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NFL Week 5 2009

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       That’s what I get for rooting for the underdog: Four extra losses. Last week I picked Oakland, Baltimore, Buffalo and San Diego to surprise with upset victories, and what did they do? They LOST [Just like my fantasy team]. Anyway, it’s a big week in the NFL, as Matt Stafford suffered a knee injury, Michael Crabtree finally signed with the 49ers, and the Browns traded Braylon Edwards to the Jets in the middle of an assault allegation. We can’t make these things up, folks. Then again, if you read further, you might say that we can. Anyway, the first quarter of the regular season is over. Some teams are on their way to greatness, while others look like they’ll miss the playoffs. Which boat is each team in? Here’s week five.

Cincinnati Bengals [3-1] @ Baltimore Ravens [3-1]
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Bengals have had a change of priority on offense from “pass first, maybe run later”, to “run first, pass later”. Cedric Benson has found a home in Cincinnati and tied with Adrian Peterson with the number of carries [84]. Carson Palmer, on the other hand, has thrown five interceptions in his first four games, and would probably be even worse off without the success of his run game. That said, the overall offense of the Bengals is lackluster. The Ravens, on the other hand, have one of the best offenses in the league and are clicking on all cylinders. Their defense… Not where they were a year ago, but one thing they still have is a killer run defense. Allowing just under 60 rushing yards a game will put fear into any offensive coordinator’s heart. While Cincinnati’s defense has also stepped it up, they don’t seem likely to slow down the Ravens.
Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns [0-4] @ Buffalo Bills [1-3]
[Sunday 1:00]

       Well, I guess you could say Eric Mangini was wrong. Derek Anderson seems to be the quarterback for the Browns, but his job just got a little harder. With the trade of Braylon Edwards, the best wideout the Browns had, every other wide receiver is going to have to try a little harder. I know he didn’t have any receptions in his most recent game, but his presence let the other receivers, most notably, Mohamed Massaquoi, get open. With their top two targets from a year ago [Edwards, Kellen Winslow] traded to other teams for future draft picks, it’s clear that Mangini has almost given up on this season and is looking to build for the future. The Bills, on the other hand, got back their top running back, and what does he give them? Four yards rushing. Four. He also had 43 yards receiving, but it’s clear that he wasn’t ready for the Dolphins. With the way their team has been playing lately, I think it’s time for Derek Anderson to give his team their first win.
Cleveland Browns

Washington Redskins [2-2] @ Carolina Panthers [0-3]
[Sunday 1:00]

       Two of the worst scoring offenses in football meet one another in Sunday’s matchup: Carolina [12.3 points per game] and Washington [14]. Not much has gone well for either offense this year, and in the Panthers’ case, it’s because they’ve gotten away from what made them effective last year, which is run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, deep pass to Steve Smith, run the ball… Basically, they haven’t gotten their run game going and they’re feeling the effects after losing their first three games of the season. They’re 27th in the league in rushing attempts per game and they should be in the top 5 with the running backs they have and a struggling quarterback. And with all the Panthers have done wrong, the Redskins are just as bad. Their offense has struggled to get going in each of their games, and I don’t think it’s Jason Campbell’s fault. He’s completing 65.3% of his throws and, right now, is the best player in their offense. Though that’s not saying much, I think he will be the difference maker in a low scoring affair.
Washington Redskins

Pittsburgh Steelers [2-2] @ Detroit Lions [1-3]
[Sunday 1:00]

       Wow. Pittsburgh needs to step it up in the second half. They were ridiculously lax in the final 30 minutes of regulation against the Chargers, and if it weren’t for the poor run defense of San Diego, we’d be looking at a 1-3 Steelers team. They really miss Polamalu in their secondary, but will his addition really be the thing that will keep the Steelers from blowing [almost] their second half leads? The Steelers have outscored their opponents 48-17 before halftime, but after have been outscored 61-30. These stats might mean nothing to you, but if math and probability could predict this outcome, the Lions would win, 34-32. However, seeing as Matt Stafford might not even play on Sunday, I don’t think that’ll be the case. I should also add that Ben Roethlisberger is having a career year, and Rashard Mendenhall might give Willie Parker a reason to get better sooner. He’s due for another great game against a team that allows 5.2 yards per rush against them.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Dallas Cowboys [2-2] @ Kansas City Chiefs [0-4]
[Sunday 1:00]

