There were a lot of good story lines from this week in the NFL. The Steelers got a huge win over the Patriots which probably thrusts them into the drivers' seat of the AFC. The Bills Defense pitched a shut out - I can't believe I just typed that sentence in all seriousness. Tim Tebow gave an entire generation of youngsters hope that they could one day become starting Quarterbacks in the NFL. And the St. Louis Rams fresh off the Cardinals World Series win - SHOCKED the Saints with a convincing win at home. All that being said there was one team that absolutely garnered much of my attention - the Philadelphia Eagles - click for more about the Eagles, some fantasy tid bits, and the rest of the NFL after the jump...
The Eagles without a doubt played the most efficient game on both sides of the ball that I've seen all year long. We knew coming in that Andy Reid is great at getting the most out of his players after a bye week (now 13-0) - but what they did to a legitimate contender in the Dallas Cowboys was down right brilliant. I could sit here and pick apart every jaw dropping stat from the game - actually let's throw a few out there:
- The Dallas Cowboys came into the game as the best rush defense allowing only 70 yards on the ground per contest. Eagles RB Lesean McCoy had 80 yards in the first quarter. McCoy finished with a career-best 185 yards on the ground, added 2 TDs, and as his twitter handle "cutondime25" suggests - was cutting up Dallas defenders all night long. I've had the "Best RB" discussion a couple of times this year, and every time it comes up McCoy continues to sky rocket up my rankings. I'm not ready to give him the best in the league just yet because Adrian Peterson is just too filthy - but it'd be hard to dispute anyone else surpassing McCoy right now. He's that good - and if the Eagles continue to feed this monster, they will be tough to stop.
- QB Michael Vick is now the proud owner of a new parrot (insert joke about pets + Vick + death). Well Vick played his best game of the season. He was extremely accurate on his downfield attempts completing 21 passes on just 28 attempts for 279 yards while rushing for another 50 yards. More impressively he was 18 for 20 when sitting in the pocket and throwing downfield between the hashmarks. For someone that has been short my whole life - I feel for the 5'10'' Vick having to throw over 6'4'' 300 pound behemoths. He simply did what he wanted all game long against Rob Ryan and the Cowboys defense. They had no answer for him as the Eagles scored on their first 6 possessions and weren't stopped until the 4th quarter.
- Ball Control and Defense: The Eagles dominated the time of possession 42:09 to 17:51. If that doesn't scream DOMINANCE I don't know what does. It all starts with a great running game (239 yards total) - but the defense wreaked havoc from the start and never let the Cowboy offense get comfortable. DE's Jason Babin and Trent Cole looked downright possessed on some plays. Their bulldog rush mentality helped accumulate 4 sacks of Tony Romo and many awkward 2 yard out routes to TE Jason Witten. For as much heat as the Eagles D has taken early on - they definitely look like a much improved unit the past two games.
Overall, the Eagles dominated this game and got themselves very much back into contention in the NFC East. If this game is a sign of things to come for the Eagles and I think it is - I don't see any team beating them in the NFC with the exception of maybe the Packers - Niners? Lucky the first time. Giants? Eli Manning. Saints? Too inconsistent. Lions? Too young. Bears? We'll find out Monday Night. This team reminds me a lot of another over-hyped team with loads of talent - the Miami Heat. The Heat struggled early on and many experts and pundits were quick to point out their 'chemistry' issues and whether Dwayne Wade and Lebron James could play in the same backcourt. Well they did end up figuring it out with time and got themselves all the way to the final series of the NBA Season. In a season that has been very unpredictable - it would not shock me if the Eagles copied the Heat blueprint all the way to the 46th Super Bowl.
And I'm done talking about the Eagles - For the Picks this week we went a middling 6-7. Just cannot get a good feel for some of these teams in the NFL (I'm looking at you Saints and Ravens).
In the Fantasy world we are only 5 weeks from the end of the regular season. So if your team is on the verge of the playoffs - start winning! The Running Backs were the money train in week 8 as McCoy, Ray Rice, AP, Fred Jackson, Steven Jackson, Gore, Arian Foster, and Reggie Bush (must have gotten wind of the impending Kim Kardashian divorce) all turned in week 8 MVP worthy performances. Titans RB Chris Johnson turned in another dud - which has got to lead Owners to legitimately consider benching the first/second round pick. Its a gutsy call - but you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm just glad I steered clear of him.
Weekly Buffalo Bills Update:
Shocked wouldn't even begin to describe the feeling I had when I saw the Bills shutout the Washington Redskins. I know - the Redskins aren't exactly the greatest show on turf - but the previous 5 games the Bills defense had allowed 28 ppg and they played on Sunday without the likes of LB Shawne Merriman (Out for Season) and DT Kyle Williams. Oh, and a Mike Shannahan coached team had Never been shutout in 24 seasons of coaching. First Round draft pick DT Marcell Dareus played like an absolute beast as he compiled 2.5 of the Bills 9 sacks in his first start at DT filling in for Williams. It was a compelling first win in Toronto for the Bills, one that should give all of the players a lot of confidence. Heading into this week's matchup with the Jets at home - they'll definitely need to play with that same aggression and make Jet QB Mark Sanchez feel just as uncomfortable as John Beck.
Looking ahead to next week - Bills/Jets, Giants/Patriots, Ravens/Steelers, and Bears/Eagles on MNF will provide for some great football. We also get No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Auburn on Saturday which I'm sure ESPN will do a great job of hyping from Tuesday - Saturday - but there's no way it will be a better game than Stanford / USC last Saturday, right? Hope everyone has a good week - see you out there.