Eagles Pro Bowl snubs, ranked

Eagles Pro Bowl snubs, ranked

With a 9-6 record, the second-ranked offense in the NFL, and a defense that’s held 10 of its last 11 opponents to 21 points or less, the Philadelphia Eagles managed to send just two players to the 2014 Pro Bowl. Running back LeSean McCoy and left tackle Jason Peters were beyond worthy candidates, but where’s everybody else?

Beyond that, only three additional Eagles were even named first or second alternates to the Pro Bowl in the event of injuries or players backing out. That just seems like such a low number for a team that’s had such a fun and memorable season. It’s all wrong.

So without further adieu, here are five players that should be in the Pro Bowl this year, and ranked for no real reason at all. Check out the full roster for reference.

5. Nick Foles (63.9 CMP%, 2,628 YDS, 9.0 AVG, 25 TD, 2 INT, 118.7 RAT)

The odds were stacked against Nick Foles from the beginning, seeing as he was only added to the Pro Bowl ballot around December roughly. That’s no excuse though. Foles leads the NFL in yards per attempt and passer rating, and his touchdowns-to-interception ratio is insane. He may not have prolific totals, but only because he’s started in just nine games.

He’s good enough for NFL Most Valuable Player consideration, but not the Pro Bowl? To be fair, all of the quarterbacks who got in are worthy, so choosing someone to bounce is not easy. I’d lean Russell Wilson because he’s thrown for the same amount of touchdowns and only a handful more yards despite playing every game (and because I’m a known Russell Wilson hater).

Foles is a first alternate, and given that one of these quarterbacks will likely be playing in the Super Bowl a week later, that means an invitation will inevitably be extended—unless, of course, the Eagles make it to the big game. Otherwise, Foles will back-door his way into the Pro Bowl anyway.

4. Somebody from the Eagles defense

The Eagles don’t have a traditionally great defense. The unit ranks 30th by the NFL standard of yards, but 16th in points allowed, which is all that really matters. In fact, only three offenses have scored more than 21 points on Philly’s D all season—Denver, San Diego and Minnesota.

So it’s a little baffling that nobody was voted into the Pro Bowl from the Eagles. No first or second alternates were named, either. Trent Cole made a late push, racking up eight sacks in the last seven games, but it wasn’t enough. Cedric Thornton is one of the top run-defending defensive ends in the NFL this season according to Pro Football Focus, but it’s not a glamorous role. And frankly, I can see why nobody from the secondary got in.

The one player you could make a case for though is DeMeco Ryans, the heart and soul of the Birds defense. Inside linebacker is a crowded field, but Ryans had more tackles, sacks, interceptions and pass breakups than Patrick Willis, one of two 49ers representatives at the position this year. Willis seems like a reputation pick, whereas Ryans—a two-time Pro Bowler—is actually enjoying possibly the best season of his career.

3. DeSean Jackson (79 REC, 1,304 YDS, 16.5 AVG, 9 TD)

DeSean Jackson has more receiving yards than Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall, more touchdowns than Antonio Brown and averages more yards per reception than all three of them. Jackson doesn’t belong in over the rest (Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas), but you could easily build a case over any of the other three—yet somehow he’s only a second alternate.

DJacc has made the Pro Bowl when his numbers were far less than what they are this season, so it’s genuinely surprising he was moved to the backburner this year after setting new career highs.

2. Donnie Jones (40.2 NET, 33 IN20)

This one is legitimately confusing. Donnie Jones set an Eagles record with 33 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. His kicks were so vital, so clutch that Jones twice won Special Teams Player of the Week honors—only two other punters took the award once this season.

Here’s where we get lost. St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker, one of the two to get the nod, had nearly half as many kicks downed inside the 20 with 18. Yes, his net average was higher than Jones, indicating he had fewer opportunities to pin opponents deep, but Hekker’s kicks also forced the same number of fair catches (20) while he faced three more returns on six fewer attempts.

1. Evan Mathis

What does Evan Mathis need to do to receive proper recognition on a league-wide scale? Despite being on his way to being the highest-rated guard by metrics site Pro Football Focus for the third year running, Mathis once again will be watching the Royal Rumble Pro Bowl at home like the rest of us. The 10th-year veteran is a second alternate, so at least a few people finally must be starting to take notice.

