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NFL Week 13 2009

By: Nick Popyack

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       After a Thanksgiving full of turkey, stuffing, and plenty of lopsided games, it’s time to get back into the normal swing of things, but I’d first like to touch on the lopsided games. Though I talked about it last week, I can’t stress enough how often we see these kinds of games. Not one of the games remained competitive this past Turkey Day, and the league has to recognize this. I mean, who was really expecting a game in the Detroit-Green Bay matchup? I was more interested in what sign the camera operators were holding up than that way the Detroit defense held up against Aaron Rodgers. It’s about time that the league recognized that a game with a losing franchise doesn’t sound appealing to the viewing audience. Enough of that, though. Here’s week 13.

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
[Thursday 8:20]

       Two teams broke their three game losing streaks last week, setting up the next episode of Thursday Night Football: The Battle Of The Inexperienced. Ryan Fitzpatrick, playing for interim head coach Perry Fewell, will make his 20th career start against rookie Mark Sanchez, coached by a fellow rookie, head coach Rex Ryan. Sprinkle in veteran receiver Terrell Owens playing his best football of the season and Thomas Jones closing in on his fifth straight 1,000 yard season and we have a game here! But let’s not forget about the defense. Both teams got strong defensive performances last week, forcing a combined seven interceptions in week 12. With both of these teams losing close games recently [Both lost to Jacksonville by a combined five points], it’s hard to say which team will come out on top. One interesting matchup to watch will of course be the aforementioned Owens against Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis, but a more interesting matchup perhaps will be Sanchez playing against the team that picked him off five times earlier this year. That game sent Sanchez into a downward spiral, leaving him with 17 interceptions so far. Fitzpatrick, however, has been hot the past few weeks, and that I can’t ignore. Though it’ll be a close, defensive game, I expect Fitzpatrick to win it for the Bills.
Buffalo Bills

St. Louis Rams @ Chicago Bears
[Sunday 1:00]

       You never would have thought that the Bears, with a 1,200 yard rusher and a 4,500 yard passer from a year ago would be so bad on offense. The thing is, Jay Cutler’s changer this team. Not only has he brought along his interceptions [18 last year, leads league with 20 this year], but he’s brought along a new mentality for the Bears. Instead of running the ball and using the talented Matt Forte, they’re attempting to pass the ball downfield with receivers that haven’t picked up any slack. Matt Forte, who had a great rookie year with 371 touches for 1,715 yards [23.2 touches per game], hasn’t been getting the ball nearly enough this year, with only 211 touches for 976 yards [19.2 touches per game]. After a great rookie campaign, you’d expect Forte to get the ball more, but instead, Cutler has been dropping back 36.7 times a game. That ratio will lose you ball games, but not against the Rams. Their defense is bad enough that Jay Cutler won’t have any trouble winning this one [Hand it off, Lovie…].
Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions @ Cincinnati Bengals
[Sunday 1:00]

       Congrats, Bengals. You swept a tough division and are two games up in the AFC North. The pickup of Larry Johnson, and the stepping up of Bernard Scott, has kept the Bengals moving forward without Cedric Benson. With their defense playing well, and a two game lead on the Steelers and Ravens, the Bengals look ready to claim their division… Ok, is that enough praise for them? Because I have a few problems with Cincinnati. Yes, their defense has been playing spectacularly as of late, holding three of their last four opponents [All divisional opponents] to less than 13 points, but their offense hasn’t scored more than 18 points since before their bye week. They bolstered their running game with LJ, but they haven’t been able to score many points. This should be distressing for them, going against a now healthy Calvin Jonnson-Matt Stafford combination. However, the Lions have struggled against the better defenses [Or everybody], so I expect the Bengals to get back into an offensive groove. They’ll need it as they’ll have a tough December after this week.
Cincinnati Bengals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Carolina offense is looking a little shabby right now. Forget the play last week in which Steve Smith’s left heel threw an interception; right now the trouble with the Panthers is injuries. Jake Delhomme may not play since breaking his finger, and DeAngelo Williams may not play with a strained ankle. Put two losses on top of a defense that allows 23.3 points per game and the Buccaneers may have this one. They almost beat a Falcons team without their starting quarterback, so why can’t they beat the Panthers without theirs? After all, the Buccaneers, in their last game against the Panthers, had the game tied up until the final minute. With Josh Freeman improving every week, and the Carolina offense banged up, I’m taking the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oakland Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
[Sunday 1:00]

