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NFC East Report, Week 2: Like Ivan Drago, the Dallas Cowboys are not a machine

NFC East Report, Week 2: Like Ivan Drago, the Dallas Cowboys are not a machine

Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Eagles division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: I feel the same way about them as Martha Stewart feels about Pumpkin Spice) and what they have upcoming. This week, the Giants did absolutely nothing different, Washington barely beat a team that lost twelve games a year ago, and the Cowboys, like the old Siberian Express, looked vastly overhyped on their way to an ugly beatdown.

Here’s what happened, and what’s happening, in the NFC East after Week Two.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1):

What Happened: Oh man, this was fun. Imagine the Chiefs/Birds game, but without all the good things that happened; that was essentially this game for Cowboys fans. Jason Garrett’s squad went on the road against an AFC opponent and got brutally demolished, losing 42-17. Unlike being barely-beaten by long-term NFL Quarterback Alex Smith (like the Eagles were), the Cowboys were thoroughly slaughtered by Trevor Siemien, who tore into the depleted Dallas secondary like they were every single kid from middle school that used to make fun of his last name. 

I, personally, couldn’t be happier. It had been eight months since we’d gotten to experience a Cowboys loss, which is far too long (speaking purely from a medical perspective, of course), and this one was especially epic. I’ve seen a solar eclipse more recently than I’ve seen Jerry Jones look this deflated. The Cowboys losing is like a new season of Wet Hot American Summer. There’s something familiar about it. Something safe. And always, a part that will make you laugh hysterically.

The part that made me laugh hysterically this week was watching the worst game of Ezekiel Elliott’s career. The Cowboys star running back had just eight more yards on the day than LeGarrette Blount (who, in case you forgot, had zero), and was then called out after the game by Canton-bound Ladainian Tomlinson for being a quitter. Yup, Ezekiel Elliott is the new Jay Cutler, a comparison that doesn’t seem fair to J-Cut, since he’s actually won a playoff game.

Positive Spin: Like the Birds, dem Boys can take solace in knowing they lost on the road to an AFC opponent they’ll never have to face again, which is like not being embarrassed you farted audibly on public transit ‘cause you’re getting off the next stop anyway. One game doesn’t make a season, nor does it suddenly prove that Zeke or Dak Prescott don’t belong in this league. This was one unfortunate result at a point in the season where teams can afford to have unfortunate results… like how it’s okay to lose one of your fingers, because you still have nine others. At least that’s what they taught me in the Yakuza (though its made glove shopping impossible. Luckily, JPP introduced me to his guy). 

Negative Spin: I mean, it was 42-17, and while Zeke and Dak are still legit, some flaws were definitely exposed. Siemien, who was fighting for the starting spot less than a month ago, made the Dallas secondary look like, well… the kind of secondary that employs Nolan Carroll. Imagine what Alshon Jeffrey should be able to do. Or Odell Beckham. Or Jordy Nelson, or Julio Jones, or any of the other top-flight wideouts in the NFC that Dallas will be expected to beat if they want this season to surpass the results of the past two decades. 

Dallas looked really bad on Sunday. Some of it should be easily fixed. But that secondary may need a little bit more than duct tape and Orlando Scandrick to get things rolling. But don’t worry, Dallas fans; I’m sure Jason Garrett, who’s had two winning campaigns in his six full seasons as head coach, will be able to push this team forward, no doubt. It’s like having the former UBER CEO take over your kid's lemonade stand.

What’s Next: A road-game against the Arizona Cardinals, who barely snuck out a victory against Indianapolis last week. With David Johnson’s broken wrist ruining your fantasy team, and Carson Palmer continuing to age at the normal going rate, Arizona just isn’t very good. Road game or not, Dallas should be able to turn things around in the desert next weekend.

 

Washington (1-1):

What Happened: Out in Los Angeles, the Washington Football Team defeated the previously undefeated Rams 27-20. A week after letting a close one literally slip through his fingers, Kirk Cousins threw a game winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play, and the D.C. D snatched an interception off of Jared “Not Carson” Goff moments later to seal it.

It was a crucial win for Jay Gruden, who like Andy Reid, was able to knock off his former offensive coordinator, in this instance 31-year-old Sean McVay. FUN FACT: When Doug Pederson was McVay’s age, he was the starting quarterback of your Philadelphia Eagles. Isn’t math fun? 

Positive Spin: Washington avoids the dreaded 0-2 start, and any win on the road should be considered applause-worthy… even if the stadium looked less crowded than Anthony Scaramucci’s Going Away Party. Seriously, just by mentioning someone from the Trump White House, I’ve guaranteed more angry tweeters @ me than attendees at L.A. Coliseum last Sunday (though in their defense, Sean Spicer said it was the largest crowd ever). Remind me again why Los Angeles has two football teams?

