Gunn on One: Rodney McLeod says Sundays are easy for Eagles' defense

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Gunn on One: Rodney McLeod says Sundays are easy for Eagles' defense

Defense wins championships, and right now the Eagles' D is playing at a championship level. Safety Rodney McLeod is one of the keys to the unit's success. He is this week's Gunn on One subject.

Gunner: This defense has been straight up balling. No. 6 overall, No. 1 rush defense, No. 3 in points allowed and No. 3 in takeaways. What is making this group so special?

McLeod: It's the way we prepare, how we practice. Doug (Pederson) always talks about making it easier on Sundays, and making practice harder, and that's what we do. We hold ourselves accountable no matter who you are, and we hold ourselves to a high standard. We are a prideful group, so the things we do on Sundays, we do out on the practice field. We stress turnovers, interceptions, stripping runners during practice, pursuit to the ball, all those things that you need to do to be a top defense in this league.

Gunner: You have faced mobile quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Dak Prescott, but this guy Russell Wilson takes extending plays to a whole different level.

McLeod: A guy like Russell Wilson ,who can extend a play anywhere from six to 12 seconds — it's pretty impressive. He's a general over there, he makes that offense go, so it's going to be critical for us up front to stay in our lanes and do whatever we can to get him on the ground. Pursuit, angles, we're gonna need everybody, and on the back end for us we have to have good eyes, and just be locked in every play. I think this week is going to test us out a lot.

Gunner: Is this season the most fun you've had playing in this league?

McLeod: It's got to be. ...  It's one of the best groups of guys I've been around. From the practice field to Sundays to off the field, we hang out a lot and you see it all unfold out here on the field. We're just playing for one another, and we're trying to do it for the city of Philadelphia, but also for each other. We put so much into it, so just to see the results we're getting right now is amazing. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but on this team.

McLeod is always insightful and entertaining. To see my extended interview with number 23, tune into Eagles Pregame Live Sunday from 7 to 8pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 13 picks: Marquee NFC battles in chase for top seed

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Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 13 picks: Marquee NFC battles in chase for top seed

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 13 of the NFL season.

Eagles at Seahawks, 8:30 p.m. on NBC
Now we get to a game that means something. After four weeks of watching the Birds blow out lesser competition, they step up in a challenge against a foe that knows how to prepare for big encounters. The Seahawks have been to the playoffs five years in a row, including two Super Bowl appearances. The 'Hawks are hurting on defense — Richard Sherman is out for the year, Kam Chancellor has a neck injury and Cliff Avril is out, as well. But Seattle still has that guy Russell Wilson, who has thrown for 23 touchdown passes this year — 15 of them have come in the last six games. Wilson is the master of the scramble drill and he has a versatile group of talented receivers. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles' secondary matches up with their personnel. 

Carson Wentz and his offense will be thoroughly tested by the Seahawks' defensive scheme. If the Birds can get their run game going, it will take a lot of pressure off Wentz in the passing game. A win for the Eagles in the loudest stadium in the NFL will go a long way in terms of preparing them for what's to come in the postseason. So many different ways this one could go, but I'm going with a hunch that Wentz learned some valuable lessons about how to play in that environment last year, and because this team is on a roll right now, I'll say ...

Pick: Eagles 23, Seahawks 20

Vikings at Falcons, 1 p.m. on FOX
You want offense and defense? This matchup has both. The Vikings have the No. 5 offense and No. 5 defense. The Falcons have the No. 6 offense and No. 10 defense. The Vikings are riding a seven-game win streak. The Falcons have amped up their scoring during their three-game win streak. Home field is huge in this clash, so I'll go with the home team.

Pick: Falcons

Patriots at Bills, 1 p.m. on CBS
Tom Brady vs. the Bills' defense is a great headline. Over his last five games, Brady, the ageless wonder, has 13 TD passes and just one interception. If the Bills can establish a run game and control the clock, they'll keep it close, but the Pats will notch their eighth straight win.

Pick: Patriots

49ers at Bears, 1 p.m. on CBS
Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo will make his first start with his new team. Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky makes his eighth start, hoping his outing this time is much better than what happened to him in Philly. Based on the Bears' defense, SF will lose its 11th game.

Pick: Bears

Buccaneers at Packers, 1 p.m. on FOX
After getting blanked by Baltimore, the Pack went on the road and put a scare into the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Bucs are just playing out the season. The Pack will attack at Lambeau.

Pick: Packers

Texans at Titans, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Texans keep losing players weekly. The Titans are still thinking about winning the division. Marcus Mariota and his crew put it all together against the unraveling Texans.

Pick: Titans

Broncos at Dolphins, 1 p.m. on FOX
Trevor Siemian gave way to Paxton Lynch, who now has a high ankle sprain, so once again, it's back to Siemian. The Dolphins' defense has major flaws but maybe the return of Jay Cutler can jump-start the offense and take some pressure off the D. Dolphins get a slight nod.

