Eagles

Aaron Rodgers is back to ruin everything

usa-aaron-rodgers-luke-kuechly.jpg
USA Today Images

Aaron Rodgers is back to ruin everything

Derrick Gunn makes his Week 15 NFL picks.

Eagles at Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
What a mess the Giants are right now. GM Jerry Reese fired! Head coach Ben McAdoo fired! Future Hall of Fame QB Eli Manning sits for a game and then resumes his starting role. Their offense can't score (15.3 points per game — which is 31st in the league), and their defense, which was the heart of this team in 2016, is nothing more than a distant memory. The Giants' D is 32nd overall in yards allowed, 31st in passing yards allowed, 31st in run defense, and 27th in points allowed. 

The Eagles are quickly getting over the loss of Carson Wentz, who was having an MVP season. This should be a walk in the park for the Birds even without Wentz, but you won't hear the players say that. They have a lot of respect for their wounded division foe, and as that old saying goes, "On any given Sunday." If Dallas was able to put up 30 points on the G-men, then surely the Birds can do that. You should be able to go holiday shopping by halftime.

Pick: Eagles 34, Giants 13

Bears at Lions, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network
It's hard to believe the Bears are actually seventh in the league in rushing (124.5 yards per game,) but when they get the ground game going, it's pretty special. Just ask Cincinnati. The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives but the right side of their O-line is banged up. Matthew Stafford's air game vs. the Bears' ground attack. I'm going with the Lions through the air.

Pick: Lions

Chargers at Chiefs, Saturday, 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network
A showdown in the AFC West. The Chiefs knocked the Raiders off their perch to snap a four-game slide, but the Chargers are a different story. Philip Rivers and company are hot, winners of four in a row. Both teams have big-play capabilities. CB Marcus Peters is back from his one-game suspension to help the back end of the Chiefs' defense. Winner takes control of the division. Big Red's army will be ready.

Pick: Chiefs

Dolphins at Bills, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Dolphins put a smackdown on New England but that was in the warm confines of South Florida. Now the Fins head to the arctic blast that is Buffalo. The Bills currently hold the sixth seed in the AFC. Miami is one game behind them. LeSean McCoy needs only 39 yards to become the 30th player to rush for 10,000 in a career. Shady gets his, and the Bills get a win.

Pick: Bills

Ravens at Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Ravens are still seething about how they let a win slip by in Pittsburgh. The Browns continue to find new ways to lose games. The Ravens' defense leads the league with 20 interceptions and it should add to that total because the Browns' revolving door of QBs has served up a league-high 23 INTs. The Ravens stay in the thick of the playoff race. The Browns continue to secure the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

Pick: Ravens

Bengals at Vikings, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
It's bad enough the Bengals got steamrolled by the lowly Bears, now they have to face a ticked-off group of Vikings. The Vikings didn't play their best game against Carolina and it cost them. They will not make the same mistakes against the Bengals on their turf.

Pick: Vikings

Jets at Saints, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Jets are the Jekyll and Hyde of the NFL. They beat teams like Jacksonville and Kansas City, but lose to the likes of Tampa Bay and Denver. Drew Brees and the Saints will be ready for them down in the bayou. The Saints share the NFC South lead with Carolina, and Atlanta is one game back. There is no room for error. The Saints go marching to a W.

Pick: Saints

Cardinals at Redskins, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
There's trouble in Redskinsville. The team is losing and players are grumbling. To make matters worse, TE Jordan Reed has been placed on IR. The 'Skins now have 18 players on IR. The Cards still have faint playoff hopes but I don't think Blaine Gabbert can outduel Kirk Cousins.

Pick: Redskins

Packers at Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
The fact that Aaron Rodgers has missed seven games and the Packers are still talking playoffs is amazing in itself. Now, Packers nation is really buzzing because ARod posted on his Instagram page that he has been medically cleared to return to action and is expecting to start against the Panthers. Carolina is coming off a huge win over Minnesota and will have to bring its A-game for this one. How rusty will Rodgers be remains to be seen. Rodgers will give the Packers' offense a much-needed jolt, but I don't have faith in their defense stopping Cam Newton and company. 

Pick: Panthers

Texans at Jaguars, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
In case you didn't know, there's a new bully on the block and its name is Jacksonville. The Jaguars took a major step towards respectability by out-muscling Seattle. The Jags control the AFC South. Their athleticism and physicality on both sides of the ball is impressive. Meanwhile, as if the Texans' QB situation isn't unstable enough, starter Tom Savage is in the concussion protocol. It's going to be a long day for Houston.

