Tag Archives: Browns

After the tumultous season the Eagles have had, they’re the sanest team in the NFC East? Actually, yeah…

Wait, that can’t be right. I mean, first, we had the controversy with Lito Sheppard. And all of the talk about how we couldn’t stop anybody’s running game and how Donovan couldn’t win the close ones. And then we tied the friggin’ Bengals, and Donovan admitted he didn’t know how the overtime system worked. Than, he got benched against the Ravens, for Chrissakes. All of this while most of Philly was calling for Andy Reid’s head on a silver platter, because of the unbalanced play-calling, and his terrible record at replay challenges, and his clock-management, and his inability to make in-game adjustments, and his personnel decisions, and…

Awwww dude, that is so not cool. Yeah, um, that was the only picture we could find with a head on a silver platter-  yeah, that sounds right...

Awwww dude, that is so not cool. Yeah, um, that was the only picture we could find with a head on a platter. Right...

Where does the whole sane thing come into play, exactly?

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Filed under College Football, Eagles, General, NFL, Olympics, Uncategorized

Game Notes: Eagles vs. Cleveland Steamers

What do Scott Weiland and the Cleveland Steamers, eh, Browns have in common? Glad you asked. Scott Weiland spent his glory years with the Stone Temple Pilots in the 90’s. The Browns spent their glory years in Cleveland until 1995, when they were shipped to Baltimore by Cleveland’s Antichrist, Art Modell. Weiland often battled a heroin addiction; Cleveland fans battled not having a team to support. Weiland never achieved the same level of musical quality or cultural relevance after splitting with the band (Editor’s note: Sorry, Velvet Revolver doesn’t quite cut it). The Browns have had only two winning seasons in the past nine years, and only made the playoffs in one of those years. Oh, and Weiland has a new song out right now – what’s the name of that song?

Oh, right: “Missing Cleveland.”

"This is for you, Modell!"

"This is for you, Modell!"

Which any pure NFL fan with an appreciation for traditional football organizations does. Which the old Dawg Pound most certainly did for the three years Cleveland was team-less. Cleveland fans are some of the best football fans in America, and they deserved better than losing their team, and they deserve better than this one. So, that being said, hopefully the Eagles will decimate the Browns tonight and keep their playoff hopes alive.

But just know, Cleveland: I feel for you. I really do. Now to my game notes.

8: 29 PM: Oh man, the ESPN pregame crew is so super funny. They are all giggling, pretending like they might not pick the Eagles in this game. What whimsical irony they deftly wield in front of our eyes like the most graceful of swordsmen. (Editor’s note: What mildly phallic prose The Pundit stumbles over in his attempts at high-minded wit).

8:34 PM: Does any sport lend itself to better sexual innuendo than football? Brian Westbrook really hits the hole hard. The tight end was wide open. Good catch. The Browns are unveiling their flash package. I mean, it’s friggin’ priceless. (Editor’s note: This post has not yet been rated).

8:43 PM: Very nice sideline catch by Jason “Idiot” Avant.

8:45 PM: The Eagles are doing what they need to do early – mixing the running game with the passing attack and marching down the field, all topped off by a beautiful catch by Kevin Curtis in the end zone. Nice ball, nice jumping catch, and the Eagles take the 7-0 lead.

8:53 PM: Josh Cribbs gets a first down on a counter run in the flash package. They should probably just let Cribbs play quarterback.

8:54 PM: Spoke to soon. Ken Dorsey beats the blitz and throws a perfect fade to Braylon Edwards. Good God, the Browns are threatening to score their first touchdown after three games without one!

8:57 PM: Ah, it’s just the Browns. Their no-touchdown streak lives on; 7-3 Eagles.

8:59 PM: Another nice return by Demps – I love this kid’s motor.

9:04 PM: Apparently, Jason Avant is our first-down guy tonight. Nice snag over the middle to keep the drive going. So far, the offense is balanced. But what happens when the scripted plays run out…

9:10 PM: Another nice drive by the Eagles offense, though they couldn’t punch it in. 10-3 Birds.

9:11 PM: Is anybody else completely done with the UPS whiteboard guy? (Editor’s note: Yup).

9:17 PM: Stewart Bradley blasts Jamal Lewis at the line of scrimmage. Great pursuit angle by Bradley on the play. One play later, the Eagles blow up Cribbs in the Flash. The Eagles D, after the Browns worked down the field on the first drive, have suddenly awoken.

