Are the Eagles a Dark Horse Contender?

Flashback to before the 2017 NFL season. Think of the favorites in the NFC. The Falcons were the defending NFC champions with no major roster losses. The Packers were considered a favorite because of Aaron Rodgers. The Cowboys were coming off a blistering 13-3 and had a load of excellent youngsters. The Seahawks still figured to be in the equation with how things were run with Russell Wilson. Heck, even the Lions had some talk heading into the 2017 season. Not many considered the Philadelphia Eagles to be a major player (though many thought they would be competitive).

As we ventured through that year, the Falcons offense was inconsistent and the defensive magic that propelled them through the playoffs wasn’t there. Seattle was missing a running game. The Packers lost Rodgers to injury and Dallas struggled with Zeke Elliott out the first four games. And the Lions…well…the Lions. But then there was the Eagles. Philadelphia steamrolled for most of the season starting at 10-1. Young second year QB Carson Wentz was looking like an MVP candidate (and if voting was in early December I would have said Wentz was the MVP of the league). A running game that was strong thanks to Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to go along with a solid receiving corps of Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, and the durable Torrey Smith as well as three excellent tight ends in Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, and Brent Celek. The defense was equally as dangerous especially up front with Derek Barnett, Fletcher Cox, and Timmy Jernigan as well as having a secondary led by Malcolm Jenkins and a hidden gem in Jalen Mills. Things looked sour as Philadelphia lost Wentz to a knee injury and Nick Foles became the starter. After squeaking by Atlanta in the Divisional Playoff, the Eagles trounced the Vikings in the NFC Championship and then the Eagles took down the mighty Patriots with Foles.

The good news? Eagles won a Super Bowl for the first time. The bad news? All that good play by Wentz was forgotten and some questioned about who should take the Eagles moving forward.

The Eagles, much like the Falcons in the prior year, were the NFC favorites. However, Philadelphia couldn’t match up to their 2017 season. Wentz came back but was shaky at times and fans were really clamoring for Foles to be in especially after the team went 5-6. Wentz was injured again and Foles took over, winning 4 of their last 5 and getting a Wild Card. The Eagles won in Chicago but fell in New Orleans in a tight game. In 2019 similar stories occurred but without Foles as he went to Jacksonville. Wentz played well but fans didn’t trust his durability and despite going 9-7 and a division title in a weak NFC East. Wentz got injured in the Wild Card game to Seattle as the offense flat-out sputtered.

Now we are heading into 2020. The Eagles have questions. Can Wentz return to that 2017 form? Can the receivers step up? Can the defense take over games? And honestly, to me the answer is “yes!” Wentz for all the ridicule he got last year played pretty well. 64% completion rate, 4,000 yards, 27 TD’s and only 7 INT while starting all 16 games. Was it an MVP year? No, but he was making good decisions with the football. But what about the rest? Miles Sanders is developing into a solid running back who could net over 1,000 if they trust him with the workload and can be that every-back. Jeffery, if he can stay healthy could have another solid season. Adding Marquise Goodwin could be a sleeper to go along with Jeffery and the tight ends of Ertz & Goedert (who is really coming into his own as a strong tight end). The Eagles offensive line should still be a solid bunch while the defense still has Barnett and Cox and when healthy can still dominate. But Philadelphia’s big move was adding Darius Slay at corner to really shore up the secondary. Slay is one of the most underrated corners in the NFL to me and putting him against the likes of Amari Cooper was a must for the Eagles.

Does Philadelphia have holes? Yes, but one thing to note is they have a coach who is often forgotten as being one of the better coaches, one of the more innovative coaches, and one of the best prepared coaches in the game in Doug Pederson. He doesn’t get the love like McVay or Shanahan does (yet he’s the only guy of that bunch to win a Super Bowl) and one hole is at receiver where it’s Jeffery and….? Philadelphia drafted two former quarterbacks this year in Jalen Hurts (which talk spread like wildfire if the Eagles drafted him to replace Wentz) and Khalil Tate from Arizona. Hurts is going to be considered a backup to Wentz but while at Alabama found himself with his friend Tua Tagovailoa in plays creating some interesting situations as well. Tate while undrafted may end up being a gem as he will be used at receiver. It it a push? Absolutely but one thing I have learned about Philadelphia under Pederson is never ever doubt him or his decisions.

