The700Level

Grading the Eagles' 34-24 Week 7 win over the Redskins

Grading the Eagles' 34-24 Week 7 win over the Redskins

Grading the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.

QUARTERBACK

Carson Wentz: 17/25, 268 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT

Four drives into this game, Wentz had completed 2 of 7 attempts for 24 yards with two sacks and an interception. On the Eagles' fifth possession, he connected with Mack Hollins on a 64-yard touchdown, and it was almost as if a weight had been lifted. Wentz hardly missed a throw the rest of the way. He also made plays with his legs, rushing for 63 yards. Even his interception on the first series of the game effectively amounted to a long punt on 2nd-and-forever. This kid simply cannot be stopped right now (see 10 observations).

Grade: A-

RUNNING BACKS

Wendell Smallwood: 8 ATT, 25 YDS

You have to appreciate the way Smallwood runs — when he's healthy enough to play. He can explode through a hole and make a man miss, but will doesn't shy away from contact and always fights for extra yards. There simply wasn't much room to run against Washington. LeGarrette Blount didn't fare any better, either, carrying 14 times for 29 yards.

Grade: C+

WIDE RECEIVERS

Mack Hollins: 1 REC, 64 YDS, 1 TD

Hollins' touchdown changed the complexion of the entire game. Up until that moment, the Eagles were trailing 10-3, and the offense was struggling to move the football. Then they scored touchdowns on three straight possessions, going up 24-10 in a matter of roughly eight minutes. Nelson Agholor added four receptions for 45 yards and a score. But what's the deal with Alshon Jeffery? Even against Washington's depleted secondary, he could not get open, catching just two passes for 37 yards on six targets.

Grade: B+

TIGHT ENDS

Zach Ertz: 5 REC, 89 YDS, 1 TD

Another week, another big game for Ertz. I honestly couldn't tell you what kind of night he had blocking, but does it matter when he continues to produce at this level?

Grade: A+

OFFENSIVE LINE

Jason Peters: Exited game in 3rd quarter (knee)

For the second week in a row, the O-line experienced issues early. Lane Johnson in particular looked rusty after missing last week with a concussion — granted, he had his hands full with Ryan Kerrigan. The unit began settling down in pass protection toward the end of the first half, though it never quite got into a groove running the football. Wentz was hit just six times total, but Eagles backs averaged only 2.56 yards per carry. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Peters at left tackle and had a quiet game, which is a good thing of course.

Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE LINE

Derek Barnett: 3 TFL, 2.0 SK

The front four controlled the point of attack all night. That won't necessarily show up in the box score, but Kirk Cousins was under pressure from start to finish. Barnett and Fletcher Cox each registered a sack, while Brandon Graham hit the quarterback's arm mid-throw to force an interception. Meanwhile, the NFL's No. 1 rush defense was at it again, limiting Washington's backs to 54 yards on 14 carries.

Grade: A

LINEBACKERS

Jordan Hicks: Exited game in 1st quarter (ankle)

Hicks went down on the second play of the game, which was especially tough, because the Eagles were already without Mychal Kendricks. The absences showed, as Najee Goode was more like Najee Bad (ahem). Goode failed to pick up an assignment that resulted in a seven-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson in the second quarter, and generally was a liability in coverage over the middle. Nigel Bradham did what he could recording three tackles, two quarterback hits and a tackle for a loss, but the linebackers were shorthanded, and it showed (see breakdown).

Grade: B-

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Malcolm Jenkins: 10 TKL, 1.0 SK

On paper, Cousins' line looks borderline spectacular, completing 30 of 40 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns. Then again, most of that production — 203 yards and all three scores — went to tight ends and running backs. The Eagles really didn't allow Washington to do anything significant on the perimeters or deep down the field. Jenkins was all over the field making key stops, and Corey Graham came up with a gift-wrapped interception.

Grade: A

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jake Elliott: 2/3 FG, 4/4 XP

Nothing spectacular. Just another all-around solid special teams performance for the Eagles. Elliott was mostly automatic once again, connecting on field goals of 50 and 42 yards, and only missed from 45 after the outcome was all but decided. Donnie Jones averaged 51.0 yards per punt, with one kick downed inside the opponents' 20. And Kamu Grugier-Hill forced a fumble that Corey Clement very nearly recovered deep in Washington territory. The units were a strength, as usual.

Grade: A-

COACHING

Eagles' record: 6-1

Credit Doug Pederson — he never got away from the run against Washington, even though it clearly wasn't working. His team also never lost its composure despite a rough start against what some would consider an inferior opponent. The Eagles also survived injuries to some of their best players, yet never missed a beat on either side of the ball. This team is for real, in part because so is its head coach. Great job taking care of business at home, even when for awhile there is seemed things might be askew.

Grade: A+

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