9:23 PM: Jaworski has been highlighting it, and it’s a very good point: Westbrook, other than being an amazing runner and receiver out of the backfield, is also very adroit at picking up the blitz in the passing game. It certainly has helped McNabb, who has been on point with his passes: 11-15 to open the game.

9:29 PM: Sometimes, we all get a little too fancy. Like the Eagles running the Wildcat on third-and-goal and having DeSean Jackson throw the ball. Which resulted in an interception. Bollocks! (Editor’s note: Though a better throw by Jackson may have resulted in a TD. That’s it – put in Kevin Kolb. For DeSean Jackson. Trust me, it’ll get the point across…) Three drives into the red zone on three possessions, and only 10 points. The one thing you do not want to do with a team like the Browns is let them hang around – put them away while you have the chance, and don’t give them any unnecessary confidence.

9:35 PM: Asante Samuel intercepts a Dorsey pass, and takes it to the house. That’s why he makes the big bucks, people. Though he almost pulled a DeSean by dropping the ball before the goal line. Thankfully, he woke up and picked the ball up in the end zone. Guys, just act like you’ve been there before. Nice job by Chris Clemons getting pressure on Dorsey and forcing the poor throw. You’re off the hook, DeSean. (Editor’s note: Alright Kolb, sit back down, buddy).

9:43 PM: Trent Cole wills his way to another sack. Another man that needs a nickname. What about Trent Coletrain? (Editor’s note: Not bad, though there’s really no musical connection).

9:45 PM: You know a team is in trouble when one of the graphics ESPN has prepared for you is the potential coaches that will take over for the incumbent after the year. Ah, the poor, poor Cleveland fans.

9:54 PM: WHY CAN’T THE EAGLES FINISH A HALF WITHOUT SOMETHING NEGATIVE HAPPENING? McNabb under throws a fade, and if it weren’t for the hustle of Brian Westbrook and friends, the Browns would have returned the pick for a TD. Aaaaaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhh! (Editor’s note: Though it was a pretty one-handed pick by Brandon McDonald). The Eagles have been in the red zone four times, and have 10 points for their efforts. That’s just not good enough, but they still lead at the half, 17-7. Thank God we’re playing the Steamers.

10:11 PM: Braylon Edwards is really playing well tonight – another very nice grab by Mr. Monday Night.

10:22 PM: The Eagles are moving once more – another third-down conversion to Action Jackson. (Editor’s note: Oh, we’re doing that now?) Amazing what manageable third-downs can do for an offense. (Editor’s note: Alright, now you’re just being damn smug about this whole offensive balance thing).

10:30 PM: Five red zone trips, and only 13 offensive points. I know the score is 20-3 in the favor of the Birds, but their chances in the red zone against the Redskins and Cowboys will be more limited than this. You have to be able to convert these opportunities – it’s about consistent efficiency, people.

10:41 PM: Another beautiful throw from McNabb to First-Down Avant. Not sure what the Eagles third-down conversions are at right now, but it has to be at a high percentage.

10:46 PM: 10-14 on third downs after the Eagles again fail to convert in the red zone, or as Jaws so eloquently put it, the Vomit Zone. (Editor’s Note: While enjoying your stay at the Vomit Zone, be sure to check out feature films at our state-of-the-art multiplex. Now playing:  “2 Girls 1 Cup.” Do enjoy!) Eagles up 23-3, early fourth.

Dude...

Dude...

10:52 PM: Wow. Ken Dorsey just threw an inexplicable duck right into the hands of a surprised Stewart Bradley. I don’t think there was a Brown within ten yards of Bradley. I can already imagine the conversation between Romeo Crennel and Ken Dorsey on the sideline.

Crennel: Man, what was that?

Dorsey: Sorry coach, I, uh, thought I could squeeze it in there.

Crennel: Into where? There wasn’t one of our guys in the vicinity of that pass!

Dorsey: Would this be a strange time to tell you that I’m color blind?

Crennel: For one, yes, now would be a completely inexcusable time to mention that you’re color blind. And on top of that, even if you’re color blind, you could still distinguish between their dark tops and our white tops.

Dorsey: Would now be a strange time to tell you that I suffer from frequent bursts of random amnesia?

