Aaand we’re back!
Five Friday For Sures took a two-week hiatus: one for the bye week, and one for midterms week. I tried explaining why this ground-breaking column required my primary attention over an exposition on the Great Prince Vladimir, but without success.
It’s shocking that a school with a stadium that seats 1,650 people doesn’t respect the journalistic integrity of a Bleeding Green Nation contributor.
Fortunately, we’re back in the saddle, with our eyes set on a consistent stretch of football all through January (save for, of course, the bye week during the Wild Card Round).
You’ll notice I said January, not February. That’s a very important distinction, and it ties us directly into our first Friday For Sure:
1) Bad juju
We do not say the S. B. Word here. We don’t. We use nice little euphemisms, like “Big Game” and “deep playoff run” and “all the way” (that last one is a double entendre), but, above all else, we avoid the S. B. Word.
Why? Because there’s some football deity atop a remote mountain in Nepal that Philadelphia fans royally pissed off sometime after 1960. His ex-girlfriend/goddess was from Cleveland, and she left him for the NBA Finals deity; his local DMV is run exclusively by people who root for the Bills. And when you say the S. B. Word, he cackles to himself, rubbing his six hands (I dunno, just roll with it) together maniacally. Each over-confident prediction adds to his power.
This is a He Who Must Not Be Named level situation, folks. Say the S. B. word, and some bald dude with no nose and a wand is gonna roll up with bad intentions. You’ve gotta go outside, turn around three times, and spit. Curse. Curse and spit.
There’s only so much we can do though—the national media will charge up S**** B*** Revenge God regardless of our greatest efforts. That starts on Sunday, when Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth try to find something to talk about in the waning moments of a two-possession game.
They’ll say the NFC East is locked up; they’ll say Philly has the inside track for #1 seed in the NFC; and then, like the inevitable third repetition of Betelgeuse, it’ll come: the S. B. Word.
Avoid bad juju. Don’t say the S. B. Word.
2) About 100,000 references to Jerral’s quest for tyrannical rule
If you haven’t yet read it, stop what you’re doing (which is reading this article, I guess) and open up Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham’s article on the storm a-brewin’ between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerral Jones.
Another important note: the owner of the Dallas Cowboys is named Jerral Jones (H/T Bleacher Report’s Natalie Weiner for breaking the news). Not Jerry. His name is Jerral, and I, for one, think it’s best that we exclusively call him Jerral moving forward.
The skinny: Bad looks for both Jerral and Goodell. Clearly, Goodell had an agenda to push with the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. Many believe that Goodell was promised his desired extension if he stripped some power from Jerral, who had risen to a standing with which most other owners were uncomfortable. For Jerral, his pre-existing image is simply reaffirmed: a wily, power-hungry schemer who seems hellbent on intertwining both his fate, and the fate of the league as a whole.
Philly fans may feel the gut reaction to side with Goodell, in that he is across the table from Jerral, and thus the lesser of two evils—I know I feel it. But I’d encourage resistance in the face of that instinct. Goodell handled this neither deftly nor fairly, and the commissioner that strikes at Dallas could just as quickly turn on Philly next.
Anticipate some thrilling pregame owner shots after the Jerral/Arthur Blank standoff from last week. Do Lurie and Jerral greet each other? Who wins the handshake? Can you see Jerral’s pupils narrow like a viper’s on camera, or is that just an optical illusion? Does Goodell send out a hitman in the on-field mayhem, a la the instant Steve Martin classic Pink Panther?
Important questions, folks.
3) Wait...these two quarterbacks came out in the same draft class?
If someone could mercy kill me now, that’d be swell. I’ve always envisioned a sudden shot to the belly, followed by a slow-motion fall to the ground and heart-wrenching epilogue detailing my many regrets, told to the one woman who was always there for me, but I never told her how I truly felt.
But really, any mercy killing will do.
I could not possibly be less interested in who is a better quarterback between Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. Can Philadelphia win a *censored due to bad juju* with Carson Wentz? Heck yeah. Could Dallas, with Dak? Most definitely. And there are easily another 10-15 QBs on that list.
Could Wentz/Dak carry a team to the Final Frontier? Too early to tell—but in today’s NFL, there’s currently one, and he has a broken collarbone and way too many State Farm commercials.
Any head coach/general manager combination knows that, from the moment they’re hired, their clock is ticking—and there’s only two ways to buy an extension: Get good QB play, or get the entire rest of the team ready for good QB play.
Both Dallas and Philadelphia have good QB play right now, and for the foreseeable future. One week, Wentz will play better than Dak; the next, Dak will best Wentz. Eventually one might ascend to a level above that of the other—that’s a different conversation for a different day. Today, two of the...seven-ish? best active QBs are about to square off. Just shut up and enjoy it.
