Thursday, February 03, 2005

Laying it on the line: Didn't see POTUS deliver the SOTU, so as far as commentary, I'm SOL (apparently, I wasn't alone in ignoring W). I like reforming S.S. and the elections in Iraq were a great second step toward stability. Long road ahead, however. Agree that Dems are so lost they need GPS to get out of the rhetorical forest they've wound themselves into.

So, let's move on to what is truly important: the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Suffice to say if they win, this city will go apesh*t. It will be a simply ludicrous level of celebration, elation and intoxication. The parade will be Tuesday, the 8th, which is also Fat Tuesday - nuff said. My office is right across the street from City Hall, which will be the epicenter of the parade. There will be no work done that day.

Now, can the Eagles win? Well, of course, they can. They are a strong, sound team. But they face the don't-call-us-a-dynasty Patriots, who have their Genius coach, their marquee, undefeated-in-the-playoffs QB, and the team-oriented group of overachievers who play as if possessed. Surely, there is no way for the Birds to overcome this, what with their "running quarterback", their limping WR, and their just-happy-to-be-there attitude.

Accept the fact that anything can happen in a given football game. A random fumble recovery turns into points, which turns into momentum, which wins the day. A freak injury takes out a key player, which leads to pandemonium, which loses the day. A couple of things like this will take all the wind out of mastermind game-planning, and inspired game-play.

So, lets leave out the freak occurrences which no one can account for. Here's how the Eagles can win. First, defense. Philly and NE tied for points allowed this year at 260 - which was nearly the best in the NFL. This defense, since Trotter has returned to the MLB position, has really shut down run offenses, and throw in The Freak and its excellent secondary, plus the great game plans of Jim Johnson, and this is a defense that can make Brady commit mistakes (a la his game in Miami). Either we get key turnovers, or we manage to just shut the offense down, which apart from Dillon, lacks a true stud go-to guy.

Our offense can unfortunately be hit-or-miss. And we don't do so well playing 3-4 defense, granted the two 3-4s we played this year were Pittsburgh and Baltimore. TO is likely only going to be a one-trick pony. If he can't be explosive, that means they can only use him on one play as a decoy where the defense will pay attention to him. The other side of the coin is that he over does the limp and then pulls off one play to the surprise of the defense. Nonetheless, unless he's close to 100% (which he isn't), he will be of minimal use.

Westbrook and McNabb will have to carry the day, and of course, Belichek knows this. Problem is, it's hard to shut them both down. If you key up on Westbrook, say put a corner on him when he's split wide, you leave a safety or LB on a WR (and for all their faults, the Eagles' WR are fast). Still, even if you manage to shut down Westbrook, you have to contend with McNabb, who can evade the rush and make runs on his own. He's not interception-prone, but you can get him to fumble. Still, all-in-all, this was his best year ever, but it's a matter of whether that was b/c of T.O. or not. The games in the playoffs indicate not. McNabb can really shine here, and if so, they will score points. One set-back was losing our starting TE, who except for our game against Atlanta, didn't do a whole lot. His understudy is really quite good, so not a huge drop-off. But, our newly installed (old) TE, Thomason, has considerable rust, and a few missed blocks may cost us.

Special teams. There is talk of Westbrook returning punts - something at which he can excel. The Pats don't have a great coverage team. If Westbrook can put up yards or score, look out. Both teams have great kickers, so I'd feel comfortable with Akers having to win the game.

Still, I choose to believe. This is the best Eagles team in decades. NE is not invincible, and with its iffy secondary, there may be some openings deep. I say low-scoring, but not that close. 24-13, Eagles.

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