The700Level

Donovan McNabb meets Carson Wentz, gives playoff prediction

Donovan McNabb meets Carson Wentz, gives playoff prediction

Think the Eagles are a playoff team?

Donovan McNabb does. 

"Absolutely," McNabb said while visiting the Eagles' locker room after their 34-7 razing of Arizona (see breakdown). "It's the funny thing about the NFC East. You really can't tell until about Week 12 or Week 13 because they pound each other so much. I think they have everything they need to make it to the playoffs, and it's going to be a great year."

Sixty-nine percent of teams winning four of their first five games have made the playoffs (234 out of 339). However, the Eagles are one of the 105 teams that failed to make the playoffs after a 4-1 start (2014 when they finished 10-6).

But that year, they didn't have Carson Wentz, who picked apart the Cardinals and became the first Eagles QB to throw four touchdowns in a game in Philadelphia since ...

McNabb, who did it in 2008 in another rout of the Cardinals, 48-20, on Thanksgiving. McNabb always could throw a great deep ball, and if there's been one area of concern with Wentz, that's it.

Not Sunday (see story).

Wentz threw a pretty ball over the middle to Torrey Smith for a 59-yard score. Then he hit Nelson Agholor, who used a couple jukes to finish a 72-yarder and capped with a tribute to one of McNabb's former deep ball targets, DeSean Jackson.

The last Eagles QB to throw two touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a game? McNabb, who did it in 2006 against Washington.

"It's been impressive the way he's been playing this year," McNabb told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn. "I know people think I've been down on him a little bit, but the thing I wanted to see was after Week 4. After Week 4 of last year, things kind of changed. And you can see they're continuing to rise. I like what I'm seeing from the passing attack."

For McNabb, one of the most memorable moments of the day came when he sent his son over to Wentz with a ball to be autographed.

"I might sell it in 20 years, make me some big money," McNabb said. 

"It's an experience for my kids. My kids were all born here while I was playing for the Eagles. My son, same locker, came in, and I had both of them just sitting there with me. I think it was after a loss. I was sitting in the chair in the same locker. They were sitting behind me. It's an experience they can continue to grow with. To follow a guy like Carson — he's got a promising career."

The feeling was mutual.

"I’ve met Donovan before. He’s a great dude," Wentz said. "Now to meet his kids, that was really cool. That was really cool and it’s cool to see him come back too, come back to a game and still show his support for the team and for the city.”

As quarterbacks, McNabb and Wentz share one trait: mobility. When Wentz eluded several defenders before hitting Agholor for a 58-yard touchdown in the season opener against Washington, it brought back memories of McNabb's 14.2-second scramble and heave to Freddie Mitchell at Dallas in 2004.

While both can escape pressure, McNabb sees one key difference in their means of doing so.

"I had a little bit more pizzaz. I had more swagger," he said jokingly. "But again, it doesn't matter how you get it done. He's getting it done. No one really expected it, but the whole thing about it is, he's a ballplayer. There's a reason he went No. 2."

Just like McNabb.

NFC Championship tickets are insanely expensive

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NFC Championship tickets are insanely expensive

Everybody wantsto be at the Linc in person when the Birds make history but only 69,000 or so lucky souls will be sitting in the stands screaming their faces off on Sunday.

And if you want to be one of those fans to see the action live and in person and don't already have tickets, it's time to crack open that piggy bank -- and take out a second mortgage, really -- because tickets  to the NFC Championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings are crazy expensive.

Just how expensive? Try the most expensive resale price ever on the secondary market for a conference championship game, according to TicketIQ.

Some of their stats around the tickets for this game, from Ticket IQ's Ralph Garcia:

"The NFC the Eagles vs Vikings Conference Championship at Lincoln Financial Field features an average asking price of $1,280 with cheapest available ticket $763. This average is up 62% since Philly's victory over the Falcons and is the most expensive Conference Championship game we've ever tracked."

"This price point is a significant increase from what Eagles fans are used to. It marks an 176% increase from the Divisional round's average price vs Atlanta, and a 300% increase from the regular season average price," Garcia writes.

    The fact that the weather is supposed to be relatively nice with temps well above freezing and no chance of a blizzard certainly makes attending more appealing. Maybe there are a lot of rich The Roots fans out there who want to see Black Thought and Quest up close in person?

    Similarly, on StubHub, the "get-in" price for just a standing room ticket is hovering around the $600 mark. You could buy a new 50-inch HD TV to watch the game on instead!

    Have fun at the game if you're going and maybe purchase one of those 50-50 raffle tickets so you can pay that second mortgage off.

    Embiid an All-Star, Horford is toast, and Sixers over .500!

    Embiid an All-Star, Horford is toast, and Sixers over .500!

    It was a new level for Sixers fans: Getting insufferable about Joel Embiid's snub as an All-Star starter before it even actually happened. Embiid being overlooked for the mid-season classic last year, combined with him losing Rookie of the Year in the summer, combined with our general over-defensiveness and willingness to start s--t on the Internet, resulted in a days-long siege on any credible writer with the temerity to claim that Boston center Al Horford was more deserving of making the East first five than our JoJo.