Pick: Jaguars

Rams at Seahawks, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
The Rams have no one to blame but themselves for their loss to Eagles. The Seahawks are one game behind the Rams in the NFC West and must shake off the cobwebs after getting roughed up by Jacksonville. The 'Hawks beat the Rams earlier this season. Seattle continues to hurt on defense. The heart of its D, linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion), are questionable for this huge showdown. The Rams know what's at stake and they haven't lost two in a row all season. The boys from SoCal get their revenge.

Pick: Rams

Patriots at Steelers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
This could be a preview of the AFC Championship. The Patriots were off their game in Miami, but now it's game on for top seeding in the conference. The Steelers are stoked to have this one in their backyard. The loss of LB Ryan Shazier is huge for the 'Burgh. Big Ben vs. the G.O.A.T. is always a special treat. Advantage: Steelers at home.

Pick: Steelers

Titans at 49ers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
The Titans have a lot at stake, still chasing Jacksonville in the AFC South. The Niners are playing for pride. It looks like a mismatch on paper, but not so fast, as Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo is 2-0 as a starter. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has been way off his game. In his last four outings, he's been picked off eight times, while tossing just three TDs. I don't know if Garoppolo has been the Niners' missing link or not, but I gotta believe the Titans' ground game can bail them out.

Pick: Titans

Cowboys at Raiders, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. on NBC
The Cowboys are riding a two-game winning streak and talking playoff run. While not officially eliminated yet, the Raiders are in trouble. Oakland's loss to the Chiefs put it in a deep hole. There's a lot at stake for both teams in this one. Can Dallas survive one more game until the return of Ezekiel Elliott? I think it can.

Pick: Cowboys

Falcons at Buccaneers, Monday, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
The Falcons are coming off extended rest after a must-win over the Saints. The Bucs have been one of the more disappointing teams in the league this season. The Falcons are currently the six seed in the NFC and can still win the NFC South if they run the table. The Dirty Birds should run right through Tampa Bay.

Pick: Falcons

Jeffery's role, Pederson's personality, and more in Roob's observations

Jeffery's role, Pederson's personality, and more in Roob's observations

Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis, record-setting third-down conversions, and Vince and Mike Lombardi highlight Monday's edition of 10 random Super Bowl observations, which will appear every day between today and Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

That should be 140 total random Super Bowl observations! 

1. You could just sense Nick Foles and Alshon Jeffery building up their chemistry over the past few weeks, and in these two playoff games Jeffery has played like the star the Eagles hoped they were getting when they signed him. Jeffery was 4 for 61 against the Falcons and 5 for 85 with two TDs against the Vikings. Foles targeted him five times and he caught every one, including that 53-yard TD on a scramble drill. Jeffery needs 66 yards in the Super Bowl to break the franchise record for receiving yards in a single postseason (211 in 2008 by none other than Kevin Curtis). Jeffery is just blossoming now. His two TDs Sunday give him 11 this year, and only Harold Carmichael, Tommy McDonald, Terrell Owens and Mike Quick have had more in a season in franchise history. He just looks more and more comfortable each week, especially in the red zone, where he has a real flair for going up and getting the ball. I have a hunch he's going to have a big game in Minneapolis.

2. The Eagles have allowed 15 second-half points in their last five games. 

3. Pretty funny after everything that’s transpired over the past few months that the Super Bowl winner receives the Lombardi Trophy. Definitely not named after Mike! 

4. According to Pro Football Focus, 69 of Jay Ajayi’s 73 rushing yards Sunday night came after first contact. That means 94.5 percent of his yards came after he was hit. That’s remarkable and speaks to just what a tough runner he is. 

5. Corey Graham was such an underrated signing. He’s been very solid as a third safety and like newcomers LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Chris Long and Dannell Ellerbe, he’s a winner and has a Super Bowl ring. He knows what it takes. Graham’s interception Sunday was his third career postseason INT, and only two active players — Antoine Bethea and Tramon Williams, with four each — have more. Solid guy, solid player.

