Tag Archive | "Donovan McNabb"

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Blog & Tackle: Wild Card round predictions

Posted on 02 January 2009 by Chris Pika

Four games, four opinions: Here is a quick look at this weekend’s NFL Wild Card round games with my gut feel for how each will go. Three of the four games will be competitive, with the Atlanta at Arizona game the lone exception.

In order of play:

Atlanta at Arizona (Saturday, 4:30 pm): Arizona was absolutely putrid over the final five weeks of the season with blowout losses to Philadelphia, Minnesota and New England. Atlanta went into the toughest indoor facility in the league, Minnesota, and came out with a key victory late in the season. But, the Falcons lost in a shootout at New Orleans and got everything they could handle in a victory over St. Louis.

The key stat here is that Arizona tied for the most points among the NFC playoff teams (427 with the Giants), but have given up 426 – the most among NFC qualifiers. The opposing offenses are ranked No. 2 (Falcons) and No. 3 (Cardinals) in the conference. Atlanta’s defense, led by Pro Bowl snub John Abraham (16.5 sacks), and the offense, behind offensive rookie of the year Matt Ryan and tough runner Michael Turner, will chew up yards and clock to make quick work of the Cardinals. Prediction: Atlanta 34, Arizona 14.

Indianapolis at San Diego (Saturday, 8 pm): This is maybe the best matchup on paper of the four games. The Chargers stopped the Colts’ attempt at back-to-back titles with a 28-24 victory in the division round a year ago. Indy QB Peyton Manning is the league MVP for rallying the Colts for 3-4 to 12-4. San Diego has basically played playoff games the last four weeks just to qualify, as the Chargers went from 4-8 to 8-8 to win the AFC West over slumping Denver.

Don’t let the Chargers’ 52 points against Denver last week fool you. They were held to 20 and 16 points in the final two losses to Indy and Atlanta just before the four-game win streak. The Colts beat the Ravens handily before the streak, and New England, Pittsburgh and San Diego during it. Throw out the preseason-style win over Tennessee last week. The only tendency is that they really haven’t blown out much-weaker teams (Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville), which makes them suspect if a good opposing defense can slow them down. The big number is that Indy is +9 in turnover margin. Also, if San Diego has both LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates on the shelf or if either/both are limited, the Chargers offense won’t be able to keep up with the Colts. Prediction: Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20.

Baltimore at Miami (Sunday, 1 pm): Miami is underrated as a playoff opponent, as the Dolphins have steadily improved since the Ravens beat them in Week 7. Chad Pennington is a veteran quarterback, and probable NFL coach of the year Tony Sparano will have his group believing they can settle the earlier score. Baltimore is playing as well as any playoff team right now, and John Harbaugh’s veteran-laden team will take nothing for granted or get caught looking ahead at Tennessee.

The key in this game is the quarterbacks. Chad Pennington has had his career reborn after some up-and-down seasons in New York. Joe Flacco is playing like an older veteran, and he improved each week during the regular season. The only carryover from the first meeting to keep an eye on is that the Ravens were extremely disciplined against the “Wildcat” offense and didn’t allow the Dolphins to make much headway.

If the Ravens impressive run game is on track, Flacco can settle into a rhythm with Cam Cameron’s playbook, and move Baltimore along. If the Ravens have a second-half lead, the run game will take over to finish off the Dolphins. Miami has to bank on their amazing +17 turnover margin that led the league, hope Flacco regresses (nine of his 12 interceptions came against playoff teams) and that Pennington (seven INTs) doesn’t find Ed Reed and Co. with errant passes. This game will be much closer than many think. Prediction: Baltimore 24, Miami 21.

Philadelphia at Minnesota (4:30 pm): Somewhere along the way, Philadelphia re-discovered the magic formula and battled its way into the playoffs. Minnesota finally took a weaker-than-expected NFC North over Chicago. The Metrodome is the loudest indoor facility in the NFL, but the game might not be a sellout and there will be plenty of Philly fans in the house, which will negate some of that advantage.

Adrian Peterson will probably get his yards against the Eagles, but Philadelphia’s relentless pass rush will rattle Vikings’ QB Tavaris Jackson. Donovan McNabb has been hot with nine TD passes and just one interception in the last five games. The Eagles’ run game has four 130+ yard games in the last five outings. This will be a lower-than-expected scoring game for both clubs. Prediction: Philadelphia 21, Minnesota 17.

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Eagles - Ravens preview

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Eagles – Ravens preview

Posted on 23 November 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some things to look for in the game today:

Keep Joe standing–  The Eagles, much like the Giants are going to come after Joe Flacco. Currently the Eagles are second in the NFL with 36 sacks on the season. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson likes to bring exotic blitz packages teams at teams. Out of the 11 starters on defense for the Eagles, 10 of them have at least one sack. For the Ravens offensive line, most of that pressure comes from the front four of the Eagles. With the Ravens without the services of Jared Gaither, and Willie Anderson’s status up in the air, the Ravens could be looking at Adam Terry and Oneil Cousins or Chad Slaughter at the tackle positions. Keep an eye on the Trent Cole (#58) and Darren Howard (#90) for the Eagles defense, they have a combined 14 sacks.

Who do you cover ? – While DeSean Jackson has become the number one target of Donovan McNabb, after him McNabb and the Eagles have several different guys that can catch the ball. This could be a big key in the game today if they do not have Brian Westbrook. The Eagles could be able to stretch the Ravens defense out by going 3 or 4 wide at the receiver position. Plus his back and tight ends are also threats to catch the ball.

