from his office. But, other than that, it wasn’t an excellent showing. Beyond the goal, the first unit was able to create a few solid looks, but just couldn’t finish. And the fact that they were still able to create some chances was good, especially given the fact that the second unit was little short of a mess. Through much of those four chances, they looked scattered and not particularly dangerous, and saw their plays broken up easily. The presence of Brandon Manning and Jori Lehtera (in place of Dale Weise) remain baffling, and continue to fail to bring the results that the unit needs.

9. Putting in a full sixty minutes

We’ve seen this story before. The Flyers pick up a lead and then take their foot off the gas, and give away too many chances, and maybe even blow that lead. So, when they entered the third period with a three goal lead, fans were reasonably nervous that things may go south, through the last twenty minutes.

But they didn’t, not really. The period started off a little rough, as they gave the Blues too much space to work with and get set, and allowed for the Stastny goal, just 12 seconds into the period. They gave up 15 shots in that period, more than double what they allowed in the first period.

But it wasn’t all bad. The Flyers held the edge in momentum through most of the period, and still picked up 10 shots and two goals in the final period. And the saga that led up to the empty net goal was little short of comedy gold. It was a wide open net, and they couldn’t hit it to save their lives. It was a huge relief when Couturier finally knocked it home, solidifying the win.

So, it wasn’t a perfect effort, but it got the job done. And maybe it wasn’t a full sixty minute effort, may have been just short, but it was the closest they’ve been, in recent memory.

10. The only damn thing I know

Before the game, I was doing what I spend a good amount of my time doing--sitting on a train. The weekend crowd is usually a more animated bunch, and they didn’t disappoint yesterday. The stars of the show? The parents who sat their two kids on their kids in their own seats across the aisle and let them draw on their own faces with pen.

I think there’s a metaphor to be made here, about the management, and the Flyers, and the fans, and the kids left to draw on their own faces. But I’ll let you make that on your own.





[#] Sun Jan 07 2018 10:30:02 EST from rss

Subject: Flyers vs. Sabres preview: Three straight wins before the bye?

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Can the Flyers sweep the second half of the back-to-back with a win over the lowly Sabres before a five day break?

The Flyers, fresh off a 6-3 win over the Blues on Saturday, are back at it again with a scorching hot matchup between two last place teams when they meet the Sabres today at the Wells Fargo Center.

Though both the Sabres and Flyers are in last place in the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions, respectively, the Flyers are a full 15 points clear of Buffalo in the standings. If the Flyers were in the Atlantic instead of the Metropolitan, they’d be in fourth place with 42 points instead of eighth in the Metro.

On the ice the Sabres certainly look the part of the Eastern Conference’s worst club, too. Buffalo is dead last in goals per game (2.22) and third worst in goals allowed (3.37). Their power play is clicking at just 11.9%, well below the league average of 19.15%.

In other words, they’re just a really bad team and the Flyers should make it back-to-back wins before a five day break that the NHL is giving each and every team this season as a bye. The teams split the first two meetings so far this season, with the Sabres winning 4-2 in Buffalo on Dec. 22 and the Flyers taking a 2-1 decision back on Dec. 14.

The Flyers will look to ride the momentum of their last two games against the Islanders and Blues that saw the Flyers score 12 goals and go 4-of-9 on the power play. The Flyers dominated the face off circle against the Blues, winning 38 of 62 draws to help drive play with a 54.4% Corsi For in all situations.

Claude Giroux stayed red-hot against the Blues on Saturday with a goal and two assists to give the Flyers captain nine points in his last five games and sole possession of second on the NHL scoring list this season. He has 29 points in 32 career games against Buffalo.

Sean Couturier added his 20th and 21st goals in the win over St. Louis, including what would end up being the game-winner in the second period. The two goals gave Couturier a new career-high of 40 points (previous was 39) through just 41 games.

Tyrell Goulbourne made his NHL debut against the Blues and made his presence felt on his first shift where a big hit on Alex Pietrangelo led to a Scott Laughton goal. The 2013 third-round pick was recalled to bring energy and physicality to the lineup and he did just that against the Blues with a team-high four hits. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol will surely look for more of that energy on the second half of the back-to-back against Buffalo.

Brian Elliott made his 16th-straight start against his former club, but will likely give way to Michal Neuvirth against the Sabres. Neuvirth, making his first start since Nov. 28, is 2-5-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage this season. He’s 4-2 in his career against the Sabres, whom he played for from 2013-2015.

For Buffalo, it’s the Robin Lehner show. On the season the Swede is 9-15-6 with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. He’s 2-4 in his career against the Flyers with a 3.37 goals-against average and an .892 save percentage.

Even with a win over the Sabers the Flyers will likely enter their bye in a tie for dead last in the Metro, but they’d also do so riding good momentum with a three-game winning streak.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Raffl - Filppula - Voracek

Weal - Patrick - Simmonds

Lehtera - Laughton - Goulbourne

Defense

Provorov - Gostisbehere

Hagg - MacDonald

Manning - Gudas

Goalie

Neuvirth

(Elliott)





[#] Sun Jan 07 2018 11:12:32 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Playoffs 2018: Jaguars-Bills game time, TV schedule, online streaming, preview

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Read on to learn how to watch Sunday’s game.

The 2018 NFL Playoffs schedule features two games on Sunday. The first is an AFC matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Prior to this year, the Bills hadn’t made the playoffs since 1999. One would think they’re pretty fired up about this opportunity. Jacksonville hasn’t exactly had a lot of recent post-season success, either. Both teams should be hungry.

The Jags enter this game as strong nine-point favorites. That seems like a lot for a team with Blake Bortles starting at quarterback, but Jacksonville’s defense is really good. The Bills will hope that LeSean McCoy, who is dealing with an injury, can be effective enough to help them in this tilt.

Philadelphia Eagles fans should root for the Bills to win this game, and not just because Buffalo is “Eagles North.” The Bills are the worse team so it’d be better to see them advance in the post-season, although they’ll likely just end up being eliminated by the Patriots anyway.

Here is all the information you need to know in order to watch today’s game.

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars

Game Time:

1:05 PM ET

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Location:

EverBank Field | Jacksonville, Florida

TV Channel:

CBS

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter), Jay Feely (field reporter)

Radio Information:

WESTWOOD ONE: Ian Eagle, Mike Mayock, Steve Tasker

SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Buf), 82 (Jax)

XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Buf), 82 (Jax)

Online Streaming:

Watch CBS Sports online

NFL Game Pass

Odds via SB Nation:

Bills +9 (-120)

Jaguars -9 (+100)

Over/under: 40

Here’s our gambling advice.

Referee:

John Hussey

...

Note: This is an open thread. Discuss this Wild Card game here.





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