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[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 06:00:04 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia had the

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/12/18.

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

Agent’s Take: 2017 NFL Contract Awards feature the good, the bad and the ugly - CBS Sports
Biggest Steal: The Eagles never imagined Robinson would have such a big defensive impact when he was given a one-year deal at his $775,000 league minimum salary following an injury plagued 2016 season that led to the Colts releasing him. There was some concern whether Robinson would survive roster cutdowns because of a slow start in training camp after the Eagles made a preseason trade with the Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby, a 2015 second-round pick. Robinson received more extensive playing time than anticipated because Darby dislocated his right ankle in the season opener, which sidelined him for eight games. Robinson was on the field for 68.9 percent of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps (710 of 1,031 plays). He excelled in covering slot wide receivers. Robinson led the Eagles with four interceptions and graded out as PFF’s fourth-best cornerback this season.

Previewing the Eagles-Falcons game - BGN
The newest edition of BGN Radio is here! (Episode #292). In this episode, we preview the Eagles vs. Falcons playoff game, talk about key matchups, and much more.

Eagles RB Corey Clement: ‘We’re going to do it for the city of Philadelphia’ - PhillyVoice
“It’s been fun,” Clement said with a smile. “Of course, there’s a lot of outside noise that’s against us, but at the same time, we love it. We live for it. We’re going to do it for the city of Philadelphia. And if anybody is going to come out to that game, it’s going to be electrifying and we’re going to put our best foot forward.”

Hitting the Reset Button - Iggles Blitz
The Eagles looked great when they were 11-2. They had just beaten the Rams and were clearly the best team in the NFL. Instead of losing a star receiver, this team lost the potential MVP in Carson Wentz. That was the kind of moment that could wreck a team. The Eagles won a pair of sloppy games to get to 13-2, before falling in an ugly finale to finish 13-3. If the Eagles from the Rams game show up, this team has a legit shot to make the Super Bowl. If the team from the Raiders game shows up, we’re in trouble. Can Doug Pederson and his team do what the 2004 bunch did and hit the reset button? I definitely think so.

How to bet Atlanta-Philadelphia - ESPN
It’s difficult to ignore the scheduling dynamics for the Falcons. They had to go all-out to beat the Carolina Panthers to make the playoffs in Week 17 before their wild-card win in L.A. last week. Now, they swing back to the East Coast for the first game of the weekend against the rested Eagles, which is a monumental task. Philadelphia is certainly a weaker team with Foles under center, but is still a well-rounded team. The Eagles finished fourth in total defense at just 307 yards allowed per game and first against the run. Their offensive run game ranked fourth in the NFL as well at 4.5 yards per carry and the extra prep time for Foles should only help. ATS pick: Philadelphia.

NFL Divisional Playoff Preview: Falcons at Eagles - PFF
T Ryan Schraeder vs. Edge Brandon Graham – One way the Eagles can help slow down Freeman and Sanu is by winning the battle in the trenches. Brandon Graham is one of the best edge defenders in the NFL and is more than capable of giving the Falcons’ offense fits. Graham is consistently one of the highest-graded edge defenders in the league, and this season has been no different. Graham is tied for eighth among edge defenders in overall grade (91.3). Graham spends the majority of his time rushing from the defense’s left side, meaning Ryan Schraeder will see plenty of Graham. Schraeder is in for a difficult battle, but he did an exceptional job in pass protection all season, as his 97.1 pass-blocking efficiency rating ranks seventh among all offensive tackles this season.

A Spin Around The Eagles’ Locker Room -
Two days away from the Divisional Round playoff game against Atlanta, the Eagles finished their work at Lincoln Financial Field and returned to the NovaCare Complex locker room ready for what is ahead. So much energy. So much optimism. A good time to get a gauge of what’s going on in the minds of the players, so here is the Spin Around the Locker Room …

Eagles’ Nigel Bradham Battery Case Closed In The Clear For Allegedly Punching Man - TMZ
Eagles star Nigel Bradham already picked up a W, and he hasn’t even played the Falcons yet ... ‘cause the Philly LB is in the clear in his aggravated assault case ... TMZ Sports has learned.

Jay Ajayi should be happy to see Falcons - NBC Sports Philadelphia
While Ajayi claimed it didn’t matter to him who the Eagles faced in their divisional round game, it would be understandable if drawing the Falcons was met with a smile from Ajayi. After all, he’s already faced the Falcons once this season and put together a tremendous performance. While still with the Dolphins on Oct. 15, Ajayi carried the ball 26 times for 130 yards in a 20-17 win in Atlanta. It’s the most yards the Falcons have given up to any running back in the last two years and the most they’ve given up since Adrian Peterson ran for 158 back in 2015. It’s safe to say the Eagles have dipped back into the tape of that game this week.

All-22: How the Eagles’ run game, run defense stack up to the Falcons - The Athletic
Look for the Eagles to use different motions and misdirection to mess with the Falcons’ linebackers. “Because the linebackers are really fast, you do all this backfield action,” Geoff Schwartz said. “Sliding 86 back. Just moving guys all over the place. It holds the linebackers’ eyes for just a second. Give ‘em eye violations. Where they look over here and you’re doing something else. Especially if they’re gonna double-team hard on the inside guys, which they can do. You can run your zone plays with that.” One of the Eagles’ advantages is that they have a lot of different run schemes at their disposal. On paper, against the Falcons, north-south runs like wham, trap and tackle power should be successful. The Eagles have used all of those successfully this season.

What to watch in the Eagles-Falcons playoff game - Inquirer
Can the defense carry the Eagles?: The Eagles aren’t likely to win a shootout. The defense must carry them. It’s a defense that excels at home – opponents are scoring only 13.4 points per game at Lincoln Financial Field – and bullied the Falcons last season. It’s a different year, but this is a better Eagles defense. The magic number for the Falcons is 20. The Falcons are undefeated when they score at least 20 points and winless when they score fewer than 20 points. It’ll be tough to keep them below 20 – I think Julio Jones is the best wide receiver in the NFL, Matt Ryan is the reigning MVP, and they have a formidable running back duo. But the Eagles can win at the line of scrimmage, and that’s the equalizer. Fletcher Cox is the highest-paid player on the Eagles and needs to play like an All-Pro on Saturday. You saw what Aaron Donald did in the Rams-Falcons game last week. Cox can have that type of influence on this game. If the Eagles win, the defensive line will be a big reason why.

1 month after Carson Wentz injury, Philadelphia Eagles coach says team has shaken its sting - PennLive
Coach Doug Pederson has been fighting to prove that the injury his MVP candidate quarterback suffered Dec. 10 hasn’t left his team destined for doom. And Thursday, exactly one month after he announced Wentz would need season-ending surgery, Pederson insisted his team has shaken the sting of losing its leader. It takes a while for players to get over something like that, but Pederson said spirited practices convinced him they’ve done it.

Ticket Vendors Offer Eagles Fans Stark Warning About Scam Artists - CBS Philly
As pumped Philadelphia Eagles fans get ready for Saturday’s NFC divisional round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, ticket vendors like Ticketmaster and StubHub offer a stark warning. “Make sure that if you are purchasing hard physical tickets, that it is from a legitimate source either from the team venue or a site that has a guarantee and a customer service number,” said Cameron Papp, a StubHub spokesperson. He says never buy your tickets outside of the stadium or with cash.

PFT’s 2017 awards - PFT
Special-teams rookie of the year: Eagles kicker Jake Elliott.

Fantasy Football WR Target Projections: Divisional Round - DraftKings
In Nick Foles’ two full games this season, Agholor saw 16 targets for a healthy 21 percent share. Note that he caught 11 balls on those 16 targets while Alshon Jeffery posted just four catches on 12 targets. Agholor will work out of the slot, where he has a plus matchup against Falcons slot CB Brian Poole (Pro Football Focus’ No. 85 CB among 120 qualifiers). Expect a conservative game plan from the Eagles as they try to hide Foles, setting him up with quick-hitting passes and first reads. That meshes well with Agholor’s role.

