Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Case for Philly


I'm skipping the Know Your Enemy thing this week because we know Dallas so well. I will have a strategy and matchups post on Friday.

Philadelphia at Dallas on Sunday should be a good game. I think both teams are capable of winning. There are all kinds of trends to study and you can frame an argument for either team. Rather than cover everything at once I decided to start with the argument for why the Eagles will win. Tomorrow I'll cover the Cowboyz.

The Eagles are the hottest team in the NFC, having won 6 games in a row. During the 6-game winning streak the Eagles have played good football. They aren't overachieving in a way that makes you nervous. Some teams play at such a level you know they can't sustain it. That isn't the case right now. Heck, we've yet to see the Eagles really play a complete game.

The Eagles have owned Dallas in late season games and re-matches in this decade. Dallas won in 2005. That's it. And even in that game the Eagles had to gift-wrap the win and give it to Dallas. You may (nightmarishly) recall McNabb throwing a pass to the right side that Roy Williams picked and ran back for the winning score. Still, Mike McMahon almost got the Eagles back into FG range to win. Unfortunately the receiver dropped the pass.

Tony Romo has really struggled in re-matches with our D. The obvious reply to that is that Jim Johnson is no longer running things and that changes the situation entirely. I don't fully buy that. Sean McDermott is running the same basic scheme with many of the same players. It isn't like we shifted to the 3-4 or Tampa 2 or anything.

In the first meeting the Eagles gave the game away. Dallas won 20-16, but 10 of those points came off turnovers. The other TD came on a long pass when several defenders made a mistake at the same time. The OL was still being shuffled quite a bit at that time. That helped the Cowboys get pressure on McNabb. We also made a ton of mistakes, especially the rookies.

Jeremy Maclin was still figuring things out back then. He had 22 catches in 7 games leading up to Dallas. Jeremy's worst game of the year was Dallas. His early bobble/drop/deflection was picked off and set up a short TD drive. He had another pass thrown his way that was picked off. He committed a penalty when trying to make the tackle on that play. Jeremy's caught 27 catches in the 5 games since then. Several of those catches have come on game winning drives. He isn't dropping passes or making dumb mistakes. This isn't the same guy they saw in November.

Role players have really emerged. Tracy White has really come on in the last month. He's become a good Nickel LB. Darren Howard has played better recently. Alex Smith has become a good blocker for us. Mike Vick and the Wildcat package have become an effective weapon. We're still not 100% sure if he'll play.

We had only played one close game prior to the first Dallas meeting. We lost that at Oakland. Since then we've won 3 close games. We've shown the ability to come from behind in the 4th Qtr and make clutch plays on offense and defense.

Make things simple if you want. We've won more games on the year. We've got a longer winning streak. We're the number three scoring team in the league. We have an elite offensive and STs weapon in DeSean Jackson. We have a QB who tends to win in December and January. We have a good FG kicker. We have a coach who knows how to win.

We're the better team right now.


When logic fails, get creative. More reasons we'll win...

* Victor Abiamiri and Jason Witten have the same number of TDs, 1. When our Nickel DT can score as well as your stud're in trouble.

* Dallas hasn't beaten a team with a winning record in more than 10 days. We have.

* Andy Reid could clearly win a belly-bucking contest with Wade Phillips. Big Red would dominate him.

* Joe Banner did a cost analysis of the situation and found out it is better financially if we win. We all know that Joe secretly runs everything.

* Bunk and Patt were promised an extra pork chop if they shut down the Dallas running game.

* Eldra Buckley is "Mr. January".


I had no major problems with any of the Eagles selections.

DeSean Jackson
Leonard Weaver
Jason Peters
Trent Cole
Asante Samuel
David Akers

Peters didn't have a great year, but he played pretty well after the first couple of games. There weren't great OT choices in the NFC this year.

I know a lot of people wanted Sheldon to make it. He had a good year, but I'm still mad at him for biting on the fake vs DAL in November.

The Pro Bowl is more of a popularity contest than anything. It still means something to the players, but plenty of talented guys get snubbed. You need to play on the right team and in the right scheme.



Tommy Lawlor said...

@ Adam...

From the previous comments section...

I will see about putting together some stuff on Nick and Max.

rick said...

Doesn't San Diego have more consecutive wins right now at 10?

Tommy Lawlor said...

Good catch, Rick.

I was focused only on the Colts. SD really is flying under the radar.

I edited the post to refer to us as the hottest team in the NFC.

Hopefully that's my final blunder of 2009.

Ben said...

Tommy earlier I heard Adam Shefter discussing no football in 2011. Do you know anything about how this possible no CBA thing is working?

