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.

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

The Phillies' starting pitching rotation, for the time being, features four arms that were acquired in trades that have coincided with the team's rebuild, which started after the 2014 season.

Nick Pivetta will become the latest to join the group when he is officially activated. He was in the Phillies' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but those plans changed when Tuesday night's game against the Miami Marlins was postponed because of rain.

No makeup date was announced.

The rainout means Pivetta's big-league debut will be pushed back. Vince Velasquez, Tuesday's scheduled starter, will pitch Wednesday night against the Marlins and Jeremy Hellickson will start the series finale Thursday. Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin are likely to stay on turn and pitch Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles. That means Pivetta's debut will likely happen Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Not a bad venue for an unveiling. He does not have to be activated until that day. In the interim, the Phils are carrying an extra reliever in Mark Leiter Jr.

Even with the weather-related change in plans, Pivetta was thrilled to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"I've achieved my goal of getting here eventually," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I'm happy to be here. I want to get my feet on solid ground right now and just take it one step at a time.”

Pivetta is a Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia, about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. As a kid, he watched Toronto Blue Jays' games on television and idolized Roy Halladay. (see story).

Victoria must now be Phillies territory. Michael Saunders, the team's rightfielder, also hails from the town.

"You see it more and more, more Canadians getting into the game of baseball, so it’s always nice to see another one in the locker room," said Saunders, 30. "Clearly he’s pitched well enough to earn his way up here and I’m looking forward to seeing him play."

Pivetta is 6-5, 225 pounds. He was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. The Phillies acquired him for Jonathan Papelbon and cash in July 2015.

Pivetta will take Aaron Nola's spot in the rotation. Nola is on the disabled list with tightness in his lower back. He could be back as soon as early next week.

Nola said he probably could have pushed himself and stayed in the rotation, but the team chose to be cautious.

"I don’t think it's any big thing," Nola said.

With Pivetta on board, the Phillies now have four pitchers in their rotation that came over in "rebuild" trades.

Eflin arrived in the December 2014 deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.

Eickhoff came in the July 2015 deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers.

Velasquez came in the December 2015 trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

Pivetta did not immediately pitch well upon joining the Phillies organization. He had a 7.31 ERA in seven starts for Double A Reading in the summer of 2015. In 28 1/3 innings, he struck out 25 and walked 19.

Pivetta was a different pitcher last season. He registered a 3.27 ERA in 148 2/3 innings between Double A and Triple A, struck out 138 and walked 51. That performance earned him a spot on the team's 40-man roster.

“In 2016, he showed us the potential to be a really good major-league pitcher,” said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. “He was a little excitable after the trade in 2015, but he came back calm and confident last year. His stuff is legit — 93 to 96 (mph) with life on the fastball, good breaking ball and good feel for the changeup.”

His control continued to improve this season as he got off to a 3-0 start at Triple A. He pitched 19 innings, gave up just two earned runs, walked just two and struck out 24.

"Just getting ahead with my fastball," said Pivetta, explaining the early-season success that put him in line for the promotion. "First-pitch strikes are big. Even if I get into that 0-1 count or that 1-1 count, getting back to that 1-2 count is big. So being able to even up those counts have been really big for me, as well, and being able to finish off with my off-speed later in the counts, too.”

Pivetta pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. He made one start and took a no-decision in the team's 4-1 loss to Columbia. Pivetta worked four innings and allowed one run.

“That helped me," Pivetta said. "It was awesome. It was like having playoff baseball in March."

It's not clear how long Pivetta will stay in the big-league rotation. But he has more than put himself on the map, and if he continues to pitch well, he'll make more starts with the big club this season.

“I did not expect to be here this early in the season," he said. "I am happy to be here right now. I'll see how long I stay and just have fun while I am here.”

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Should the Eagles give Carson Wentz a say in who they take in the draft?

He is the future of the franchise after all.

"If there's any player on our roster that has insight into a guy in free agency or the draft, it's part of our information gathering," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said last Thursday.

So the Eagles will at least listen to Wentz — and others — about certain prospects. The second-year QB got a firsthand look at a few receiving prospects during offseason workouts. 

However, former Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski thinks it would be a "mistake" to give Wentz any input into the team's draft decision-making. 

"I don't think the quarterback should have any input in the draft," Jaworski said Tuesday. "Plain and simple. The quarterback should quarterback his football team. I know he'll be a teammate, but the Eagles — like every other team in this league — do extensive scouting. They know what they're doing, they'll select the player they believe is the best player."

Jaws would know -- he made that very mistake once.

"I had someone ask me a question back in 1978 or '79," Jaworski said. "They said, 'Hey Jaws, what do you think the Eagles need?' And I said we could probably improve our wide receiver position. 

"Oh, by the way, Harold Carmichael is one of our wide receivers, the next time I saw him he said, 'Hey, what are you talking about?' So it was a mistake, and I apologized to Harold and that was the last comment I ever made about the draft and my teammates. So I think players ought to shut up and let the front office make those decisions."

To be fair, Carmichael held a little more weight in his day than Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham do now. 

Jaworski went on to tell a wild story of his own draft day in 1973 (watch video here), and also made the case for the Eagles to stock up on cornerbacks in the draft (watch video here).