Meanwhile, Chris Thompson is making moves like a young Brian Westbrook. The guy who made Iggles defenders looks like they were playing ‘tag’ in Week One had a pair of touchdowns against a respectable Los Angeles defense, including a 61-yarder (which I believe is more rushing yards than Birds runnings backs have all season combined).

Cousins wasn’t phenomenal, but he showed improvement from last week (which is comparable to saying the urinal looked better after the auto-flush). With a victory, Washington avoids the “Dan Snyder’s Team Is Always Doomed To A Pit Of Despair” storyline for at least another week.

Negative Spin: Washington almost lost to the Rams. The RAMS. This is a team that went 4-12 last year playing in the NFC West. Sure, they may be improved (how could they not be?), but you won’t find many barstool bloggers inside the beltway this week saying “WE SURE LOOKED GOOD NEARLY BLOWING A 13-POINT LEAD TO JARED GOFF.”

And meanwhile, what is this team planning to do next year if they don’t re-sign Cousins? Hand the reigns over to Colt McCoy, the 31-year-old journeyman who’s essentially just Doug Pederson 20 years later with a better name? What does this team do if they go 8-8 and Cousins essentially looks the same he’s looked these past eight quarters? I’m not saying Gruden’s squad should go full Sam Hinkie Trust The Process after a 1-1 start, but it’s really hard to get excited about the long-term future of this football team. Even victories make the fanbase groan.

What’s Next: SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL! The soon-to-be-Las-Vegas Raiders come to D.C., and they haven’t really been tested yet (beating the Titans and Jets handedly the first two weeks). A win against the trendy AFC-Champ-Pick on Sunday would significantly alter the opinion of this team heading into October.

 

New York Giants (0-2):

What Happened: The Giants lost at home to the Detroit Lions 24-10, and things are starting to get ugly. How ugly are they? With just 13 points on the year, the highly-celebrated Giants offense has just one more point on the season than Nelson Agholor. They’re being outscored by the Jets! That’s like finding out your loser roommate who never leaves the apartment is actually a gun-smuggling millionaire (coming this Thursday on FOX!). 

Brandon Marshall, who was supposed to take this offense to the next level, dropped a big third down pass in the fourth quarter, and the very next play was an 88-yard punt return for a TD by someone named Jamal Agnew that broke Big Blue’s back. Meanwhile, coach Ben McAdoo spent his postgame presser taking shots at two-time Super Bowl Champion and six-time Mouth Breather of the Year Eli Manning, so rest assured Giants fans, leadership has a plan for turning this sinking ship around! McAdoo may even hand over play-calling duties! What a great hire.

Meanwhile, Eli was sacked five times (or what they call in New York “one short of a Winston Justice”). While we can only grimace at decade-old memories of Winston-the-Pooh at right guard being eaten up by Osi Umenyiora like Chris Christie at CiCi’s, this Sunday at the Linc may top that. The Iggles D-line is very, very good, while the Giants O-line has the toughness of overcooked spaghetti. This is the kind of day Jim Schwartz should be bragging about when he’s interviewing for the Cincinnati Bengals head coaching gig four months from now.

Positive Spin: IT CAN’T GET WORSE. 

Negative Spin: Since 1990, only 12% of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. And while I haven’t taken a deep-dive into it, I’d be willing to bet that the O-line of this Giants team is way worse than any of that 12%. Meanwhile, waiting for Marshall and Manning to get on the same page is like waiting for a new season of Arrested Development. It may never come, and even if it does, will it be worth it? And at this point, who really remembers when it was that good to begin with?

For all the mystique around Eli-led Giants teams being great down the stretch, it’s important we remember he has a career winning percentage of just .545. That’s .004 points higher than Nick Foles! Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, & Teddy Bridgewater all have a higher winning percentage than the 36-year-old Giants quarterback. To expect him (and, presumably, Odell) to turn this thing around may be a little out of touch. Like how DirecTV thinks it’s okay to put Charlie Kelly in any football jersey other than midnight green.

What’s Next: Week 3 is a Must-Win game for New York, and the circumstances are not fun. Well, they’re actually super fun for us; after losing Monday night, the Giants come to Philly for the Eagles home opener at The Linc, where they haven’t won since 2013. A divisional game on the road off a short week.

Philly won weird Super Bowl bet with Brockton, Massachusetts

kenney-rocky.jpg
Mayors of Philly/Brockton

Philly won weird Super Bowl bet with Brockton, Massachusetts

Mayor Jim Kenney doesn't seem to fully understand the concept of a sports wager.

The general rule I like to follow: if you win a bet, you GET SOMETHING OF VALUE in return.

Now, the Mayor of Philadelphia won a bet with the city of Brockton, Massachusetts, and he has to SEND THEM STUFF.

Makes no sense.