The Eagles will contend in 2020. I don’t doubt that. The schedule is one that can be managed with 10-11 wins on it. They face the AFC North and get the Ravens at home. But perhaps their biggest challenge will be late November/early December in consecutive weeks of Seattle (home), Green Bay (road), and New Orleans (home). If they can take two of three and finish up with beating Dallas and Washington, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles not being considered a favorite for the Super Bowl.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat




The Obstructed NFC Wild Card Preview

As we sit on the eve of the playoffs, the NFC Wild Card games are going to be a couple of interesting games. We have the defending Super Bowl champions having to take the long road to a repeat. We have a team who has relied on their defense to win games again, just like they did over 30 years ago for their only Super Bowl Title. We have a team who has rebuilt and retooled for another Super Bowl run. And finally we have a team who made a big trade midway through the season hoping to catch fire the rest of the way. And they ultimately did. So we have teams set with storylines and goals so it really should be a fun start to the playoffs.


FOR THE SEAHAWKS: They got there with a revamped defense and a young one. They god rid of the major veterans from the Legion of Boom years (save really Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright) and have started over, but it really worked as the poise and focus has been there (something I felt was missing for the past three seasons in Seattle). The Seahawks will rely once again on offense with Russell Wilson who probably had his best season of his career this year (3,000+ yards, 35 TD’s only 7 INT’s with a comp. rate of 65.6). However, Wilson can be like Barry Sanders of quarterbacks where he tries to do too much and can actually lose yards now and then (51 sacks on him this year, most in his career). And Dallas is a team that Wilson can’t try to be cute with the football against as they can get after him like nobody else. However, what has made Wilson more difficult has been the presence of a run game, something that really has been missing since 2014 when Marshawn Lynch was there. Chris Carson is a back who had over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns. If he has a good game, it will make Dallas’s defense honest which is great for Wilson.

FOR THE COWBOYS: The Amari Cooper trade installed new life into the franchise from top to bottom. Dallas went 7-1 down the stretch with Cooper on the roster (not counting the Tennessee game). Dak Prescott was the one who benefited the most as many started to view him as a flash in the pan. Prescott completed 69% of his passes with 12 TD’s and 3 INT in that span. Ezekiel Elliott showed he is one of the game’s elite backs and can really put pressure on any team himself. And in the game against Seattle earlier this season rushed for over 100 yards. The Cowboys defense has been pretty strong all season if not spectacular. They have guys who can get after quarterbacks (Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford), and a great young linebacker that is fun to watch in Leighton Vander Esch. So the front seven for Dallas will have to be a major issue for Seattle.

OUTLOOK: The key match-up is going to be Seattle’s receivers against Dallas’s secondary. The one thing about Seattle and how great they’ve been has been the play of Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett notably for the Seahawks. If the Cowboys can’t get pressure Wilson, this may be a long game for Dallas. It will also be can Wilson play without trying to do too much with the ball such as trying to extend plays. If he can avoid that, then I think Seattle is in great position to win. However, he has also been hit a lot this year again. I don’t know if the Seahawks line can stop Dallas’s pass rush. On the other side, Dallas has been a far different team than the one that lost to Seattle in what feels like a century ago. I don’t know for as good as the Seahawks defense is, if there is any one player that can stop Cooper on the outside. That may be the two things I give an edge on Dallas with and that may be enough to send them into the Divisional round. COWBOYS 23, SEAHAWKS 20


FOR THE EAGLES: Well, it has a small ring to it. Starting QB is injured and backup comes in and gets them to the playoffs. Philadelphia who had been somewhat lying in the weeds all season, strung a winning streak near the end of the season to defend their Super Bowl title. Nick Foles gets the nod, hoping to keep that magic like they had last season. But this time they have to do it away from Philadelphia and do it in a hostile environment in Chicago. Tough task to take. But Foles has Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and now Golden Tate to have a formidable passing game. However, the lack of a running game is very problematic this year (28th in the league in rushing yards) and going against the #1 run defense in the league in Chicago. This right here, if Philadelphia has no luck whatsoever, the game could not last very long. Foles however has been solid, but again, Chicago’s defense is excellent against the pass and opportunistic as well. So the Eagles will need to do something on defense such as getting interceptions and fumbles. That means the Eagles front four need to put pressure on Mitch Trubisky to have a shot. Trubisky had a great sophomore season, but hasn’t been tested in playoff time yet. The Eagles will have to force Trubisky into making some errors and stop the tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. It’s a tough task to do doing everything on Chicago’s fairly balanced offense.