I hope they just can all agree on something.

Cliff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cliff said...

I'd say the possibility of not playing in 2011 is slim. Of course, I have no personal connection to anyone involved in the CBA discussions, but I do know greed is a powerful motivator. The NFL, its owners, and its players would be losing billions of dollars if they don't play in 2011. Merchandise sales, ticket sales, TV contracts - all that goes away for a year. I can't see Jerry Jones biting the bullet and paying for his McStadium entirely out of his own pocket for a year. Talk about ouch.

(Yikes. I deleted and re-posted my comment because of typos.)

Tommy Lawlor said...

I don't have any special inside info for you. A couple of tidbits that I have heard:

* The Eagles haven't made any special provisions. Obviously contract extensions are a major question mark at this point, but management hasn't told everyone to cut costs in any drastic way. We've seen some other teams make special preparations for fear of a lockout.

* The players seem genuinely impressed by DeMaurice Smith, the new head of the NFLPA. I was told that his best trait is being able to explain things so that even the non-geniuses of the locker room can understand. That can be a major accomplishment.

I hope the players and owners are able to work something out. It is confusing right now to figure out the comments in the media and whether this is all posturing by each side or if there is a huge disconnect between both sides.

Maybe I'm naive, but I think both sides know a work-stoppage would be really bad and will figure something out.

Myron said...

There are equally persuasive arguments for both a Cowboys victory and an Eagles victory.

I'm not very confident in the Eagles beating the Cowboys in their home stadium, especially after the loss of Jamaal Jackson. If they do win, I'll be ecstatic, but if they lose, it really won't be all that shocking, I think.

The one thing that absolutely cannot happen, though, is for the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. If that happens, I am literally going to stop watching football for good. If I have to put up with Wade Phillips, Jerry Jones, Tony Romo and Miles Austin, and the legions of obnoxious Cowboys bandwagon fans talking about Super Bowl victories, it's bad enough now with the whole "5 rings" talk. If they happen to win another one in this decade, it will literally be unbearable. Can you picture all of the insufferable talk about the zero Eagles Lombardis if the Cowboys get a sixth? Now we won't even be able to use the "playoff games / super bowl appearances this decade" defense.

Cliff said...

Just noticed that Redskins rookie OLB Brian Orakpo made the Pro Bowl. The Skins finally got a draft pick right, it looks like. I secretly rooted for Orakpo all season long. He led the team with 11 sacks, I think.

Orakpo exemplifies what scares me about Washington. They have a lot of talent on their team. Sophomore wide receiver Devin Thomas player really well this year, too.

Cliff said...

Another thing to consider is that we've not only played tougher defenses the last 2 weeks, we've also played against the 3-4 the last 2 weeks.

Traditionally, our offense has always been challenged by the 3-4 defense (or maybe it was just that better opponents seemed to run the 3-4). However, we played and beat two tough, stingy 3-4 defenses the last couple games.

In other words, our offense has seen a similar defense to the Cowboys for the past 2 weeks and the Cowboys offense hasn't been challenged in the last 2 weeks.

bthackra said...

Game plan question. What do you think we see out of the Birds on Sunday? Firing deep passes from the start to get the Cowgirls down early (since the 'girls don't play well from behind/with pressure). Or more emphasis on the running game early to neutralize the pass rush, attack the 3-4 defense, and help get the o-line in a rhythm early.

Prem Prakash said...

I think "The Case for Philly" oughta' sway any jury that honestly evaluates the evidence. Both teams are strong and match up well, but our guys are much better in the clutch. Vegas has the Cowboys as 3 point favorites, which is the usual home-field advantage. My hope is we get a lead, take the crowd out of it, force Romo to chuck the ball in the air towards our 14 interceptions cbs, and we all watch the wildcard games next week to see who comes to the Linc for NFC semi-finals.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE said...

If we pull off the win, I'll *buy* the extra pork chops for the entire team :)


Cliff said...

Everyone eat extra black-eyed peas tonight, please. Thanks.

The Old Buffoon said...

We're all worried about Ratliff v MJG. But if we're going to compare it to last game, we have to compare MJG @ RG v Stacey @ RG. In that comparison, we might actually fare slightly better than last game. Watching the highlights and reading your game review, it was Stacey who was getting consistently beat by Ratliff. Not saying Ratliff can't reak the same havoc facing MJG, but still, thought it was worth mentioning.

Ben said...

@ Old:

that's a good way to look at things. I hadn't thought of that before that it was Stacy and not Nick who was having that trouble last game. Max isn't the quickest guy though and Ratliff is very quick for a NT. I think our recent commitment to the run game will help us neutralize their rush some.