Anyway, I guess the city of Brockton now has to dress their Rocky Marciano statue up in Eagles gear. Lulz. So Mr. Kenney is shipping them some goods. I hope the people of New England had to pay for it.

As Eagles fans know all too well, the official Eagles gear is not cheap.

Did the Sixers Really Win That Game II: The Portis vs. The Process

Did the Sixers Really Win That Game II: The Portis vs. The Process

Geez, if you only watched the ends of the last two Philadelphia 76ers games, you'd think they were owed years' worth of good karma from getting perpetually screwed in the fourth quarter or something. That's right, the basketball gods may have finally approved the Sixers' line of credit: One game (and eight days) after Brett Brown's squad came back from 20-plus down to squeak one past the Miami Heat, the team again pulled out a miracle last night in Chicago, coming from five down in the final minute against the Bulls to win 116-115. 

And boy, did this one feel like a loss, too. After surging out to a 25-7 lead in the first, the Sixers quickly relinquished the majority of their lead to the Bulls, who pulled even in the third and kept the Sixers from ever running away with it. They hit an absurd 18 threes, tying a season high, and two role players posted career highs: starting wing David Nwaba (21 points on 9-14 shooting) and bench forward Bobby Portis (38 points on 15-26 shooting, including a stupefying 6-9 from three). 

Meanwhile, the Sixers went cold down the stretch; Robert Covington missed a clean look at a three, Ben Simmons missed two of two from the line, Joel Embiid dribbled the ball off his foot. When Zach LaVine hit a tough pull-up three to put Chicago up five with a minute to go, and then Cov missed an open baseline two, it almost felt a merciful end to our suffering. 

But somehow, that wasn't it. Portis shot a long two a little too quickly at the other end and missed, and Simmons put back his own miss at the other end for a quick two to cut it to three. LaVine bricked a tough jumper with 17 to go, and J.J. got fouled at the other end to prevent a possible tying three. He made both, and then good ball denial on the ensuing Chicago inbounds led to an Embiid steal and pass to Simmons, who got fouled. 

After going just 4-9 from the line to that point, Simmons calmly nailed both his free throws to put Philly up one. Embiid stonewalled a Portis attempt near the basket at the other end with seconds to go, Denzel Valentine's putback attempt missed, and the game was over, with the Philly outscoring Chicago 6-0 in the final minute to seal the W. 

It was beautiful, man. There aren't going to be many games in this life where you give up 18 threes, allow two opposing players to go for career highs, miss 14 free throws and go down five with 60 seconds to go and still somehow manage to win the damn thing. 

But there also aren't gonna be many teams in this life with a one-two punch as potent as Simmons and Embiid. The latter picked up where he left off at the All-Star Game, scoring 30 (on 11-17 shooting, including 3-3 from deep) with 13 boards, five assists, three steals and two blocks -- just a few box score tallies away from his first 5x5 game. And the former picked up where he left off before the All-Star Game, scoring a career-high 32 (13-18 shooting) to go with seven boards, 11 assists a steal and a block. And maybe most impressive of all? The two had just three turnovers between them in 69 combined minutes. 

Ben and Jo were nothing less than dominant on offense all night. They couldn't turn the faucet off on the Bulls defensively for most of the game -- though aside from a couple slow-ish rotations in the first half, I'm not even sure they played all that badly, rather just paying the three-point defense regression to the mean that Liberty Ballers writer Sean O'Connor had long been warning fans about

But in any event, Embiid finally got the best of Portis in the final minutes, shutting him down on a couple crucial possessions (including the final one), and he made the play of the night on that inbounds steal. When you have two transcendent talents -- as Embiid and Simmons undoubtedly have proven they are, even this early in their careers -- you win a lot of games you probably shouldn't, and gravity was finally on the Sixers' side tonight. 

Of course, the Sixers might not've needed such combined brilliance from their two best players if their supporting cast was able to pick up the slack a little. But no one else was really cooking for Philly last night, and as is becoming a distressingly frequent occurrence this season, Covington hit a couple shots early and then went flat for the rest of the game. Even on the Bulls broadcast, they were talking about how Cov was gonna have to hit shots in the playoffs for the Sixers to have a chance, and they're probably right: We need Rock's defense and smarts out there, but if he's gonna routinely brick open looks in big moments, he's gonna be a liability -- and he's now 6 of his last 29 from deep. 

But that's a concern for another day -- one that seems more and more likely to actually be upcoming at this point. In the meantime, Philly is 31-25, having won six in a row, and with a creampuff game coming up next at home against Orlando, before a three-game roadie against East playoff teams (Washington, Miami and Cleveland) that represents the only really tough swing remaining on the Sixers' schedule. The playoffs seem increasingly probable, and with Simmons and Embiid playing at this level, just about anything seems possible if we get there. Pity the foolish rival execs who still don't trust the process at this point.