       It took him eleven weeks, but Darrius Heyward-Bey finally scored his first NFL touchdown. Rejoice, O Raiders fans, for he might turn out to be a good player! However, there are always negatives to draw from anything considered good for Oakland. First of all, the offense wasn’t exactly spectacular against the Cowboys, as Heyward-Bey’s touchdown was the lone score for the Raiders on Thanksgiving. Second of all, do you realize how unproductive he’s been for the Raiders? He has nine receptions and two rushes in eleven games. If that isn’t a testament to how bad the Raiders offense is, I don’t know what other example could possible show it. The Steelers will snap their three game losing streak and pick up some ground in a tight AFC wild card race.
Pittsburgh Steelers

New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins
[Sunday 1:00]

       I don’t think much needs to be said about this game, with one of the lowest scoring offenses going against the highest scoring offense in the NFL, but let me talk about how wrong I was about the Saints last week. Neither their offense nor their defense has lost a step twelve weeks into the season, and they really showed up against a premiere AFC squad on Monday Night. I was dead wrong, and I probably won’t be picking against them again this entire season, as their finishing schedule looks easy enough. They should roll over the Redskins.
New Orleans Saints

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Patriots, known for winning high profile games, have stunk on the national stage as of late. The Patriots have dropped their last two nationally televised games, both against undefeated opponents. While both teams they lost to are undefeated for a reason, it isn’t good to see someone [Drew Brees] have a perfect passer rating against a playoff hopeful like New England if you’re a New England fan. Also, failing to score more than 17 points when their season average is ten points higher is another distressing negative to draw from the Patriots’ Monday night showdown [More like a Monday night ‘don’t-show-up’]. However, the Patriots look like they’re going to bounce back against a divisional opponent, just like they did after losing to the Colts. This time, they’ll face a Dolphins team that kept the game interesting when these teams last met, however, without the Help of Ronnie Brown this time. Ricky Williams has been good, but, as seen last week with his red-zone interception, he hasn’t been as good as Brown was. The Patriots should get back into their groove next week.
New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Falcons got really lucky last week. Not in the sense that both Matt Ryan and Michael Turner left the game with injuries and look to be out this week as well, but that they actually came out with a win. Chris Redman brought the Falcons to victory, but in order to do that this week, he’s going to have to try a little harder. Last week, he went against a one-win team that’s given up the second most points in the league. This week, he’ll try to beat out a ninth ranked defense that’s chalked up the sixth most sacks in the league. Also, let me mention that Donovan McNabb, often criticized for choking in the clutch, has lead the Eagles on fourth quarter game-winning drives in both of the last two weeks. He’s getting into a groove at the right point in the season. I think his leadership and experience will be the difference maker in this game.
Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
[Sunday 1:00]

       While the Indianapolis offense has been in sync and dominated opponents for the majority of the season, it’s their defense that’s stepped it up in the clutch for the last few games. We all saw the infamous fourth and two play in the Patriots game, an interception ended the game in Baltimore, and against the Houston Texans, a pick-six by Clint Session put the finishing touches on a Colts comeback. The point is that Peyton Manning isn’t 11-0 all by himself; his defense has been playing spectacularly, allowing the third fewest points in the league. However, the Titans have been playing their best football as of late, and Vince Young has led them to victory five weeks in a row, with the help of Chris Johnson, of course. Vince Young has had success against the Colts in the past, but something tells me that Indianapolis will come through again. Maybe it’s the fact that Manning has thrown for 300+ yards in eight games already this year, going against one of the more susceptible pass defenses in the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
[Sunday 1:00]

       I guess you could say the Broncos are back. Sort of. After losing four straight, they rebounded nicely against the Giants and kept their playoff hopes alive, mostly thanks to their impressive defense. However, I’m not convinced they’re a playoff team yet. Their offense has been for the most part inept since their bye week, scoring ten points or less in three of their last five games. While this would usually be a concern, I think they’ll do fine this week against a Chiefs tem that allowed 43 points against them last weekend. The Broncos should match their win total from last year next week.
Denver Broncos

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
[Sunday 1:00]

       Take a good look at these two AFC South teams. Both are still technically in the wild card hunt, but neither team looks like they’ll make it. The Jaguars won’t because their offense doesn’t show up to games on a regular basis, and the Texans won’t because they can’t finish games. The Texans have lost their last three consecutive games, and it’s pretty easy to see why. They’ve either been outscored in the second half or their kicker has choked in the clutch [Or both]. The Jaguars simply haven’t been consistent enough to be considered a legitimate playoff team, if they get that far. This game will greatly influence which of these teams will have a postseason, and it’s a close call either way, but I’m going with the team that’s in a better position to earn a playoff spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars

