Forbes has gone through the books of every NBA team, evaluating their values, expenses, and how well they manage their money versus talent. I can't do simple addition without a calculator, so this is all well over my head. They also do a lousy job of explaining their metrics for us mathtards. But the Sixers rank 13th in their valuations, so that's at least a far cry from where they rank in the standings. Not having any superstars to pay probably helps, but embarrassing attendance in a big market will put a dent in your bottom line.
How do you take what is already one of the most bitter rivalries in professional sports in Eagles-Cowboys and ratchet up the disdain and intensity? Just let them battle for division supremacy for the next decade or so.
That's where things appear to be headed, because it's safe to say that Sunday night's first ever meeting between quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott won't be the last. And seeing as they're already vying for first place as rookies, it's not unreasonable to think this might be only the beginning of a years-long tug-of-war over the NFC East.
This is the future of the division, and it's not some distant forecast. It's happening right now.
Sure, Wentz and Prescott have started just six games each in the NFL, so anointing the Eagles and Cowboys as the perennial favorites to come out of the East for years to come is probably a tad premature. As special as their young signal-callers look, half of a season does not a career make. Even the natural ebbs and flows of the NFL — free agency and injuries — could dictate the rest of their rosters will not be good enough to compete in any given season.
Yet if we were to presume that what we've seen so far from these 23-year-old players is any indication of what lies ahead, the Eagles and Cowboys are positioned to be contenders for a long time. New York and Washington, purely based on the quarterback situations, not so much.
The Giants are still in the mix as long as Eli Manning is in the fold, but how much longer is he going to be around? He's 35 now, with a contract that runs through 2019, taking him through his 38th birthday. Even if Manning reaches the conclusion of the deal and continues play at a high level, Wentz and Prescott will be entering their primes and likely have signed extensions by then.
Washington's quarterback situation is somehow less certain with Kirk Cousins currently on a one-year deal. Cousins has played well enough that the franchise can conceivably extend him long-term after this season. He's not exactly been stellar though, is already 28 and at his best, not as dynamic an athlete or transcendent a talent as Wentz or Prescott.
Neither team has a clear plan of succession at quarterback either for when Manning retires or should Cousins fail. Depending on how the respective front offices navigate these dicey waters, the potential exists for both teams to bottom out at some point in the near future.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia and Dallas, say what you want about drawing conclusions about a player too soon, but there is little reason to believe there's any end in sight to what Wentz and Prescott are doing as rookies.
Wentz has struggled a bit more in recent weeks, but bumps in the road are natural. The fact is the Eagles have a lot invested in this player, so barring a complete breakdown, he's going to be here awhile.
The Cowboys didn't trade an arm and a leg to get Prescott, so it would be easier to move on if it suddenly wasn't working out there. Then again, he hasn't really hit that rookie slump or had a bad game yet, and should he keeps Tony Romo on the bench when the four-time Pro Bowler returns from injury, that would speak volumes about the organization's commitment.
Both Wentz and Prescott are intelligent, poised and tough, with the arm and mobility to play at this level. There are many chapters to be written before they are considered great NFL quarterbacks.
Regardless, it's obvious that they'll be sticking around for awhile, giving the Eagles and Cowboys a leg up on their division foes.
No matter which side of the rivalry you're on, Wentz vs. Prescott figures to produce plenty of excitement for years to come. How the two wind up splitting all those NFC East championships — and maybe a few Lombardi Trophies too — will probably go a long way toward determining who's having the most fun.
Flyers vs. Coyotes
7 p.m. on CSN
Pregame Live at 6:30
The Flyers (3-3-1) on Thursday night have an optimal opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they host the nosediving Coyotes (1-5-0) at the Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s get you ready for the game with five things to know.
1. Nothin' but a G thang
For any of those worried about Claude Giroux, don’t be.
For one, Giroux may be the only player that would receive more flack for not having scored a goal yet than be applauded for leading the NHL in assists (eight).
Secondly, you may recall 2013-14 when the Flyers’ captain started the season goalless through 15 games, with just seven assists and a minus-11 rating. Giroux finished that season with a career-high-tying 28 goals and the league’s third-most points at 86.
More so than the puck being put in the net, the Flyers needed greater playmaking after last season. Giroux is providing that — as is Jakub Voracek — and, as a result, the goals are coming for the Flyers, at both even strength and on the power play.
2. Stick with the switches?
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol made a few changes before the team’s 4-3, come-from-behind win over the Sabres on Tuesday.
Veteran defenseman Nick Schultz was healthy-scratched to make room for blueliner Radko Gudas, returning from a six-game suspension to the start the season. Gudas finished with seven shot attempts and three hits in 18:27.
“Overall, what you want to see is go out and play an efficient game,” Hakstol said. “For the most part, I thought [Gudas] went out and did that.”
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who has had bad moments, stayed in the lineup for his versatility.
“He is just a guy that is reliable, who moves the puck well,” Hakstol said, “and we feel he can play in any situation whether it is OT or regulation.”
A greater change came to the team’s top line. Flyers leading goal scorer Matt Read leapfrogged to the first line from the third as Brayden Schenn dropped to Read’s previous spot. Without a point in his first three games, Schenn recorded a goal and an assist as he finds his rhythm returning from a three-game ban.
“The timing and pace of his game [are starting] to get back to where it needs to be,” Hakstol said.
3. Oh, 'Yotes
Once they beat the visiting Flyers, 4-3, in overtime in their season opener, the Coyotes hit the road for what has turned out to be a nightmarish six-game trip.
Since the victory over the orange and black, Arizona has lost five straight by a combined score of 23-13, a losing skid that started with the team’s No. 1 goalie Mike Smith being knocked out with a lower-body injury. As a result, the Coyotes are permitting an NHL-most 4.33 markers per game and own the league’s worst goal differential at minus-9.
Backup netminder Louis Domingue, who will start against the Flyers, has struggled mightily in place of Smith, going 0-4-0 in four games with a 5.03 goals-against average and .851 save percentage.
Through seven games, the Flyers have just one goal in the first period. They should jump on Arizona, which has yielded eight tallies in the opening stanza, tied for most in hockey.
4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Center Sean Couturier has been a bit quiet over his last four games with just one assist for one point after scoring three goals in his first three games. He’ll get going again playing alongside Travis Konecny and Voracek, a duo that has combined for 14 points.
Coyotes: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is coming off a two-goal output last time out to give him four goals on the season. He plays a ton (26:17 TOI, tied for fourth highest in the NHL) and is a career plus-7 against the Flyers with four goals and an assist.
5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 5-9-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .899 save percentage in 15 career games against the Coyotes.
• Arizona goalie Domingue has faced the Flyers just once, allowing four goals on 33 shots in a loss last season.
• Konecny has six points (one goal, five assists), tied for third among NHL rookies.
• The Flyers own the league’s fifth-best power play at 26.9 percent.
• The Flyers will welcome back 14 members of their Hall of Fame — along with family of six other members — for Flyers Heritage Night, featuring a pregame ceremony.