Pick: Dolphins

Chiefs at Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS 
It's amazing that the Chiefs, losers of three straight and five of their last six, are still on top of the AFC West. K.C.'s big-play offense has been a big dud. Jets head coach Todd Bowles is fighting to keep his job. His guys haven't quit on him. Chiefs have no choice but to get their offense on track. It comes together for them this week.

Pick: Chiefs

Colts at Jaguars, 1 p.m. on CBS
Earlier this season, the Jags shut out the Colts in Indy. This time, on their home turf, the Jags' No. 1 defense and No. 1 run offense will overwhelm the hapless Colts.

Pick: Jaguars

Lions at Ravens, 1 p.m. on FOX
If the playoffs were to start today, the Ravens would be in and the Lions would be out. The strength of the Ravens is their defense: No. 1 in interceptions (18) and No. 2 in points allowed (17 points per game). When Matthew Stafford is on, the  Lions' offense can rack up points. Terrell Suggs and his defensive mates will be ready.

Pick: Ravens

Browns at Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
I never thought I'd be saying this, but keep an eye on the Chargers. Philip Rivers has five TDs and zero INTs in his last two games and the Chargers' defense is making plays. As for Cleveland? Well, they are still the Browns. The Chargers win their third straight.

Pick: Chargers

Giants at Raiders, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Giants fans are in an uproar about the way Eli Manning was benched. The Giants aren't going anywhere but home at season's end and Geno Smith is not the future. The Raiders have issues at WR, but Derek Carr will find a way to get it done.

Pick: Raiders

Panthers at Saints, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
A showdown in the NFC South. The Saints hold the division lead and the Panthers want it. Drew Brees is backed by a pair of talented RBs. The Panthers will go as far as Superman Cam Newton can take them. The Saints beat the Panthers earlier this season and they'll make it a season sweep.

Pick: Saints

Rams at Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
The Rams are flying high after last week's win over the Saints. The Cardinals are tough on their home turf. The Cards still remember how the Rams embarrassed them earlier this season. Blaine Gabbert is the Cards' third starting QB of the season. Jared Goff and the Rams have something special going. They will tally their ninth win.

Pick: Rams

Steelers at Bengals, 8:30 p.m., Monday night on ESPN
Everyone keeps talking about the Steelers' matchup in two weeks with New England but the Steelers aren't biting. They are focused in on their division rivals, the Bengals. Anything can happen when these two get together, but the talent level this time is clearly on the Steelers' side. 

Pick: Steelers

This year, the Eagles are winning ... and having fun doing it

This year, the Eagles are winning ... and having fun doing it

The Eagles are turning Lincoln Financial Field into a house party.

During pregame warmups before facing the Bears, players appeared to be more loose than normal. With the music vibrating through the stadium speakers, a large contingent of players were working on their individual nightclub moves as much as they were working on their game techniques.

A sign of overconfidence? Were they looking past the lowly Chicago Bears? Not at all. This is an extremely focused and confident group of guys that has earned every accolade it has received.

As we saw, the Eagles went out and crushed a team that wasn’t worthy of being on the same field with them. And why shouldn’t they enjoy the moment of this season?

We all knew with the talent assembled and Carson Wentz in his second year that this team had the capability of being good, but we never imagined it would be this good. The Birds aren’t just winning … they are destroying opponents.

They are 10-1 for just the fourth time in franchise history. The Eagles lead the NFL with 351 points scored. They won three straight games by 28-plus points for the first time in franchise history. Wentz leads the league with 28 touchdown passes. The list of accomplishments this season goes on and on. 

And they continue to dance their way toward the postseason. Following a Zach Ertz touchdown against the Bears, a group of players took a family portrait in the back of the end zone. After the Alshon Jeffery score, it was bowling. Then later in the game, players broke out with the Electric Slide.

According to cornerback Jalen Mills, it’s all a part of their identity, kind of like a reward for the hard work they put in every week leading up to the next game.

“I think it goes back to the process we go through in practice,” Mills said. “We compete at a very high level. Guys hold each other accountable. We have very high standards in practice. So when it comes to Sunday, Coach (Doug Pederson) is not really on our backs, and that kind of lets us do our thing. We get to let our hair down. We go out there and have fun, but at the same time it’s all about football.”

You never want to rub a drubbing in your opponents’ faces because it could come back to haunt you somewhere down the road. That’s just an unwritten code of football ethics. But Pederson isn’t concerned about his players’ creativity, as long as they keep it family friendly.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Pederson said. “Listen, the guys are having fun doing it. They are having fun playing together. Obviously when you’re winning in this position, it is definitely fun and all that. I do have a concern, though, there is a 40-second clock that’s moving after touchdowns and scoring plays, so they have got to hurry up and get off the field. But they are enjoying each other right now. They enjoy coming to work every week, and this game is hard enough and when you score you kind of want them to celebrate together and it’s a great thing. Some of the things we’ve done, the picture taking, the baseball, the bowling, the Electric Slide, I don’t think they affect the team one way or the other. As long as they keep it clean that way, it’s fine.”

This has the makings of a special season. Party on men, party on.