Eagles

Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 12 picks: Old man vs. young gun in weekend's best game

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Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 12 picks: Old man vs. young gun in weekend's best game

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 12 of the NFL season.

Bears at Eagles (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
Their record says the Bears are a 3-7 team, but their play on the field shows they can be competitive. The Bears have lost their last three games by eight, seven and three points. Their three wins this season have been against Pittsburgh (in overtime), Baltimore and Carolina. They have an impressive run game that averages 131.8 yards, which is fifth-best in the league, featuring second-year back Jordan Howard, who is third in the league in rushing with 84.1 yards per game, and rookie Tarik Cohen. Both average over four yards per carry. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has shown promise, but he's still a rookie and prone to make mistakes. Chicago's offense averages just 17.4 points. Their defense is ranked 11th and can get after the quarterback with 29 sacks, tied for fourth-best in the league.

Unfortunately for the Bears, they are running into a red-hot Eagles squad that is firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. Carson Wentz and his crew are shredding defenses and the Birds’ defense is making Sundays miserable for opposing offenses. 

I look for this to be an entertaining game for maybe the first 30 minutes, then I expect the Birds to send the Bears into hibernation. 

Pick: Eagles 30, Bears 14 

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
Don't look now, but it looks like the Falcons are getting their mojo back. The defending NFC champs are coming off wins over Dallas and Seattle, but they're still looking up to New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South. Running back Devonta Freeman is still in concussion protocol and will miss this game, but the Falcons still have more than enough firepower to handle a Bucs squad that's won two in a row, though Tampa Bay’s defense is ranked 29th.

Pick: Falcons

Cleveland at Cincinnati (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
The headline in this battle of Ohio isn't about which team will win this game, but which coach might lose his job first, Hue Jackson or Marvin Lewis. The Browns can't win a game and the Bengals are going nowhere but home at the conclusion of the regular season. Cleveland will lose its 11th straight.

Pick: Bengals

Tennessee at Indianapolis (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The Titans have playoff aspirations, but they have a lot of work to do. The Colts can't run the ball and can't score. Tennessee should be able to run right through Indy.

Pick: Titans 

Buffalo at Kansas City (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
What in the world has happened to both of these teams? The Bills were 5-2 at one point and the Chiefs were dominating their division. Now Buffalo has lost three straight, can't figure out the QB situation and is fighting to stay above .500. The Chiefs have lost two in a row, but they are still on top of the AFC West. Andy Reid is not a happy man right now and his guys know it. The Chiefs will unleash their frustrations on the Bills.

Pick: Chiefs

Miami at New England (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
Until further notice, the Pats are the best team in the AFC (what else is new). The Dolphins will be without quarterback Jay Cutler, who's still in concussion protocol. Tom Brady is in a zone, leading the league in passing (3,147 yards), with 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The Pats should put this one away by halftime.

Pick: Patriots

Carolina at New York Jets (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The Panthers are hot, winners of three in a row. They have linebacker Luke Kuechly back on the field, and now Cam Newton gets his tight end back. Greg Olsen, who's been out since Week 2 with a broken foot, returns this week. The Jets have lost four of the last five but still have slim postseason hopes. You never know which Jets team will show up week-to-week, but the Panthers will be ready for them.

Pick: Panthers

Seattle at San Francisco (Sunday 4:05 p.m. on FOX)
Last week, Pete Carroll made a bad coaching decision, and it cost the Seahawks a chance to beat Atlanta. Thanks to the Rams losing, Seattle is still within striking distance of the NFC West title. The lowly Niners won't be much of an obstacle this week.

Pick: Seahawks

Denver at Oakland (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS) 
The Broncos and Raiders have been two of the biggest disappointments of the year. The Broncos have QB issues and are now turning to rookie Paxton Lynch. The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ken Morton Jr. with hopes of shaking up that lethargic unit. The Raiders' offense vs. the Broncos' defense will be interesting to watch. Oakland’s offense wins this matchup.

Pick: Raiders 

New Orleans at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS)
This is the marquee matchup of the week. The Rams are trying to regroup after their high-flying offense crashed in Minnesota. The Saints are looking to extend an eight-game winning streak. It’s the old man Drew Brees vs. the young gun Jared Goff. In big game situations like this, I like to rely on experience. Brees and the Saints win a shootout.

