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NFL Week 9 2009

By: Nick Popyack

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

       Another week, another great list of things to write about in the NFL. Denver lost their first game of the season, but more importantly, St. Louis and Tennessee won their first games! Indianapolis and New Orleans remain the only unbeatens, and Tampa Bay is the last team trying to get that ‘1’ in the win column. Where does your team stand at midseason? Here’s week 9, a week brought to you by runningbacks drafted in the 2008 draft [Chris Johnson: 228 yards, 2 TDs; Matt Forte: 90 yards, 2 TDs; Jonathan Stewart: 87 yards, 2 TDs; Ray Rice 84 yards, 1 TD… Steve Slaton not included].

Baltimore Ravens [4-3] @ Cincinnati Bengals [5-2]
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Ravens did something no one else has done all season: Beat the Broncos. While this may not seem like a big deal, believe me, it is. The Ravens have allowed teams to pass up and down them all season with the exception of a few games, but they finally got the upper hand last week. The two things the Ravens excelled on last week were containing the pass [Kyle Orton had only 4.1 yards per pass attempt] and consistently catching Joe Flacco’s passes. Flacco completed 80% of his passes against the Broncos, and he will have to continue having success if he hopes to beat the Bengals. Actually, the Ravens have of beating Cincinnati if they can contain Cedric Benson. In games in which Benson has averaged 4+ yards per carry [going back to last season], the Bengals are 8-0. In games in which he’s started and gotten under 4 yards a carry, the Bengals are 1-7-1; Benson is averaging over 100 yards per game for a reason. The Broncos were forced to abandon the run early last week, which I see happening again this week to the Bengals.
Baltimore Ravens

Miami Dolphins [3-4] @ New England Patriots [5-2]
[Sunday 1:00]

       In a game in which they were offensively outgained by a ratio of almost 4:1, the Dolphins still won. That’s mainly because of Ted Ginn Jr.’s excellent kick returning last week. Without him, the Dolphins’ poor defense and even worse offense would be even more noticeable. Seriously, the Wildcat was ineffective, the passing was even worse, and the Dolphins had only one good drive on the day. The win stands, but Miami has some questions to answer, one of which is: Can the Dolphins be effective in a conventional offense? They need to click on both of their offensive cylinders if they hope to win more games, because they aren’t going to get two kick return touchdowns and a defensive score every week. The Patriots can score a bunch of points, and that’s without the use of the Wildcat. Look out, Miami secondary.
New England Patriots

Kansas City Chiefs [1-6] @ Jacksonville Jaguars [3-4]
[Sunday 1:00]

       I simply can not figure out the Jaguars this year. They are by far the most inconsistent team in the NFL, sometimes putting up 30+ points, sometimes not putting up any. Maurice Jones-Drew is leading the league in rushing touchdowns, but his team couldn’t beat a previously winless team last week. He only ran eight times last week and managed to put up 177 yards and two touchdowns, but it still wasn’t even close to enough to beat the Titans. Truly, it was David Garrard’s inability to get something going for his team, as he hit a season low for quarterback rating, 35.9. If they were facing almost any other team, I’d expect them to lose, but the Chiefs suspended their top running back [though I don’t disagree with their decision] and haven’t stopped anyone besides the Redskins this year. Expect a surprising amount of points in this game.
Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston Texans [5-3] @ Indianapolis Colts [7-0]
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Colts, unable to score the conventional last week, went to a nice trick play that yielded maximum results in order to beat the 49ers. Peyton Manning also threw for over 300 yards, continuing his strict policy of either 300 yards or three touchdowns. Seriously, he hasn’t broken that rule all year, and doesn’t look like he’s quitting anytime soon. Matt Schaub also looks like he’s on a mission, which will bring up a very pass-oriented matchup in Lucas Oil Stadium. Schaub has been picking defenses apart, but I fear that’s about to change. With the loss of Owen Daniels, the Pro Bowl tight end, I don’t think Schaub be able to make the big plays he’s used to making, even with an injured Colt’s secondary. In a shootout, I’m taking the team with the healthy receivers.
Indianapolis Colts

