Eagles-Chiefs: Commence The Andy Bowl

Eagles-Chiefs: Commence The Andy Bowl

It’s rare when any game on the Eagles’ schedule takes on an air of meaning larger than any against, say, the Cowboys or Giants. Maybe this isn’t it quite on that level either, but there is certainly a greater feeling of importance surrounding tonight’s contest than a regular season meeting against the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) has any right to have.

That’s what happens when the former head coach of 14 years comes back to town roughly eight months after he was let go, on the same night his franchise quarterback of 11 years will have his number retired in a ceremony at halftime. For the first time in a long time, Chip Kelly is almost an afterthought in Philadelphia.

As soon as the game kicks off though, obviously that will no longer be the case. Chip’s offense still has something to prove versus its stiffest test to date, a Kansas City defense that comes into Week 3 ranked third in total yards and second in points allowed.

How stout the Chiefs’ defense really is, that’s up for debate. They opened their season with the Jaguars – a team that’s found the end zone all of once so far – while several of their nine sacks (tied for the league lead) would chart as “unblocked” against mediocre offensive lines in Jacksonville and Dallas. That’s not to say KC doesn’t have some quality pass rushers in their front seven, but the Birds’ line anchored by Jason Peters stands a better chance of avoiding similar breakdowns.

Then again, it may not matter one way or the other if the Eagles can’t get some stops. Alex Smith is no Philip Rivers, but he’s perfectly capable is dissecting a defense on short and intermediate routes, while Jamaal Charles is a home-run threat in the running game, which was an issue the Birds had during the preseason.

In other news, the No. 5 is painted on the sidelines at the Linc, and the end zones are painted black. Coool.

Standout Star & Prediction

I’m going with inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks for my game MVP this week. Thursday games are typically lower scoring, probably because guys are still beat up from Sunday, and Kendricks really needs to bounce back from a rough performance against San Diego. Antonio Gates really made the second-year backer look bad in coverage, but the Chiefs don’t have anybody near as good at tight end.

Kendricks will get his number called on the blitz as well, and I suspect he’ll be better in that area as well. Last week he couldn’t find a lane to the quarterback if he had a GPS, but he was making plays in the backfield all night in Washington back in Week 1.

As for the game, I’m going Birds again. If defensive coordinator brings the safeties closer, that should make things harder on Smith, who looked deep (beyond 15 yards) less frequently than any starting quarterback in the league last season (per Football Outsiders Almanac 2013). Force the QB to beat the defense over the top, and hope they can keep Charles from ripping off too many huge gains.

Score: Eagles 27-23

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).