Why the Eagles Will Win on Sunday (Maybe)

Why the Eagles Will Win on Sunday (Maybe)

Let's get right down to business.  I believe the Eagles will beat the Giants on Sunday.

The biggest mistake you could make is assume Brandon Jacobs is the key to the Giants offense.  Maybe he is now, but that was not the case at all when Plaxico Burress was in the lineup.

We're talking about the top rushing offense in the NFL, so what could I possibly be getting at?

The gameplan this week is the same as it was the first time around:
1. Protect Donovan McNabb
2. Contain Giants Running Game
3. Force Giants Into 3rd and Long

And we added one more for the second meeting:
4. Run the Football

Nowhere have we ever specifically mentioned Burress playing a critical role in the outcome, but trust me, it's there.  Plax did so much more for the Giants offense than catch footballs.  He dictates coverage.  Week 10, the Eagles double-teamed Burress 73% of the time.  Week 14, the number of double-teams on the X receiver plummets to 7%.

The difference is comparable to having an extra player on the field.  Consider how Jim Johnson's playbook opens up when a safety is not automatically assigned to help a corner.  In this case, it allows Mikell or Dawkins or another member of the secondary to move closer to the line of scrimmage and be in much better position to stop the run.

The two schemes are night and day for the Eagles defense.  With Burress, Jacobs averaged 5.7 yards per carry, and the Giants 5.2 in the win at Philly.  Without, Jacobs averaged 5.2 before exiting the game with an injury, and the team finished just 3.7 in the Meadowlands.  On first glance, the offense really missed Jacobs, but that number was aided by one 23-yard run.  Remove that play from the equation, and his game two YPC dips to 3.4.

That big play indicates Jacobs and the Giants backs are still a dangerous bunch, but overall the Eagles did a nice job of containment.  I expect an encore.  Those guys will get their yards, they just will not have the same impact without a serious downfield threat.  Instead of 7 yards, they'll gain 5.  Instead of 3, they'll find 1.  Ultimately, it leads to 3rd and 4-8 rather than 3rd and 1-3, and the defense can win those battles.

The offense must do their part though, or eventually the Giants running game will wear down the defense.  This is much more difficult to project because there is no telling what the gameplan will be.  Again, there must be a commitment to the running game, if for no other reason than to shorten the game.  New York controlled the ball for 40 minutes when they came down to the Linc, and it was absolute disaster.  Win time of possession, win the game.

Win or lose, neither outcome would be surprising.  No one is saying the Giants can't win or won't win, but with any kind of offensive showing, the Eagles should win.  It won't be easy, and it probably won't be pretty, but it should be fun.

(pic via PhiladelphiaEagles.com)

NHL Notes: Red Wings sign Danny DeKeyser to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Red Wings sign Danny DeKeyser to 6-year contract

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have avoided arbitration and signed defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a $30 million, six-year contract.

DeKeyser will count $5 million against the salary cap throughout the length of the deal. Agent Don Meehan confirmed the terms of the contract Tuesday, including modified no-trade protection beginning in the 2017-18 season.

The restricted free agent and the club were scheduled to have their arbitration hearing on Thursday in Toronto.

Instead, the 26-year-old has a long-term deal. The Western Michigan product has 14 goals and 61 assists in 234 regular-season NHL games and has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time.

Rangers: Zborovskiy inked to entry-level contract
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have signed defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy on an entry-level contract.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the signing of the team's third-round draft pick in 2015 on Tuesday.

Zborovskiy skated in 64 games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League this past season, collecting eight goals and 17 assists along with a plus-15 rating. The 19-year-old established WHL career-highs in goals, assists, points, and power play goals (two), and he tied his WHL career-high in plus/minus rating.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder skated in 12 playoff games and had five assists this past season.

Zborovskiy has skated in 135 career WHL games over two seasons with Regina, registering 11 goals and 33 assists.

Flyers re-sign RFA Brandon Manning to 2-year deal

Flyers re-sign RFA Brandon Manning to 2-year deal

One day after avoiding arbitration with Brayden Schenn, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall dodged another meeting with his final restricted free agent.

The Flyers on Tuesday signed defenseman Brandon Manning to a two-year, $1.95 million contract, a source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman first reported the signing.

With Manning's contract, Hextall has now taken care of all of his restricted free agents and successfully avoided arbitration with both Schenn and Manning.

Manning had an arbitration meeting scheduled for Aug. 2. Schenn had his meeting scheduled for Monday, but agreed to a four-year contract at the last minute.

