Is the worst already over for the Philadelphia Eagles?

Is the worst already over for the Philadelphia Eagles?

In case you’re still searching for silver linings from the Eagles’ 52-20 drubbing in Denver two days ago—their third consecutive loss, and looking increasingly less competitive with each passing week—well the good news is there actually are some reasons to remain upbeat.

Go ahead and scoff at the mere implication the sky isn’t falling. If the Birds handle the New York Giants this Sunday (possible), and the Dallas Cowboys fall to the Broncos (likely), Philadelphia would actually take over first place in the NFC East. Ah, the joys of playing in a weak division.

It gets better. Anybody who checked the schedule is no doubt already aware the Eagles’ slate is about to lighten significantly compared to the first four games. Their opponents thus far have combined to produce an 11-5 record, good for a winning percentage of .688. The next 12 are just 16-32 with a .334 percentage.

And although it’s impossible to predict where many of these teams could be sitting one month from now, even just the immediate future seems favorable. Three of the next four opponents (Tampa Bay, Giants x2) have yet to win so much as a game so far this season.

Let’s face it: the Eagles are a rebuilding team, and were completely outclassed by the Broncos in Week 4. They also lost to another of the league’s five remaining unbeatens in the Kansas City Chiefs, and even that defeat took a pile of unforced turnovers in order to essentially give the game away. Throw in a last-minute loss to the San Diego Chargers, and the Birds had actually been competitive in every game up until Sunday.

Philadelphia easily could be at least 2-2 right now, if not 3-1 had they not completely imploded against the Chiefs.

Now the next four weeks pose a golden opportunity to turn things around. The Giants have been absolutely hammered by injuries, and have allowed opponents to outscore them 69-7 the last two weeks. Tampa Bay has hitched its wagon to rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, a third-round pick who was abruptly promoted to starter last week.

Even the first-place Cowboys coming to town in three weeks—while a challenge—is not especially frightening. They’ve already lost San Diego and Kansas City as well, so we’ll see how much better they fare against Peyton Manning’s armada.

The Eagles’ schedule toughens up again down the stretch, but there are still clashes with Oakland, Washington, and Arizona leading up to then. Between now and Week 14, the only intimidating game on the schedule is a trip to Green Bay in November.

Do we expect the Eagles are going to beat all the teams they “should?” Probably not, given they look like one of those teams themselves based on the standings. True rebuilding teams usually don’t run into too many honestly lesser opponents—although some of these franchises are in pathetic shape.

The point is, it’s much too early to give up on this season much less this coaching staff after four games, three of which the Birds were against quality teams with established NFL quarterbacks. The Eagles will have the opportunity to prove where they stand in the pecking order of unfinished products around the league beginning this weekend. Who knows, a last-place schedule may yet propel this team to a run to an NFC East title.

Chip Kelly and his squad have a lot to work to do, but if they knock off Eli Manning and the G-men in New York this week, that could go a long way toward turning the momentum back in the Eagles' favor.

Source: Phillies have agreement with free-agent OF Michael Saunders

Source: Phillies have agreement with free-agent OF Michael Saunders

The Phillies are putting the finishing touches on a deal with outfielder Michael Saunders, according to a source.

Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported the deal was close early Monday afternoon.

When the medical reviews and other loose ends are complete, Saunders will end up with a one-year contract for 2017. It is believed that there will be an option for 2018.

Saunders, 30, will give the Phils the left-handed bat they’ve been looking for in the outfield. Saunders is likely to play right field and his addition will likely push Roman Quinn back to Triple A, where he will get more seasoning.

Saunders is a veteran of eight seasons in the majors. He played in a career-high 140 games with Toronto in 2016 and made the American League All-Star team on the strength of a first half in which he hit .298 with 16 homers, 42 RBIs and a .923 OPS. He fell off in the second half and hit just .178 with eight homers, 15 RBIs and a .638 OPS. Saunders finished the season at .253/24/57/.815.

With less than a month to go before spring training, the Phillies are likely done with their significant offseason moves. The offseason began with trades for reliever Pat Neshek and outfielder Howie Kendrick. Later in the winter, the club traded for starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and signed reliever Joaquin Benoit. Now Saunders is on his way.

Villanova returns to top of AP poll after a week away

Villanova returns to top of AP poll after a week away

It didn't take long for Villanova to get back to the top of the AP poll.

A week, to be exact.

The 'Cats jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 in this week's AP poll, edging out No. 2 Kansas by just 16 total voting points. Villanova had 1,580 total points compared to the 1,562 total points the No. 2 Jayhawks received from voters.

In a twist, the 16-1 Jayhawks actually had more first-place votes than the 17-1 Wildcats. Kansas received 32 first-place votes compared to Villanova's 28 first-place votes. But total votes are the deciding factor, so, advatange: Wildcats.

UCLA hopped up to No. 3, Gonzaga jumped up to No. 4 and Kentucky checked in at No. 5 to round out this week's top five.

Baylor, the No. 1 team in the land last week, fell to No. 6 after it was blown out by No. 7 West Virginia.

Beginning on Dec. 5, Villanova was No. 1 for five straight weeks before falling at No. 13 Butler on Jan. 5 and seeing a 20-game win streak come to an end.

Jay Wright's Wildcats blew past No. 22 Xavier and St. John's last week, but will face another Big East test when 12-5 Seton Hall visits The Pavilion on Monday night. The last time Villanova and Seton Hall met, the Pirates upset the Wildcats at MSG in the final of last season's Big East Tournament.

The Wildcats' schedule this week is closed out with a visit from Providence on Saturday afternoon.