The Wait is Over

The Wait is Over

Vegas says the Birds are the favorite to win Superbowl XL, but many experts are picking against the Eagles in the season opener on Monday night.  ESPN Insider's Scouts, Inc. picks the Falcons to win 23 to 20.  They believe that an improved Falcons defense, a speedy Vick on turf, a diverse running game, and the home field edge will be the difference.  A few reminders:

The wait is over for Philly fans.  A new season starts tonight and the Eagles begin the quest to Detroit.  pictures from phillyburbs.com

Reasons the Eagles will win the Monday night opener against the Falcons:

-Andy Reid.  We all know how well Andy performs with a few weeks to prepare for a team.  While Jim Mora may one day be a great NFL coach, he lacks the experience that Big Red has over the past few years.  Andy will have his team ready.

-Brian Westbrook and Terrell Owens.  Both of these Eagles weapons have something to prove and where better to show the nation what they are really made of than on Monday night football.  T.O. has been yapping all off season, but going to Atlanta and playing in front of his hometown, there is no doubt he will be ready to tear up Atlanta's secondary.  We didn't even have T.O. the last time we played Atlanta and we still beat them easily.  Vick can't use the Milli Vanilli excuse when this one is over.  I'm hoping for about two chances to see Terrell to his endzone thing.  Westy is basically playing every game for a new contract.  I'm really rooting for him.

-Donovan McNabb.  People remember Donovan's last meaningful game for his choking, literally.  He is still the man running the show and one of the games best.  He is the quarterback Mike Vick wants to be.  Donovan has a lot of the running ability Vick has, granted not the elusive quickness, but Vick hasn't showed us he can pass the ball anywhere near as well as McNabb.  I'm putting all my faith in Donovan for another season.

Some things to watch:
Corey Simon may or may not be missed, but the D-line stopping the Atlanta rushing game will be important.  Hollis Thomas moves back into a starting roll and Mike Paterson will have to show us what he can do.  Last year Jim Johnson's "mush rush" really held Mike Vick in check and I expect to see something similar.

My prediction: Eagles 27  Falcons 17

I wouldn't take the Falcons lightly, if both teams play perfect games I give the Eagles the edge.  The Eagles are defending NFC champs and the Falcons have to prove they can beat us.  Anything can happen when playing Mike Vick, but I'll take my chances with Donovan and T.O. any day.

I'm ready for some football.  Are you?

 

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Shortening overtime in the NFL is stupid

Like when sporting events finish in a tie? Of course you do. That’s why the NHL scrapped ties in favor of a skills competition back in 2005, or why Major League Baseball awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning side of an exhibition game for 14 years. Yeah, folks love ties.

Well, if you’re the type who enjoys a good tie or a long smooch with your sister, the NFL has a rule change made just for you. Because the end result of reducing overtime from 15 minutes to 10 during the regular season will inevitably be more contests that end without deciding a winner.

Why? The league offered some hollow-sounding excuse built around player safety and competitive balance. Teams that play an additional five minutes in the extra period, then turn around and play again on a short week -- think Monday to Sunday, or worse, Sunday to Thursday -- are at a disadvantage, while the health of the players are at greater risk.

Whether there was any tangible evidence five more minutes can really have a serious effect on the following week is unclear. It sure doesn’t seem like that would make a world of difference. The only thing we can say for certain is the end result will be more ties.

Even under the previous rule, the NFL managed to have two games end in ties in 2016, which are two more than anybody would prefer. Yet, four more games went deeper than 10 minutes into overtime, according to Jonathan Jones for Sports Illustrated, and while not all were necessarily guaranteed to finish in a tie under the change, the likelihood obviously increases.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say there were two more ties in ’16, bringing the total to four. That still isn’t a huge number, but even two is atypical. Most years, there are one, or none at all. Now, the frequency is guaranteed to increase.

Does that matter? Maybe not. A few extra ties are unlikely to turn off viewers. In fact, a case can be made overtime will be more exciting with the clock coming into play more often. Ties also lead to some interesting situations in the standings, and can inject slightly more intrigue into playoff races late in the year.

None of which is going to change the fact that ties are inherently a bad thing and people despise them. The NHL and MLB both came up with rule changes that would avoid ties, each of which had a major impact on the very landscape of the sports. Yet, while competitors are getting away from ties, the NFL has decided to invite more.

Again, it’s worth pointing out the reasoning seems bogus. If competitive balance and player safety are issues, teams wouldn’t have to turn around and play on Thursday four days after a Sunday game in the first place.

The NFL’s overtime rules were already imperfect. Shortening the length of the period is unlikely to fix inherent problems with the sudden-death system -- namely a team winning the game on the possession immediately following the coin flip. Instead, we simply have another round of valid complaints to look forward to on the horizon.

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Phillies corner outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick is finally nearing a return. He'll begin a rehab assignment tonight with Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Kendrick has been out since April 15 with an oblique strain. He did defensive work during the Phillies' road trip and has been taking outdoor batting practice at home this week.

Kendrick was off to a hot start when the oblique injury sent him to the DL. In 10 games, he went 13 for 39 (.333) with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs. He batted second all 10 games.

The Phillies are in a bad offensive funk and could use Kendrick's bat over Michael Saunders' right now. The Phils' 1-2 hitters were among the most productive in the majors in April, hitting close to .350 for the month. They're down to .282 on the season as Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have slumped in May.

With Clay Buchholz likely out for the season and Saunders providing little offense so far, the Phillies' trio of offseason veteran additions has not panned out through two months.