       I’ll share with you an observation I recently made. The Cowboys have faced four opponents, but there’s something very interesting about the teams they’ve faced: They either haven’t won a game or haven’t lost a game. That’s right, the Cowboys have faced the Bucs and Panthers [Combined 0-7] and the Giants and Broncos [Combined 8-0]. This may speak volumes to some, but not me [At least, not yet]. At the one-quarter mark of the season, there are many ways the rest of the season can go. For now, the Cowboys need to stick with running the football and play-action passing to their tight ends. Many praised Tony Romo in the past, but have changed their stance since his recent and consistent slumps at the tail end of seasons. I think it’s the play calling. One game that sticks out in my mind is the Giants game, in which Romo threw three interceptions. One was a bad throw, but the next was a freak play and the last one shouldn’t have even been called. If the Cowboys stick to running the ball, they can simply overwhelm opponents, and the 23rd ranked rushing defense of the Chiefs doesn’t seem capable of even slowing them down. Don’t doubt Matt Cassel, however; I should remind you that the Cowboys pass defense has been quite suspect this season [Pick a team, already, Nick!]. I’m going with the team that’ll keep its no-wins/no-losses streak alive.
Dallas Cowboys

Oakland Raiders [1-3] @ New York Giants [4-0]
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Raiders are at that point in the season when they question themselves: ‘Did we choose the right quarterback, running back and wide receiver with our top draft picks the past few years?’ ‘Were we wrong to fire Lane Kiffin and hire Tom Cable, a man that will break an assistant’s jaw [allegedly] without batting an eye?’ ‘Will we have another winning season with Al Davis as our owner?’ Let me take the coward’s [safe] way out and just address the first one. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has three touches this year for 56 yards, RB Darren McFadden is averaging 3.1 yards a carry, and QB JaMarcus Russell, their undisputed quarterback of the future [cause he isn’t doing much in the present] isn’t completing even 40% of his throws. Their offense has produced three offensive touchdowns this entire season. There’s no question about which team will win this game, even if Eli Manning doesn’t play.
New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers [0-4] @ Philadelphia Eagles [2-1]
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Buccaneers are really feeling the effects of firing their offensive coordinator shortly before the start of the season. They’re also feeling the effects of not having a particularly experienced staff. I don’t think Raheem Morris will be a bad coach, but he made a poor choice by firing his offensive coordinator. Personally, I think he should start Josh Freeman. You see the success Mark Sanchez [3-1 record] and Matt Stafford [gave team first win since 2007] have had, and it seems so surprising for the Bucs to change starting quarterbacks and not go to their rookie. Their offense is inept, and their defense just lets in the yards. The Eagles, on the other hand, are fresh off of their bye week and have added an old face [again]: LB Jeremiah Trotter. In his third stint with the Eagles, he will apparently split time with Omar Gaither, and possibly start. This move is bold, but the Eagles have had a really good sense lately of when a player can no longer perform. On a different note, the Eagles’ running game is working so well. Having Shady McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Mike Vick and Brian Westbrook take direct snaps in the Wildcat formation is so confusing for defenses, and with a [hopefully] healthy McNabb back in the mix, their effectiveness should keep going up. Plus, Andy Reid’s never lost a game after his regular season bye week.
Philadelphia Eagles

Minnesota Vikings [4-0] @ St. Louis Rams [0-4]
[Sunday 1:00]

       Like I said last week, and have stated for the better part of a year, the Rams are the worst team in football. If Rush Limbaugh wants to buy them, I won’t stop him, but this team needs a LOT of work. They’ve only scored three touchdowns in their first four games, and two of those games were complete shutouts. Few things are going right for the Rams, and, conversely, few things are going wrong for the Vikings. They have a great run going, and Brett Favre really looks like he was the missing piece. This game shouldn’t even be close, which is good, because the next week they face the Ravens, and they’ll need to be rested for that one.
Minnesota Vikings

Atlanta Falcons [2-1] @ San Francisco 49ers [3-1]
[Sunday 4:05]

       One of the more interesting matchups this week is this one. The 49ers’ defense has really flourished under Mike Singletary, and their offense just got better with Michael Crabtree deciding to stop being that guy. His presence may not be felt immediately, but after their bye week, he should be one of the featured targets in this offensive attack. When it comes to the Falcons being effective on offense, I don’t think they’ll be able to get much going. The 49ers have simply stuffed their opponents’ rushing attacks, and even with Matt Ryan throwing to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, their offense is centered around the run. The Falcons also don’t have a good defense, which makes me give SF the advantage both offensively and defensively.
San Francisco 49ers

Houston Texans [2-2] @ Arizona Cardinals [1-2]
[Sunday 4:15]

