Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eagles downgrade the Patriots from "Juggernaut" to "Almost Beatable"

I give the Eagles alot of credit for the game plan they played. Even with Donovan McNabb the Eagles were outmatched by the Patriots. So, the Eagles decided the only way to win this game was to gamble. All night long backup QB AJ Feeley attempted to thread the needle by hitting receivers in the middle and throwing into coverage. He was burned by his cavalier passes when the Patriots caught 3 Interceptions, including a pick-six from Asante Samuel and James Sanders catching another to put the game away. This style was also exemplified through some of the plays called. The Eagles chose to go with a surprise onsides kick, the most desperate of desperation manuevers, in the second quarter with a 14-14 tie. The Eagles played this whole game as though they were in the 4th Quarter and down by two touchdowns and with a little luck they actually managed to give the Patriots a scare. They tried everything but a fake field goal.

The Patriots on the other hand had an odd day. Brady's production numbers were acceptable, but short of the "video-game on easy mode" type of numbers he has put up this year. Randy Moss was aggressively covered all day long and bobbled a long bomb that hit him in the hands and later robbed of a touchdown by a phantom offensive pass interference call (I immediately had flashback to the Indy game where a similar inexplicable offensive pass interference call occurred in the end zone). Laurence Maroney did not even take a snap in the first half and when he did get the ball in the second half he didn't do much with it: ten carries for 31 yards and a Touchdown. With the Eagles distracted by Randy Moss, Wes Welker quietly cleaned up with 13 catches for 149 yards. Despite some solid receiving numbers, Brady had a number of poorly thrown and dropped passes.

The Patriots did manage to stick it out and come away with a tough win. It might be good for the Pats to get a little scare at this point in the season to shake them out of their complacency after beating up on almost every team on their schedule. A nice serving of humble pie, a wake up call to shake them out of their post-Thanksgiving stupor. After this game it will be hard for the Patriots to overlook the Jets and the Dolphins who both took the fight to Pittsburgh in the past two weeks.

With the Bills loss to the Jaguars Sunday afternoon the Patriots officially clinched the AFC East title and a playoff spot. The Magic number for both the bye and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs is 3.

Draft Pick Watch:
The 'Niners were able to slog out a 37-31 win against the Arizona Cardinals to improve to 3-8, they are now in a 3-way tie for 4th worst record in the league with the Raiders and Falcons. This week's scheme for what to do should the Patriots get the 49ers top 5 draft pick: Arkansas' Darren McFadden. Although just a Junior McFadden is being considered for the Heisman and looked strong as the Razorbacks knocked LSU out of the national title race. I have never been that impressed with either Sammy Morris or Laurence Maroney. With a deadly passing game keeping guys away from the line Maroney should be tearing it up, but week after week his performance is mediocre at best. A really strong talent like McFadden could bring the Patriots offense to yet another level.


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