FOR THE BEARS: Chicago will rely on their #1 defense to get them to Atlanta in February. They are one who relies on getting turnovers and making those big stops especially from keeping the drive from extending into longer drives. With the Eagles having a non-existent running game this season, the Bears may not have to worry much on that and focus on going after Foles. In that case, you can see it being a long game or Philadelphia’s offense. With the Bears offense, Trubisky will have to play smart and not try to take major chances down the field if he is pressured. He threw for 12 INT’s (not bad) but it seems like those INT’s have come at times where he’s been under the gun and tries to do too much a la Russell Wilson. It may have to come with experience for him as the Bears have’t seen the playoffs for a good while. But I think to take pressure off of Trubisky, both Cohen and Howard will have to be actively involved in the offense so Trubisky has a great chance. When they are involved, Trubisky fares far better than when that aspect is shut down.

OUTLOOK: This is the one game that I feel “comfortable” in my pick. Chicago’s defense is tough across the board and Philadelphia right now is really one-dimensional. That bodes well for the Bears who can just get after Foles. As for the other side, if Trubisky plays smart and doesn’t turn the ball over, then I don’t see it being much of a game. The only way Philadelphia wins is if Chicago makes mistake after mistake. I don’t see it happening. Chicago has been a pretty disciplined group all season. Maybe a concern should be the special teams notably with Cody Parkey on the Bears. If it does, I don’t know if it affects this game. BEARS 27, EAGLES 10

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat



The Obstructed NFC East Preview-2018

Like for college football’s premier conferences, I am also going to get in my NFL preview fix.  Of course, every year the league has those surprise squads and teams that dramatically fall off so my previews normally go ker-plunk by Week 2 of the regular season (or the pre-season sometimes).  Like the others, I will start with the champions division of the NFC East where the Super Bowl champion Eagles reside.  It is somewhat strange to stay that, but on a personal note, I’ve always liked the Eagles since I started watching football.  Maybe because of the colors or the fact I’ve never been fond of Dallas, Washington, or New York and they’ve always been the underdog for the longest time in that division.  But anyway, I’m going to be as objective as much as possible for this division.




KEY ADDS: DT-Haloti Ngata (FA-Detroit), LB-Corey Nelson (FA-Denver), WR-Mike Wallace (FA-Baltimore), DE-Michael Bennett (Trade-Seattle) TE-Dallas Goedert (Draft-South Dakota State), LB-Paul Worrilow (FA-Detroit), TE-Richard Rodgers (FA-Green Bay)

KEY LOSSES: DT-Beau Allen (FA-Tampa Bay), RB-LeGarrette Blount (FA-Detroit), TE-Trey Burton (FA-Chicago), CB-Patrick Robinson (FA-New Orleans), K-Caleb Sturgis (FA-Los Angeles Chargers), TE-Brent Celek (released), DE-Vinny Curry (released-Tampa Bay), WR-Torrey Smith (Trade-Carolina)

The Eagles capped a dream season last year of winning the Super Bowl, despite being really underdogs as a first seed.  That was in part because of Carson Wentz going down, but Nick Foles stepped up.  Philadelphia as many have suggested has the best top-to-bottom roster in the NFL despite key losses in the off-season and should be good to go.  The offense is going to click especially if Wentz comes back 100% healthy and if not, Foles is ready to go.  The defense is a strong defense in all three levels from the line through the secondary.  Adding Michael Bennett will help out, but a question will be is he going to implode on himself like he did in Seattle in his final season.  But overall, this is a very stacked team and really have a great balance.  It is hard to think they will have a major drop-off, if any in 2018.  They may not go 13-3 again, but we are talking maybe 12-4 and a bye in the first round barring key injuries.