The 26-year-old defenseman scored one goal and seven points in 56 games last season, his first full campaign up with the orange and black.

Dion Waiters signed elsewhere, Sixers fans almost out of bullets to dodge

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USA Today Sports photo

Dion Waiters signed elsewhere, Sixers fans almost out of bullets to dodge

Ah, was it only a month ago that we feared signing up for $60-$80 million worth of Dion Waiters, a player who has barely (and rarely) scraped the surface of "good" over his four-year NBA career? A classic "Philly Guy" — which really makes you hope for an eventual reevaluation of our home city's cultural priorities — the perennially over-confident Syracuse swingman had been regularly (if erroneously) linked to the Sixers for the majority of his pro career, and the rumor mill began churning again this offseason, with the Sixers one of several teams linked to the free agent. Chances seemed at least decent that we would wake up to an Instagram of Waiters at Geno's signing his new contract in cheese wiz — one of those four-year, $70 million-type deals NBA teams seem to be giving out to middling players like complementary after-dinner mints this summer. 

Well, turns out the Sixers didn't have any interest in giving Dion Waiters that kind of money, and neither did anybody else. Neon Dion ended up signing with the Miami Heat for a blockbusting two years and $6 million dollars, and Sixers nation breathed a collective typhoon of relief. Short of trading Jahlil Okafor for every Boston Celtic under the age of 25, this was just about the best news the Colangelos could offer us at this point in the offseason. 

And speaking of: It might — might — now finally be safe to say that the Colangelos aren't as dumb as we feared. With Dion off the board, there just aren't any free agents left to worry about the Sixers overpaying. Well, J.R. Smith technically, but the chances of him leaving Cleveland for Philadelphia under any circumstances are even worse than him being the starting two-guard on a championship team to begin with. (And technically of technicalliest, LeBron James too, but we could give him all our remaining cap space and half the Liberty Bell to boot and he'd still be dramatically underpaid.) 

Anyway, point is: We've worried since the Colangelo clan took over that they would make one dramatically dumb move to hamstring this team in the name of Winning Now-ish, and it would look silly in the short term and be absolutely befuddling in the long-term. The Sixers have even been attached to a couple such deals in reports from NBA experts, deals that had them offering Nerlens Noel and further bounty for the No. 5 pick, or offering absurd free-agent dollars to Jamal Crawford, or being in the mix for ol' DW. Maybe there was truth to some or all of it, but the more rumored deals that sizzle-then-fizzle, the less likely it seems that any of them were ever actually going to come to fruition. 

Dion may represent the smoking gun. Here's a player, that as final evidence would suggest, the Sixers could have had virtually uncontested at any point this offseason — a player that ended up signing a two-year make-good deal for what essentially amounts to the veteran's minimum. Forget four years, $80 million, the Sixers could've offered eight mil for one and Dion probably woulda lunged at the opportunity. (Sure, there are market benefits that might've given Miami a competitive edge, but South Beach ain't what it used to be: With Dwyane Wade gone to Chicago and Chris Bosh unsure to ever even play again, the Heat are only predicted by ESPN to finish two spots ahead of Philly in the East next season.) There's really no conclusion to be reached except that the Sixers were never actually that interested in signing Waiters in the first place. 

So, offseason crisis averted, time to rest easy as we count the days to most exciting Sixers training camp in franchise history? Perhaps, but there is still one shoe left to drop: The Sixers are all but pot-committed to trading one of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor before the season proper finally tips off. It's mostly encouraging that the Colangelos have waited this long; they said that they weren't going to jump at an early deal that wasn't the right deal, and so far their patience has borne their words out. But as the summer begins to peter out and teams begin talking themselves into the roster they already have — while urgency increases for Philly to make a deal before their opening-night lineup is bottlenecked with blue-chip bigs — a desperation trade certainly isn't out of the question just yet. 

Still, after a month of respectable draft choices, measured free-agent signings, and zero totally thoughtless panic moves (even if they tried unsuccessfully to make one or two) it's getting on time to start giving the Sixers' new front office the benefit of the doubt. It'll never feel quite as safe as we did with Our Once and Future Dark Lord — and the overflow of assets Hinkie equipped Jerry and Bryan with will be all the body armor they really need anyway — but we need no longer fear for our lives with every passing Woj Bomb, and we just might be able to root for the Sons of Sam next year without being constantly interrupted by pangs of crippling regret. Not having to watch Dion Waiters jump and shout for the ball so he can jack a contested 20-foot fadeaway is a pretty good start.