Eagles-Steelers: the Battle for Pennsylvania Continues

Eagles-Steelers: the Battle for Pennsylvania Continues

Another chapter in the sports rivalry between the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh gets written today, albeit a much different one. The Flyers and Penguins play each other six times over a normal 82-game season, and can then meet in the playoffs for seven more as they did in April. The Phillies and Pirates play at least two series per season as well, and also could meet in the postseason -- if the Bucs ever got there.
The Eagles and Steelers meet just once every four years, unless they were both to wind up in the Super Bowl. It appears both could be a long way from reaching that goal before 2013.

The Steelers are 1-2 entering today, and there is a belief their entire campaign could hinge on today's result. That's not being melodramatic either, not in the AFC North where both the Ravens and Bengals are 3-1. Luckily for the Steelers, they are coming off of a bye and return three great players in Rashard Mendenhall, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu.

The Birds are in much better shape by virtue of their 3-1 record alone. As everybody would be quick to tell you though, the three wins are by a combined four points, and the loss was a blowout. The Eagles are in fine position for now, but only as long as Michael Vick stops turning the ball over long enough for the offense to kick a few field goals.

Still, these may not be the powerhouse Steelers we are accustomed to, but perhaps an aging group whose best days are behind them. However, they are still dangerous, especially at Heinz Field where they rarely lose, least of all to an out-of-conference opponent.

So any way you look at it, this is a big game, even if it doesn't fit the mold of the traditional Philly-Pitt rivalry. One season is riding on it, another could be defined by it, and any way you look at it, Eagles-Steelers tends to be a battle of two NFL juggernauts.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.