Punting Takes a Left Turn - Sports Illustrated
It’s a quirk that’s taken on something of its own mystique. Adding to the left-footed lore is the fact that there’s something of a spate of lefties in today’s NFL. Back in 2000, there were just five lefty punters on opening day. This season, 10 lefties have punted for NFL teams. That includes every punter in the NFC East, and there were four lefties in this year’s playoffs field: New England’s Ryan Allen, Philadelphia’s Donnie Jones, Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and Carolina’s Michael Palardy.

The Falcons aren’t going to let themselves get run over by Jay Ajayi again - The Falcoholic
The last time the Falcons and Jay Ajayi met, things did not go well. In a game decided by a mere field goal, Ajayi’s 26 carries for 130 yards kept the Dolphins offense on the field, wore down the Falcons, and ensured Miami got the points they needed to eke out a win. He’s a big, powerful runner, sure, but that game remains the high-water mark of Ajayi’s entire season, and it was a costly loss for the Falcons.

The Eagles can’t soar with Nick Foles, but they can still flap their way to a win - SB Nation
The Eagles are home underdogs to the Falcons in their Divisional Round playoff game. Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz explains how they can pull off the upset.


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[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 06:00:01 EST from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: We made it!

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

*The Flyers are back tomorrow! Against the stupid Devils!! Seems like a good time to finish up our midterm report cards. We’ve got the depth defensemen... [BSH]

*... and the goalies. [BSH]

*Let’s bring in another version of the report card for this team. []

*The Flyers’ prospect pool remains on the deeper side, and Charlie has taken the time to do a mid-season ranking of the 20 who are currently the best of the bunch. [The Athletic]

*Speaking of, Meltzer takes a look at That Frost Character. [Flyers]

*Amanda Elliott, wife of Brian, seems like an incredibly great person. And lucky for us, she’s in Philly now. [NBC Sports Philly]

*We’re going to say “snub” a lot today. I’m sorry. Do you feel any Flyers were snubbed when it came to All-Star Game selection? [NBC Sports Philly]

*So besides Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, which players are the biggest casualties of the All-Star game format that only really allows for one player per team to go? [Puck Daddy]

*And what if we replace one All-Star with a snub. Bet it might improve things. [Vice Sports]

*More snubs!!! [SB Nation]

*Hockey Canada released their Olympic roster yesterday. It’s kind of fun to see these guys who would’ve never had this opportunity fill out these teams, eh? [Hockey Canada]

*Our old pal Peter Forsberg thinks the Olympic hockey tournament will still be a high-quality event, even without NHLers. I’m actually starting to get pretty excited about it myself. [Yahoo Sports]

*Unbelievably, the Vegas Golden Knights trademark thing is still an issue. [ProHockeyTalk]

*We learned yesterday that Pierre McGuire is fighting cancer. Thoughts are with him. [USA Today]

*And finally, no better way to ease your way into the weekend and get pumped for the return of Flyers hockey than with a new episode of BSH Radio! [BSH]

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 07:50:17 EST from rss

Subject: Crossing Broadcast: Live at Carlino

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Kyle, Adam, Russ and the CB crew discuss the Sixers’ blown 20-point lead and the Eagles-Falcons game.   We recommend subscribing in Overcast, the best iOS podcast player, and using the Voice Boost and Smart Speed functions, which improve sound quality (for all shows) and speed up small gaps in the conversation. Download Overcast and…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 09:02:59 EST from rss

Subject: Your Friday Morning Roundup

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London’s calling. She wants Brett Brown fired. Despite a very strong first quarter and-a-half, the Sixers fell to the Boston Celtics 114-103 at the O2 Arena. How strong was that start? They led by 22 points midway through the second quarter. After looking at their losses from this season, this was the fifth time since the…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 10:00:04 EST from rss

Subject: A look at how previous home underdogs have fared in the 2nd round

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Can history repeat?

The Eagles are home underdogs to Falcons in the divisional round. Since the AFL/NFL merger, this is just the seventh time that’s happened, according to Pro Football Reference. With one exception, they all fit the same template: the home team was a rebuilding team making the playoffs for the first time, while the road team was an established playoff team. Obviously, the oddsmakers weren’t sold on the home team. And that’s exactly the case with the Eagles and Falcons: the Eagles haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 and have to start Nick Foles, the Falcons are the defending NFC Champions.

But were the oddsmakers right to favor the road team?

1979 Buccaneers vs Eagles -4.5

That’s right, Saturday’s game isn’t even the first time the Eagles have played in a home underdog game. But this time, they were the road favorite.

Tampa Bay had won 7 games in franchise history prior to the 1979 season. They started in 1976 with their infamous 0-14 team, then steadily improved to 2-12 and 5-11. In ‘79, on the back of the league’s top defense, they won 10 games and were the 2nd seed. They hosted the Eagles, who were in the playoffs for the second season in a row and had defeated the Bears in the wild card round.

It’s easy to see why the Eagles were road favorites: Tampa’s worst to first turnaround out of the abyss seemed too good to be true, and their 5-6 record after a 5-0 start appeared to back that up. Entering the season finale Tampa Bay was on a 3 game losing streak and had to win to make the playoffs, in one of the heaviest storms in NFL history they eked out a 3-0 win. Meanwhile the Eagles were in their fourth year of steady improvement, with then-career years from Ron Jaworski and Wilbert Montgomery.

In the game, the Bucs defense, #1 in points and yards that season, stifled the Eagles. Jaworski threw for just 199 yards on 39 attempts and Montgomery ran for just 35 yards, and Tampa Bay won 24-17.

1981 Dolphins vs Chargers -2.5

1982 Dolphins vs Chargers -1.5

It’s uncommon for a home team to be an underdog, to happen to the same team in consecutive years is just insulting. We’ll take these together.

The first matchup fit the mold of upstart vs established. The Dolphins had missed the playoffs in 1980 in a rebuilding year after making the playoffs in 1978 and 1979. By the beginning of the 1981 season, only seven starters from ‘79 were starters in ‘81, the revamped Dolphins and their 11-4-1 record were seen as a surprise. The Chargers were an established team, having made the playoffs the previous two seasons and winning a wild card game in 1980.

The playoff format in 1981 sent only five teams per conference to the playoffs, so the wild card game was to see who traveled to face the top seed. With Miami the 2 seed and San Diego the 3 seed, they both had the first week off. They’d need the rest.

In what is known as “The Epic in Miami” the Dolphins and Chargers played one of the greatest games in NFL history. The Chargers and their league best offense raced out to a 24-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Don Shula benched QB David Woodley and put in long time backup Don Strock, who led the Dolphins to scoring 24 straight points of their own. The teams then traded touchdowns, and with seconds on the clock at 38-38, Miami attempted a 43 yard field goal to win the game, but Kellen Winslow blocked it to send the game to OT. Overtime was just as dramatic as regulation, with both teams exchanging missed field goals. Then, 13:52 in to overtime, San Diego kicked a 29 yard field goal to win 41-38. An instant classic. If you’ve got two and a half hours to kill, you can watch the whole thing.

The next season the teams met in a rematch that couldn’t possibly live up to the billing. But in the strange 1982 season, it somehow made sense that a rematch should happen. An in-season player strike caused the season to be just 9 games long. To help make up for the lost games, the NFL altered the playoff format: three additional teams per conference made the playoffs, up from five to eight, nobody got a bye. That’s one reason why home teams are almost always favored in the second round. In addition to usually being the better team anyway, they also had a week off. But that wasn’t the case in 1982, when Miami dispatched the Patriots, who they had lost to earlier in the year in The Snowplow Game while the Chargers had to mount a comeback against the Steelers.

With the Epic fresh in people’s minds and the Chargers offense looking even more lethal in 1982, the Dolphins were home dogs by 1.5 points. But this game didn’t fit the profile: the Dolphins weren’t an upstart team. As a back to back 2 seed, Miami was no longer an out of nowhere team.

And it showed in the game. The Chargers offense was one of the best in league history scoring 32 points a game. But the Dolphins “Killer Bees” defense was excellent as well, 2nd in scoring and 1st in yards. Fouts called it the best defense he’d ever seen as Miami had their way with him. Fouts completed just 15 of 34 attempts, was intercepted 5 times and sacked 3 times. This time it was Miami who got out to a 24-0 lead, and they held it. Don Strock wasn’t needed, and the Dolphins won 34-13.

