Archives for posts with tag: It’s a Wonderful Life

There was a window that slammed shut Monday night.  It may be for the NFC East, although Philadelphia lost their best offensive lineman as well as a starting middle linebacker.  But up 10-3 in the second quarter the Burgundy and Gold had an opportunity to build off a dominant first quarter.  Instead, the offense sputtered and the defense coughed up touchdowns on three consecutive possessions that spanned intermission.  Instead of coming home one half game behind the Eagles, the Redskins are 3-3 after losing 34-24 to the division leaders.  And Philly owns the head to head tiebreaker, meaning if the Skins want to win the division they have to be three and a half games better than the Eagles the rest of the way.  The Skins’ next four foes are a combined 16-9.  Buckle up…

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One posted another 300-yard passing effort…his third in four games.  He also ran for 18 yards (although he didn’t lead the team on the ground this time).  But when they needed Star Trek Equivalent- “Spectre of the Gun”.  This final-season episode saw Kirk & company face foes from the old west…and amidst production cost issues they had to scrimp on the sets.

Running Aground- the Skins were held to 75 yards rushing…and multiple times turned away from pounding the ball on third and short.  Chris Thompson tallying 38 yards on the ground is one thing…but the runningback leading the Skins with 38 yards rushing is another.

And the Skins’ best wideout is???- I’m voting for Vernon Davis.  The veteran tight end paced the team with 67 yards receiving on 4 catches.  Jordan Reed had his best game of the year (8 catches for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns) although he’s still slowed down by injury.  Last year’s first round pick continues to underwhelm, although Josh Doctson’s 3 grabs almost doubled his total for 2017.  Terrelle Pryor?  Officially entering free agent bust territory as the offseason acquisition caught a pair of passes for 14 yards.  Jamison Crowder (1 catch for 3 yards) remains an afterthought…and now fumbles with alarming regularity.  DeSean & Garcon never looked so good…after combining for 10 catches Sunday for 122 yards with their respective teams.

Hold the Line- they need all the comfort they can get.  Four of the five starers on the Skins’ offensive line are banged up in some way after Monday night’s loss.  Not great as they prepare for Dallas–if they can prepare.  Limited numbers meant a walk-through Wednesday.  The Cowboys’ D is second in the league in sacks-per-game.  Not ideal.

Third and Frustrating-  converting 4 of 12 attempts is never good, especially when one is 0-for-5 in the first half and fails three times to move the chains on 3rd & 1.  They ran the ball once–on a 3rd & 25 in the fourth quarter.  Cousins completed 4 of 9 passes for 2 conversions…while scrambling for a first down and getting sacked once.  The top target?  Jordan Reed caught 2 of 4 passes for a pair of conversions.  Distance breakdown:  0-for-3 on 3rd & short, 2-for-4 on 3rd & manageable (4 to 6 yards needed) and 2-for-5 on 3rd & long.

Zach Brown Band- the linebacker leads the way with 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks.  He’s not the best in pass coverage, but on a defense with injuries up front (no Jonathan Allen) and on the back end (at least until Josh Norman returns).

Getting off the Field- the Eagles were 6 for 12 on third down…actually running the ball four of the five times they faced 3rd & short.  While the Skins’ D denied Philly on 4-of-5 long yardage situations, Carson Wentz turned a near-sack on 3rd & 8 into a 17 yard scamper.  That one still stings.

A Rose is a Kicker by any other name- Nick Rose converted all three extra points and made a 27-yard field goal in his NFL debut.  Welcome to the league, Nick–if you stick with the team through December you’ll give me a great “It’s a Wonderful Life” crutch.  Tress Way averaged over 47 yards per punt.  Jamison Crowder averaged eight yards per punt return but had his customary fumble.

Flying Flags- five penalties for 55 yards.  One came on a punt (Nick Sundberg’s hold) and resulted in the Eagles beginning a possession at their 35-yard line instead of their 13.  The four defensive flags involved a pair of facemasks, a hold and a pass interference.  Quinton Dunbar was whistled twice–for a PI and a facemask while Breeland had one of his two defensive holds declined (because of Dunbar’s facemask on the same play).  Breeland has a team-high 8 penalties this year (although three have been declined).  The most popular penalty remains an offensive hold with nine–although technically this week’s offensive hold came on special teams.  The most costly flag?  Dunbar’s PI that turned what would have been a 4th & 3 into a first and goal at the 1.  The Eagles would take the lead for good shortly thereafter.

Dissecting the Division- Philly’s win not only gives the Eagles a two and a half game lead at 6-1, but they also own the best record in the NFC.  Dallas at 3-3 owns the divisional tiebreaker with the Redskins…so the Cowboys are in 2nd place of the NFC East while holding down the 9th spot in the conference (Atlanta has a better NFC record while Detroit does not).  The Cowboys come to Fed Ex Field Sunday…by the way.  The Skins reside in 3rd place of the NFC East are 11th in the conference standings (strength of victory keeps them behind the Lions).  The New York Giants at 1-6 remain in last place and are in 15th thanks to San Francisco’s rebuild.