Crennel: Good God, just fire me already…

10:56 PM: Holy cow, the Eagles scored a red zone TD! Alright, Eagles. Greg Lewis, who is still, inexplicably, on this team, was sitting in a hole in the defense at the back of the end zone. 30-3 Eagles.

11:06 PM: Oh no! Andy Reid benched Donovan and put Kevin Kolb in the game! All is lost. For the Browns. Let’s see what the Kolbler can do. Wow, I didn’t so much as finish typing before Kolb threw a pick to McDonald, who took his second pick to the house. And the Browns finally score a touchdown. Congrats, fellas. Oh, and let’s definitely get rid of McNabb after the season is over – Kevin Kolb is without doubt ready to take over the reins of this offense. (Editor’s note: In the immortal words of Borat Sagdiyev: “Not!”)

11:14 PM: And there it is! The inevitable reference to Philadelphia fans throwing snowballs at Santa Claus! Our streak lives on – that’s now 1,238,543 consecutive national broadcasts with the Santa Claus story being mentioned! For the love of God, let it go! (Editor’s note: Anybody know if Santa retaliated by throwing coal into the stands?)

Apparentely, Santa took out his frustrations from that fateful day on some unsuspecting elf...

Apparentely, Santa took out his frustrations from that fateful day on some unsuspecting elf...

11:22 PM: Well, it’s the two-minute warning. I think I’ll be signing off now. Eagles stay alive in the playoff race, and start to prepare for the Redskins. This one was never really in question. Keep your heads up, Cleveland fans: karma will swing your way soon. Hopefully, the Browns will field a successful team once more.

You deserve nothing less.

E-A-G-L-E-S  EAGLES!

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The Pundit Poll – How will the Eagles finish the season?

Well, after the victory over the Giants, we can actually have this discussion. Are the Eagles looking like a playoff team to you, or will they break your heart? Do you think they may hot-streak their way to the Superbowl, or will they be golfing come playoff time? Here’s your forum, people – vote, and feel free to comment in support of your vote.

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Coming down the stretch, part two: AFC predictions

By Rant (With blurbs from The Pundit)

Tennessee Titans  (11-1)

This team, like the New York Giants, isn’t flashy, yet they get the job done and are solid from top to bottom. They are a force to be reckoned with, and what’s more is that the Titans have been in this position before with head coach Jeff Fisher; they know how to win big. (Editor’s note: I’m not entirely sure when Rant means here. Last year they were a wildcard team that lost in the first round of the playoffs. The last time the Titans made a run was in 2002, when they won their division and eventually lost to the Raiders in the AFC Championship game. Not sure that many players from this team were on that one, however). Their running game is absurd, though defenses have really started to key on Chris Johnson’s speed; simultaneously, the rookie may be hitting the wall a bit in his first NFL season. He had a huge day against Detroilet, but my grandmother could run all over that defense if she had a good line to block for her. (Editor’s note: She probably has one hell of a stiff arm. Actually, I’d imagine all of her joints are pretty stiff by now).

The Titans are leading the AFC South by 3 games, ahead of the previously untouchable leaders, the Indianapolis Colts. Kerry Collins may be experiencing a career renaissance, turning 36 in December, though he’s not quite the ageless “wonder” that Kurt Warner is. Still, he has been playing well…but will it be enough for Tennessee’s offense if the run game gets completely shut down?  I’m not sure there.

Regardless, this team will continue to physically pound and out-hit their opponents.  Their defense is relentless and will help bring this team to victory in the playoffs.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Cleveland (W); at Houston (W); vs. Pittsburgh (L); at Indianapolis (L)

I see the Titans winning games against Cleveland and Houston easily, but then dropping a loss at home to Pittsburgh because they’ve gotten complacent about their record.  Jeff Fisher will rest his starters the last game of the season in a loss at Indy because his team holds the best record in the AFC and is therefore guaranteed home field advantage in the playoffs.

Final Record:  13-3

AFC Playoff Spot:  No. 1 Seed; AFC South Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree here – they should have the top seed all wrapped up by the time the Steelers roll into town.

