Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Modern Sherman

Hard to say who had a rougher week, East Anglia climate “scientists” or the Atlanta Falcons? Much like a modern William Tecumseh Sherman, the Eagles laid waste to Atlanta 34-7- pitching a big time shut out until the final play.

Press reports largely shrugged, laying Atlanta’s overall ineptness at the feet of the absence of five offensive starters- including quarterback Matt Ryan. Of course, the Eagles were also missing five starters- including three key skill players: RB Westbrook, WR Jackson, WR Curtis. Plus, the starting linebackers feature a pair of guys who weren’t on the roster when October started, and the nickel corner is suspended (Hanson). Just as I wrote last week, anyone who thinks Reid is a dope must reconcile the fact that the Eagles haven’t missed a beat asking some nine guys from the bottom half of the roster to start together and contribute.

I mean, all these back-ups went on the road to play a desperate Atlanta outfit: zero turnovers, sixty yards in penalties, made and covered kicks, had one TD allowed. That is a tight outfit- and that is good coaching.

At 8-4, the Eagles squarely control their own destiny. Unfortunately, they still have vexing road games at division rivals New York and Dallas. Winning the division and getting the subsequent home game probably requires sweeping that pair- which seems pretty hard. And let’s see the Vikings lose another one before getting crazy over a two-seed.

Frankly, even getting a wild card berth probably requires winning one division road game. Despite recent success, Philadelphia is a narrow one point ‘dog this weekend. So you can’t write Philadelphia in to the tournament yet. I was rooting hard for Dallas to beat New York this weekend- put the Giants two games back, and make ten wins the probable NFC wild card standard, while keeping Dallas within a mere one game of the Eagles with one head-to-head to play. Instead, we have a three team mess atop NFC East- where one team should go home- and the Eagles are the team with a pair of thorny games left in their rivals’ building.

On the plus side, I suppose they are playing the best football in NFC East right now- but that is a fact that needs to be validated over a whole month yet. Four games is an eternity in this League. Still, this mini-winning streak- good road wins over Atlanta and Chicago, plus the Redskins- has vaulted the Eagles from “maybe” to “probable”.