Conference Call- the NFC owns a 14-13 edge after seven weeks of interconference competition.  The best quartet?  How about the AFC East at 16-10–I guess they’re more than just the Patriots (for the moment).  The AFC North is a league-worst 10-17…but that’s with the 0-7 Browns in the mix.  The NFC East ranks 5th at 13-13…one half game out of 3rd but one half game better than 6th.

 

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

Are you ready for some football?  Like it or not, you’re going to be confronted by the college football bowl season at every turn over the next few weeks.  Plenty of matchups to mull over…with a handful of games you might actually want to watch.

Saturday December 17-watchability factor: 6.  Shouldn’t one be shipping presents?

Game to Watch:  Las Vegas Bowl, Houston vs San Diego State.  The Cougars made a big splash on Labor Day weekend with an upset of Oklahoma…and Major Applewhite takes over the helm in the wake of coach Tom Perrin leaving for Texas.  But can their defense contain Aztecs running back Donnel Humphrey (2018 yards rushing in 2016)?

Dave’s Dog: R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Southern Miss vs Louisiana-Lafayette.  Sadly this is not the only bowl matchup of 6-6 teams.  Nothing says “Go Christmas Caroling” or “put up the lights” more than a postseason clash of .500 schools.

 

Monday December 19-watchability factor: 3.  The 2:30 kickoff for the only game really doesn’t help here.

Game of the Day:  Miami Beach Bowl, Central Michigan vs Tulsa.  The Golden Hurricanes finished the fall on a 5-1 run and were two points away from taking the AAC West.  The Chippewas’ 3-0 start included a win that shouldn’t have counted at Oklahoma State, but anytime Cowboys coach Mike Gundy throws a tantrum we’re all winners.

 

Tuesday December 20-watchability factor: 8.  No NFL game to complete with and an evening kickoff between two winning teams.  What’s not to like?

Game of the Day:  Boca Raton Bowl, Memphis vs Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers won Conference USA and finished the season with seven straight victories, while the Tigers put 40+ points on the board three times in November.  Tree decorating is delayed another day.

 

Wednesday December 21-watchability factor: 5…8 if you live in the Mountain Time Zone.

Game of the Day: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, BYU vs Wyoming.  My UVA friends marvel how well the Cougars did in the first year AFTER Bronco Mendenhall departed Provo.

 

Thursday December 22-watchability factor: 7…but only because my mother is an alum of one of the schools and my Uncle Chris runs a chocolate shop in the city where the game is being played.

Game of the Day: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Idaho vs Colorado State.  Somehow the Vandals are in the Sun Belt Conference, meaning teams travel from Troy, Alabama and other points to Moscow, Idaho every other year.  My condolences…

 

Friday December 23-watchability factor: 5.  Finally more than one game…although one was getting used to Mountain Time Zone matchups.

Game to Watch: Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, #25 Navy vs Louisiana Tech.  Remember those Pittsburgh-Dallas Super Bowls where Terry Bradshaw squared off with Roger Staubach?  Their alma maters meet in Fort Worth.  Expect an offensive afternoon (the Bulldogs scored 44 points per game while the Midshipmen tallied 39 per contest).

Dave’s Dog: Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl, Eastern Michigan vs Old Dominion.  The Monarchs didn’t have a Division I program ten years ago, while Nassau didn’t have a Popeye’s until 2015.

 

Saturday December 24-watchability factor: 2.  With the NFL playing a full slate, you’ve got to give me something special or I’m watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Or “Die Hard”.  Similar plots, if you ask me.

Game of the Day: Hawai’i Bowl, Hawai’i vs Middle Tennessee State.  I’ve been told that the 6-7 Rainbow Warriors will have a slight home-field advantage, as they not only play at Aloha Stadium but the school and bowl share the SAME NAME.  They couldn’t have called this the “Aloha” or “Luau” Bowl, just for giggles?  Stay away from the poi.

 

Monday December 26-watchability factor: 6…depending on gift satisfaction and if one will be returning presents that day.

Game to Watch:  Quick Lane Bowl, Maryland vs Boston College.  They’re billing this as a “showdown of former ACC Rivals”.  I have Terp friends who are still getting used to Florida State joining the league, let alone BC.  Both teams are bowling despite taking serious lumps in league play;  while the Terps lost games to Michigan & Ohio State by 56 & 59 points…the Eagles suffered defeats of 36, 38, 45 and 49 points.  And this remains the best game of the day.