       When it comes to wide receivers, you have the best two in the league going against each other this week with Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. These two both combine incredible speed and power with the ability to catch the ball no matter where it’s thrown. They’ve been incredibly helpful for their teams, and, with the indication of a shootout this week, they’ll need to help their teams as much as they can. The Texans and Cardinals rank 30th and 31st in rushing offenses, respectively, but make up for it with great success through the air. With these teams being so similar offensively, I think it’s more useful to look at the defenses and predict how they will perform. The Cardinals haven’t been able to stop anyone through the air, while Texans haven’t been able to stop anybody period [unless they’re the Raiders]. It’s also important to note half the Texans players think they have swine flu. This game could go either way, but I expect the Cards to be able to run the ball, which will be very important.
Arizona Cardinals

New England Patriots [3-1] @ Denver Broncos [4-0]
[Sunday 4:15]

       The Broncos confuse me. They had such a bad defense last year and are now in the top 5 of most defensive categories. This may be because they’ve faced mostly bad offenses, but it’s impressive nonetheless. They’ll face their toughest test defensively this week against the Patriots and their offense. Their defense is no slouch, as well. The main thing, however, when dealing with the Patriots is not the stats but Tom Brady. Knee injury or not, he always seems to keep his team in the game. Brady will face a tough defense this week, probably the best one in the AFC after the Jets, but I expect him to beat the 3-4. The only reason I’m going with this pick is because the Patriots have Tom Brady and the Broncos don’t.
New England Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars [2-2] @ Seattle Seahawks [1-3]
[Sunday 4:15]

       Man, did David Garrard ever prove me wrong last week. With the running game not doing anything, Garrard took the game into his own hands and torched the Titans for 323 yards and three touchdowns. This speaks volumes about the Jaguars offense, as they added another dimension last week. Will they be able to keep it up? For at least another week, they will. With the Seattle defense looking worse every week, and Matt Hasselbeck still not at full strength [Might play this week, though], it’s hard to root for the Seahawks. Their offense rallies around Hasselbeck and their defense hasn’t found any rhythm this season. Maurice Jones-Drew should have a great day against this defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts [4-0] @ Tennessee Titans [0-4]
[Sunday 8:20]

       The Titans are doomed. This week, at least. When I look at this matchup, I see two things. 1- The Titans have allowed a heck of a lot of yards and touchdowns through the air. 2- Peyton Manning is absolutely on fire this year. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in each of the first four games this year, and I see no reason for him to not continue his streak. With how poorly the Titans are defending the pass, they need to fix something on both sides of the ball. They need to do something with the quarterback position, as Kerry Collins doesn’t look like he can dig his team out of the holes his defense digs him into. If that means Vince Young, then I think it’s time to see if he can be the starting quarterback he was as a rookie that landed him in the Pro Bowl. I doubt either quarterback will be able to stop the Colts though.
Indianapolis Colts

New York Jets [3-1] @ Miami Dolphins [1-3]
[Monday 8:30]

       And now, the topic of the week: Braylon Edwards getting traded to the Jets. It was apparent New York wanted an additional weapon for Mark Sanchez when they were accused of tampering with Michael Crabtree. I think this was an absolutely brilliant move by the Jets. Their offense has some great runners, which will set up the pass in the first place, but now opponents will have to defend Jerricho Cotchery as well as Edwards. This team is for real. The Dolphins are also for real, as their running game is absolutely ridiculous. Chad Henne did a great job against the Bills, but I don’t think he’ll be able to pass against the 4th ranked offense. In a close one, I like the offense with more dimensions.
New York Jets

Recap:
Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns
Washington Redskins
Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots
Jacksonville Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts
New York Jets

Bye weeks: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers

Last week’s winner: Kavik [9]
Season totals:

Nick: 40
Kavik: 37
Pat: 33

       Every week, I participate in 610 WIP’s “Suicide Pool”, in which you must pick a team every week that you think will win. The only catch is you can only pick each team once the entire season, meaning, if you last the entire season, you will have picked 17 different teams. Last week, my pick was:

Week 4 Suicide Pick: New York Giants

Fantasy Football: The story of Team Nate Kaeding [0-4]

       Didn’t even have a chance last week. I flat out lost, 68-103.

For those of you unfamiliar to my blog, I post every week on Eaglesmix and my Facebook page. Thanks for your support!



       This week’s unfounded rumor: The Minnesota Vikings are in trade talks with the Philadelphia Eagles. The trade soon to be made official is Michael Vick for Brett Favre. This is based off of Brad Childriss’s strong effort to sign players Andy Reid has coached, and the Eagles’ recent interest with older players. Vick would likely take Favre’s role in Minnesota as a conventional quarterback, and Favre would likely take Vick’s role in Philadelphia: Master of the Wildcat.

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