ESPN Thinks We're Gonna Lose the Opener to the Redskins By...How Much??

ESPN Thinks We're Gonna Lose the Opener to the Redskins By...How Much??

By the time Monday, September 9th rolls around, Philly sports fans are gonna be pumped for Philadelphia Eagles football no matter what, just by virtue of it being something besides the Phillies, who by that point will probably be fielding a starting outfield of Roger Bernadina, Casper Wells and Jeff Francoeur and waving to the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. At the very least, there's a sense of newness to the Eagles in coach Chip Kelly's first season, an excitement that should persist even if the team struggles a bit out of the gate--as long as their struggles aren't of the historic variety, anyway.

Well. ESPN the Magazine recently released their NFL season predictions (courtesy of analytics site Pro Football Focus), and understandably for a team in transition coming off a 4-12 record, they're none too bullish on our Birds. They have the Eagles going 6-10 and finishing last in the East, with the team going a miserable 1-5 in Division play. (They also predict that Nick Foles' risk-averseness will eventually win him the starting job from Michael Vick, for whatever that's worth.)

That's all tough, but none too surprising, and none even all that discouraging. But there is one somewhat eye-popping prediction contained in their Eagles season mini-preview. See, in addition to the PFF dudes predicting the results of every game on the NFL schedule for the Mag, they also predict the final score. And not only do they predict the Birds will lose the season opener to the Redskins, they predict it's gonna be by a fairly sizable margin.

41-0.

WHAT?? Well, the Mag doesn't provide per-game explanation for their scores--that'd be a lot for a preview issue--so we can't really know what the reasoning is behind their projected blowout. And they do predict the Redskins to win the East, though only with a 10-6 record, and not with scoring 40 or shutting out an opponent in any other game of theirs.

But geez, 41-0? Oddsshark.com currently only has the Redskins as 4.5-point favorites, and though that may change some, it's hard to see it going into the high double-digits. According to Pro Football Reference, the 41-0 loss would be the sixth-worst loss in Eagles history, and the worst since they were shut out 42-0 by the Seahawks in Decmeber 2005.

Such a loss would do about as effective as would be humanly possibly in quashing Eagles excitement before the season even really gets going, no matter how bad the Phillies are at that point. However, two minor silver linings to be found in this gloomiest of projected clouds. One is that ESPN does have the Eagles rebounding from the brutal opening loss to win their next two against the Chargers and the Chiefs, which might help get some sense of momentum back. (They lose the three after that, though.)

The other is that the loss isn't even the biggest blanking ESPN predicts for the 2013 season--that honor would go to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are predicted to lose 58-0 to the Seattle Seahawks in Week Three, just one point away from tying for the biggest blowout in NFL history. So there's that.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.