Dave’s Dog:  St Petersburg Bowl, Miami (Ohio) vs Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs went 5-7. 5-7!  I’m all about the kids enjoying the rewards for working hard and appreciate the need for ESPN to force-feed us product, but seriously?  The 11 am kickoff doesn’t help matters, either.

 

Tuesday December 27-watchability factor: 7.  Finally I’m recognizing some of the bowl’s names, so that has to be a good thing.

Game to Watch:  Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, Boise State vs Baylor.  The Broncos and the Bears have been two of the more notorious “outsiders” to challenge college football royalty over the last decade…and Baylor has a new coach in place after hiring Temple’s Matt Rhule.  Even with the 10:15 kickoff, we’ll leave the light on for you.

Dave’s Dog:  Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Army West Point vs North Texas.  The Mean Green may be 5-7, but one of their wins came against Army by 17 on the road.  Rematches from the regular season are always tricky during the bowl season.

 

Wednesday December 28-watchability factor: 8.  Three ranked teams play…with an old school Big XII showdown in the nightcap.

Game to Watch:  Russell Athletic Bowl, #16 West Virginia vs Miami.  Call this the “behavior bowl”, from the Mountaineer fans in the stands to the Hurricane players on the field and the sideline.  Mark Richt’s team finished the regular season with four straight wins, all by double-digits.  Matthew McConaughey’s look-alike led WVU to a 10-0 mark against schools outside the state of Oklahoma.

Dave’s Dog:  Foster Farms Bowl, #19 Utah vs Indiana.  Not a horrible game, but the weakest of a slate that includes Pitt’s James Conner playing his final game and Texas A&M-Kansas State.  And shouldn’t the Hoosiers be focused on defense and rebounding?

 

Thursday December 29-watchability factor: 8.  Our first ranked matchup of the bowl season (it took long enough).

Game to Watch:  Valero Alamo Bowl, #10 Colorado vs #12 Oklahoma State.  Both schools could have made cases for spots in the College Football Playoff had they won games the first weekend of December.  While the Cowboys possess a high-octane offense behind quarterback Mason Rudolph (his 3777 passing yards rank 8th in FBS), the Buffaloes three losses have all come to teams currently in the top 10.

Dave’s Dog:  Birmingham Bowl, South Florida vs South Carolina.  Can’t they get a little creative and name the game after something instead of the city?  USF quarterback Quinton Flowers blew threw Navy’s defense like a blowtorch through butter during the regular season…and the Gamecocks are fresh off allowing 56 points to Clemson.  Gulp.

 

Friday December 30-watchability factor: 9.  More than enough name schools and interesting players to keep you glued to the TV.

Game to Watch:  Capital One Orange Bowl, #6 Michigan vs #11 Florida State.  Both teams had Novembers to remember…but while the Seminoles went 4-0 and blasted in-state rival Florida, the Wolverines lost two of their last three games by a combined four points.  And then there’s the halftime show.

Dave’s Dog: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, #21 Tennessee vs Nebraska.  All the ingredients for a bad bowl are in place.  Underwhelming teams from name conference?  It’s tough to figure who had a worse November…as the Volunteers’ loss to Vanderbilt rivaled a 2-3 month for the Cornhuskers that ended with a 30-point defeat to Iowa.  Add a cumbersome sponsor name and you have a blah bowl, my friends.

 

Saturday December 31-watchability factor:  do we count the semifinals in the equation?  If so, it’s a 10.

Games to Watch:  Peach & Fiesta, #1 Alabama-#4 Washington & #2 Clemson-#3 Ohio State.  Relevant games that mean something in the national title picture…I almost forgot what you looked like.

Dave’s Dog:  Everbank Bowl, Georgia Tech vs Kentucky.  Sorry, I want to call this the Gator.  And it starts at 11 on a Saturday morning.  The only sporting event that should be viewed before noon on a Saturday is the former NBC show “Hangtime!”, and only the Dick Butkus seasons.

 

Monday January 2-watchability factor:  5.  Two days after the semifinals, one day after the NFL regular season ends.  What was an 11 in the pre-BCS era suffers by comparison.  Which NHL teams are in the Winter Classic?

Game to Watch:  The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, #5 Penn State vs #9 USC.  The Nittany Lions have a case for playoff inclusion with nine straight wins and a Big Ten championship while the Trojans won eight straight after finding their quarterback.  And even though it’s the 21st century, nothing beats the sunset in Pasadena when the Trojans are playing and their marching band is playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”.

Dave’s Dog:  Outback Bowl, #17 Florida vs Iowa.  Tough to compete with cinderella Western Michigan against Wisconsin in the Cotton and Auburn-Oklahoma in the Sugar.  While the Hawkeyes salvaged their season by upsetting Michigan and Nebraska, the Gators lost three of their last five games by 20+ points.  Finally, after three weeks of feasting on football can you even look at a blooming onion?