Pittsburgh Steelers  (9-3)

Ben Roethlisberger is playing at the top of his game right now, despite an offensive line that seems to willingly give up sacks and free quarterback hits. (Editor’s note: 33 sacks, to be precise, and the 36 overall the Steelers have allowed is 6th worst in the NFL). Last year, Roethlisberger got sacked second most in the league but still managed a 31 to 11 TD:INT ratio, an incredible stat that tells me this guy knows how to sling the football.  Though Roethlisberger isn’t performing as well this year, he is still the leader of their offense and his tough play through injury embodies what the team stands for (Editor’s note: 13 TD’s, 12 INT’s – not exactly awe-inspiring).

Tomlin seems to have opened up the passing attack to Big Ben in a Pittsburgh fashion, meaning that they’ll still pass but at heart remain a smashmouth, aggressive running team first. The running back committee, however, has been blown many an injury, namely to Willie Parker and top draft pick Rashard Mendenhall.

Pittsburgh’s D will continue to destroy players as they gain momentum heading into the playoffs.  This will be big for the Steelers, because teams will continue to come after Big Ben and it’s going to make things difficult for their offense.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Dallas (L); at Baltimore (W); at Tennessee (W); vs. Cleveland (W)

I see the Steelers losing big against Big D this weekend.  This will serve as a wake-up call for Pittsburgh, inspiring them to win out the rest of the season.  I think they’ll stun a tough Tennessee team on the road, coming out swinging and playing the same aggressive, hard hitting football that the Titans play, and they won’t be ready for it.

Final Record:  12-4

AFC Playoff Spot:  No. 2 Seed; AFC North Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I think Dallas will simply outscore them, doing just enough on defense to get the win, and then comes an interesting match-up against Baltimore. Sorry, Steelers fans – Baltimore’s defense is structured to give Roethlisberger hell all game long. I see Baltimore crawling past Pitt in a knock-out, drag-down battle. I’m thinking 9-7, Baltimore. The Steelers salvage their season by beating an uninterested Titans team and Cleveland, because, well, it’s Cleveland, finishing 11-5 and winning the division. They’ll finish tied with B-More, but after a couple of tiebreakers, their 10 conference wins to the Ravens’ 9 will give them the division.

New York Jets  (8-4)

I remember hearing an analyst this July say that the New York Jets would flip their 2007 5-11 record to 11-5 this year with the arrival of Favre.  I thought that was an overestimation of the Favre-trade effectiveness.  Looks like I could be wrong. (Editor’s note: Though I hate to admit it, ditto.)  But I mean, there’s a first for everything, right?  (Editor’s note: And whatever shred of humility Rant had salvaged by admitting he was wrong just dissipated beyond recovery). Favre is playing really well, and the team has seemed to rally around him. The Jets beat a previously undefeated Titans team two weeks ago, then got humbled at home by dropping a loss to the Broncos; and Favre did not look good in that game. (Editor’s note: Neither did their 30th ranked pass-defense; would you like those 357 passing yards and 2 touchdowns gift-wrapped for the holiday season, Mr. Cutler?)

The Jets were getting really hot before last week, and I see them rediscovering their spark and blazing through teams on their way to winning the division. (Editor’s note: That’s one small step for man, and one giant step for Mangini’s job security?) New York will get by on the arm of Brett Favre and a defense that does enough to win games. (Editor’s note: They are 8th against the run). Their D-line has stepped it up, and I think that will continue.

Remaining Schedule:  at San Francisco (W); vs. Buffalo (W); at Seattle (W); vs. Miami (L)

The loss to the Broncos will fuel this team to win big the next three games. But I see Miami declaring war against New York in the season finale; Favre won’t be on his game and have a multiple pick outing, throwing the game away to the Dolphins. But it doesn’t matter because New York will lock up the division and head into the playoffs,  though I think Favre’s uncanny ability to make dumb throws will plague this team in the postseason.

Final Record:  11-5

AFC Playoff Spot:  No. 3 Seed; AFC East Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I disagree only slightly with Rant’s final prognosis – I see this team winning out. Having Buffalo and Miami at home will be an advantage, especially against Miami, who is 1-7 since 2000 against the Jets in New York.

Denver Broncos  (7-5)

The Broncos are led by another young quarterback lighting up the league this year, Jay Cutler (at least when he isn’t stinking it up against the likes of the lowly Raiders). He and his team of wannabes, the Denver Broncos, keep sending me mixed signals. (Editor’s note: And women continue to send him no signals whatsoever). Cutler started off the first 4 games of the year leading MVP talk with Drew Brees nipping at his heels. But he cooled off, and so did his team, which lacks a solid defensive unit.

