Up The Gut Week 12: Eagles Aren't Dogs; They're Kittens

The Eagles played with hunger and swagger last postseason. This season, not so much

The DA Show
November 20, 2018 - 10:35 am

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By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

The Philadelphia Eagles and dynasty were words thrown together far too often this off season. Seven points versus the Saints, 21 first-quarter points all season as a team – yes, some of those games coming with Nick Foles under center, but after Sunday, is it time to ask what has happened to Carson Wentz and the genius offense that was led by Doug Pederson? Frank Reich is now in Indianapolis, where Andrew Luck is back to being elite, all the while Carson Wentz looks like a rookie quarterback from North Dakota.

Perhaps they did spend this offseason celebrating too long, failing to regenerate the hunger that drove this team as "dogs" all the way to Minnesota and through the Patriots last winter. However, for Carson Wentz, who was a spectator for the magic, you would think he would be at his very best now. It is very rare a defending champion's hungriest player is its quarterback – it was supposed to be that in Philadelphia – and it hasn't looked that way. Sure, you can point to defensive injuries, ravaging the Eagles secondary, but how does that explain an offense with Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Carson Wentz out there struggling to score in a league where every team scores?

The 2018 Eagles, another lesson of how ridiculous "dynasty" talk is when a young team wins a Super Bowl for the first time as a group. The dogs of last year have become kittens ready to golf this year.

Ten Yard Gain

1-The Chiefs and Rams scoring 105 points left us all entertained, particularly on Monday Night Football, a platform once sacred that has become so bland and random with matchups. However, a game near four hours long with a ton of penalties and defenses struggling to make stops is not the future of the league we should hope for. Points are great, but so is defense. The Arena League failed for a reason, let's not make the NFL the AFL.

2-Can't help but feel horrible for Alex Smith, who did all the right things grooming Colin Kaepernick while his team was playoff-bound in San Francisco. Then did all the right things grooming Patrick Mahomes while his team was playoff-bound in Kansas City. Now, with nobody to look over his shoulder as he had the Redskins in the drivers' seat for a playoff spot. Instead, his career as a starting quarterback in this league is, again, severely in doubt. 

3-As an aside, perhaps from an organizational standpoint, this may be a blessing for Washington. Fans weren't exactly filling the stadium to see their NFC East-leading team. Having Alex Smith lead them to the playoffs would have likely delayed the inevitable for this franchise that so desperately needs to draft – and hit – on a franchise quarterback. Perhaps now Washington will be moving up the draft board in April to inject some enthusiasm in the franchise with its fans moving forward. 

4-Jason Garrett goes from hot seat to potentially getting an extension in the blink of an eye. The Cowboys have reeled off two enormous wins when it seemed all hope was starting to be lost between the "Clapper" and the "Nose Picker" upstairs. As only the Cowboys can, the tease of this franchise is back in full effect. 

5-The Colts have become the team nobody wants to face in the AFC. Not only is Andrew Luck back; after Sunday, he may be playing his best quarterbacking of his young career. Frank Reich has him dialed in, and if – and at this point, when – they get into the postseason, they should put a real scare into a team they play that they'd likely be inferior to talent-wise on Wild Card weekend. 

6-These aren't the same old Steelers after all. Though I hit on the spread (Jaguars +6,) I did expect the Steelers to have a letdown loss in Jacksonville. A loss that had become commonplace throughout recent Steelers seasons. Those losses usually are the ones separating the Steelers from having a bye week in the playoffs or not. That comeback didn't just keep the Steelers' momentum going, it put more pressure on the Patriots down the home stretch. 

7-"It's only crazy until you do it." A quote from Odell Beckham Jr. after the Giants were 1-7, that two wins in a row later is a Nike ad campaign. Yes, the 3-7 Giants have no business in the playoff discussion, but here we are nonetheless. Winning out is likely impossible, but two wins are down, six more to go. At the very least, after Alex Smith's injury, the Giant have a big game on Thanksgiving weekend in Philadelphia when there weren't supposed to be any more big games this season. 

8-Ron Rivera going for two with over a minute left Sunday was the dumbest decision this season since Mike Vrabel went for two and the win in London only to lose. There are times where a new wave of aggression is fine in this league, and times where the flow of the game would tell you how stupid that is. In Rivera's case, that decision was terrible. Stop with the "receiver was open, Newton has to make that pass!" takes as well. Sure, he has to make it, but even the most elite quarterbacks miss open receivers all game, on any down. Analytics never take into account that possibility along with the other long list of negative possibilities on two-point tries. Kick the extra point, play defense, go win in overtime. 

