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NFL Week 15 2009

By: Nick Popyack

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

       The NFL regular season is coming to a close, and the playoff race is getting that much tighter. With three games remaining, more than half the league is still trying to gain that elusive playoff spot, headed off by the two unbeaten teams trying to stay that way in Thursday and Saturday night games. How good a chance does your team have of making in to the 2010 postseason? Here’s week 15.

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
[Thursday 8:20]

       This game is an interesting one. Yes, you have the Colts chasing an undefeated season, but what’s more interesting is the position they’re in. They’ve already clinched the top seed in the AFC, so why should they risk the health of their starters and play them for the entire game? The Jaguars have so much more to play for, as they’re hanging on for dear life to their wild card spot [Yes, they still have one somehow]. With the way the Colts have been playing, and especially with the way the Jaguars have been playing, a contest with the Indianapolis starters against the Jacksonville starters would surely end in a Colts victory. But why should they play their starters for longer than two quarters? They have absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose. I expect the Colts, with a first round bye and homefield advantage through the playoffs already secured, to play their second stringers and drop their first game of the season. Your playoff hopes get that much more likely, Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Jaguars

Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints
[Saturday 8:20]

       I don’t know how to explain it anymore. since he started playing for the Cowboys, Tony Romo has been the person to blame for December losses. We can’t do that this year; he’s playing better than he has all season! In the last three games, Romo has thrown seven touchdown passes with no interceptions, completing 68.4% of his passes. So who’s there to blame? Is their kicker, Nick Folk, who’s missed six fieldgoals in the last five games? Is it their lack of defensive pressure, only sacking the quarterback once in each of their last two games [Both losses]? Is it Jerry Jones, failing to motivate his team in the clutch as has been the case since 1997? ... Who knows? Whatever the case is, they’re in trouble, and there doesn’t seem to be any answer for their annual collapse. Unlike the Colts, the undefeated Saints actually have something to play for: Homefield advantage. They won’t be pulling their starters unless they’re leading by three scores. They might not get there, though, with the way they’ve been playing. They’ve cut it very close against so subpar teams. If the Saints want to win in the playoffs, they’re going to have to motivate themselves and not make stupid decisions. However, with Dallas’s best defender’s health in question this week, I’m going with the Saints to stay undefeated.
New Orleans Saints

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
[Sunday 1:00]

       I’m not exactly sure of what’s happening in New England. Yes, they won the game against the Panthers, but a whole lot seems to be going wrong for the Patriots lately. Randy Moss’s poor game aside, they should have won big against a team that’s well out of the playoff chase and playing with their second string quarterback, but they couldn’t get a whole lot of offense going against the Panthers. This is the time when winning counts; a lackluster end to the season can spell for a very brief, if not nonexistent, postseason. Last time these teams faced each other, Dick Jauron was a head coach and Tom Brady was coming off of knee surgery. With Randy Moss in a funk, I expect a heavy dose of running the ball washed down with some Wes Welker for the Patriots to stay on top of their division. The Bills just don’t have the offense.
New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles
[Sunday 1:00]

       Wow. Both of these teams played exceptional football in the National spotlight last week. Well, some parts were exceptional. For the Eagles, the return of DeSean Jackson couldn’t have been more noticeable, as he tied the league record [Since 1950] for touchdowns of 50 or more yards in a single season against the Giants last week. The Philadelphia offense scored four touchdowns, and they got defensive and special teams scores as well. However, their defense was absolutely flattened, allowing 512 yards. Poor tackling haunted the Eagles, while tackling won it for the 49ers. San Francisco forced seven turnovers, five of which came off of fumbles. Their offense didn’t capitalize the way it should have, however, only scoring 24 points. With both teams having weak points, it makes the outcome hard to predict, but I’m going with the offense of the Eagles. In a close one, I expect ‘Action Jackson’ to be the difference maker.
Philadelphia Eagles

Miami Dolphins @ Tennessee Titans
[Sunday 1:00]

       Both of these teams, after forgettable starts, are sitting at 6-7, needing a win to stay alive in the chase for the wild card spot. With both teams running the ball so well, it would be logical to think that the passing game would be the difference maker in this matchup. However, it might not matter for the Titans. They do have the league’s leader in scrimmage yards in Chris Johnson, who still has a chance at 2,000 rushing yards this season. Ricky Williams has filled in admirably for the Dolphins, but I still think they’re better off running the Wildcat as opposed to the conventional offense, though it worked for them last week. With Vince Young’s playing status in question, I’m going with the Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins

Houston Texans @ St. Louis Rams
[Sunday 1:00]

       I didn’t think St. Louis could regress any further than they already have, but it looks like they’ve proven me wrong again. Without a clear answer for their quarterback situation, they’ll be doomed to lopsided defeats for the better half of the next decade. In April, they better go offensive in the draft, because that’s the only way they’ll A] get ticket sales back up an B] win a game.
Houston Texans

Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions
[Sunday 1:00]

       I have few things to say about this blowout in the making, besides how bad Arizona played on Monday. You better believe ball security was a theme in practice this week. The Lions, after losing their star runningback Kevin Smith to injury, will lose this game similarly.
Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs
[Sunday 1:00]

       As much as I dislike the way the Browns organization is heading, I must commend them for an excellent defensive stand against the [former] World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. It seems that Eric Mangini might finally be rubbing off on his team, and that might not be a bad thing. With both of these teams’ offenses doing so poorly, it seems that the defense will have final say, and you know which team I like in that one. Sorry, Rams, but you are back to being the worst team in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns

Atlanta Falcons @ New York Jets
[Sunday 1:00]

