It has been a fairly calm Sunday -- thanks to the Eagles not playing until Monday night. And the fact that, like every year, there was no reason to pay attention to the Phillies on the last day of the regular season. I'm sad, I'm embarrassed and I'm bitter. But I'm also used to it. They got my hopes up like always and I thought they really had a chance, but I think I also knew better. And so another Phillies season ends with disappointment, but not surprise.
Now back to football ....
Can't say I'm really looking forward to the Eagles game. Don't get me wrong, playing on MNF is always worth getting up for and the Eagles looked good last week. Granted, they looked really good the week before, too, but I was actually able to ENJOY their play because they didn't blow it late. But I'm not going to dwell in the past. What's done is done. I'll just say the Giants are beginning to look seriously overrated from all the preseason hype and the Eagles should be 3-0. But I'm not dwelling, really.
But back to the point, I'm not uber excited for the game purely because it is one of those games the Eagles could take for granted. The Packers are not good -- I mean, the Eagles are 10-point favorites or something absurd like that. Yes, we should mop the floor with them. And I think we probably will at least come close to that. But I'm not going to let myself overlook this game, in the hopes that the Eagles will follow my lead and treat this game with as much focus and drive as they will when the play the Cowboys in two weeks. (I'm not ready to go there yet, too much venom and bitterness.)
Just finished watching the Bears maul the Seahawks. Seattle looked BAD, and it wasn't just because Shaun Alexander wasn't there. The Bears on the other hand look like serious contenders for the NFC. And they should make the playoffs easily considering they can more or less sleepwalk to a division title. I mean, the NFC North division consists of the Bears, the Vikings, the Packers and the Lions.
And that, ladies and gents, is just not fair! Come on, let's put at least ONE other competitive team in there. True, it is the NFL and so any team (almost) can beat any other team in the league on any given day, but it would take a serious miscalculation or disaster on the part of the Bears to be taken down by any of those clubs.
While many are starting to backpeddle on the preseason predictions that had the Eagles finishing dead last in the division, anything could happen in East.
Let's be honest here. As bad as they've looked in the last couple weeks, it's never a good idea to count out the Giants, since -- on paper -- they do have some serious threats when they take the field. So while it is probably safe to say they're not going to run away with the division like most pundits predicted in the preseason, I wouldn't count them out as contenders either. They have significant hurdles to overcome -- the canyon between the team and Tom Coughlin is going to hurt the team more and more as each week goes one, Eli has to learn to turn it on before the fourth quarter, etc. But they can't be taken lightly, that's for sure.
The Redskins? Well, the verdict is still out on the Redskins. Until their win today over the Jags -- SHOCKER!! -- the Redskins were the one team in the division that I would put money on finishing last. That's not to say they couldn't be a spoiler. But I just didn't see it coming together. And then they stunned the Jags. Let's be clear, the Jaguars that showed up in D.C. on Sunday bore no resemblance to the Jags that embarrassed the Steelers (sorry Family Logsdon) and terrified the Colts (even if they didn't beat them). And so I wouldn't rule out some element of the letdown factor for the Jags in the way they played against a Redskins team they might have taken a little bit for granted. But Mark Brunell is still the Redskins' quarterback. Sure, Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and Clinton Portis are a powerful crew. But there are still serious question marks and weaknesses across the rest of Washington's lineup. So all I can say about the Redskins at this point is they are a mystery. Which Redskins will we see from week to week?
It pains me to say this -- and I mean, HURTS -- but the Cowboys are the team in the NCF East that scares me the most right now. Drew Bledsoe is so up and down, he could wind up crying in a corner or leading his team down field for a crucial score every other possession. And sure, T.O. gives the Cowboys another element that can't be ignored. Who knows what his antics, injuries, overdoses (accidental or otherwise) -- just his overall distraction -- will do to the Cowboys (it's certainly not making Parcells any more pleasant). But when he is on the field, running plays, he is a threat. (Excuse me for a moment, I have to go burn my keyboard and shower repeatedly to cleanse myself of the dirty feeling that has engulfed me for saying that). But he is really the least of the concerns from Dallas. Terry Glenn is an excellent receiver. And with T.O. on the other side of the field, he's only going to get more and more cleaner looks and single coverage, and he can burn you everytime in that set up. Besides the fact he's going to be the one guy Bledsoe has a comfort level with, he will be the No. 1 option for Bledsoe. Throw in that Julius Jones can put a serious hurt on teams and open up the offense for Bledsoe and his receivers, and we'll mention Jason Witten and Marion Barber for good measure. Pair all of that with the fact that Dallas' defense looks pretty intimitating most quarters, and the Cowboys present the greatest concern for the division. (Excuse me again while I burn my replacement keyboard and shower a dozen more times.)
As for my Eagles, I do have high hopes for them this season. The heartbreak of the Giants aside, the preseason predictions seriously underrated the Eagles. Not that that was a bad thing -- being under the radar is a nice feeling after the last few years of melting under the 1000-watt bulbs of the glaring spotlight. The loss of Jevon Kearse is a serious blow and the nagging injuries that are already cropping up just three games in (Westbrook, Stallworth, our corners, etc.) aren't good signs for the longevity of players for the season. But the positive attitude of the team so far is refreshing. And I think the offense and defense have looked good and shown serious potential for taking down any opponent -- and never collapsing like they did against the Giants again. Then again, it's a Philly team, and depression is always lurking around any corner. Especially the last five weeks of the season, from Thanksgiving through the end of December: at the Colts, vs. Carolina, at Washington, at Giants, at Dallas, vs. Atlanta. That stretch run could kill any team.
So, let the heart-wrenching, nerve-wrangling resume on Monday night. Here's to hoping the Eagles that show up for MNF are those that played in the first half vs. the Giants -- and not the imposters that played in the fourth quarter.
I'll even spread a little joy to get the juices flowing for the game vs. the Packers.
The Syracuse Orange have a winning record! Their 11-game losing streak over, the Orange have won three straight! The latest win -- a 40-34 win in double-OT over Wyoming in the Dome might not have been pretty, but a win is a win. It's nice to see signs of improvement and hope for the future out of the ol' alma mater.