Eagles

Why a coaching job won't hinge on Eagles-Cowboys

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Why a coaching job won't hinge on Eagles-Cowboys

DALLAS -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says coach Jason Garrett will return for an eighth full season after Dallas missed the playoffs in a year marred by the six-game suspension of star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones said on his radio show Tuesday that Garrett's job "is not an issue here at all" while suggesting that there could be changes to the coaching staff with several contracts expiring. Garrett has two years left on a five-year deal signed after Dallas won the NFC East in 2014.

The Cowboys (8-7), who finish the season Sunday at division champion Philadelphia, lost their first three games without Elliott before winning three straight to stay in the race. Dallas lost a playoff elimination game to Seattle last weekend in the return of last year's NFL rushing leader.

Garrett has made the playoffs twice in seven seasons. He is 67-55 including the postseason and half the 2010 season, when he took over after Wade Phillips was fired (see full story).

Patriots: Team signs longtime Steelers LB Harrison
James Harrison is no longer the odd man out or the oldest man in the locker room.

The ex-Steelers star signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, three days after his unceremonious departure from Pittsburgh.

The 39-year-old linebacker posted a photo on Instagram showing himself with 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady in New England's locker room, writing that he finally has "a teammate that's older than me!"

The AFC North champion Steelers released the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and 2008 NFL defensive player of the year on Saturday to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is returning from a suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.

"We make the decisions we feel give us the very best chance to win," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday when asked why the team didn't release a different player to make room for Gilbert. "We needed the people we kept. We needed to activate Marcus Gilbert. Really, it's nothing more than that."

A day before, Tomlin had said following Pittsburgh's 34-6 win over Houston that clinched a first-round playoff bye that difficult decisions such as this are "just life in football" (see full story).

Redskins: Cousins to start in season finale
WASHINGTON -- Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that quarterback Kirk Cousins would start Sunday's season finale at the New York Giants despite the potential of an injury and no postseason ramifications involved.

"There's no thought to that at all," Gruden said on a conference call two days after the Redskins' 27-11 win over the Denver Broncos.

"Kirk wants to finish out the season. Got to get us back to 8-8. I think finishing on a three-game winning streak is important to a lot of people here. Finishing strong is what we've been preaching here the last 2 to 3 weeks."

Whether Cousins plays for the Redskins in 2018 and beyond is one of the NFL's major offseason questions.

Cousins has played the past two seasons on the franchise tag. The Redskins could go that route again unless the sides agree on a long-term contract or the organization allows Cousins to test free agency. Cousins needs 65 yards against New York to reach 4,000 for a third consecutive season.

Cousins, who has 27 touchdown passes on the season, started all 47 games since taking over as the starter in 2015.

With a win, the Redskins (7-8) would finish with a non-losing season for the third consecutive year under Gruden. Washington has only reached the playoffs once (2015) during the coach's four seasons.

Cardinals: Arians denies report he’s leaving team
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says a report that he and the franchise have agreed to part ways after this season is untrue, labeling it "fake news."

An article in Pro Football Weekly cited "multiple sources" as saying the split would come next week at the end of Arians' fifth season as the team's head coach.

But Arians said on Tuesday that no decision on future seasons has been made. The 65-year-old coach said he'd never met the article's author or knows where any supposed meetings on the subject took place.

Arians can become the winningest coach in Cardinals history with his 50th victory at Seattle in the season finale on Sunday.

Arians is 49-32-1 in five seasons with the Cardinals, including the postseason. They are 7-8 this season.

Packers: Fired food worker charged in Lambeau car rampage
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A fired food service worker is charged with ramming other vehicles at Lambeau Field in Green Bay last week.

Forty-year-old Chay Vang was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and five misdemeanor counts of damage to property. USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports Vang's cash bond was set at $10,000.

According to the complaint, Vang was working for Delaware North at Lambeau Field when he got into a fight with a 25-year-old co-worker during a Green Bay Packers game on Dec. 3.

The complaint says Delaware North investigated and fired Vang. The former co-worker was getting out of his car in the employee parking lot last Friday when Vang allegedly drove into the car and repeatedly smashed it.

Five vehicles were damaged. Vang told police he rammed the car because "he wanted justice" and no one was listening to him.

What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

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What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

Several parking lots outside the Linc will open as early as 11:30 a.m. Sunday for fans who require extra time preparing for kickoff for the NFC Championship Game.

The Wells Fargo Center lots as well as the M and N lots — located just east of the stadium — and the P lot, next to Citizens Bank Park, are scheduled to open at 11:30 a.m., the Eagles announced.

The Linc's K lot, just north of the stadium, will open at 1 p.m.

The Citizens Bank Park lots are scheduled to open at 3 p.m.

Gates to the Head House Plaza open at 3:30 p.m. and the inner gates to the stadium open at 4:30 p.m. Located on the north end of the stadium, The Head House Plaza offers outdoor bars, food stands, live music and numerous other pregame activities for fans arriving early. It also includes an entrance to the Eagles Pro Shop.

The Eagles and Vikings kick off the NFC Championship Game at 6:40 p.m.

Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

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Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

Another week, another game with the Eagles being the underdog.

After a dominant defensive performance in a 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round, the Eagles will welcome the No. 2 seed Vikings to the Linc for the NFC Championship Game (6:40 p.m. on FOX).

Despite the Eagles being the No. 1 seed and having home-field advantage, Minnesota is the favorite to advance and play the Super Bowl on their home field in Minneapolis.