Arizona Cardinals [4-3] @ Chicago Bears [4-3]
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Cardinals and the Bears are meeting for the first time since the infamous ‘They are who were thought they were’ speech, performed passionately by former head coach Dennis Green. Since then, they’ve had a lot of personnel change, the biggest one being their quarterback, now Jay Cutler. Though he’s brought some success, he has had some forgettable games in this past month. Since their bye week, Cutler has thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions, and currently has the same number of touchdowns as interceptions on the year with eleven. This is mainly due to the lack of running game the Bears were once famous for, as Matt Forte has crossed the 100 yard mark only once this season. If the Bears hope to win, they need to click on all cylinders, because relying on Cutler too much can’t work with the poor receiving corps they have. The Cardinals usually rely on the pass also, but that didn’t work for them last week either. In a complete role reversal, the Panthers forced six Kurt Warner turnovers. Against the Panthers, the Cardinals allowed a whole mess of rushing yards, but I expect them to get back on track this week. That leaves the game pretty much in Warner’s hands. Will this week be a repeat for the Cards? If the Bears can apply pressure like the Panthers did, then yes. This is a tossup, so I’m going with the better passing attack.
Arizona Cardinals

Washington Redskins [2-5] @ Atlanta Falcons [4-3]
[Sunday 1:00]

       I understand being frustrated with your team, Dan Snyder. I understand being frustrated with the playcalling, too. But telling your fans they can’t bring signs into the stadium because too many of them are criticizing the management is the fan’s way of showing their disapproval for a team they love. At least they’re still coming to the games, which is less than the Jaguars can say. A dedicated fanbase deserves to be heard by the management. Either way, the Redskins are one of the worst teams in the league right now. This time last year, Clinton Portis was on his way to 2,000 rushing yards, when this year he’ll be lucky if he cracks 1,000. Washington simply needs a new direction. Atlanta, on the other hand, is in the second year of what looks like a successful change in philosophy, and, though they’ve dropped their last two games, haven’t scored less than 21 points since their bye week. The Redskins haven’t scored more than 17 points in a game all season. Enough said.
Atlanta Falcons

Green Bay Packers [4-3] @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers [0-7]
[Sunday 1:00]

       It’s a shame the Bucs didn’t play last week. Last week seemed like the perfect week to get your first win of the season, with both the Titans and the Rams breaking losing streaks. The Buccaneers are the last winless team in 2009, and they’ve changed their mentality, Titans style: Go to a quarterback picked in the first round. Yes, Josh Freeman will be starting for the first time this year, and I’m eager to see how he does. The bad news for Freeman is his first start is against the Packers, who have the fourth most interceptions in the league, but the good news is they’ve allowed the fourth most passing touchdowns as well. That said, I don’t think the Bucs are anywhere close to as good as the Packers are when it comes to passing the ball.
Green Bay Packers

Carolina Panthers [3-4] @ New Orleans Saints [7-0]
[Sunday 4:05]

       The Panthers may have finally turned the corner. After a dismal 0-3 start in which they averaged less than 13 points a game, they’ve gone 3-1 in their last four, averaging just under 23. This includes the emotional rematch of last year’s divisional playoff game, in which Jake Delhomme was forced into committing six turnovers. This time, the Panthers defense forced the turnovers. Will they be able to do the same against the Saints? I don’t know about that; Drew Brees has been on fire since the Saints’ bye week, completing no less that 22 passes in each of the three games. While the Panthers have found their running game again, the Saints have had one all year, and a quarterback that knows what to do in every situation. The Saints offense hasn’t shown any signs of regressing, so it’ll depend on if the Panthers’ offense can keep up with them. I still say no.
New Orleans Saints

Detroit Lions [1-6] @ Seattle Seahawks [2-5]
[Sunday 4:05]

       The Lions lost a thrilling game last week, if you can call a game in which the two teams have one win between them ‘thrilling’. It was at least closer than the Seahawks game, which they lost by 21 points. While the Seahawks have five losses on the season, they still have a legitimate chance at winning their division. It is the NFC West, after all. The Lions may have a tougher job gaining ground on their division opponents, but at least they’ve improved. They seem to be headed in the right direction, and in a few years, they could be legitimate contenders. Until then, I’m probably going to pick against them and their lack of Calvin Johnson.
Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans [1-6] @ San Francisco 49ers [3-4]
[Sunday 4:15]