1996 Panthers vs Cowboys -3.5

Like the Bucs-Eagles game in 1979, this was a clash of new vs established. In this case, both were even more extreme. The Panthers were in their second season of existence, the Cowboys were reigning Super Bowl champions. Dallas’ defense was still one of the best, but the offense had dropped off severely from the highs of the Super Bowl teams. Troy Aikman had his worst season of the Cowboys six year playoff stretch. Emmitt Smith had the worst season of his career to date. Michael Irvin missed 5 games (Deion Sanders filled in) and Jay Novacek had retired. Dallas was coming off a 40-15 beat down of the Vikings, who had six turnovers, but they got lucky, four were fumble and Aikman had a terrible game with a 67.9 passer rating.

The Panthers didn’t have the names the Cowboys had, but they were a more balanced team. Carolina was 7th in scoring, the defense was 2nd, and they had good special teams. It was an upstart team, but it was also an experienced one: nine starters were 30 or older.

In the game Carolina picked off Aikman three times and sacked him twice, Irvin caught just one pass, while Smith rushed for 80 but caught 3 passes for -2 yards. Kerry Collins threw 2 touchdowns as the Panthers won 26-17.

2011 49ers vs Saints -3.5

This wasn’t that long ago, but the 49ers three year run starting in 2011 was so good it’s easy to forget why the Saints would be favored on the road. 2011 was Jim Harbaugh’s first season in San Francisco, and the oddsmakers weren’t quite buying the turnaround and Alex Smith. The Saints were just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl, though the year before they had lost to the 7-9 Seahawks.

As we know now, the Harbaugh 49ers were no fluke, they would go on to three straight NFC Championship Game appearances. San Francisco won 36-32 as Drew Brees and Alex Smith got into a shootout, Brees throwing for 462 yards and 4 TDs, Smith putting up 299 yards and 3 TDs, including the game winner with 9 seconds to go.

2013 Panthers vs 49ers -1

Two years later, the tables were turned on San Francisco: they were the established team, the Panthers were the new kids on the block. Beyond that, they were fairly similar teams. Both had dual threat QBs who had star WRs and TEs to throw to, both had top defenses, and to stretch the similarities all the way, Ron Rivera and Jim Harbaugh were teammates for six seasons in Chicago.

The teams traded leads in the first half, but in the second half the established 49ers bucked the trend, and won 23-10 after shutting out Carolina in the first half. To date, they’re the only favorite road team in the divisional round to win.

So does this mean anything? A little. Home underdogs have won 5 out of 6, either in shootouts (1981, 2011) or with a strong defense (1979, 1982, 1996). The Falcons are favored because Carson Wentz is out, but we’ve seen the Eagles win both a shootout (vs the Giants) and win with defense (vs the Raiders) with Nick Foles. The more likely outcome for an Eagles victory is to win with defense and ball control, as the Eagles are just 14 months removed from having upset the Falcons, at home, with that same formula. For extra encouragement, there have been 24 wild card games where the home team was the underdog, and the home team went 13-11. History says the Eagles can win.

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 10:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: Combatting the sophomore slump: Checking in with Travis Konecny

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What’s going on here?

If you’re someone like me, who spends just an unholy amount of time on Twitter, especially after Flyers games, you’ve probably noticed some trends in thinking by now. For example, most everyone has spent some time excited about the prospects, mad about the coach, and exasperated by the lack of production from the nominal third line, whatever the arrangement of it may be. There’s, more or less, a consensus to be had there. The internet dwellers are all on the same page. Until we aren’t.

There are, then, other areas where the fanbase couldn’t be more at odds - -and players like Travis Konecny are finding themselves at the center.

The takes on this subject have been widely varying.

He’s the most fun on this dumb, boring team! He’s just snake bitten! He’s got some growing to do! He’s not good! Send him to the AHL! Jettison him into the sun!

Okay, well, maybe not that last one. But you get the point. Where we’ve seen consensus elsewhere, there’s none to be had when it comes to Konecny. He’s either a franchise treasure or a total bust, and very rarely somewhere in between.

But even below the surface of the relative assuredness of his skill and aptitude lies a bit of frustration. Is he living up to expectations? What were the expectations, to begin with?

In our own pre-season BSH Over/Under game, five out of eight respon--I’M NOT CALLING YOU GUYS OUT WOULD YOU RELAX.

Excuse me. Five out of eight respondents predicted Konecny would pick up over 41.5 points during the 2017-18 season. But is that prediction holding up?

With us now sitting at just about the mid-season point, why don’t we take a few moments to check in with one of our most polarizing players. Number 11 in your programs, number one in at least some of our hearts. Or something like that.

To start this check-in we actually have to take a bit of a step back, to hop into our time machine and scoot on back to 2015, and Konecny’s draft+1 season.

*Delorean sounds*

“Philadelphia selects, from Ottawa in the Ontario Hockey Lea--”

Wait wait wait, too far, so sorry.

*More Delorean sounds*

Okay, better. Here we are, settled into October and the start of the 2015-16 season. The Flyers are trucking with a strong enough start, our hopes are still intact, and after a solid training camp, Konecny’s been sent back to join his juniors team, the Ottawa 67s.

Back in the OHL, he played 60 games between Ottawa and, after a midseason trade, the Sarnia Sting. In those 60 games, he was able to record 30 goals, for a tidy .5 goals per game figure. These 30 goals, paired with his 71 assists for a total of 101 points left him sitting at eighth in the OHL in points scored. And things just kept getting better.

After an even stronger training camp the following year, Konecny made the Flyers’ permanent roster for the 2016-17 season. Expectations ranged from reasonable to high, but he did well to surpass them.

When considering his 30 goals scored in his final season in the OHL, and when adjusting that figure for age and league quality, those 30 goals in Juniors can be equated to 7.39 goals in 60 NHL games. This expectation can be upped to 10.1 goals at the NHL level, when one assumes an 82 game sample.

In 2016-17, then, Konecny outperformed that estimate. In 70 games, he picked up 11 goals, and was on pace for 12.89 goals in 82 games.

So, given this exceedance of expectations, we could reasonably expect even more growth from last season to this season, right? Well, not quite.

As we sit here on January 7th, as I type this, Konecny has played 42 games, and registered five goals and a total of 15 points. And, assuming an 82 game sample, this puts him on pace for 9.76 goals and 29.29 points on the season--well below our pre-season estimate and a clear drop from last season, at least in goals scored. So, what gives?

Perhaps the easiest answer to this query is “linemates.”

Last season, Konecny spent 39 of his 70 games--that’s 55.71 percent--on a line with either Voracek and Couturier or Simmonds and Schenn. So, despite a relatively brief stint stuck with VandeVelde and Bellemare, Konecny had support from solid and dynamic linemates. And, of course, Voracek and Couturier were not the Voracek and Couturier of this season, but their impact was almost certainly more helpful than harmful.

By comparison, with the near constant shuffling of lines, this season Konecny has been wanting for these kinds of more or less consistent linemates. To date, he has played nine games with Patrick and Weise, five with Filppula and Simmonds, and seven with some kind of fourth line mish mash of Laughton and one of Raffl, Leier, or Lehtera. And the numbers tell the story of this contrast pretty plainly. Let’s have a look.

During the bulk of last season, Konecny was on lines whose members were driving play reasonably well--given the team averaging an adjusted 50.56 percent CF% at five on five--and picking up respectable expected results. Konecny and his most common linemates in Couturier and Voracek were in the top 10 out of 17 forwards in RelT CF%, and each of the five players listed above were top 10 in RelT xGF/60. But this season is a different story.

By contrast, Konecny’s most common 2017-18 early season linemates--Weise and Patrick--are 12th and 13th respectively among 13 forwards in RelT CF%, with Laughton, Raffl, and Leier in the top five. Additionally, only Konecny and Patrick are in the top five forwards in RelT xGF/60. With the team performing about equally to last year in these metrics, we see that Konecny’s quality of linemates has taken a bit of a dip. And where his relative expected goals/60 has improved, his adjusted CF% has taken a distinct hit.