       After missing a game with a knee injury, Mark Sanchez is back. They might have won three straight, and some by multiple scores, but their offense hasn’t been convincing since before their bye week. Sure, they can rack up the rushing yards, but scoring points is what ultimately matters in this league. With the exception of last week, they haven’t scored more than 20 points since mid-November. However, with the weak defense of the Falcons, and Matt Ryan and Michael Turner still questionable, I’m predicting a New York win.
New York Jets

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
[Sunday 4:05]

       The quarterback situation is such a mess in Oakland. Russell was sidelined during a game in which his receivers dropped nearly every pass he threw. Enter Bruce Gradkowski, enter two more wins. Gradkowski goes down, and so does the little offense they had. Now Charlie Frye is starting, and it probably means what we’re all thinking: Disaster. It’s not the quarterback position the Raiders have to worry about; it’s the entire offense. The wide receivers drop the ball, the offensive line has allowed the third most sacks in the league, and the team is converting only 29% of their third down attempts. The quarterback is not to blame, it’s the offense as a whole. The Broncos should win this one big, lead by Kyle Orton and Brandon Marshall.
Denver Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers
[Sunday 4:05]

       The Bengals were stunned last week against the Vikings and could only muster ten points. They also couldn’t stop Adrian Peterson, and, after a great 7-2 start, have dropped two of the past four, and are having a hard time locking up the AFC North. The Chargers, on the other hand, are cruising after winning their ninth straight. Antonio Gates has surpassed 1,000 yards already, and Vincent Jackson looks like he’ll pass that same milestone this week. Though the Bengals will be playing emotional football after losing teammate Chris Henry this week, I think the Chargers just have too good of a passing game.
San Diego Chargers

Chicago Bears @ Baltimore Ravens
[Sunday 4:15]

       I’d like to think the Bears can put up a good fight against the Ravens. I mean, the Baltimore defense has been playing at such a low level this entire season, it seems that a lot of teams could run up the score on them. However, it won’t happen. The Bears have one of the weakest receiving corps in the entire league. I’d probably put them in front of Oakland, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Maybe Miami as well. Other than that, you have the rest of the league dominating the passing attack and Jay Cutler throwing 22 interceptions in 13 games. Besides the massive defensive rebuilding they need, if they get a legitimate number one receiver, be it by the draft or free agency or trade, they’ll have an offense that can compete with the rest of their division. Until then, I’m picking against them.
Baltimore Ravens

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Seattle Seahawks
[Sunday 4:15]

       After a great opening day against the 49ers, Matt Hasselbeck has failed to impress. He’s had four games in which he’s thrown for no touchdowns, and really only five good/great games. With a couple of good runningbacks in the backfield, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson lining up at wide receiver, I think it’s pretty easy to determine where the problem lies. They need to go out and get a high round quarterback in the NFL draft, like the Buccaneers did with Josh Freeman. He’s making mistakes, but he looks like he’ll be a great QB in the years ahead. However, he doesn’t have any rhythm on the offense, and coupled with a weak defense, you can see why they’ve only won one game. Though they’re not the worst team in the league [Rams], they’re close.
Seattle Seahawks

Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
[Sunday 4:15]

       The Steelers are done this year. Absolutely finished. Go ahead and put a fork in them now. Their remaining three opponents are all above .500, and they could easily drop all three of them. While I may be giving the other teams a little too much credit, you can’t defend a team that was outscored by Cleveland’s last ranked offense. They score 12.2 points a game. I mean, really. The Packers have solved their offensive line problems, and they’re clicking on defense as well. Though playing on ten days of rest, and with an offense that can turn up the heat, I don’t think the Steelers will be able to outscore the Packers.
Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers
[Sunday 8:20]

       This looks to be a pretty one-sided game. I mean, look at the matchup. The Panthers haven’t scored more than 17 points in four weeks, and the Vikings just steamrolled one of the top teams in the AFC. The Vikings, despite playing a more inspired Panthers defense, will run up and down over Carolina. Don’t expect much from Matt Moore, either.
Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins
[Monday 8:30]

       The Redskins are in transition. They’ve just changed general managers, are interviewing for the head coaching spot, and are discovering that their young players have some game. Devin Thomas and Fred Davis have stepped it up in recent weeks, and are the few bright spots on an otherwise inept offense. With Quinton Ganther stepping it up last week as well, the Redskins look to have a nice set of young playmakers. However, so do the Giants. They piled on 512 yards of offense last week against the Eagles, and, despite turning the ball over four times, were in a position to win that crazy Sunday Night game. They have a better offense, and they’ve already stuck it to the Skins once this year. In a game that’ll have more offense than it should, I’m going with the Giants.
New York Giants

Recap:
Jacksonville Jaguars
New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles
Miami Dolphins
Houston Texans
Arizona Cardinals
Cleveland Browns
New York Jets
Denver Broncos
San Diego Chargers
Baltimore Ravens
Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
New York Giants

Last week’s winner: Pat [15]

Season totals:

Nick: 133
Kavik: 132
Pat: 132


Fantasy Football: The story of Team Nate Kaeding [3-10]

Round one of the ‘playoffs’. I, of course, didn’t make it [I did, however, make it in a Yahoo! league I’m playing in] but watch out for me next year. I won’t make this mistake twice, and you can believe I’ll be at the top of the league in 2010. I’ll keep you posted next year. In a two-week long contest, I’m leading, 71-50.

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: Stemming from Mike Smith’s destructive headset spike last weekend against the Saints, the league will now consider such an act of poor sportsmanship. Spiking headsets will soon be a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Unless, of course, the coach scores a touchdown; in that case, it’s allowed.

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