Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

All hail Doug Pederson.

The much-questioned (remember 4th and eight?) gunslinger head coach of the Eagles fooled us all.

Pederson has spent much of the preseason and first quarter the regular season looking for an identity for his Birds. I think he's found it.

Behind a very good run-blocking offensive line, Pederson has astounded everyone by reversing his penchant for putting the ball in the air and turning the Birds into a ground attack.

He continues to rotate at left guard, with Stefen Wisniewski and Champ Warmack. He's using a running back by committee approach to carries, and the Eagles are steam-rolling opponents.

Perhaps the best example of that was the final 6:44 of last Sunday's win over the Chargers in front of a throng of Eagles fans in L.A. The Chargers had rallied to draw within two points of the Eagles. Giving Philip Rivers the ball back needing only a field goal to win would have been a dicey proposition.

He never got that chance. The Eagles did what good teams do. No, make that what great teams do. This wasn't fancy. The Eagles simply imposed their will on the Chargers in a 13-play drive that drained the last six minutes of the clock. The Chargers never saw the ball again, and the Birds got a big win.

This week they face another scuffling team. This should be a win, but it won't be easy. The Eagles continue to be banged up. Fletcher Cox is out. One part of the running attack could be sidelined. Wendell Smallwood has not practiced all week with a sore knee.

But LeGarrette Blount and Corey Coleman should be able to shoulder the load.

And even without Cox, the Eagles defensive line should be able to put enough pressure on Carson Palmer to force a couple of key turnovers. And don't forget their new secret weapon. That would be rookie kicker Jake Elliott, who was a perfect four-for-four last week in L.A. With his booming leg, the Eagles are now a threat to score as soon as they cross mid-field.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 29, Cardinals 24. This could be the day LeGarrette Blount, who was so impressive vs. the Chargers, becomes the darling of the Linc. The guy simply refused to go down after first contact. He's got Philly favorite written all over him.

LAST WEEK: Very impressive win against the Chargers. That final drive to run out the clock is something you expect to see New England or another playoff team do. Now the Eagles need to do something else good teams do. They need to beat a team flying across the country they are expected to handle at home. The win lifted the Birds to a 3-1 mark, and they now sit alone atop the NFC East. I fumbled this one. I didn't expect them to beat the Chargers, although I might add that those last two wins (Chargers and Giants) come against teams that are winless on the year. So let's not get carried away. I now sport an identical 3-1 mark as the Birds.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 24. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 17)

Eagles 26, Chargers 24. (My Pick: Chargers 27, Eagles 17)

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