That said, it isn’t all bad news for him. On the individual level, Konecny is still performing rather well. His seven primary points puts him fourth among forwards, while he sits at first in iCF/60, and third in ixGF/60.

But curiously, one area where he’s struggled, compared to a number of his teammates, is individual shooting percentage. After these 42 games played, Konecny has recorded a 8.06 shooting percentage. And while this is an improvement from last season, when he posted a 5.31 shooting percentage, it still leaves him at seventh among forwards, a ranking disparate from where he sits relative to his teammates in the other metrics examined above.

So, of course, it would be an oversimplification to just blame his lack of success to date on poor performance from his linemates, to deflect culpability in such a way. This may well be a factor, to be sure, but the blame cannot be settled exclusively here. We’re seeing Konecny doing well to generate shots at even strength, but what may be the culprit in the lack of success in converting on them is the quality of those shots.

Through 42 games, Konecny has registered 83 total unblocked shots, third among forwards. And this seems, in isolation, a promising figure. However, of those 83 unblocked shots, only 19 came from high danger areas. For comparison, the only forwards with more unblocked shots than Konecny are Voracek--30 high danger out of 105 total unblocked shots--and Couturier--with 44 high danger shots out of 115 total unblocked shots. So while Voracek and Couturier are generating 27.55 and 38.26 percent high danger shots, respectively, Konecny has generated just 22.9 percent. And this seems to explain the relative disparity between his shooting percentage and other performance metrics--he’s putting good work in, but not putting himself in the position to best capitalize on these chances. And this lack of conversion and production is most clearly apparent in what is otherwise one of the hallmarks of his game.

One of Konecny’s greatest assets is his speed. Dude is fast. And he’s at his most dangerous when he’s using this speed to fly into the offensive zone and threaten opposing goaltenders on breakaways. We’ve seen him be little short of spectacular in this area, but we’re also seeing him not quite living up to his potential, in converting on these would-be particularly dangerous chances.

goals denoted by darker orange

Through this first half of the season, Konecny has had ten breakaways where he was able to put a shot on net. We can see that he has something of a comfort area, as seven of these ten chances are more or less tightly grouped in the area on the edge of the right faceoff circle. And that’s part of the problem.

Looking at these ten chances, eight of them came from moderate-to-low danger areas, meaning that on 80 percent of his breakaways, he had, at most, a nine percent chance of scoring. And while he has still gotten some results from this approach--three goals--there’s more that can be done, in order to make these chances for dangerous to opposing goaltenders.

And while three goals is not a figure to scoff at, by any means, there is something to be said about the quality of the goaltenders who were beaten by these moderate danger shots. Two of these breakaway goals were made against goaltenders currently playing below replacement level, in Craig Anderson and Thomas Greiss, who currently hold .899 and .882 save percentages, respectively. The third came against Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, who is holding a respectable .922 save percentage for the season, but was a save percentage of .903 going into the two teams’ first meeting, when the goal was scored.

But despite the fact that these shots may not be as statistically dangerous as possible, there is still a fair defense for these particular shot selections. When I asked him about favoring this area, Konecny explained:

“I’m definitely comfortable there, when I come in on that side. I don’t know, I’m just trying to shoot the puck and get shots on net. A lot of times you can overthink yourself right into the goalie, and, you know, your opportunity’s gone. So whenever I get an opportunity to shoot the puck I’m just looking to make the goalie make a save and get it on net.”

The answer to the question of shot selection, then, may lie in such a middle ground--a space overlapped both by player comfort and statistical efficacy.

So, all this considered, what are we looking at? Who was right, in this series of contentions?

On the surface, looking at just raw goal scoring and point accruing, there may be some cause for concern. Simply, as it stands, Konecny is on pace to score fewer goals than he did last season, and just about even out in points. Which is a regression. Which we don’t like to see.

But this may be where the cause for concern ends. Given his underlying advanced metrics as detailed above, we can see that, despite the lack of results in terms of points on the board, Konecny isn’t exactly floundering, on an individual level. He’s generating chances better than a good portion of his teammates, which in and of itself is a good sign. It bodes well for future production--if the process is there, it stands to reason that the results will follow, sooner or later.

And for more good news, he’s getting better, with better linemates. It’s a relatively small sample, admittedly, but in six games spent on the top line with Giroux and Couturier, he’s averaged an adjusted CF% of 54.09 at five-on-five. While this isn’t exactly a spectacular figure, it marks something of an improvement. And it’s a big step in the right direction, a big move away from the games where he and his linemates were getting regularly thrashed by their opponents.

So, is this a sophomore slump? It’s hard to say. And maybe it’s not as simple as a yes or no, anyway. We have a young player who’s still learning, and yeah, making mistakes, but growing in the process. And with some more thought and better decision making on his part—particularly on the defensive front—and more optimal player deployment on the part of his coaches, we can see that growth continuing.

Am I worried? No. Nor should we be, just yet.

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

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 10:13:26 EST from rss

Subject: Falcons writer gives 3 reasons why the Eagles will beat Atlanta

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Focusing on the enemy’s weaknesses.

The Eagles are three-point underdogs heading into their Divisional Round playoff matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Nearly everyone is counting them out.

If you’re among those who have lost faith, today’s post might have you feeling a little better about the Eagles’ chances.

Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with The Falcoholic in order to preview this week’s matchup. You can read that here.

Today, we’re back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each team’s weaknesses, rather than just being homers.

So here are three reasons why the Falcons could lose, as written by The Falcoholic’s Dave Choate. Stay tuned to The Falcoholic to see why I think the Eagles could lose.

#1: The Falcons can’t handle the Eagles defense.

This is a legitimate concern. The Falcons have been silenced multiple times this season by quality defenses, including a frankly embarrassing nine point excursion against the Minnesota Vikings defense. At home.

Regardless of what the numbers say about the Eagles’ productivity rushing the passer, I certainly am well aware of their capability to do so. I’m well aware the Philadelphia secondary can hold its own, even if Julio Jones is likely to dine at times on Saturday. And I know the run defense is stout enough to limit Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to solid but unspectacular days, putting more pressure on Matt Ryan and the passing game to earn the win.

That’s pressure Matty Ice has endured many times before, sure. Given the way this offense has played much of the year, though, the strength of the Philadelphia defense could limit the Falcons to under 20 points, and they’ve won very few games this year when that happens.

#2: The Falcons are prone to mistakes.

Up until recently, I kept having to write articles about the team’s terrible luck and execution. Some eight of Matt Ryan’s interceptions bounced off someone’s hands, several big plays and big returns were called back due to penalties, and the Falcons defense lost multiple huge turnovers because they were penalized on interceptions. It’s not a stretch to say that the Falcons could have contended for a first round bye had they not repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.

That problem didn’t really go away until Week 17, and while the Falcons have still mixed in some boneheaded special teams penalties, they’ve largely avoided major mistakes while beating both the Panthers and Rams by double digits over the last two weeks. The body of evidence this season suggests that the Falcons are still a bit of a sloppy squad, though, and in a game like this even one or two big mistakes could very well swing the outcome.

#3: They struggle with starting field position.

This is a very big one, and an impactful one. I’m not focusing on the defense because while they have their poor stretches, they’ve done remarkably well over the last couple of months, and are likely to largely hold the Eagles offense in check Saturday. The offense hasn’t been as awe-inspiring, though, and the team has struggled mightily to make the kinds of plays on special teams that would help them out.

It’s no coincidence that the Falcons so frequently fall short just before the red zone or within it, because they’re having to cover so much distance to get there. The Falcons have been very productive moving the ball down the field, but they’ve had the second-worst starting field position in the NFL all year, and Steve Sarkisian has proven time and time again that he’s not the league’s most effective and innovative play caller once things tighten up inside the 20. When you’re starting drives from your own 10 or 15 again and again, drives do stall out, you increase the chances of a mistake being made on your long march down the field, and you probably wind up settling for more field goals.

Again, in a game that has the potential to be close and physical, you can’t leave points on the field. Unless the Falcons can stop starting drives from deep in their own territory, though, I’m afraid that’s exactly what they’ll do.