KEY QUESTION:  WILL THE EAGLES HAVE ANY SUPER BOWL HANGOVER?  It’s possible, but I don’t see them being that team.  They have that vibe that they want to show that last year wasn’t a fluke.

MY PREDICTION:  12-4.  A couple of intriguing road games for the Eagles in 2018 as they visit New Orleans and Jacksonville.  Won’t be easy to win those.  But aside from that, they should be firing on all cylinders.




KEY ADDS: RB-Jonathan Stewart (FA-Carolina), OT-Nate Solder (FA-New England), LB-Kareem Martin (FA-Arizona), OG-Patrick Omameh (FA-Jacksonville), WR/KR/PR-Cody Latimer (FA-Denver), DE-Josh Mauro (FA-Arizona), FS-Michael Thomas (FA-Miami), CB-William Gay (FA-Pittsburgh), WR-Russell Shepard (FA-Carolina), LB-Alec Ogletree (Trade-Los Angeles Rams), P-Riley Dixon (Trade-Denver), RB-Saquon Barkley (Draft-Penn State), G-Will Hernandez (Draft-UTEP), LB-Lorenzo Carter (Draft-Georgia), DT-BJ Hill (DT-NC State).

KEY LOSSES: DE-Jason Pierre-Paul (Trade-Tampa Bay), QB-Geno Smith (FA-Los Angeles Chargers), RB-Orleans Darkwa (FA), RB-Shane Vereen (FA), G-DJ Fluker (FA-Seattle), LB-Jonathan Casillas (FA), WR/KR-Dwayne Harris (Released-Oakland), OT-Bobby Hart (Released-Cincinnati), WR-Brandon Marshall (Released-Seattle), WR-Tavarres King (FA-Minnesota), OG-Justin Pugh (FA-Arizona), C-Weston Richburg (FA-San Francisco), P-Brad Wing (Released), LB-Devon Kennard (FA-Detroit), CB-Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Released)

Last year the Giants season was summed up in one word: hospital.  They were injury plagued and some of the players probably could have been checked in to an asylum as well.  The team had injury woes, chemistry woes, and a coach who was just out of his element.  And rumbles of Eli Manning being in his final season really progressed.  However with a new coach in the mix with Pat Shurmur, and some of these head cases gone while making a nice splash in the market for free agents and a great draft, the Giants should get back on solid footing.  Now how much of a contender will be a question, but the running game should improve tenfold with Saquon Barkley and the reliable veteran in Jonathan Stewart in the mix.  The defense should improve with Alec Ogletree being acquired from the Rams.  However, the thing that still could sting the Giants are the attitudes, namely of Odell Beckham, Jr. Eli Apple, and Janoris Jenkins.  Those three, who are expected to play a part in their rebound, have got to grow up at some point.  If not, then another season goes by the window in New York, and it may be Eli’s last season or one of his last seasons.

BIG QUESTION: CAN ODELL BECKHAM STAY FOCUSED AND KEEP HIS COOL FOR THE GIANTS TO GO FAR?  He hasn’t proved he can.  Last year he kept saying he wanted to be the highest paid player in the NFL, but questions abound of his weekday partying during the playoffs against Green Bay in 2016 and then his whole video of being with a woman who was doing cocaine in bed didn’t help matters.  If Beckham can zero in and be one of the top WR’s in the game while not imploding on his team, the Giants are a sleeper in the NFC.  If he continues the antics and they fall back because of it, it may be time for New York to move on from him.  And remember this, Eli won two Super Bowls with the likes of David Tyree and Mario Manningham.  So having an elite WR to take you to a Super Bowl isn’t necessary.

MY PREDICTION:  9-7.  The Giants, barring another year of a rash of injuries, should be a threat.  They could win 10 games as a couple of games on the schedule I can see go either way (New Orleans).  But they won’t be an easy team to take down, especially if they are gelling.  