4) Twitter Mailbag
This week, I descended into the rancid fens of Twitter for some Eagles/NFL questions. While this has nothing to do with stuff that will “For Sure” happen come Sunday, the fellowing answers are “for sure” mine. It’s not like I’ve ever strictly adhered to that rule anyway.
If Cleveland drafted Wentz, would his career be off to the same start?— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) November 16, 2017
Heck to the no.
I love Cleveland’s current front office. I think they have a winning formula, despite the fact that yes, they have foregone drafting Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, among other players. But they have brought in a ton of talent (that front-7 is dirty) and have consistently searched for value picks at QB. They’ve got a potential franchise QB in DeShone Kizer, if they’ll just let him stay in the game and play. The return of WRs Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon will help him out a ton.
But no team in the NFL has as efficiently added impactful pieces like Philadelphia did this past offseason, nor does Cleveland have the offensive mind power that currently stews in the NovaCare Complex. Philly is a couple years ahead, and it’s helping Wentz outpace his projected developmental curve.
What do you think is the one thing that could hold us back from a SB win and/or appearance?— Michael Heindl (@Michaelheindl10) November 16, 2017
Who represents the biggest threat from the afc as a legit sb contender?— cali dad (@jawnthomas) November 16, 2017
GO OUTSIDE, TURN AROUND THREE TIMES, AND SPIT.
(But for real who do you see as the biggest threat in the NFC/NFL currently?)— May Flowers9️⃣8️⃣ (@Ryan_Keiran) November 16, 2017
I got this question in a couple of different forms, so let’s just run it down.
In the NFC, I will be the most scared of the Vikings, in the event they handle their tricky QB situation appropriately. Sure, you don’t want to disrupt a good thing with Case Keenum (what did I just write?), but Bridgewater makes your team markedly more dangerous...that is, if he’s healthy. It’s a real tricky spot, but if they successfully navigate it, they have the only front-7 in the NFL that I think can hang with Philly’s offensive line, as well as the best WR duo in the NFL. They’re well-equipped to handle the Eagles.
If the Vikes implode, the Rams scare me the most, in that they can just pour points on you. Under McVay’s offense in Washington, the Redskins were 4-0 against Philadelphia, averaging almost 29 points. One of the greatest things about the NFL playoff structure is the lack of series. It’s one-game, one-shot, which introduces a lot more variance. As such, when I evaluate potential playoff opponents, I’m most scared of dominant units: squads that can just take over a 4-quarter game when they’re hot. That’s the Rams offense.
In the AFC, there’s no reason to overthink things: you’re most scared of New England. I think KC and Pittsburgh both have more talent, but the second the calendar shifts into January, there’s no team I want to face less than the Patriots. You can’t ignore the Brady/Belichick pedigree.
Given the baseball-themed TD celebrations of the Eagles this year, if you had to field a baseball team based off of the Eagles roster, who is playing where?— Cody Dame (@cdame94) November 17, 2017
I sucked at Little League and do not understand why watching baseball is fun. I do, admittedly, revel in collegiate softball--but there’s way more action in those games.
Which Eagles Beat Reporters would you choose to be on your offensive line?— Viraj Singh (@viraj_singh92) November 17, 2017
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ Media would talk so much trash in the trenches #MentalGame.
5) A bloodletting
I had a sneaky confidence before the Carolina game—though at the time, that was less justifiable. I have the same sense of confidence coming in to Dallas.
Some pundits see a desperate Dallas team; I see a deflated one. Their schedule only gets tougher after this match-up, while Philadelphia is certainly feeling the heat after a bye week in which the Rams and Saints both moved to 7-2. The Eagles are the healthier, more-prepared team of the two, and come in with far more momentum after the smackdown they put on Denver.
I like Philadelphia, 34-23. 23 feels like a lot to give this Dallas team after the offensive embarrassment of last week, but the Dak-lead Cowboys have never scored less than 19 at home. They have to come into this match-up better prepared for the lack of LT Tyron Smith...right? Expect quicker throws, a heavy dose of the screen game, and some designed sprint-outs for Dak, who throws exceedingly well on the run.
When it comes to sacks...sheesh, where do you put this number? I’ll say 6. Give .5 to Big Money Tim, 1 to Fletcher Cox, 1 to Brandon Graham, 1 to Chris Long, and 1.5 to Derek Barnett, who I expect has a big first game in this heated rivalry. Ronald Darby may have a rough time coming back from injury, but I see Philly building a 14-point lead by the end of the first on the back of Ajayi and Agholor tuddies.
Enjoy the spoils of victory on Sunday afternoon folks, but remember: bad juju.