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 10:02:08 EST from rss

Subject: Never Mind the Bollocks: Four Observations from Celtics 114, Sixers 103

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Still time left to enter our $500 tailgating giveaway from AmeriGas. The prize includes a portable grill, a portable heat lamp, two tailgating chairs with sunshade, a hose to hook it all up, and $200 worth of apparel from the Crossing Broad Store. You can enter here.   You didn’t expect them to hold a…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 11:44:39 EST from rss

Subject: Facebook Fires a Torpedo Into Publishers, and I

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Oh, hey, what’s this, Mark Zuckerberg submarining news publishers who have built their businesses around clicks and mindless social media videos? I think it is! And more from Facebook: Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 11:26:32 EST from rss

Subject: The Philadelphia Union are Getting in on the ESports Thing

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The “four for four” Philadelphia sports fan might find both soccer and video games to be incredibly dorky. And the only thing dorkier is when you combine the two in some way, shape, or form, which is exactly what’s happening in 2018. Major League Soccer is partnering with EA Sports to create “eMLS,” a competitive FIFA…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 12:00:01 EST from rss

Subject: A look into the Phantoms

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The penalty kill has struggled this season, but why?

Statistically, the Phantoms’ penalty kill has been one of the worst in the league this season. The 80.79% penalty kill, which is ranked 23rd in the league, has allowed 29 goals in 151 shorthanded situations. This comes at a bit of a surprise, as the penalty kill had been improving and becoming a strength of the team over the past few seasons.

I’d love to throw numbers at you regarding shots and scoring chances against for each season, but that’s not possible. Instead, let’s take a look at the penalty kill as a system and put the eye test to work.

Neutral Zone Forecheck

Primarily, the Phantoms use one of the more passive neutral zone forechecking systems that is out there, the 1-2-1 retreating. Forward 1 (F1) applies minimal pressure while skating backwards towards the defensive zone, while forward 2 (F2) and defenseman 1 (D1) take their spot on the blue line. Defenseman 2 (D2) stands behind the blue line, and it’s his job to either recover a dump-in, or try to disrupt the puck carrier if the three players ahead of him allow a controlled entry.

In the example above, once the opposing puck carrier decides to attack the middle of the ice, F1 steps up and pressures him into choosing a side. Once that choice is made, D1 steps up as well, to block the passing lane. This denies the only possible play the puck carrier has left, and forces him to turn around and re-group. The vulnerability here is along the boards. If the puck carrier had ignored the middle of the ice and tried to make a pass sooner, the chances of a successful entry would be much higher. If you look closely at F1’s skates, it’s almost like he was baiting the puck carrier to try and get past him on his right side. Now, that could also just be his way of blocking the passing lane to his left, but either way that’s a nice, subtle play by F1 (Radel Fazleev).

Their second most common forechecking system is one that I couldn’t actually find a name for, so I like to call it the 3-1 trap. The 3-1 trap is basically the 1-2-1 retreating with just one tweak. Once the unit reaches the blue line, F1 stands on the blue line along with F2 and D1 instead of standing a bit in front of it.

Here you can see the 1-2-1 retreating evolve into the 3-1 trap when F1 forms a line with F2 and D1. I’m not particularly a fan of this set-up, but I’m sure there’s sound reasoning to it that I’m not privy to. In my opinion, it has the same vulnerabilities as the 1-2-1, while also giving the puck carrier way more ice to work with. However, this has shown some effectiveness, most notably in a game against the Laval Rocket, where they denied two controlled entries, and recovered a forced dump-in all in succession.

There are a few other variations of the 1-2-1 that they use, but not consistently enough to warrant a full breakdown.

The Defensive Zone

Once the puck enters the zone, the Phantoms turn up the pressure. They primarily use the Wedge (or Triangle) +1 formation, also known as the “Czech Press”. This is one of the most commonly used aggressive penalty kill systems, and has also used by their parent club, the Philadelphia Flyers.

Immediately following a faceoff, Tyrell Goulbourne takes the role of F1 and attacks the defenseman. Once he forces the pass and chases the forward down the boards, he and Corban Knight switch roles as the defenseman once again receives the puck. This is a basic example of the Czech Press and the rotation between penalty kill forwards.

Generally speaking, aggressive penalty kills are more successful than passive penalty kills. Not only do passive penalty kills allow too many shots, they give high-skilled passers too much time to make a play. We’ve all seen what Claude Giroux can do when he’s given time and space on the power-play.

In this example, you have both a forward and a defenseman attacking the puck-carrier along the boards. This leaves the other forward alone to defend the passing lane in the middle of the ice, while also having to defend the point. Once the pass is made to the point, the forward doesn’t have enough time to close the gap and get in position to block the shot. This leads to a rebound and eventual goal against.

Now, allowing a point shot isn’t exactly a bad thing considering you’re down a player. If the opposing team is going to get a shot, you’d prefer it be from out high rather than down low. The problem here is that the Phantoms’ defenseman along the boards doesn’t get back to net to stop the eventual goal-scorer from getting the rebound. This really isn’t a system issue either, rather an individual mistake. As you can see, he kind of gets caught puck-watching here, and doesn’t go to tie up the forward’s stick until the puck is already in the net.

Sometimes the triangle just falls apart completely.

Here we have Philippe Myers and Corban Knight attacking the puck carrier along the boards. When the pass is made to the opposite side of the ice, both Tyrell Goulbourne and Mark Alt focus on the player receiving the pass, leaving the eventual goal-scorer wide open in front of the net. To me, there’s no real obvious gaffe here, but some of the blame could be shared between Myers and Goulbourne. However, your penalty kill will get burned by great passing every so often, and that may just be the case here. You have to give the offensive player credit for getting that pass through three Phantoms’ sticks.

These were just two random examples I pulled from games, but that seems to be the trend here. It’s not the system that’s failing, it’s not the goaltending that’s dragging them down (for the most part, their numbers are still shaky as a whole), it’s one mistake that ends up in the net.

Shorthanded Chances

Finally, the biggest positive of this penalty kill, in my opinion, is the offense it generates. Something that the Czech Press does well is lead to shorthanded chances, and while the goals haven’t been there, the chances sure have. The Phantoms have only scored four shorthanded goals, which puts them in the bottom half of the league, but it would not be a surprise to see an uptick in that ranking by the end of the season.

In this example, Matt Read takes a calculated risk, and instead of replacing Lindblom as the top of the triangle, he reads the play and breaks up the pass. It wasn’t the safe play, but it was the correct play.

The Phantoms pose a legitimate threat to score during most of their penalty kills. This isn’t a unit that settles for icing the puck unless they’re fatigued, and when there’s an opportunity to carry it out, they do.

Should we expect improvement?

Short answer; yes, but there will be challenges. As the season goes on, the mistakes should work their way out of the penalty kill, but it will be interesting to see their results while their best defensive center, Corban Knight, is “out for awhile” with an injury. Steven Swavely has shown signs of being able to handle that role, and a possible Matt Read return could not come at a better time. Getting the penalty kill back to posting results like it did over the past two seasons will be vital to this team making noise in the playoffs.

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 12:11:21 EST from rss

Subject: DelcoDelphia

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The folks over at DelcoDelphia put this together. It is good. I don’t know about you, but I am so goddamned ready to play a football game. You could almost hear sports talk radio going through their tropes these last few weeks. There is nothing else to discuss. We’ve discussed everything. Just play this game,…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 12:28:09 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Divisional Round Playoffs 2018: Predictions by Football Writers

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Predicting the winners of this week’s NFL games.

The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs 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.

Th BGN Community finished finished first in the regular season and now they’re currently tied for first in the post-season only standings. You guys and gals are doing great.

The Philadelphia Eagles are set to host the Atlanta Falcons this week. The entire BGN staff is taking them to win ... except for one non-believer. Feel free to boo him in the comments.

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.)

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 13:00:02 EST from rss

Subject: An attempt at projecting NHL performance for Flyers

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Let’s use some research out there to take a stab at projecting how certain Flyers prospects’ offensive performances in other leagues may translate to the NHL.