The defensive play is unfortunate, because they have some stars in players like Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil (who I, by the way, always said would be great coming out of college), etc.  The Broncos, like the Seattle Seahawks of pre-2008, are basically granted a free playoff spot due to their poor division, barring a total collapse.

This team needs to learn how to shore up the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, as the run game and run defense are both lacking.  This will be a problem, because they will not be a legitimate title contender without establishing a run game. (Editor’s note: Though Peyton Hillis did just go for 129 yards with a TD against a pretty good Jets running D). But the Bronco’s will be in the playoffs anyway, and I’m glad for them.  Besides, I have a soft spot in my football-shaped heart for the Broncos.  I’d like to see them and Cutler get back to some glory days. (Editor’s note: And Jay Cutler totally has callouses on his fingers for you, Rant. No, wait – that’s the Diabetes. My fault).

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Kansas City (W); at Carolina (L); vs. Buffalo (L); at San Diego (W)

The Broncos will assert themselves against the Chiefs this weekend, but lose at Carolina and Buffalo; a reminder that this team has problems against the run.  Denver will then win at San Diego in the final game of the season in a very tight game.

Final Record:  9-7

AFC Playoff Spot:  No. 4 Seed; AFC West Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: Agree with the record, though I think the losses come to Carolina and San Diego, not Buffalo. San Diego owes them for the blown-call game, and Denver will likely be resting their starters this week, anyhow).

Indianapolis Colts  (8-4)

This team is not looking like their best right now, a lot of it due to the lacking play of Peyton Manning. Everybody is saying Peyton is having another good year and statistically I would agree. (Editor’s note: Really, I wouldn’t even say he’s having that great of a year – 19 TD’s, but 12 picks in 12 games? Not the Peyton Manning I know and love. Last year’s 14 picks were the most he threw in six seasons!) But the fire that usually carries Peyton Manning doesn’t seem to be there this season, if you ask me.  The guy is getting older and his team is struggling around him.  No doubt the Colts have been winning the games they need to, but they’re game is not on point, and they’re not going to catch division rival Tennessee.

Marvin Harrison’s play is on the decline and it is hurting Peyton Manning’s game. (Editor’s note: Looks like the Colt .88 Special is finally unloaded). Harrison is still productive, but he is not the consistent threat Manning once relied on consistently. And the defense, though fast and led by some studs, only seemed to click like a real unit in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. They need somebody to come along and light a fire under their asses, because they’re not going to scare many teams in the playoffs with their current play.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Cincinnati (W), vs. Detroit (W), at Jacksonville (W), vs. Tennessee (W)

The Colts will win out, but it won’t look pretty, except for a huge win against Detroit. But then again, everybody has a huge game against Detroit. Indy will win against Tennessee in their last regular season game and head into the playoffs feeling good about themselves.  But I don’t think this team has what it takes to do much, they just look stale.

Final Record:  12-4

AFC Playoff Spot:  No. 5 Seed; Wild Card Seed No. 1

The Pundit’s Take: I think they win out, and they would not be a team I would want to face. In the NFL, a win is a win, and sometimes, believing you will win is as important as talent. I mean, would you want to see an Indy team that had reeled off 9 straight wins heading into the playoffs? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Baltimore Ravens  (8-4)

Another interesting team, the 2008 Baltimore Ravens.  Joe Flacco is proving has proven his worth thus far this year, though not at the same level as fellow rookie QB Matt Ryan. This team surprised me this year with success the same way they did last year with failure.  The fall from grace last year after a 13-3 season in 2006 was unbelievable, much as this season’s turnaround has been equally surprising.

Coming into the season, I thought second-year quarterback Troy Smith was given the green light by rookie coach John Harbaugh to lead his offense, but then Smith got pneumonia and lost 30 pounds. Flacco stepped in, and I don’t think there is any doubt that he is their franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future.

The Ravens have a trio of good runners in Willis McGahee, rookie workhorse Ray Rice, and the hard hitting Le’Ron McClain. The O-line is still pushing people around despite the loss of Jonathon Ogden to retirement this past offseason. The defense is showing signs of aging at several positions, though they are still 3rd in the NFL in points allowed and 2nd in yards allowed per game. Third year DT Haloti Ngata from Oregon is a solid anchor in the middle of their defense.