KEY ADDITIONS: WR-ALLEN HURNS (FA-Jacksonville), WR-Deonte Thompson (FA-Buffalo), OT-Cameron Fleming (FA-New England), DE-Kony Ealy (FA-New York Jets), LB-Joe Thomas (FA-Green Bay), FB-Jamize Olawale (Trade-Oakland), WR-Tavon Austin (Trade-Los Angeles Rams), DT-Jihad Ward (Trade-Oakland), LB-Leighton Vander Esch (Draft-Boise State), G-Connor Williams (Draft-Texas), WR-Michael Gallup (Draft-Colorado State)

KEY LOSSES: FB-Keith Smith (FA-Oakland), WR-Dez Bryant (Released), WR-Brice Butler (FA-Arizona), WR-Ryan Switzer (FA-Oakland), OT-Byron Bell (FA-Green Bay), OG-Jonathan Cooper (FA-San Francisco), DT-Benson Mayowa (Released-Arizona), LB-Anthony Hitchens (FA-Kansas City), LB-Kyle Wilber (FA-Oakland), CB-Orlando Scandrick (FA-Washington), TE-Jason Witten (retired)

Dallas will look very different on offense as there will be no Dez Bryant or Jason Witten.  With Dak Prescott as the guy in Dallas, it is the changing of the guard.  But last year’s season was thrown off because of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension.  Had Dallas not had that, they may have sneaked in to the playoffs.  But even with Elliott there, Dallas had holes, notably on defense as they couldn’t get much pressure on teams and really make those key stops to win games.  It was somewhat of a red flag the year before in their divisional loss to Green Bay.  With Bryant and Witten gone, the Cowboys revamped the receiving corps of bringing Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns as Dallas hopes those guys can make the offense complete (at this point I’m just nodding my head and smiling and thinking “sure”).  The defense especially against the pass is a concern still as the Cowboys gave up good bit of points though the yardage was down and didn’t get many turnovers because of it.  I don’t see the Cowboys really making strides on defense especially when they have to see the Eagles and Giants 4 times while they see Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, and Houston (all teams who have quarterbacks who can throw).  It may be the difference between a playoff spot or a top 10 pick.

BIGGEST QUESTION: WHEN DOES JERRY JONES COMPLETELY ABDICATE HIS THRONE AS GM?  Probably never until the Good Lord comes to take him.  It is more when SHOULD Jones step down and the answer has been since 1994.  The good moves Jones has made is when he was overruled in some aspect save Dez Bryant.  Remember, he was talked out of drafting Johnny Manziel and drafted Zack Martin.  But other moves (i.e. signing Darren McFadden, drafting Felix Jones, Quincy Carter, etc.) is on his watch and firing Jimmy Johnson because he got more credit for those Super Bowl wins shows how inept the guy is.  Honestly, he may have been talked out of keeping Bryant at that contract.  He needs to let his son take over as he really has more of a sense than Jones does.

MY PREDICTION: 7-9.  Dallas is just that team that isn’t bad at all, but not good like many still want to believe.  Just “average.” 




KEY ADDITIONS:  QB-Alex Smith (Trade-Kansas City), WR-Paul Richardson (FA-Seattle), LB-Pernell McPhee (FA-Chicago), CB-Orlando Scandrick (FA-Dallas), QB-Kevin Hogan (Trade-Cleveland), DT-Daron Payne (Draft-Alabama), RB-Derrius Guice (Draft-LSU), OT-Geron Christian (Draft-Louisville)

KEY LOSSES: QB-Kirk Cousins (FA-Minnesota), CB-Kendall Fuller (Trade-Kansas City), S-Su’a Cravens (Trade-Denver), C-Spencer Long (FA-New York Jets), WR-Terrelle Pryor (WR-New York Jets), LB-Will Compton (FA-Tennessee), TE-Niles Paul (FA-Jacksonville), DE-Trent Murphy (FA-Buffalo), WR-Ryan Grant (Indianapolis)