6. Soon after the media was allowed in the locker room after the game Sunday night, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill snuck over to this panel on the wall and plugged his iPhone into a jack and instantly music began blasting over speakers throughout the locker room. Grugier-Hill closed his eyes and started dancing. Rodney McLeod cracked up but yelled over, “Come on, Kamu. You can’t be playing Lil Yachty in the locker room while the media is in here,” and everybody cracked up. This team is so loose and having so much fun right now. Doug Pederson deserves so much credit for letting these guys show their personality all the time, whether it’s in an end zone celebration, in the locker room before a game or on the sideline with the German Shepherd masks. If you’re loose, you can just go out and play your game. If you’re tight, it’s tough to be at your best. Pederson understands this as well as any coach I’ve ever been around.

7. Amazing that the Patriots’ top two receivers this postseason are former Eagles: Receiver Danny Amendola (18 for 196) and running back Dion Lewis (16 for 111). Amendola spent the early part of the 2009 season on the Eagles’ practice squad before the Rams signed him. Lewis was the Eagles’ fifth-round pick in 2011 and spent his first two NFL seasons with the Eagles before getting traded to the Browns for linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

8. The Eagles’ 456 yards of offense Sunday are the most they’ve ever had in a playoff game, two more than they had in the 2008 NFC Championship Game. It was the second most the Vikings have allowed in their 49 franchise playoff games. The Giants netted 518 in their 41-0 win over the Vikings at Giants Stadium in 2001. The Eagles' 27 first downs are also a franchise playoff record. 

9. I can’t get past the fact that 24 months ago Pederson had never coached above the high school level and Foles was mulling retirement. Twenty-four months ago! Look at ‘em now! This is why sports rule!

10. Maybe the craziest thing about Sunday’s game was the Eagles’ ability to convert on third down against a defense that came into the game historically among the best in NFL history on third down at 25.4 percent. The Eagles were 10 for 14 on third down, good for 71.4 percent. That’s third best against the Vikings in any game — regular season or postseason — since 1991, which is as far back as available records go. To put that 71.4 percent figure in perspective, the Eagles converted more third downs Sunday (10) than the Vikings’ last four opponents had combined (eight). 

Former Eagles assistant named Giants head coach

ap-pat-shurmur-eagles.jpg
AP Images

Former Eagles assistant named Giants head coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been hired as the New York Giants head coach.

The Giants announced the hiring late Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Shurmur and the Vikings were beaten by the Eagles in the NFC title game.

The 52-year-old Shurmur replaces Ben McAdoo, who was fired in early December with the team mired with a 2-10 record and owners and fans upset with his handling of the benching of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over for the final four games and posted a 1-3 record.

"He has an outstanding track record in developing young players, and it is clear his players respond to his guidance and direction," co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said in a statement.

"We interviewed six talented and qualified candidates, and we feel like Pat, with his vision and experience, is the right person to lead our team."

The Giants won't officially introduce Shurmur until Friday. A winter storm in the Midwest is preventing him from coming to New Jersey on Tuesday and he will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, from Tuesday night through Thursday.

Shurmur returns to the head coaching ranks for the first time since leading the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12. He takes over a troubled team that posted a 3-13 record a year after making the playoffs.

Shurmur was interviewed on Jan. 6 by Mara, new general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams.

Following that meeting in Minneapolis, Shurmur had an hour-long phone conversation with Tisch.

"I can't wait to start working with Pat," said Gettleman. "I know he will provide the type of leadership we need to take our team back to where it belongs. I have followed Pat's career for many years, and he has had great success wherever he has been.

"What struck me during our conversation is that being the head coach of the New York Giants is not too big for him. He is made for this moment and this opportunity."

The Giants interviewed five other candidates, kicking it off with Spagnuolo three days after the season ended.

New York also spoke with New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has since been hired as a running backs coach by the Dolphins. Wilks was hired as the head coach in Arizona on Monday

Shurmur has earned a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. NFC title game opponents Nick Foles of the Eagles and Case Keenum of the Vikings were tutored by him.

With the Giants, Shurmur will get to work with Manning and possibly the No. 2 pick in the draft, if New York uses the pick to pick an heir apparent.

But the Giants also had problems in the locker room. Three defensive backs -- Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple were suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said Shurmur constantly put players in position to contribute and he doesn't take anything for granted.

"He's not a stubborn guy. He's going to throw stuff out if it's not working, and he's going to find things that guys are good at," Thielen said Monday as the Vikings cleaned out their lockers.

"So I think as a head coach, he's going to do that on both sides of the ball. Special teams, he's going to find guys who can make plays and let them do what they do. So I think he's going to have a lot of success as a head coach."

Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was the Eagles' quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.

Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.

The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season.

Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.

Shurmur's NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) with the Eagles. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.