There is no perfect way to predict a prospect’s success in the NHL. One of the better ways to predict a prospect’s success, however, is by finding out a player’s NHL equivalency, or NHLe. This is a measure that attempts to equate how many points a certain player would produce in the NHL by using their point totals of whatever league they are currently playing in.

Thanks to the hard work of Gabriel Desjardins and Rob Vollman, we are able to use this practice to find out the NHLe for the majority of players who aren’t currently playing in the NHL. Desjardins, the creator of the stat, sums it up like this:

“One way to evaluate the difficulty of one league relative to another is examine the relative performance of players who have played in both leagues. Players rarely play significant time in two leagues in the same year, but they often play in one league in one year and in another the next. As long as a player’s skill level is approximately constant over this two year period, the ratio of his performance in each league can be used to estimate the relative difficulty of the two leagues.”

Since this might be a little hard to follow so far, I’ll use Flyers’ 2012 fifth-round pick Reece Willcox as an example. So far this season, Willcox has seven points in 30 AHL games. Since one point in the AHL is equivalent to 0.47 points in the NHL according to Vollman’s latest translations, Willcox, in theory, has posted the equivalent of 3.29 points in 31 NHL games. With the majority of hockey leagues across the world having different lengths of seasons in terms of games played, I figured the easiest way to compare these totals would be to convert the rates to an 82-game season. Doing this, Willcox’s AHL point total translates to 8.9927 points in the NHL. Unfortunately for Willcox, I did not round up to any degree, so I said at this point he’d finish the season with eight points if he played a full NHL season.

Some Flyers’ prospects (Sam Morin, Danick Martel, and Tyrell Goulbourne) have already played in a few NHL games this season. For their equivalency totals, I subtracted the number of games played in the NHL this season from 82 and based the translation factors on that total number of games (Goulbourne played in two NHL games, so I used an 80-game season to find his AHL equivalency total rather than 82).

Luckily, 30 of the 31 translatable Flyers’ prospects’ NHLe were pretty straightforward and easy to complete. Olle Lycksell, the Orange and Black’s sixth-round pick in this year’s Entry Draft, was the only exception. The Swedish forward has played in 21 games for Linkoping HC’s under-20 team, 16 games for their SHL club, and a pair of games in the Allsvenskan with IK Oskarshamn.

To figure out Lycksell’s NHLe, I looked at what percentage of the season he has played in a certain league (53.84 percent of the season in the SuperElit, 41.02 percent of the season in the SHL, and 5.12 season in the Allsvenskan), figured out the number of games that would be in an 82-game season (44 games in the SuperElit, 34 games in the SHL, and 4 games in the Allsvenskan), found the NHLe totals in each of these leagues (nine in the SuperElit, four in the SHL, and one in the Allsvenskan), and added them together.

These percentages will most likely change throughout the season, as he is still loaned to IK Oskarshamn and will probably play several more games in the Allsvenskan.

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough out there to put together a passable translation rate for USHL players, meaning Noah Cates is the one Philadelphia prospect who isn’t listed below. The left winger has six goals and 14 assists in 26 games this season to place him fourth on the Omaha Lancers in scoring. His 20 points puts him in a tie for 27th in terms of scoring in the USHL. He is tied for 61st with 54 shots on goal among the 472 skaters to play in the USHL this season.

With all the explaining out of the way, here are where the Flyers’ prospects stand going into Friday night’s action:

Some observations on our findings here:

  • Wade Allison is truly killing it. Allison is fourth in the NCAA among players who have played in at least 20 games with 1.40 points per game and is one of only four players in the NCAA who has 15 goals or more in 20 games or less. Allison is the only one of the four players averaging 1.40 points per game and one of two players with 15 goals in 20 games (along with Florida Panthers’ prospect Henrik Borgstrom) playing in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), which is regarded as the hardest NCAA conference to produce points in according to Vollman’s numbers.
  • Cooper Marody and Tanner Laczynski make up two of the other three Flyers’ prospects with an NHLe of 30 points or better. Marody has been a part of Philly’s system for a little longer and is having his best season so far at Michigan with 29 points in 20 games during his junior season. Laczynski has the same number of points in two more games during his sophomore season at Ohio State. To go along with his 1.32 points per game, Laczynski is also fifth in the NCAA with 86 shots on goal.
  • Morgan Frost: also killing it. Heading into Friday night’s action, Frost leads the OHL with 66 points in 40 games, which is three more points than the second closest skater. His overall shooting percentage of 18.8 is a little high, but Frost also leads the OHL with 0.8 primary points per game at 5-on-5 out of the 34 forwards who have played 40 games or more, according to Prospect-Stats.
  • The trio of Oskar Lindblom, Danick Martel, and Mike Vecchione are producing at a rate in the AHL equivalent to point totals in the high twenties if they spent the whole season in the NHL. Jori Lehtera is on pace for eight points, Taylor Leier is on pace for nine, and Dale Weise is on pace for 13 in the actual NHL this year.
  • Over the summer I wrote about the four Flyers’ prospects whose rights expire after this season: Carsen Twarynski, Anthony Salinitri, Terrance Amorosa, and David Drake. Based on their NHLe, it doesn’t look likely they’ll be earning a contract before next season. Twarynski, Salinitri, and Amorosa each have point totals that translate to over 20 points in the NHL over a full season. However, each of these three players are in their fourth full season in their respective leagues and aren’t really standing out in any fashion. Drake is a shutdown defenseman who has never produced points in his career, so NHLe isn’t exactly a fair way to represent his game. Unfortunately for him, the fact he doesn’t produce points doesn’t necessarily help his case to earn a contract over the next few months.

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 13:59:05 EST from rss

Subject: The Spread for the Eagles Game Is Downright Odd and a Bit Concerning

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The Eagles-Falcons game is the most fascinating matchup this weekend for a number of reasons, most notably because no one knows what to expect from arguably the best team in football this year. The Eagles opened as a three-point home underdog and have stayed there all week despite upwards of 80% of public bets coming…

[#] Fri Jan 12 2018 14:35:07 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles announce jersey selection for playoff game against Falcons

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Dress accordingly.

The Philadelphia Eagles have officially announced their uniform selection for their Divisional Round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday.

They’re going with the midnight green tops and white pants. An obvious decision.

The Eagles went 8-1 in the nine games they wore this combination in 2017. Most of those games were at home but not all of them were. The Eagles wore midnight green tops both times they played in Los Angeles. That’s awfully fitting since those were almost like home games on the road.

The one loss the Eagles had in midnight green tops was in Week 17 when Philadelphia mostly rested their starters against the Cowboys. So that doesn’t really count.

Here’s a complete week-by-week jersey breakdown.

Week 1: All white (W)

Week 2: All white (L)

Week 3: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 4: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 5: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 6: All white (W)

Week 7: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 8: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 9: All black (W)

Week 10: Bye

Week 11: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 12: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 13: All white (L)

Week 14: Midnight green top, white pants (W)

Week 15: White tops, midnight green pants (W)

Week 16: All black (W)

Week 17: Midnight green top, white pants (L)*

And here’s to 9-1.

[#] Sat Jan 13 2018 07:19:47 EST from rss

Subject: Weather report for Eagles-Falcons playoff game

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If you’re going to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Divisional Round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field today, make sure you dress warm. It’s going to be cold.

According to the forecast from The Weather Channel, it’s expected to be around 30 degrees for the Eagles’ 4:35 PM kickoff. The wind chill will make it feel about 20 degrees. Temperatures are expected to drop throughout the game.

The Eagles should be used to playing in the cold by now. Their last two home games on Christmas and New Year’s Eve were very frigid. Doug Pederson had the team practice outside on Thursday to get ready for the chilly weather.

The Falcons, who play in a dome at home, won’t be as used to the cold weather. The coldest game they’ve played all season was against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11. The temperature was 45 degrees at an 8:30 PM kickoff. Atlanta narrowly won that game by a final score of 34 to 31.

Looking back even further, I’m realizing the Falcons haven’t played in a cold weather game in a long time. Their last such game against the Packers in December 2014, when the temperature was 33 degrees at kickoff. Atlanta lost to Green Bay in that one, 43-37.

If history is any indication, Saturday’s cold weather favors the Eagles.