Washington like most years, made a splash in the off-season trading for Kansas City QB Alex Smith, thus ending the polarizing career of Kirk Cousins in the Capital.  To me, it was dumbfounding on a few instances.  First, the Redskins traded up-and-coming CB Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs.  Second, the ceiling on Cousins is far higher than the ceiling on Smith while I think Cousins is a better fit in Jay Gruden’s system than Smith is.  And given Smith’s scrambling prowess, leaves him up to injury especially at age 34.  And despite not having a real go-to WR, Cousins netted 4,000 yards and used the weapons to the best of his ability.  I don’t see Smith being that kind of quarterback.  Also, Cousins was sacked 41 times last year.  And given how Washington struggled to protect him, a quarterback like Smith may end up getting hit more than Cousins did.  And while the Redskins have Josh Norman, having a corner on the opposite side of him has now become a problem.  And again, if you look at that schedule, Washington has to see the Eagles, Giants, Falcons, Saints, Texans, and Packers while having one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the NFL in 2017.  I don’t see Washington improving any on defense and if anything may have took a step back.  Maybe they’re hoping all the Alabama guys they drafted the last few years (Payne, Ryan Anderson, and Jonathan Allen) find that Alabama formula to help out Norman and Ryan Kerrigan.

KEY QUESTION: WILL THIS BE JAY GRUDEN’S LAST SEASON IN WASHINGTON?  I think so, even if the Skins are 8-8 and in the playoff hunt.  There are too many questions right now despite being in the “win now” mode when they traded for Smith.  Not really Gruden’s fault, but this team just doesn’t put a scare into anybody.

MY PREDICTION: 6-10.  They may not be bad either, but they aren’t a team that will sneak up or pose a threat to the NFC powers like Philadelphia, the Rams, Atlanta, Minnesota, or New Orleans right now.

Overall the expectation levels for all 4 teams will always be high and always have that “win now” mode, especially in Dallas and Washington.  Those two have gaping holes on the roster right now while the Giants biggest enemies may be themselves.  It looks like it’s Philadelphia’s to lose once more and maybe another Super Bowl return for the city of Brotherly Love.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat




Aftermath: AFC + NFC Championship Reaction and Analysis

Another Sunday is in the books and we now know exactly what two teams will be participating in the Super Bowl. The AFC Championship game was one for the ages while the NFC Championship’s outcome seemed to be determined halfway through the game. Nonetheless, these two games summed up the entire NFL season thus far: fun and completely unpredictable.

New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Final Score: 24-20, Patriots.

What went right: Lots went right in this game for both teams. Before the game, if you were to tell me Blake Bortles would complete 23 of 36 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown, I wouldn’t believe you. Yes, Bortles played a very solid divisional round, but let’s be honest: lots of his stats came in the fourth quarter and he struggled the majority of the Tennessee game. The Jaguars had a winning formula in place (run the ball and don’t ask Bortles to do too much), but it ended up biting them in the grand scheme. More on that later. Holding the Patriots to 10 points through three quarters is a testament to this Jacksonville defense. Amazing play by AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.

New England didn’t play that great of a game through three quarters. Jacksonville had the majority of the momentum and it looked like Tom Brady wasn’t going to be able to bring his team back. We all know how that one ended. Saving his best football for the last quarter of the game (two TD passes), Brady showed everyone that his hand is in no way a hindrance to his play. Tom Terrific is still Tom Terrific. Also, Danny Amendola and Stephon Gilmore both stepped up in the fourth quarter after failing to make any plays earlier in the game. Championship teams have championship players that step up in big moments, and this game was the epitome of that.

What went wrong: Instead of keeping the pressure on New England by trying to score some points before the half, the Jaguars elected to take their 14-10 lead into halftime. Jacksonville completely shut down in the fourth quarter. There were downs where the ball could have been snapped later. Play calls were way too predictable. Blake Bortles’ weaknesses were exposed. The defense gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. What I said earlier about championship-caliber players making big plays when they matter, Jacksonville was the opposite. Penalties also killed the team.

For New England, the offense just wasn’t clicking in the first half. Tom Brady was practically on his own once Rob Gronkowski went down due to a concussion. Dion Lewis (34 yards) was the Patriots’ leading rusher. That’s pathetic. That’s about it for what went wrong with the Pats. Everything that went wrong was fixed in the fourth quarter, so there’s not too much to complain about.