John Harbaugh is yet another rookie head coach turning his team around and making headlines. In fact, Jonathon Ogden almost held off retirement because he said that Harbaugh was that inspiring from day one in the organization.  This is a team on the rise.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Washington (W); vs. Pittsburgh (L); at Dallas (L); vs. Jacksonville (W)

The Ravens will flatten the Redskins this weekend, then drop a loss to a better Pittsburgh team. After this, the team will go into desperation mode, but won’t be able to get it done in Big D because Flacco won’t be able to handle the pressure, being that he’s still a rookie. Baltimore will finally get it done against a struggling Jacksonville team and head into the playoffs, beating out New England and Miami for the final Wild Card spot. The Ravens hold the tie breaker over Miami with their head-to-head victory, and against New England because they have a better in conference record:  Baltimore 8 wins in conference, New England 6 wins in conference.

Final Record:  10-6

AFC Playoff Spot:  No. 6 Seed; Wild Card Seed No. 2

The Pundit’s Take: I don’t agree. I think this team beats the Steelers, hounding and pounding Big Ben all day long. That victory will prove huge for the Ravens, as their 11-5 record will get them into the playoffs, though the Steelers will still win the division. The reason I see them winning this one? Couple of reasons: they protect Flacco a bit better than the Steelers protect Big Ben, to the tune of 13 less sacks allowed this year. The Steelers are playing their running back situation by ear, while Baltimore shuffles three solid backs in and out of the game, to the tune of the NFL’s third-ranked rushing offense. Though the defenses cancel each other out, I think the Ravens offense, at this juncture of the season, is a bit more equipped to handle the Steelers D than the Steelers offense is equipped to handle B-More’s D. Should be one of the better games of this season.

New England Patriots  (7-5)

Matt Cassel is finally getting the idea that he can just chuck that ball in the general vicinity of Randy Moss and win games.  He has been playing well the past couple weeks, but like all the experts say (cough, cough…ahem), he is a product of wonderboy Josh McDaniel’s videogame-like passing attack.  Seriously, with the Pats pass-blocking O-line, all they need to do is have Wes Welker run square-ins against linebackers while Randy Moss runs go’s and post routes. Viola!  Insert Random Quarterback Here and Automatically Gain 300 Yards Passing!

This team is struggling right now though, regardless of Matt Cassel.  The Pats just resigned LB Roosevelt Colvin, a guy they cut this past offseason; to me, this is a sign of desperation from Bill Belicheck. The guy must be pulling his fucking hair out right now the way his defense is playing. The secondary is a make-shift joke, and teams will continue to exploit that weakness the rest of the season. (Editor’s note: They’re 16th against the pass – not spectacular, though I don’t know if that makes the secondary a joke).  Rookie LB Jarrod Mayo is playing well right now, and the D-line still has it, but the defense as a whole is not meshing well right now. This and a so-so run game are the Achilles heel(s) of this team.

Remaining Schedule:  at Seattle (W); at Oakland (W); vs. Arizona (W); at Buffalo (L)

New England fields a very favorable remaining schedule, but it’s that last game at Buffalo that will finally put a knife in their playoff hopes.  Division rival Buffalo will come out swinging like it’s the Super Bowl and Matt Cassel simply won’t be able to deliver in the clutch like Tom Brady.  The season is on the line, and I say the Pats fold like a lawn chair.  This will piss me off because I love watching the Patriots, but there’s always next year when Randy Moss and company greet returning MVP Brady with open arms and reassert their dominance. AMEN! (Editor’s note: YOU CALL YOURSELF AN EAGLES FAN? I CALL YOU A BANDWAGON SELL-OUT! I ONLY ALLOWED THAT UTTERLY DESPICABLE SENTENCE TO DIMINISH THIS POST SO THAT I COULD PUBLICLY CHASTISE YOU! Seriously, though – shame on you, Rant. You’re better than that).

Final Record:  10-6

AFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: Way to let him have it, Editor. I think the Patriots will win out, and tragically for them, still miss the playoffs at 11-5 due to Baltimore holding the tiebreaker over them. Which is a brutal way to go out. Still, 11-5 after losing the game’s best player for the season is one hell of a job by Bill Belichick, his staff, and the Patriots team.