Of course, the Eagles’ last playoff game counts as one of the four wins referenced in this stat. Philadelphia lost to the New Orleans Saints at the Linc in January 2014. So take this stat for what it’s worth.

Again, to those braving the cold to attend today’s game, we salute you. Make sure you’re extra loud in the crowd.

[#] Sat Jan 13 2018 06:35:26 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles vs. Falcons 2018: Game time, TV schedule, live online streaming, channel, radio, and more

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Learn more about the Philadelphia-Atlanta matchup set to take place on Saturday.

For the first time since January 2014, the Eagles will play in a playoff game today. That’s pretty cool. It’ll be even cooler if the Eagles are able to come out of the game with their first playoff win since January 2009.

As we all know, Philadelphia is set to host the Atlanta Falcons in a Divisional Round matchup. You may have heard the Eagles are home underdogs in this game.

The reason the Eagles aren’t favored is due to their quarterback situation. Carson Wentz is out for the season and Nick Foles is starting under center. Foles struggled in his last two starts with Philadelphia so it’s hard to feel super optimistic about him. Making matters more challenging is that Atlanta’s defense has played well recently.

It’s easier to feel good about an Eagles defense that’s played well at home over the past two seasons. Philadelphia will face a Falcons offense that features a number of weapons but has ultimately underachieved under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Many people aren’t even giving the Eagles a chance to win this game, which is silly. Winning won’t be easy for Philadelphia, but it’s not like they don’t have things going for them. The Eagles will have crowd noise on their side. The Falcons have had to travel while Philadelphia has been resting. And so on.

We’ll see if the Eagles can pull off the “upset” against Matt Ryan and the reigning NFC Champs.

Here's everything you need to know about how to watch the game.

TV Schedule

Date: Saturday, January 13, 2018

Time: 4:35 PM ET

Channel: NBC

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

Location: Lincoln Financial Field | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

NFL Network replay: January 14 at 1:00 AM ET

Radio: SportsRadio 94WIP | Full listings here

Online Streaming

NFL Sunday Ticket

NFL Game Pass

Live on NBC Sports Live Extra

Yahoo Sports mobile app


Per Bovada, the Eagles are underdogs at home.

Atlanta Falcons -3 (-120)

Philadelphia Eagles +3 (+100)

History Lesson

The Eagles are 16-13-1 in 30 all-time regular season appearances and 2-1 in three all-time playoff appearances against the Falcons. These two teams last played in 2016, when the Eagles won in Philadelphia by a final score of 24 to 15.


Bill Vinovich

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NFL Picks Divisional Round Playoffs 2018: Predictions by Football Writers

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A look at how previous home underdogs have fared in the 2nd round

Eagles vs. Falcons Game Preview: Six questions and answers with the enemy

Almost everyone is betting and picking against the Eagles in the Falcons game

Eagles-Falcons Final Injury Report: Two players questionable

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Film Room: How the Eagles beat the Falcons in 2016

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Eagles open as home underdogs against the Falcons

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

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Eagles 2017 Regular Season Schedule

Week 1 - at Washington Redskins (Sept. 10, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Week 2 - at Kansas City Chiefs (Sept. 17, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Week 3 - vs. New York Giants (Sept. 24, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Week 4 - at Los Angeles Chargers (Oct. 1, 4:05 PM ET, FOX)

Week 5 - vs. Arizona Cardinals (Oct. 8, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Week 6 - at Carolina Panthers (Oct. 12, 8:25 PM ET, CBS/NFLN) Thursday Night Football

Week 7 - vs. Washington Redskins (Oct. 23, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN) Monday Night Football

Week 8 - vs. San Francisco 49ers (Oct. 29, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Week 9 - vs. Denver Broncos (Nov. 5, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Week 10 - BYE

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

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

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

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

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

Week 16 - vs. Oakland Raiders (Dec. 25, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN) Monday Night Football on Christmas

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

Eagles 2018 NFL Playoffs Schedule

Wild Card - BYE

Divisional Round - vs. Atlanta Falcons (Jan. 13, 4:35 PM ET, NBC)

[#] Sat Jan 13 2018 05:59:00 EST from rss

Subject: Eagles News: Carson Wentz

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/13/18.

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

ESPN contributor Cian Fahey resigns after ‘ignorant’ conduct at bar - Awful Announcing
NFL analyst Cian Fahey announced Friday that he has resigned from his ESPN gig after what he described as “ignorant’ behavior at a bar. Fahey, who runs the football website Pre Snap Reads, hosted a podcast on ESPN and appeared frequently on ESPN radio programs. Fahey announced his resignation in a series of tweets Friday afternoon. He declined to elaborate on what he had done beyond saying he had, “treated American strangers like I would my Irish friends.” Fahey has lived most of his life in Ireland.

[BLG Note: In case you forgot, Cian is the guy who compared Carson Wentz to Blake Bortles right before the 2017 season.]

Falcons writer gives 3 reasons why the Eagles will beat Atlanta - BGN
The Falcons can’t handle the Eagles defense. This is a legitimate concern. The Falcons have been silenced multiple times this season by quality defenses, including a frankly embarrassing nine point excursion against the Minnesota Vikings defense. At home.

Eagles Mailbag: The day before the storm - PhillyVoice
For me, Bradham is the far more important player. He’s a good, solid starting linebacker who doesn’t seem to make many mistakes. He plays hard, he tackles well, and he’s very good in coverage, which can be hard to find at the linebacker spot. Because he was arrested twice last year, Bradham got labeled a “dumbass” by his own defensive coordinator, but is a better person than is probably perceived, as he spends a lot of time visiting schools, and other charitable efforts.

The Friggin Playoffs - Iggles Blitz
Are you excited yet? Nervous? It feels like a lifetime ago that the Eagles were in the playoffs. LeSean and DeSean were Eagles stars. Chip Kelly had a bright future. The backup QB at North Dakota State was some dude that nobody ever heard of. How things have changed. Can the Eagles win this game? Yes. Hell yes. The Falcons were a better team last year. The Eagles were worse. But the Eagles and their rookie QB still beat the high-flying Falcons in November of 2016.

Lawlor: Time For The Defense To Deliver -
Buddy Ryan built a great defense when he took over as head coach of the Eagles back in 1986. It took him a few years to put all the pieces together, but Gang Green’s performance in 1991 is one of the best of all time. Unfortunately, that particular defense didn’t get to the postseason. It would have been great to see them playing in January for the one season that everything truly clicked. Instead, we are left with frustrating memories from 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992. Reggie White and his teammates couldn’t shut people down, allowing 20 or more points in each playoff game in those seasons. Despite enormous talent, those teams only won a single playoff game. Jim Johnson had some great defenses. They shut some opponents down in the playoffs. There were nine games where teams scored 17 or fewer points. Johnson’s defense held several teams to single digits. That level of defense helped the Eagles have postseason success from 2000-08. January is all about defense.

Winning ground war is Eagles’ best path to victory over Falcons - Daily News
Forget Matt Ryan. Forget Nick Foles. Forget Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffery and slants and posts and 50-50 balls. Focus on sweeps and dives and draws and counters and off-tackle runs. Lane Johnson says Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game between the Eagles and Falcons will be won or lost not through the air but on the ground. “What we’re going to try to do is run the ball and keep them from running the ball,’’ the Eagles’ All-Pro right tackle said. “Try to make them one-dimensional. If we do that, we’ll win the game.’’

Falcons vs. Eagles: NFC Divisional Round preview -
Having won seven of their last nine games, the Falcons boast a momentum edge as well as a decided advantage under center. Those strengths are counterbalanced by coaching and matchup issues, as evidenced by last year’s decisive outcome in which a lesser version of the current Eagles became the lone team to hold Atlanta’s explosive offense under 20 points. Will a Falcons outfit that has struggled to match the consistency and potency of last year’s attack fare any better this time around? We have our doubts.

2017 NFL playoffs: Player scouting reports and game predictions - ESPN
How do you take Matt Ryan out of his game? “He’s not the type of guy that likes to get hit. If you can get after him early, that’ll get him rattled. We know they like to run a lot of two-man routes, so there’s going to be more protection. Wherever their singles are, those are the guys that have to win.”

