Serenity Now

Serenity Now

By Chamomiles Davis 

If there is one that I, speaking as
a Philadelphia sports fan, have in short supply it is serenity. The
word itself means little to me. It is a state of mind experienced elsewhere
only.

Living in a town with four major sporting
franchises that did nothing but get gut-punched season after ringless
season for twenty-five years, the words best used to describe our own
state of mind would be, to suggest a few: "anguish," "turmoil,"
"despair," "disgust," "belligerence,"
"self-hatred," "stress leading to premature baldness,"
and "drunk." Not necessarily in that order, mind you.

The Phillies finally ended the drought
last October which, don't get me wrong, was absolutely beautiful. I
cried, let me put it that way. But I'm not talking about the Fightins.
Or the Flyers. Or, um... (Geez, what's their name? You know, that basketball
team that used to play in Philly? They were pretty good, too. What were
they called? Oh, right -- the Warriors.)

Every year at an Eagles press conference
that follows yet another fruitless season (this year makes 49, for those
masochists who keep count), I'm supposed to be sucked in by a self-deluded
cabal of owners and coaches who want us to believe that "this is
the year," when I'm not entirely sure these people are convinced
by their own words.

Or maybe they are, when I hear some
of the insane quotes emanating from the Eagles team president. We're
the "gold standard," Mr. Banner? Really? So then I guess that
would make the Patriots the platinum standard, and the Steelers some
kind of ultra-precious metal that hasn't been discovered yet.

Banner also likes to point out that
for the last several years the best team has NOT been the one who won
the Super Bowl. Riiiiight. And I'll bet the teams that keep beating
Philly in the NFC Championship Game must downright SUCK. Please.

Getting back to this "serenity"
concept: Each year Eagles fans are taunted with the recurring notion
that the missing pieces are finally in place. Everyone's happy, sufficiently
healthy and focused on one goal: Mr. Lombardi's trophy. Experts will
wax endlessly about how much of a threat the Eagles are going to be
in the NFC, blah blah blah, then generously present Philadelphia with
10-12 gift-wrapped wins before a single meaningful down has been played.

Then we as a fan base get to spend
an evening in early February following a decades-long tradition: Watching
another team win the Super Bowl. What fun, especially when that team
we're watching happens to be the Cowboys, Giants or Redskins. Suddenly
their fans crawl out from the sewers, appearing before our eyes as if
by magic. They take great pleasure in reminding us that, with the departure
of Arizona to the NFC West, that we are the only team in our division
not only without a single championship, but at least three.

The summer months just fly by after
that, I can tell you. Then we have to perform a collective lobotomy,
block out the pain, and renew our hopes that this year, Joe Banner and
Jeff Lurie aren't just talking out of their asses. Well, you can; I'm
done.

I've decided that it is time that serenity
trumps crushed expectations. In order to achieve this elusive mindset,
I've had to come to grips with one sad, yet undeniable fact.

No matter how good they become, no
matter how weak the competition may seem, the Philadelphia Eagles are
never, EVER going to win the Super Bowl. Ever.

If the National Football League lasts
for another 200 years, I am convinced that every team (yes, even Arizona)
will win at least one Super Bowl. Except the Eagles.

The Lions can't suck this bad forever.
The Browns were once a mighty and glorious team and I believe they will
be again. Houston will stumble into a championship sooner or later.
Tennessee is due. Buffalo and Minnesota are WAYYYYY due.

The Eagles will never win one, though,
because they've never been able to defeat their toughest opponent: themselves.
Whenever they are poised on the brink of glory, there is a self-manufactured
catastrophe brewing on the horizon. I'll blame the fog for what happened
in 1988. But I blame nerves for 1980, overconfidence for 2002, weak
receivers for 2003, and vomit for 2004.

No game plan devised by an opposing
team's coach could have done more damage than the Eagles did to themselves
in those years, years in which the Promised Land was just in sight,
tantalizingly close.

Don't get me wrong. I WANT the Eagles
to win a Super Bowl. I want them to win ten of them, all in a row. I
want the fans of other teams to hate us for something other than our
reputation as a sports town. But ask me if I think they will, and my
answer remains, "No way. Never."

There's my conundrum. How can I root
for a team that both my gut and my brain says has no shot to soothe
the anguish which has been accumulating ever since Buck Shaw(!) outcoached
Vince Lombardi in December of 1960? Why put myself through this?

Why? Because I love football, and because
I could never root for another team. I could especially never root for
a team that has already experienced success, which would make me that
despicable breed of sub-human known as a front-runner.

If nothing else, I can tell myself
that believing the Birds will never achieve total success is simply
a reverse-jinx, and thus I can hope for a parade down Broad Street any
day now. But I'm not holding my breath. Instead I will settle down and
watch my beloved Eagles grunt and sweat their way through another disappointing
season, awash in a sea of newfound serenity.

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but two of those three loses came to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Louisville. The Deamon Deacons have lost five of their last six games.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.