Take a hike, Tom Brady: Eagles' Week 16 matchup with the Bears flexed to Sunday night

Take a hike, Tom Brady: Eagles' Week 16 matchup with the Bears flexed to Sunday night

If you are active on twitter, you may already know this since almost every single person in the history of twitter sent a tweet about this earlier this afternoon.  But for those of you who are social media-impaired – much like my father, who still doesn’t get the whole “tweeter” thing – there was some news today regarding the Eagles’ schedule.

The NFC East-leading Birds – damn, that feels good to say – and their Week 16 matchup with the Bears on Dec. 22 at the Linc has been flexed from a 1 p.m. start time to the NBC national slot at 8:30 p.m.

It’s an interesting choice by the folks over at NBC considering that the originally scheduled Sunday night game that week was Patriots at Ravens, a game chock-full of both high-profile stars and likely playoff implications.

The Patriots currently lead the AFC East with a 10-3 record, are fighting for a first-round bye and have some guy named Tom Brady as their quarterback. The Ravens currently hold the last AFC Wild Card slot with a 7-6 record, are the defending Super Bowl champions, and have national appeal. The teams would have drawn a great rating.

That game has been moved to the 4:25 p.m. start time.

All this proves is that Eagles – the hottest team in the NFL with their five-game win streak – are a sexy team in the eyes of network executives, and for good reason.

They have the NFL’s leading rusher in LeSean McCoy, a red-hot quarterback in Nick Foles, dynamic receivers in DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper, a solid defense anchored by linebacker Connor Barwin, all led by evil genius head coach Chip Kelly.

Long story short, they are a team people want to see right now.

And people outside of this area haven’t seen them much because the Birds have only played in primetime twice this season. They hung on to beat Washington, 33-27, on Monday night in Week 1 during Kelly’s debut. They put us to sleep two weeks later with a 26-16 loss to the Chiefs on a Thursday night in Andy Reid ‘s return to Philadelphia.

Now, the entire country will get a chance to see the high-flying juggernaut that the Eagles have become and in an important game, too. The Eagles could have chance to wrap up the NFC East and a playoff spot that night if everything goes according to the master plan. Monster receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall and the rest of the Bears will still be in the thick of the muddled NFC North race.

Since the Sunday night package went to NBC at the start of the 2006 season, the Eagles have been featured in that slot 18 times and have an 8-10 record in those games.

Two of those games were against the Bears and both were at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Bears won, 24-20, on Sept. 28, 2008 and the Eagles won, 24-20, on Nov. 22, 2009.

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.