Miami Dolphins  (7-5)

This team is turning things around with a great rookie head coach led by the ever-steady hand of Bill Parcells. Chad Pennington and a revitalized rushing attack have helped to make the Dolphins look good on offense, but they just lost leading WR Greg Camarillo to a season-ending knee injury.  The Ricky Williams / Ronnie Brown tandem has been a hit so far, and the two started the NFL wildcat fad this season.

However, the defense is not playing as well as it needs to, and this will hurt the Dolphins in the end.  Joey Porter is playing lights-out football right now, but the guy needs to shut his mouth, because his defense isn’t playing as well as he is.  Regardless, this has been a very positive rebuilding year for head coach Tony Sparano.

Remaining Schedule:  at Buffalo (W), vs. San Francisco (L), at Kansas City (W), at NY Jets (W)

Miami will play a tough game in Toronto this weekend against Buffalo and come out on top.  But the team won’t stay focused enough and will end up losing to a 49ers team for whatever reason, causing Bill Parcells to freak out and go ape-shit on the team. (Editor’s note: No, he won’t; he’s pretty removed from the day-to-day happenings of the team). After a win against the pathetic Chiefs, Chad Pennington will be out for revenge against his former team after being excommunicated when Favre arrived in New York this year. Pennington and the Dolphins will have a huge game and come just short of the last Wildcard spot after winning only one game the year before. Great turn around season for this franchise.

Final Record:  10-6

AFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: Disgree with the final result – I think they lose to Toronto, er, Buffalo, beat the Niners and Chiefs, then lose to the Jets, finishing 9-7. Hey, if I’m a Dolphins fan, I’m completely satisfied with their 8-game turnaround this year. Nice work, Tony Soprano. (Editor’s note: Wait, that’s not right…)

Rant’s AFC Playoff Seeds

1. Titans

2. Steelers

3. Jets

4. Broncos

5. Colts

6. Ravens

The Pundit’s AFC Playoff Seeds

1. Titans

2. Jets

3. Steelers

4. Broncos

5. Colts

6. Ravens

Rant’s AFC Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round: Jets over Ravens, Colts over Broncos

Divisional Round: Titans over Colts, Steelers over Ravens

AFC Championship: Titans over Steelers

The Pundit’s Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round: Steelers over Ravens (the difference between these two teams ends up being homefield adavantage and a few field goals this year), Colts over Broncos

Divisional Round: Titans over Colts, Steelers over Jets

AFC Championship: Titans over Steelers

Rant’s Super Bowl Prediction

Giants over Titans

The Pundit’s Super Bowl Prediction

Titans over Cowboys (you know damn well I could never pick them to win the thing)

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Are the Birds cooked? This Pundit isn’t convinced…

The radio hosts and their faithful lackeys will tell you that Andy Reid is washed up as a coach, that his scheme is outdated and his player personnel decisions are shaky, at best. He shouldn’t have been given the duel responsibility, and the harmful effects of that decision are rearing their ugly head this season.

Maybe they’re right.

They think that McNabb is washed up, that he can’t win the big game, his early inconsistency hurts us, and its time to see what Aaron Rodgers…cough, I’m sorry…Kevin Kolb can do.

Maybe they’re on to something.

They think that the defense is overmatched against good offenses, that our defensive line is too small, that we just can’t stop a good running attack.

They could be right about that.

They’re saying that our receivers are pretty terrible, with the exception of DeSean Jackson, and that we should have gotten Tony Gonzalez because our tight ends stink (Editor’s note: Hey, everybody’s shit stinks, you know?), and we just can’t run the ball when we really need to in short yardage situations.

Yeah, there’s probably truth in there, though I would never, ever give up anything higher than a 3rd round pick for Tony Gonzalez, and I’m not even sure if I would have given that up for an aging tight end. Trivia question: what round was Brian Westbrook drafted in? Oh, the third round – ahhh, I see what you did there, Pundit. (Editor’s note: Ohhhhhhh, snap. The Pundit always be playin’, yo).

Fact is, a lot of people are getting pretty fed up with this Eagles team. They’re inconsistent, they can’t seem to make the key plays to lock up a win, and in general, their games this year have often been maddening and frustrating and fickle – they’re like a teenage girl, for Chrissakes. They seem to be struggling with the identity they’ve been given by their parents (Andy Reid), but they don’t really know how to break out of it just yet, so their play becomes tempermental and inconsistent and difficult to watch.