       Vince Young, you are a savior. Well, not really. He ‘lead’ the Titans to their first win this year, but he wasn’t the reason they beat the Jags. Rather, it was David Garrard’s incompetence. Young didn’t even throw the ball 20 times. He mainly handed the ball off to Chris Johnson, who did the real work. I’m not trying to discredit Young; I’m just trying to bring up this point: The 49ers didn’t allow one Peyton Manning touchdown all day, and he has some great receivers. Vince Young is going to have to be all he can against a 49ers team that’s allowed less than 85 yard rushing a game, second best in the league. I don’t see Chris Johnson having a huge game this week, so Vince will have to pull out everything he’s got. The 49ers have also had some offensive personnel turnovers in the past month, with the signing of Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith reclaiming his starting quarterback spot. In the end, I expect Tennessee’s defense, which allowed 217 yards rushing last week in their win, to be their downfall.
San Francisco 49ers

San Diego Chargers [4-3] @ New York Giants [5-3]
[Sunday 4:15]

       The Giants, after largely dominating the league for five weeks, have dropped their last three and are looking for answers. After their 40-17 loss to the Eagles last week, many point to finger at Eli Manning, who’s thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns in the past three games. That’s not where I’m placing the entire blame, though. Eli wasn’t blocking for his running backs, who only averaged 3.7 yards a carry last week. Eli wasn’t playing defense, which allowed three touchdowns of 40+ yards last week. See, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and Tom Coughlin knows it. Going against the Chargers, who specialize in big plays, they need to step up their game if they expect to win. Phillip Rivers has been efficient as ever, throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions in his past four games. While a running game would be nice, it doesn’t look like the Chargers need it. If the Giants run the ball successfully and consistently against the Chargers, it’ll be a sixth win for the Chargers. If it turns into a shootout, I’m taking the Chargers all the way. For now, the Chargers are my pick.
San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys [5-2] @ Philadelphia Eagles [5-2]
[Sunday 8:20]

       When they win, they win big. This applies for both teams, but mostly for the Eagles. In fact, in the past year, the Eagles have only won one game in which the final score was decided by 8 points or less, and that was a pity score let in at the end of a Giants thrashing [like the one we saw last week!]. To truly find a close game in which the Eagles won, you’d have to go all the way back to 2007; Eagles-Cowboys, final score 10-6. You know, the game Brian Westbrook didn’t score the touchdown. Anyway, I digress. The Cowboys have had tremendous success since their bye week, but these games have been against teams that aren’t very good defensively [Yes, the Seahawks are ranked 14th in total defense, but they just lost Lofa Tatupu for the season. Give it time]. Going against the 10th ranked defense in the league, a team with 23 sacks on the season, they won’t fair nearly as well as they have in recent weeks. The Dallas defense hasn’t been even close to what it was last year, and has only four interceptions on the year. Compare that to the Eagles’ 14 and I think we have a winner.
Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers [5-2] @ Denver Broncos [6-1]
[Monday 8:30]

       The Broncos, after weeks of dominant defense, couldn’t stop the Ravens. After a kickoff return for a touchdown, the Broncos never got momentum back, and the Ravens were able to run up the score on them easily. While I still think Denver has one of the better defenses in the league, I can’t ignore Pittsburgh. They’re the best at stopping the run in the league and Ben Roethlisberger has taken a hold of their offense. With Polomalu back in the defensive lineup, and with a week to rest and prepare for this matchup, I project Denver’s and Pittsburgh’s records to be tied after this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Recap:
Baltimore Ravens
New England Patriots
Jacksonville Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts
Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints
Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers
San Diego Chargers
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers

Bye weeks: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams

Last week’s winner: Nick, Pat, Kavik [All 9]

Season totals:

Nick: 73
Kavik: 70
Pat: 68

Fantasy Football: The story of Team Nate Kaeding [2-6]

Another week, another win for Team Nate Kaeding. Things are looking really good now, considering I dropped my first six games, but that doesn’t mean things have been easy. Going into the Monday Night Football game, I was down four points, their team having K Jason Elam to play and my team having Roddy White to play. After a hard fought game, I got the glory, winning 92-88.

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

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This week’s unfounded rumor: In order to give their team a better chance of winning, the Giants are doing something another New York player did during a win: Eating a hotdog. However, they need a lot of help, so each Giants player will eat no less than ten hotdogs during their game against the Chargers. In the same game, the Giants are planning on addressing childhood obesity in America. Nobody knows how yet.

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