Pick: Saints

Jacksonville at Arizona (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS)
I still can't get used to calling Jacksonville a division leader, but the times have changed. The Jags' defense is rock solid, first overall (276.6 yards allowed), first in pass defense (162.0) and first in points allowed (14.1). The Cards, just 2-2 at home this year, will lose their third straight overall.

Pick: Jaguars 

Green Bay at Pittsburgh (Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on NBC)
The Packers got embarrassed last week at home vs. Baltimore, and Green Bay QB Brett Hundley appears to be lost. Now to add to the Packers’ woes, they venture into the Steelers’ den to face a team trying to keep pace with New England for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Packers don’t have a prayer in this one.

Pick: Steelers

Houston at Baltimore (Monday 8:30 p.m. on ESPN) 
Right now the Ravens are the sixth seed in the AFC. They haven’t played at home since late October. For a second straight week, the Ravens face a backup QB. They destroyed Hundley in Green Bay. This time Tom Savage is in trouble. 

Pick: Ravens 

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

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Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

The Eagles have brought back a former special teams ace for the stretch run. 

Special teamer Bryan Braman on Tuesday signed with the Eagles to rejoin Dave Fipp's special teams group.

Braman, 30, had been with the Eagles from 2014-16, when he was a major contributor for Fipp's top-end special teams unit. He can help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Chris Maragos earlier in the season. 

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Braman led all Eagles with 1,214 special teams snaps. He played more special teams snaps than any other Eagle in each of the last two seasons. He played in all 48 games over those three seasons, but was mainly a special teams player. 

After officially placing quarterback Carson Wentz (ACL) on Injured Reserve Tuesday, the Eagles had one available roster spot. It looks like it will be filled by Braman. 

Braman was not resigned by the Eagles this past offseason. He spent some time in New Orleans but was placed on their IR and was then released. He hasn't been with a team since early September. 

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Carson Wentz is out, Nick Foles is in. 

And the Eagles claim their offense isn't going to change. 

On it's face, that seems somewhat absurd. After all, Wentz is more than an average quarterback. He's the face of the Eagles' franchise and was an MVP candidate through 13 weeks. Foles was once a Pro Bowler, but there's a reason he wasn't a starter entering this season. 

So how will the offense look different? 

"I don't expect it will look different at all," Foles said adamantly.  

Why is that? 

"Because it's our offense," Foles answered. "This is the Eagles' offense. This is the one that is the DNA of this team. And we're going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things. We just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving." 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally admitted that there will be "very minor tweaks" to the Eagles' weekly game plans with Foles in at quarterback. But he made the same point as Foles, that the system is built around the QB, but also around the other talent on offense. 

There is, however, one pretty significant difference between Wentz and Foles. 

"Now, Carson has some unique physical traits that he does exceptionally well, but it's nothing that Nick can't handle," Reich said. "We're full steam ahead."

The Eagles run plenty of run-pass option plays, but head coach Doug Pederson pointed out on Monday that the Eagles very rarely use their quarterback to run the ball in those situations. And as far as RPOs go, Foles has used them plenty before. 

Another part of the offense that has been tailored to Wentz is the autonomy the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage. Wentz has been able to make calls and checks pre-snap based on what the defense shows. It seems like Foles will have that same ability, which is something he's excited about. 

"Understand this, he's a veteran player who has played and won a lot of games, not only here, but other places that he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player."

Pederson said he and Foles will talk weekly to make sure his quarterback is comfortable with the plays that go into the game plan. So, theoretically, things could be different. But based on what the offensive leaders of the team have said, don't expect wholesale changes. 

Now, what might change about the offense isn't necessarily by design. Because of Wentz's unique physical gifts and escapability, he's able to make incredible plays. The escape in Washington, the throw to Corey Clement in the end zone, the deep flick down the sideline in Seattle, those are plays only a handful of guys in the world can make. It would be unfair to expect Foles to make them. 

But as far as game-planning goes, the Eagles are going to do what they've done. 

"I feel comfortable in this offense," Foles said. "I love this offense. We're going to run this offense. Nothing's going to change."

Foles dealt with elbow soreness during the summer, but says his elbow now feels "amazing" and is not an issue. That's good news for the Eagles, because at least Foles has plenty of starting experience. His backup, Nate Sudfeld, has never even been active for an NFL game. 

The Eagles' hopes in 2017 rest on the shoulders of Foles. 

"I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip," Foles said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team. There's no other place I'd rather be. That's why I came back here. ... I'm ready to step up and help this team win."