9-On the flip side, Mike McCarthy never knows when to be aggressive. Defense filled with injuries, four minutes left, 4th-and-2 in your own territory, give Aaron Rodgers the ball, not your punter. That move was Mike McCarthy's signature out of Green Bay It is over for him, much like it was for Andy Reid in Philadelphia. 

10-Jon Gruden and Derek Carr fighting with each other during what would be a Raiders win over the Cardinals Sunday summed up that Oakland season perfectly. Two 100-million-dollar men pointing fingers at each other when both have been terrible. Gruden was supposed to guide the Raiders into their Vegas era with Carr as their franchise quarterback and the roster trending upward. Instead, Carr may be dumped in what would signal a complete roster blowup following this year. 

Five Games To Chew On

5) Bears @ Lions: I keep doubting the Bears, and I keep looking foolish. A true, yet unfair test, awaits the Bears this week. Flexed to Sunday Night Football last week to not only have to play Thursday on Thanksgiving, but also play the early game. This is the quickest turnaround for any NFL team all season. How these Bears handle it versus a Lions team that should treat this game like their Super Bowl should be the perfect way to start Turkey Day.

4) Giants @ Eagles: Three weeks ago, there was no shot at this game being one of the five best all weekend, and now here it is. The Eagles are beat up in the secondary just as the Giants offense is finally finding its footing for the first tine in years. Can Philadelphia's front seven wreck this game the way they did in the team's first matchup of the season? Three of the five horrid Giants offensive linemen that played that night are no longer in the trenches for Big Blue. 

3) Seattle @ Panthers: The Panthers are suddenly sinking, while the Seahawks are coming off an extended break and an enormous win. This feels like a Wild Card elimination game, especially for Seattle. Russell Wilson versus Cam Newton may not be Patrick Mahomes vs Jared Goff, but it will still be damn fun. 

2) Titans @ Texans: The Titans continue to be the NFL team that nobody can figure out. Now at 5-5, two weeks removed from destroying the Patriots, three weeks removed from embarrassing the Cowboys, but one week after getting their doors blown off by the Colts. A win for Tennessee would make things right again, moving them to a game back of the red-hot Texans for 1st place in the AFC South. 

1) Packers @ Vikings: The Vikings on Sunday Night for a second straight week. A rematch of one of the league's early season ties. One that was muddied by questionable personal-foul calls on Clay Matthews for driving Kirk Cousins into the ground. Every week feels like Mike McCarthy's last stand, yet the Packers are still breathing with playoff hopes if they get a win here. 

My Picks

Another winning week, 2-1, has me at 19-13-1 on the season. For This week:

Patriots -7.5 @ Jets: These are two teams that were both blown to smithereens the last time we saw them in Week 10. For the Jets, Sam Darnold was still not practicing early this week, but even if he plays, is Bill Belichick – with an extra week to prepare, coming off an embarrassing loss to the Titans – someone to bet against here? For at least a week, the Patriots will look like the Patriots again. This game should be over by halftime. Jets defensive lapses have been a plenty this season, you will see more of the same in this game. 

Giants +6 @ Eagles: The Giants offense has found its footing as the offensive line has gelled together and gotten tougher with the addition of Rams castoff Jamon Brown at right guard. The Eagles have owned the Giants head-to-head for the better part of a decade, but these Eagles feel like their will is broken, while the Giants ball of momentum is gaining steam. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. will do enough to keep this game from getting out of hand like the first matchup between these two teams, particularly versus that beat-up Eagles secondary. Six points is too many to lay, even at home, for the 2018 Eagles. 

Packers +4.5 @ Vikings: A rematch of an earlier tie hits Sunday Night Football. The Packers need to let Aaron Jones work, keep feeding him out of the backfield to make things easier on Aaron Rodgers. Mike McCarthy knows his time is done without a playoff berth. Their only path is to beat this Vikings team. Kirk Cousins will put a ball or two in the Packers secondary's hands. The Packers probably win this game outright, even on the road, but take the 4.5 hook to be safe. 

Football Food of The Week

Thanksgiving leftover sliders.  You are going to want a mass exodus of all of your leftovers come Sunday. There is an easy solution to his. Take your turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and buy a long load of Italian bread of a baguette if that is your hoagie of choice. Put all the turkey and trimmings you have left across this large bread and bake it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. This will toast the bread and warm the leftovers. When finished, cut into inch and a half wide slices – like finer sandwiches – and serve. This will be a "clean the fridge out" Sunday. Don't get caught not being creative.

Thanks for reading, and have a Happy Thanksgiving! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.