Steelers D Vs. Bortles’ Legs, Vikings Must Be Sharp When Blitzing Brees, Tennessee Takes on Gronk, Philly’s Chance to Run on Atlanta - Sports Illustrated
10. Falcons right guard Wes Schweitzer has played better in recent weeks than he did in September, October and November, where he was clearly the O-line’s weak link. On the left side, backup Ben Garland has been surprisingly stellar filling in for the injured Andy Levitre. But that said, these two are still on the wrong end of a glaring mismatch against the Eagles. Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan have been the most dynamic defensive tackle pairing in the league this year, and in passing situations, Brandon Graham, who often slides inside from his defensive end spot, has some of the best quickness and body control that Schweitzer and Garland will ever see.

Key stats for every Divisional Round playoff team - PFF
Team Stat: The Eagles’ front seven (interior defenders, edge defenders and linebackers) have combined to produce a run-stop percentage of 8.4 percent, the best mark among the league’s 32 units. Elite Stat: Edge defender Brandon Graham has logged a run-stop percentage of 13.7 percent so far this year, which is the best mark among 4-3 defensive ends with at least 100 run-defense snaps.

NFC Divisional Round Playoff Preview 2018 - Football Outsiders
But what’s interesting here is that once we adjust for the fact that Atlanta faced more third-and-longs than other teams, the Falcons defense was actually bad at getting off the field on third downs. The Falcons were a dismal 29th in defensive DVOA on third and fourth downs: 14th on third-and-short (1-2 yards), but 27th on third-and-medium (3-6) and 29th on third-and-long (7+). Essentially, the Falcons faced a lot of passes in situations that were very favorable for them, and still allowed too many conversions. OK, fine, but will they allow those conversions to Nick Foles? The Philadelphia offense was great on third downs, including No. 1 on third-and-long, but again... does that mean anything with Foles now at quarterback?

All Eyes on Nick Foles: Does the Eagles QB Have a Playoff Run in Him? - B/R
“There’s still hope, man,” Vick says. “When you have a defense as strong as the Eagles defense, all you have to do is make plays on offense where you’re complementing what the defense is allowing you to do. … If Nick plays well, if Nick does everything he knows he can do—play with confidence, be assertive, take the bull by the reins and just run with it, [the Super Bowl is realistic]. ”And have fun, man. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s always easier to play when you’ve got a good defense. He has that.”

Eagles Q&A with Joe Banner: On Joe Douglas, Jim Schwartz and playing the role of ‘bad cop’ - The Athletic
Assuming the team asking permission is giving, in this case Joe, final say over personnel decisions, the Eagles can only block Joe until they’re done playing. So as soon as they’ve played their last game, if the team is giving him final say over football decisions, the Eagles would not be able to block him from taking an interview — if he wanted to do that. But the key is if the team is just trying to hire him as general manager, he has some final say, but the coach may have some final say, then as long as he’s under contract, they can block him. If the job includes final say, then they can only block him until they stop playing.

Fargo, Season 4 - The Ringer
While they’ll be without their star quarterback this weekend and throughout the playoffs, the Philadelphia Eagles receiving corps credit the team’s success to a trip they took to Carson Wentz’s home state over the summer. And to bison burgers, lots and lots of bison burgers.

Eagles RB Jay Ajayi’s career, fueled by doubts, has been building toward this postseason - PennLive
To Ajayi, 24, his football career has long been about silencing naysayers. ”Building the chip, getting doubted here and there,” Ajayi said. “Colleges. D-1. It built over time. Building the fire, adding fuel. The draft. Everything. It’s been building more and more, just building that ultra competitiveness. I just always want to be the best and prove everyone wrong, because there’s a lot of people that say a lot of stuff.” And the motivation has guided him here, to Philadelphia, where he has a chance to make his grandest statement by leading a new team somewhere they’ve never been.

How Foles dealt with week of doubters - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Alshon Jeffery sees it too. The Eagles’ top receiver said Foles seemed a lot more relaxed this week. He thinks it has something to do with finally having an opponent to prepare for and a game plan to install. So how about that. As confidence in Foles outside the building has been plummeting, his self-confidence might be reaching a new high.

For Eagles Stefen Wisniewski the playoffs were a long time coming - NFL Player Engagement
All it took was seven years, three teams and 107 games for Stefen Wisniewski to finally play in a NFL playoff game. Wisniewski, the Philadelphia Eagles veteran guard, will make his postseason debut when the Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional round game Saturday, January 13 at Lincoln Financial Field. “It feels pretty awesome,’’ Wisniewski said. “I’ve been waiting a long time. Six years and really never even having been close to making it. This year has been pretty special.’’

By the Number stats preview: Falcons vs. Eagles - The Falcoholic
The 10-6 Falcons face the 13-3 Eagles in the Divisional round of the playoffs. How do these two teams compare statistically?

NFL playoffs 2018: What to watch for in the Divisional Round - SB Nation
The Eagles should let Nick Foles take shots downfield against the Falcons. Let’s start with the Saturday afternoon contest in Philadelphia. The Eagles are home underdogs against the Falcons, the first time a No. 1 seed has been an underdog in the Divisional Round. The reason is clear: Nick Foles. You can read my write-up on what the Eagles need to do with Foles, but the key for them is Doug Pederson. The conventional wisdom is when you have a backup quarterback with a strong run game and a good defense, you play it safe with the route concepts. However, I think Pederson needs to scheme up some shots for Foles. This is Pederson’s first shot in the playoffs as a head coach, and he’s had two weeks to figure out ways to push the ball downfield. They don’t need multiple shots, but just a few to get the offense some chunk plays. Also, scoring a touchdown early will lift the anxiety off the Linc and that place will be rocking.


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[#] Sat Jan 13 2018 05:01:10 EST from rss

Subject: NFL Picks Against the Spread 2018: Divisional Round Playoff Games

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Here are some suggestions when trying to beat the odds.

Before the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL playoffs kicks off, let’s have some fun by taking a look at the lines for today’s games. (Click here for Divisional Round 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 record this season is 113-103-9. Let’s get to the picks.

Divisional Round Games

Altanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles: It’s been said a billion times by now ... the Eagles are the first ever No. 1 seed to be underdogs in their first playoff game. Most aren’t giving the Eagles a shot to win this game. A majority of the public money is on the Falcons. Despite this, the line hasn’t moved much since it opened at Falcons -2.5. The feeling here is the line will drop once the smart money comes in on the Eagles today. Don’t wait until then. Fade the public now and bet on Philadelphia. Matt Ryan vs. Nick Foles is a big mismatch, yes, but the Eagles’ defense and home crowd will give Philly a shot in this one. I’m taking the Eagles outright. PICK: Eagles +3

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5): Last week’s win over the Chiefs didn’t change how I feel about this Titans team. They’re still pretty bad, which is evident in the line here. 13.5 points is a lot, but are you really going to be against a pissed off Patriots team at home? New England is going to be out with something to prove after last week’s ESPN article. They’re going to smash the Titans. PICK: Patriots -13.5

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7): This is a tough one. The Jaguars won by a final score of 30-9 when these two teams last played in October. Ben Roethlisberger threw FIVE interceptions in that game. Hard to imagine he does that again. Still, this No. 1 ranked Jags defense will be tough to crack. Especially with Antonio Brown questionable to play. But do I really want to count on Blake Bortles in this game? The guy could easily throw a pick six or two. I’m going to roll with the Steelers here because I think they play better than they did when these teams last met. I could really go either way with this one so I have to give the tie to the home team that’s been in this moment before. PICK: Steelers -7

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-4): This has the makings of a real good game. The Saints lost to the Vikings when these two teams played in Minnesota in Week 1, but so many things have changed since then. Sam Bradford was the Vikings’ starting quarterback. Adrian Peterson was the Saints’ primary running back. Despite the fact that things have changed, I think the result could be the same. Minnesota’s defense is just so good, especially at home. Case Keenum versus Drew Brees is a big mismatch on paper, but I just think the Vikings’ offense will be able to do enough against a Saints defense that’s not invulnerable. PICK: Vikings -4

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