Here are the Eagles players stats when it comes to pass catching : Jackson– WR(42c 1TD), Brown -WR (13c 1TD), Lewis -WR (16c), Curtis-WR (19c 1TD),Avant – WR( 18c 1TD) ,Baskett – WR (22c 3TD), Smith – TE (18c 3 TD), Celek – TE (17c), Westbrook -RB (32c 2TD) ,Buckhalter (21c 1 TD)

Who can make the play on 3rd down – This might be the biggest element in deciding who wins the game today. The Eagles and the Ravens defense are two of the best in the NFL on stopping teams on 3rd down. Both teams have only allowed 33.1 % of third downs to be converted, Eagles(41-124) Ravens(49-148). Whichever team can covert on third down today could go a long way in deciding who wins this football game.

Which trend survives- People always talk about trends in the NFL, well here are two of them going into today’s game. Since 2000, the Eagles have the second best record in the NFL following a loss, owning a 30-15-1 record (.663). In 2008, they are 2-1-1, so far. The Ravens are 0-2 coming off of a loss this year and are coming off of a loss on Sunday to the Giants.


This will be a close game, probably with out a bunch of points being put on the board, but I will say the Eagles squeak out at 19-16 win over the Ravens today.


Also, if you see Kendra Wilkinson in the stands today, be nice to her, and tell her to return my phone calls please.

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Blog & Tackle: NFL Week 11 quick hits

Posted on 17 November 2008 by Chris Pika

An interesting Week 11 is almost in the books, outside of a Buffalo-Cleveland game tonight that Bills need to win to join a pack of five other teams with a 6-4 record in the tightly jammed AFC.

The Ravens had a chance to get their first impressive victory over a definite playoff-bound team but were exposed by the balanced performance of the Giants. The good news is that the Ravens are still the current #6 seed in the AFC, and the bad news is that Philadelphia is next. The Eagles are sore after tying the lowly Bengals yesterday and Philly will present another tough challenge, but the Ravens will have an advantage at home against a team John Harbaugh knows pretty well.

The other good news for Baltimore is that four of the final six games are at home. The Ravens have the Eagles, Redskins, Steelers and Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium down the stretch.

So, Donovan McNabb and some of the other veteran Eagles didn’t know that overtime is just one period? I guess they don’t listen to the referee during the OT coin toss when he says that “one period of 15 minutes is played, each team has two timeouts and all replay challenges come from the booth.” The tie put a crimp into the Eagles postseason hopes, as it counts for one-half win, one-half loss in the standings.

The Ravens were so close to getting help from San Diego in keeping pace with the Steelers, but the Chargers defense went soft at the wrong time late in Heinz Field. The Chargers are in deep trouble with a 4-6 mark, two games behind Denver in the AFC West. The Steelers breathed a sigh of relief after almost losing a game at home in decidedly non-San Diego conditions of snow showers and cold in Pittsburgh.

Speaking of the Broncos, I had the pleasure of working with their radio network on Sunday when they faced the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. It was a battle of two of the good young QBs in the league in Denver’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. The Broncos defense held the Falcons to 114 yards on the ground and made several big pass defenses in the second half. Ryan would get my vote after Week 10 as the NFL’s Rookie of Year over Tennessee’s Chris Johnson and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco. Meanwhile, the Broncos are confusing. Denver is 3-4 in AFC games, but 3-0 against the NFC South — one of the toughest divisions in football right now.

The best race in the AFC is in the East, where the Jets lead at 7-3, and if the Bills win tonight, the rest of the division teams would be 6-4. The East might get just one AFC playoff slot.

Tennessee, despite sleepwalking through the first half at Jacksonville, turned on the jets in the final 30 minutes to beat the Jaguars. I keep saying it — Kerry Collins could very well be the league’s MVP. The Titans are not 10-0 if Vince Young is the QB, and the Colts would be right on their heels, instead of four games back with six to play. Collins threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He’s not managing games for the Titans, he’s winning them with his arm.

By the way, and we are a long way away from seeing this, there is a possibility that an AFC playoff game could feature a QB matchup between the 35-year old Collins and the Jets’ 39-year-old Brett Favre. If that happens, we’ll see a lot of Flomax, Viagra and Lipitor ads during the game.

Don’t look now but Indianapolis seems to have its act together after outlasting the Texans 33-27. Peyton Manning threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and Marvin Harrison had 77 yards and a score on nine catches. The Colts are one of the five 6-4 teams (four are not division leaders) in the AFC with Buffalo hoping to join the group tonight.

The NFC has 12 teams with .500 (5-5) or better records compared to nine in the AFC. It looks like only one team from the NFC North (Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota — each at 5-5) will make the playoffs, unless somebody gets real hot over the final six games. One team from the putrid NFC West (Arizona) will go. That leaves us with the East and the South for the two wild cards outside of the division winners. Don’t be surprised if the South gets both of the slots because the East clubs trailing the Giants continue to pound on each other each week.

I know Tennessee is 10-0, but the 9-1 Giants are the best team in football. They are on a mission to prove that last season’s run to the world title was not a fluke as some suggested, even after the win over the Patriots to halt New England’s perfect season. New York is balanced on offense and tough as nails on defense. There is no Super Bowl hangover for Big Blue.

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