Eagles Must Strike Gold Against 49ers

Eagles Must Strike Gold Against 49ers

It's a funny thing describing a game on October 2 against the San Francisco 49ers as "must-win," but many observers feel that way, if for no other reason than so the Eagles can silence their critics temporarily. It wouldn't hurt in the standings either, where the Birds surprisingly find themselves in dead-last in the NFC East entering Week 4.

While today's game may not be must-win in the most literal sense, another mark in the loss column would be crippling. 1-3 before they even reach the tough part of the schedule, while not insurmountable, would put even more pressure on a team that is clearly struggling to rise to expectations. And unlike falling to the Falcons and Giants, their inability to handle the 49ers would be the surest sign yet of potentially fatal deficiencies.

Sure, we didn't necessarily anticipate the Eagles would collapse against the injury-riddled G-men either, but that's at least explainable to a division rival with some of its talent intact. The 49ers are much more similar to the Rams, in that they have a capable defense, but are completely outmatched on offense. They haven't run the ball, and they haven't protected the passer.

You might be tempted to argue Juan Castillo's defense is the perfect prescription for such ailments, but the numbers suggest even this oft-maligned group should have success against San Fran. The Niners sport the 30th ranked rushing offense in the NFL, and their inability to keep QB Alex Smith on his feet plays right into the Eagles' hands, who are second with 12 sacks.

Plus, this team should come out like a fire has been lit under their asses. It would be fair to say they've been embarrassed the last two times out, particularly versus New York, but if you think they are feeling sorry for themselves, you would be mistaken. They have a lot to prove, and it was plain for everybody to see at Andy Reid's post-game presser last Sunday that this group was in for a rough week of practice.

Of course, Michael Vick's bruised right hand is a matter for concern, as we've experienced two very different performances from backup Mike Kafka in consecutive weeks -- and nothing at all from Vince Young. If Vick can't snap out of his funk, get the offense moving a little more efficiently, and then finish 60 minutes, you could envision San Fran sparking up some momentum. They've played in three close games so far, winning two and dropping another in overtime.

So it's true, the Eagles cannot afford to let the 49ers hang around, and cannot afford another loss, especially to such an inferior opponent. Even with the Phillies going strong, people will take notice if this club falls to 1-3. But relax... if they lose today, the Birds have much bigger problems than their record or uptight fan reactions.

They will have to deal with the harsh reality that they too are a bad team.

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Vincent Trocheck scored with just under 5 seconds remaining to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.

Jonathan Marchessault also scored and James Reimer stopped 26 shots to help the Panthers complete a 5-0 road trip -- their first perfect trip of at least that many games in franchise history.

Reimer has won five straight decisions and has not lost in regulation since Jan. 7 against Boston, going 6-0-1 since.

The Panthers moved into a tie with Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division, but have the edge because they have a game in hand on the Bruins.

Kyle Brodziak, playing for the second time after missing 10 games due to a broken foot, scored for the Blues and Jake Allen finished with 31 saves. St. Louis lost its second straight since winning six in a row (see full recap).

Coyotes use three-goal 1st period to beat Ducks
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Radim Vrbata capped Arizona's three-goal first period and the Coyotes held on for 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun also scored for Arizona, and starting goalie Mike Smith had 27 saves before leaving about 4 1/2 minutes into the third period after a collision in the net. Marek Langhamer helped kill a power play after being pressed into action for his NHL debut and stopped six of the seven shots he faced.

The Coyotes have won four of their last six.

Langhamer gave up Ryan Getzlaf's second goal of the night with 26.8 seconds to play, but thwarted two quality shots in the final seconds.

Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on six shots in the first period for the Ducks. John Gibson came on to start the second and stopped all 14 shots he faced (see full recap).

Joel Embiid admits to reaggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid admits to reaggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid trusts the Process, more so than anyone — the process of patience.

After sitting out two whole seasons because of foot injuries, Embiid learned the importance of patience the hard way.

Appearing on NBA TV's Open Court, Joel Embiid opened up about how he reaggravated the fracture in his foot that cost him the 2015-16 season.

"I didn't know how to deal with patience," Embiid said on the roundtable discussion. "I just wanted to do stuff, that's why I think I needed a second surgery, because after my first one, I just wanted to play basketball again. I just wanted to be on the court and I pushed through what I wasn't supposed to.

"At one point I thought about quitting. I just wanted to come back home and just forget everything."

Embiid goes on to discuss the Sixers' turnaround this season and his mindset during his recovery. Watch the full clip below. 

Embiid also said he models his game after Hakeem Olajuwon.