Without the help of official statistics, offensive line selections are a little more difficult to dispute, but I’ll give it a go. Mathis is a key cog on the top rushing offense in the NFL. Marshal Yanda has been a very good guard for the Baltimore Ravens, but their running game stinks, averaging a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry. That’s not all on one player, but 19 guards have individual run-blocking scores than Yanda this season. Come on.

Flyers-Stars 5 things: Streaking like it's 2002?

Flyers-Stars 5 things: Streaking like it's 2002?

Flyers (16-10-3) vs. Stars (11-11-6)
1 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

Remember when it was a fight for the Flyers to simply sew together back-to-back wins?

Prior to this run, they had done it just twice in the first 22 games.

Now, they’re the hottest team in the NHL, winners of seven straight and trying to make it eight on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. The great eight?
Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Eric Desjardins.

Roman Cechmanek and Brian Boucher.

These are just some of the players that were wearing Flyers jerseys when the team last won eight consecutive games, back on Jan. 6-19, 2002.

It’s worth mentioning, before the 2004-05 season, winning streaks were a bit more challenging with a tie being the result if overtime went scoreless. The extra session was also not 3-on-3, like it is now.

Still, what the current Flyers are doing is impressive. They’ve gone to the shootout only once over the seven-game spurt and have outscored the opposition by 10 goals, 27-17.

2. Raffl winners
Dave Hakstol has called Michael Raffl a big-bodied, straight-line forward, which is certainly not off the mark.

But from time to time, Raffl will show the deceptive skill side of his game.

He did it Thursday night to win the Flyers’ 6-5 affair over the Oilers in the final minute and a half of regulation for his second game-winner over the last three contests.

"Raf has this stutter step that's undercover speedy," Steve Mason said postgame Thursday (see story). "He used it in Nashville to get a big goal and then here tonight.

"It looks like he's going to stop fully up, but he finds another gear and he really adds another element to that line that brings physical play.

"He has that sneaky talent, too, that can make you pay."

Raffl is quietly making teams pay. The Flyers are 4-0-2 in games that he scores a goal. Despite missing eight games because of injury, the 28-year-old Austrian is on pace for around 20 goals.

That’s much-valued secondary scoring and complementary play.

3. Not so bright
Before reeling off seven straight wins, the Flyers were in a similar spot to which the Stars are in now.

Dallas, which finished 50-23-9 last season — best in the Western Conference — after starting 19-5-0, can’t find consistency through 28 games this season. The Stars have won back-to-back games just once thus far and goaltending has been an issue as Dallas is surrendering an NHL-worst 3.18 goals per game.

The Stars do not lack offensive firepower, however. Center Tyler Seguin is tied for second in the NHL with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists), while linemate Jamie Benn isn’t far behind at 24 (eight goals, 16 assists).

Also, veteran forward Jason Spezza is coming off a three-point game (one goal, two assists) in Dallas’ 5-2 win over the Predators.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: We’ve got to go Jakub Voracek after the winger’s one-goal, three-assist performance on Thursday night. Voracek has been an absolute monster on the seven-game winning streak, posting 11 points with three goals and eight assists for a plus-6 rating.

Stars: It’s hard not to say Seguin, a dynamic player who always gives the Flyers trouble. His 21 career points (nine goals, 12 assists) against the orange and black are his second most versus any team.

5. This and that
• Mason is on a career-best six-game winning streak in which he’s posted a 2.27 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. Since Nov. 12, Mason is 9-3-1 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

• Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is a dreadful 1-10-3 lifetime against the Flyers with a 3.49 goals-against average and .891 save percentage, while backup Antti Niemi is 4-1-0 with 1.48 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

• Dallas has won its last three meetings with the Flyers by a combined score of 7-3.

• The Stars have lost 11 of 15 on the road.

• Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four games.

Penn State fan surprised with Rose Bowl tickets in heartwarming video

Penn State fan surprised with Rose Bowl tickets in heartwarming video

It's been a long road back to relevance for the Penn State football program. 

The Nittany Lions surprised just about everyone this season by finishing 10-2, winning the Big Ten title and claiming a spot in the historic Rose Bowl against USC on Jan. 2. 

For one fan, the surprise season went one step further.

Per ESPN's Instagram account ...

But wait, there's more. 

Not only was he surprised with Rose Bowl tickets in what could be the most touching video of the year, but he even got a personal call from Penn State head coach James Franklin thanking him for his support. 

Not a bad way to close out 2016.