13 01 2009

I’ll be the first to tell you that I thought the Eagles had no shot at the playoffs anymore than the Cardinals did about a month and a half ago. Not being an Eagle fan to begin with, there was no way I was jumping on the bandwagon and had firmly and resolutley jumped off of it. No running start, no wavering, taking the plunge and landing on my ego. There was just no way that this was a possibililty. McNabb had been benched (rightly so), they had played like crap against Cincinnati and Washington, the Kolb experiment was a miserable failure and they were dead in the water.

Well, somehere in that stertch of wretched play, they found a cause to play well. They were led by Brian Dawkins and his insane play, by a rejuvenated McNabb and by some well thought out play calling (about time!!). Dawkins, who may be gone at the end of the season is playing like, well, a man who is at the end of the road and wants to go out with a bang. McNabb is playing like he should’ve been playing all along this season and Andy Reid and Marty Mohringweg finally figured out that you don’t HAVE to pass 58 times in a game if you stay with the running game long enough (ask Minnesota). They did some get some major help to even get to the playoffs, so that’s an improbability that cannot even be explained.

Arizona is in the Championship game with some timely errors by Jake Delhomme, good, not great defense, Kurt Warner and a wideout who cannot be stopped with even double teams. Larry Fitzgerald could’ve been in Philly if we all remember, at the beginning of the year, when Anquan Boldin wanted a new contract. Think where the Birds would be now, with arguably the best WR in the NFL right now, but the Birds wouldn’t pony up the cash (now THERE”S a surprise huh?) and he stayed in the desert.

Looking back, if anyone would’ve seen this coming I’d call them a liar. Even the faithful, diehard fans were already figuring who they should take in the draft this year. But here they are, two teams that are one step away from Tampa, incredibly.

Here’s the prediction, throw out the Thanksgiving night massacre and look at the facts. Arizona has a veteran quarteback in Kurt Warner who has a ring and MVP awards, Edgerrin James has been resurrected and is playing like vintage Edgerrin James. Tim Hightower is the X factor and we all know about Fitzgerald. Their defense has played well, but let’s be honest, they’re not Baltimore, so the Eagles should be able to run their offense IF they stay with what got them here, balance.

The Eagles have the better defense and Warner holds the ball too long sometimes. James can get stuffed at the line and Hightower shouldn’t be able to get outside. Offensively Westbrook should be able to get his touches and one or two scores. The X Factor is Jason Avant and being able to get the tough 3rd down catches. Arizona’s secondary is good but doesn’t scare me and shouldn’t scare the Birds either.

Give the edge to the Birds defense and make the reservations for Tampa. Eagles 30 Cards 23. I’ll be taking care of the ankle that I broke jumping off this bandwagon.

by John Leon




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