Eagles surpass last season’s win total 10 games into 2013

Eagles surpass last season’s win total 10 games into 2013

The Eagles might be a year or two away from contending for a championship—they don’t even know who their franchise quarterback is (or do they?)—but at least one thing is now certain. This year’s team is officially better than the 2012 iteration.

After finishing 4-12 in Andy Reid’s final season as head coach, Philadelphia has already clinched a better record just 10 games into 2013, Chip Kelly’s first season on the sidelines. With a sound 27-13 victory over a limited Packers squad, the Birds improved to 5-5 and once again find themselves in the thick of the playoff picture.

Yes, Green Bay was without 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, and down to practice-squad darling Scott Tolzien under center after the first series. The Eagles can only play the opponent that’s on the schedule though, and they took care of business on Sunday.

A Birds defense that has only given up more than 21 points twice all season was able to bottle up power running back Eddie Lacy for 73 yards on 24 carries. That forced Tolzien to carry the Packers’ offense in his first appearance in an NFL game, coming on in relief of Seneca Wallace who exited with a groin injury.

Tolzien piled up 280 yards and a touchdown on 24 of 39 passes, but threw two costly interceptions—one in the end zone. The pass to Jordy Nelson was behind its intended target, which allowed Brandon Boykin to swoop in for the pick (his second of ‘13) and a 73-yard return.

DeMeco Ryans also came up with his second interception of the season off of a tip after Tolzien attempted to thread a pass into traffic. Ryans set the tone for the Philly’s stifling run defense as well with 13 tackles—two for loss—building on another fine season.

The story once again though was the Eagles’ quick-strike offense led by Nick Foles, who finished with another strong line. The second-year passer connected on 12 of 18 passes for 228 yards with zero interceptions and three touchdowns—all over 32 yards. He did lose a fumble however to commit his first turnover of the ’13.

It wasn’t Foles’ best day despite the numbers. Two of his three touchdown passes were underthrown deep passes, the first of which in particular was nearly trouble. Packers cornerback Tramon Williams had the ball knocked away by his own teammate, and DeSean Jackson was there to collect the deflection for a 55-yard score.

It wasn’t a performance that is going to cement Foles as quarterback of the future, but as far as statistics are concerned, he’s still thrown 16 touchdowns with no picks this season. More importantly, his record as a starter this season jumped to 3-1.

If nothing else, Foles has earned another week to continue showing what he can do.

Jackson’s touchdown was his seventh of the season. Philadelphia improved to 5-1 in games where Djacc finds the end zone. Riley Cooper continued filling up the stat sheet as well with three catches for 102 yards and two scores. Coop now has five TDs over the past two games.

LeSean McCoy finally got on track as well, recording only his second 100-yard game since Week 3. How he finished was the most impressive part, with 115 of his 155 yards coming in the second half. The Eagles finished off the Packers with a clock-killing drive that ate the final 9:32 in the fourth quarter, largely Shady’s doing.

It may sound somewhat cliché, but this was a total team victory by the Birds, who toughed it out with several key injuries. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher was inactive, and Philly lost Jason Peters, Mychal Kendricks and Earl Wolff to injuries over the course of the game.

The Eagles forged ahead though and won anyway because they’re a better, more well-rounded team than they were a season ago. Credit Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis for the quick turnaround, and fans should be excited to find out what the ceiling is for this season.

The playoffs are right around the corner, and Philly is in the mix. Even if they don’t catch the Cowboys for an NFC East title, a wild card may be in play. As of this writing, the second wild card spot is currently owned by a five-win team.

First things first though, and that’s taking care of Washington next week, which will require the Birds to end this horrible 10-game losing streak at the Linc. Now winners of two straight, the Eagles will be riding a wave of momentum back to Philly. No reason right now to think they can’t continue to roll.

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.