San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns
[Sunday 4:05]

       The Browns lost their best defensive player last week, Shaun Rogers, for the season. As if Cleveland needed a more difficult time winning games, and they’ll go against three playoff hopefuls in the final five weeks of their season. I think I’ve talked enough about how bad the Browns are in recent weeks, so how about I go on about how good the Chargers are? … Yeah, they’re good. They always seem to put together a long winning streak after a lackluster start, don’t they? The winners of six straight, they could easily earn a seventh this week, but then things are going to get tough for San Diego. Matchups against the Cowboys, Bengals, and Titans haunt San Diego’s future, so they better be ready after this week.
San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
[Sunday 4:15]

       Just when you thought the Giants were back… Well, then whatever happened last week happened to them. They were absolutely horrible on offense without Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield, and it just goes to show you how wrong the Giants were about their offseason plans. Don’t forget the decision to let Derrick Ward go to Tampa Bay and the other decision to not bring in any proven talent on offense. Their defensive signings have paid off [kinda], but their offense is now struggling, and they have no one to blame but themselves. Also, the Cowboys are ready for their annual end-of-the-season collapse. Though things have looked good on Thanksgiving for the past few years, the Cowboys have fallen apart afterwards. Against a team that might still not have Bradshaw in the lineup, I’m taking the Cowboys for a rare December win.
Dallas Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
[Sunday 4:15]

       The Seahawks, though facing a supremely awful team, still managed to look bad against them. They only gained 265 offensive yards, and allowed 364 yards of offense against the hapless Rams. That cannot be acceptable for a team that has dominated this division for the better part of this decade. The 49ers also have some problems, mostly with pulling wins out of close games. In their last five games decided by one score or less [I consider games with an eight point differential ‘close’], they’ve lost four. That’s the difference between 5-6 [their record now] and 9-1, leading the division. While both teams have struggled mightily, I expect the 49ers to duplicate the game they played against the Seahawks earlier in the season [35-0].
San Francisco 49ers

Minnesota Vikings @ Arizona Cardinals
[Sunday 8:20]

       Man, how good is Brett Favre. He has an NFL record touchdown to interception ratio [8.0], he has a quarterback rating of over 100 on the season for the first time in his career, and he hasn’t thrown an interception since October. Truly, he’s playing the best football of his career. Another Viking that’s been playing extremely well is their first round pick, Percy Harvin, who’s scored two touchdowns in as many weeks. There’s one Viking that hasn’t been playing as well as I had expected, though. Ready for this? Adrian Peterson. He’s fumbled four times in the past three weeks, and, while it hasn’t hurt his team at all since the past few wins have been blowouts, it tells me that it might be a problem that could lose them an important game in the postseason. Just saying. The Vikings look completely ready to dismantle the Cardinals, who have a quarterback almost as old as Favre. Kurt Warner, however, is trying to come back from a concussion, and I don’t think he’s going to be prepared to take on one of the top squads in the NFC. Hell, he might not even play.
Minnesota Vikings

Baltimore Ravens @ Green Bay Packers
[Monday 8:30]

       This is one of the more interesting matchups this week. Both of these teams have stellar defenses and young, strong-armed quarterbacks. The Ravens rely on Ray Rice, while the Packers have Aaron Rodgers win games for them. The Baltimore defense is led by two time former Defensive MVP Ray Lewis, while the Packers have been feeding off of the intensity of Charles Woodson, who is making a strong case for the 2009 defensive player of the year. These two teams are evenly matched, and I have mixed feelings for who will win this crucial game. With both teams in the thick of the wild card race, it’s hard to decide which team will come out on top, but I think the ten days rest will prove beneficial to the Packers, and they have a much better receiving corps than the Ravens. Sorry, Baltimore.
Green Bay Packers

Recap:
Buffalo Bills
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pittsburgh Steelers
New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles
Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos
Jacksonville Jaguars
San Diego Chargers
Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers

Last week’s winner: Pat [13]

Season totals:

Nick: 112
Kavik: 111
Pat: 108


Fantasy Football: The story of Team Nate Kaeding [3-9]

Didn’t change my roster. Didn’t matter. I was going against the best team in our fantasy league. I started Matt Ryan, who got me exactly 0 points, and Jason Snelling, who earned me -2. It still wouldn’t have made a difference, as I was going against the best team in our fantasy league, winner of ten straight. I lost, 71-106.

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: Determined to be more aggressive, Andy Reid will not only go for the onside kick every time, but he will also go for it on every fourth down and always go for a two point conversion. This is also his way of getting rid of all of those special teams penalties.

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