Final Thoughts: What a game. Jacksonville will be back here. I’m not sure if it will be with Blake Bortles at quarterback, but they’ll be back. Perhaps with Eli Manning or Alex Smith? New England should also be back, assuming Tom Brady/Bill Belichick return next season. Overall, New England’s championship pedigree came through when the team needed it most. Jacksonville is still developing that trait.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Final Score: 38-7, Eagles.

What went right: Almost everything went right for the Eagles. Nick Foles had one of the best performances of his career (352 yards, 3 TD) on the biggest stage he’s been on so far. The team rushed for over 100 yards. The defense picked off Case Keenum twice. Overall, it was a dominant performance by the Eagles and many things went in their favor.

For the Vikings, about the only thing that went right was the team going up early 7-0 on a Case Keenum touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. That’s that.

What went wrong: Nothing significant to note for the Eagles. Moving on.

Minnesota shot themselves in the foot on numerous occasions. Case Keenum was under constant pressure and threw two ugly interceptions, one of which that was returned for a touchdown. A top-two defense in the league gave up 38 points to… Nick Foles. It can’t get much worse than that for a team many picked to get to the Super Bowl when the playoffs began. Props to the Vikings for a great season, but everything collapsed at once in this game. Would the outcome have been any different with someone other than Keenum at QB? I don’t think so.

Final ThoughtsI haven’t been giving the Eagles enough credit this season. I waited for them to lose during the regular season and I’ve been waiting for them to lose this postseason. Nothing can stop this team (although the Patriots will likely be able to come Super Bowl time). I also haven’t given Nick Foles enough credit. After a shaky start in last week’s Divisional Round, he ended the game on fire and took home the W. This week, he was on point the entire game and made throws I had no clue he was capable of making. Minnesota has a lot to figure out QB-wise this offseason and the Eagles should be in the same position next year: competing for the NFC title.

That’s all I’ve got. If you guys have any thoughts, let me know! I’d love to chat with you. Reach out to me on Facebook (The Best Foote Forward) or on Twitter (@TheBestFooteFWD). Thanks for reading!


Jordan’s Conference Championship Picks and Analysis

Conference Championship week is here! Jacksonville travels to Foxborough and will face the Patriots on Sunday afternoon in what should be a thrilling matchup. Following the conclusion of that game, we’ll see Philadelphia host Minnesota as the underdogs (underdogs!) in a battle between two backup QB’s that are now NFC Championship competitors. It’s bound to be a fantastic Sunday of football; let’s see who I have slated to win!

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots (Sunday, 1:05 PM ET)

Many of you are going to pick New England rolling over Jacksonville, but not so fast. If Blake Bortles avoids turnovers and makes a couple plays down the stretch like he did last week, Jacksonville can keep this game close. If Bortles makes more than a couple plays and Leonard Fournette gets going, this game will be entertaining. If the aforementioned occur and the defense finds a way to slow down Tom Brady, Jacksonville will emerge victorious. That’s what I’m banking on, especially if the recent news of Tom Brady’s hand injury is legitimate. The drama surrounding the Patriots is going to be amplified immediately following this game, along with questions beginning to come to the surface about Tom Brady’s status for next year. Will the Patriots dynasty over? I’m not sure, but I think it’s going to be put on hold until next season, starting Sunday. I’m going out on a limb and picking the upset.
The Pick: Jaguars 28, Patriots 23

Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, 4:40 PM ET)

Minnesota is simply the better team out of the two playing in this game. Case Keenum is better than Nick Foles. Keenum has equal, if not better weapons at his disposal and has a top-two defense to alleviate some of the pressure when things get intense. Philadelphia’s defense won the game last week. If Foles can’t throw a touchdown against the Falcons, he’s in for a rude awakening against Minnesota. Whether Foles throws 50 times or hands it off 35 times, it’s not going to make a difference. It’ll be close, but the better team will win and advance to Super Bowl 52. Case Keenum vs. Blake Bortles. Who would have predicted that heading into the season? Nobody.
The Pick: Vikings 24, Eagles 24
This concludes the Conference Championship edition of Jordan‘s NFL Picks. Have anything different? Reach out to me below and let me know!
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