    We were jerks, but we were also right. And this time, we were actually validated twofold on TNT last night -- first by Joel actually being named an All-Star starter, then by him and the Sixers essentially creaming the Celtics and Horford in their subsequent matchup, ultimately winning 89-80 and moving over .500 for the first time in a month.

    First, the All-Star spot: I mean, darn tootin'. You don't need to go particularly deep into Joel Embiid's sophomore season in the NBA to determine he's starter-worthy. You could look at his exceedingly impressive stat line (24 & 11 with two blocks on 49% shooting), or equally formidable advanced stats (a 23.3 PER, a top ten defensive rating, sixth in Player Impact Estimate). You could look at how his on-off splits affect the Sixers' net rating -- they're nine points better on offense and eight better on defense when he's out there -- or just look at the Sixers' record with him playing (19-13) vs. when he's not (2-7). Or, you could just look at him playing in a game like Thursday night's, and count the number of times you end up shaking your head in grateful disbelief. He's an All-Star, and he deserves to be out at opening tip. 

    And Al Horford... it's a silly enough argument that we don't need to spend a ton of time on it, but it's just hard to mount any kind of stat-based argument for why he should be in there over Embiid. People point to games played (40 for Horford vs. 31 for Embiid going into last night) as if Embiid doesn't still outproduce Horford in his more-limited PT -- he handily leads the Celtics center not just in points, rebounds and blocks per game, but in total points, rebounds and blocks, despite having played over 300 fewer minutes. His efficiency stats are superior, his advanced stats are superior, his on-off splits show a greater two-way impact -- the only number (besides games played) that Horford definitely has on his side is wins, with Boston having racked up 14 more of those than Philly. 

    But if there was any lingering doubt about which of the two should have made it as a starter -- and Horford will make it as a reserve, and deservedly so -- it had to have been put to bed last night. Not that one game is enough to draw a season's worth of conclusions, but Joel's 26-16-6 last night absolutely dwarfed Horford's 14-4-3, as the former took over the game in the third quarter while the latter was practically invisible on the floor. And if your case for Horford is mostly based on the ways he contributes to Ws while Embiid just compiles stats, you have to wonder why the C's looked absolutely inept for 44 minutes in this one without best player Kyrie Irving leading the offense, and why Horford missed on several shots to make the game really interesting as things tightened down the stretch. 

    Again, not like one game should really make the difference. But to me at least, it accurately exemplified how Joel is a transformative player that can make bad teams good, and Horford is a complimentary player that can help make already-good teams great. If you perceive the latter as more All-Star-worthy, I guess that's your call, but I see the former is the far rarer and more essential part of basketball greatness, which is what the game and the vote should probably be about.

    Anyway, JoJo was awesome, the Celtics were lousy, and the Sixers beat Boston for the first time in four tries this season. As previously mentioned, asterisk on this one as a shoulder injury kept out fellow All-Star starter Kyrie Irving -- though we had to play 'em once without Joel, so fair play there -- but even against a sans-Kyrie C's squad, the performance was impressive. Boston was kept to 32 in the first half, and without free throws altogether until well into the third quarter, as the Sixers switched relentlessly on the perimeter and locked down brilliantly in the paint, giving up the fewest easy looks I can remember all season. 

    And then, of course, the late-game meltdown. The lead was big enough (18 points) and Boston's offense looked miserable enough that I thought this thing was essentially unblowable by midway through the fourth quarter, but Philly nearly found a way, allowing Boston to claw back to within seven with two remaining, and giving up several three-point looks (a couple by Horford himself) that could've cut it to four if they'd dropped. But they didn't, the Sixers maintained well enough, and escaped with the nine-point victory. 

    That's two straight should've-been-feel-good upsets of the East's top two teams that we're leaving feeling more frustrated and/or relieved than exultant. But again, they're still wins, and hard-earned ones against very tough squads, neither of which we have to play anymore this (regular) season. To squeeze this one out without J.J. is a pretty big deal for Philly, and gives us an even bigger buffer for when we go against the remaining tough teams on our schedule this January (Bucks twice, Spurs, Thunder) with our best shooter on the pine. And at 21-20, not only do we have a winning record again, but we're back in the playoff picture, tied for 8th with the plummeting Detroit, and just 3.5 games separating us with the fourth-place Miami Heat -- who we have a better point differential than, by the way. 

    Haven't crunched the numbers yet on where Thursday night ranks among the all-time most-validating nights in Process history, but the combo of Embiid's All-Star start and the Sixers beating the Celtics for just the second time in the last 16 tries has to get it up there. It's amazing how much has still gone right this season with so much also going wrong, and the biggest reason for that wears No. 21 and will be one of the first ten players on the floor this Feb. 18th. Plus, with 32 games played out of 41 -- already a new career best -- JoJo finally has us about halfway to a successful season on the whole