Our analysts all had the Birds winning last week. This week, we’ll see who has the Eagles advancing to Super Bowl LII.

Reuben Frank (15-2)
Two great defenses blah blah blah. Underdogs blah blah blah. Carson Wentz got hurt blah blah blah. Forget all the storylines you've heard this week, and say these 16 words out loud with me: "Case Keenum is not going to come into the Linc and win the NFC Championship Game." OK, LOUDER: "CASE KEENUM IS NOT GOING TO COME INTO THE LINC AND WIN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME." Maybe I'd feel differently if the Vikings were home or if a future Hall of Famer like Drew Brees were coming to town, but you're talking about a relatively inexperienced quarterback who plays his home games in a dome coming into South Philadelphia and dealing with crowd noise, changing weather, a hostile environment and a ferocious defense that's allowed five touchdowns and 9.2 points per game in its last six home games. I don't think Case Keenum can handle what he's about to face Sunday afternoon. I think we're all headed to Minneapolis. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 9

Dave Zangaro (14-3)
I never thought this day would come, if I'm being honest. If you told me in the summer the Eagles were going to be in the NFC Championship Game, I wouldn't have believed you. 

If you would have told me they were going to be in the NFC Championship Game without Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis, I would have told you that you were crazy. 

Now, I'm the crazy one. Because despite all of that and despite the Eagles' technically being the underdogs in this game, I think they're going to win it. 

Had the Saints won last Sunday, I probably wouldn't think that. The thought of Brees coming to town would have been enough for me to pick against the Birds. But then the Minnesota Miracle happened and as great as it was for the Vikings, it could end up being great for the Eagles too. 

Sure, the Vikings are a really good team and maybe they have the best statistical defense in the league and maybe Case Keenum will never come back to Earth. But the Eagles have a pretty good defense too, a good defense that's even better at home. Nick Foles doesn't need to be Wentz, but he will need to make some big-time throws Sunday; I think he does. I think the defense clamps down at home. I think this improbable run somehow keeps going. 

I think the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 13

Derrick Gunn (14-3)
These two teams mirror each other so much. Both are guided by quarterbacks who were backups on their depth charts when this long journey began. Both have defenses that can clamp down on opposing offenses. Both with identical records. And both have never won a Super Bowl (Vikings 0-4, Eagles 0-2). 

For Foles, it's imperative that he stays within himself. Stick to the short, high-percentage passing game and hopefully get some much-needed help from the run game. 

Against the Falcons, the Eagles had 49 yards rushing in the opening quarter but only 47 the rest of the game against Atlanta's ninth-ranked run defense. 

Minnesota's defense is ranked No. 1 overall, No. 2 against the run, No. 2 against the pass and No. 1 in points allowed. 

The Eagles' defensive front has to get to Keenum before he can find Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Both are excellent route runners with exceptional hands. What a matchup up this is. Pat Shurmur's offense against Jim Schwartz's defense. 

I've gone back and forth all week on who will win this game in what could be your basic backyard brawl. So what I came up with is this: In the final seconds of the game, the Eagles will be down one point when Jake Elliott gets the call and nails a 50-yarder as time expires. Eagles win and dance their way to the Super Bowl.

Eagles 23, Vikings 21

Ray Didinger (15-2)
Offenses are scoring at a record pace and yardage totals keep mounting. The typical NFL Sunday is all about the point totals climbing and fantasy owners cashing in. But now we're in the post-season and this is when the defense flexes its muscles. This is when scores go down and hitting picks up.

When the Eagles and Vikings meet for the NFC championship, it will be all about defense. The Vikings allowed the fewest points (15.8 per game) and fewest yards (276 per game) during the regular season. The Eagles allowed the fewest yards rushing (79 per game) and allowed just 26 points in the last three games, including the 15-10 win over Atlanta in the divisional playoff.

The Vikings had the best defense in the league on third down allowing 25.2 percent conversions. The Eagles defense was equally stingy at home (26.6 percent). The key to winning this game on the offensive side will be avoiding negative plays. A sack, a penalty, anything that creates a third-and-long situation will kill a drive. A five-yard run will be a big play in this game.

I think the Eagles pressure will eventually get to Keenum and that will be the difference.

Eagles 16, Vikings 13

Andrew Kulp (14-3)
The Vikings are a vastly better team than the Falcons in 2017-18, so I'm not sure I quite understand the confidence in the Eagles locally. Nonetheless, I tend to agree with the notion that it's hard to pick Keenum at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship.

Home-field has and will continue to be a big advantage for the Eagles. The crowd will rattle Keenum the way it did Matt Ryan last week, while simultaneously allowing Foles and the Birds' offense to communicate protection calls against the Vikings' exotic pressure packages.

Compare the two rosters side by side, and they're relatively close in terms of talent. It's pretty much a coin flip. The fans are what move the needle here. Plus, the way this entire season has gone, how can anybody around here possibly pick against the Eagles?

Eagles 26, Vikings 17

Corey Seidman (12-4)
Equal QBs. Eagles have the run game advantage. Vikings have the better WR group. Eagles have the better TEs and offensive line. Vikings have the better secondary. 

This one feels like an extremely close game. But with homefield advantage and a better kicker, I’m 52 percent confident the Eagles pull it out and advance to the Super Bowl. 

(Wouldn’t it be the most Philly thing ever, though, if the Jaguars upset the Patriots, Eagles fans go crazy, and then the Birds lose?) 

Eagles 13, Vikings 10