But the Eagles have an advantage that we’re all ignoring – they are still a “pretty” team. They have guys like McNabb, who has shown glimpses of brilliance, and Brian Westbrook, who might be the best player in football, and DeSean Jackson, who is developing into a pretty good player. They have Trent Cole, who when not double-teamed is a force, and Asante Samuel, who has been extremely solid.

When everybody was talking, early in the season, about how the Cowboys were the NFC’s team to beat, the Eagles took them to the limit. They beat the Steelers, a team that, at this stage in the year, would be third in my Power Rankings of Pure Punditry, if I thought that ranking every team every week of the season came even close to being relevant or worth anyone’s time. (Editor’s note: However, a Power Rankings of Pure Punditry over the entire spectrum of the sporting world might be worth doing – stay tuned…)

Let’s take a quick look at the Eagles four losses this year. When they lost to the Cowboys, they were a team that was 100 percent and playing well. I think everyone deemed that an acceptable loss at the time. The Giants are 8-1; they are clicking on all cylinders; they just outplayed us, though we kept ourselves in a game we probably should have lost by a lot more. I judge this an acceptable loss, though certainly one that was frustrating as hell.

We didn’t play well against the Redskins, but they are a pretty good team, and you’ll lose games like that from time to time. Though, at some point, this team needs to beat a conference foe. The Bears loss was painful, they had ample opportunity to beat them, and they are just a better team than the Bears. That, to me, is the only completely unacceptable loss of the season. All four losses came by a combined 19 points, all under a touchdown, all games they had the chance to win.

You see, all is not lost, people.

The rest of the schedule is favorable. For the duration of November, we have the Bengals, the Ravens, and the Cardinals. The Bengals should be a no-brainer, and though I think the Ravens and Cardinals are good teams, the Eagles should beat them. I expect this team to win the next three games, and head into December at 8-4.

December will be when we find out what this team is really made of. They get the Giants again, followed by the Browns, the Redskins and the season finale with the Cowboys, a game that will proabably have playoff implications for both teams. We’ll assume the win against the Browns, which leaves the 3 games against the NFC East. Take 2 of 3, and you are sitting at 11-5 – hello, wildcard. Take 1 of 3, and you might be in, though you’d be 1-5 against the East, and would not have the tiebreaker against the Bears, which could hurt. 10-6 may be good enough on its own to get them in, though I don’t think I’d want to risk it. Lose 3 of 3, and enjoy all of the time you now have to go golfing.

With 7 games to go, this Eagles team could get hot. See, last year, when the Giants began their run to the Superbowl, a couple of things fell into place for them. They bought into Tom Coughlin’s system whole-heartedly, and started playing like a team. Eli Manning developed into a top-tier quarterback. Their defensive scheme and strengths happened to make them they only team in the NFL that actually had a shot to beat Tom Brady’s Patriots (able to generate a rush with only their front four, disguised a multitude of blitzes and coverages to keep Brady, Moss and Welker guessing, had a solid ground game that could chew up clock, had weapons of their own on offense like Plaxico Burress and a suddenly poised Manning that could score some points. Really, they were the perfect storm needed to beat last year’s Patriots).

For the Eagles, the same could happen, though a bit differently. Andy Reid and the offensive line could find a way to better utilize and execute a running game. Donovan could start showing up in the first quarter; I mean, honestly, if he played a consistent 4 quarters, was able to make a few more plays down the stretch, and got this team into the playoffs, he’d have had himself a pretty nice season. He’s already having a pretty good one – 2372 yards, 13 TD’s, 5 INT’s, a 90.7 QB rating. They need to find a way to convert short-yardage plays – it killed them against the Bears, and again against the Giants. Three-and-outs that chew up little or no clock tax the defense, and in turn, the defense needs to be able to consistently stop the other team’s running attack. The Giants absolutely gashed us. It was ugly.

So that’s it – the schedule is challenging, but one that can be conquered. Our issues exist, but they are not  beyond repair. This team still has a very good chance at making the playoffs, and if they get hot in a lukewarm NFC, they have a dreamer’s chance at making the Superbowl. I wouldn’t start making reservations, but I wouldn’t write this team off just yet, either.

Maybe them radio folks aren’t right at all.

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