Eagles

Aaron Rodgers is back to ruin everything

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Aaron Rodgers is back to ruin everything

Derrick Gunn makes his Week 15 NFL picks.

Eagles at Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
What a mess the Giants are right now. GM Jerry Reese fired! Head coach Ben McAdoo fired! Future Hall of Fame QB Eli Manning sits for a game and then resumes his starting role. Their offense can't score (15.3 points per game — which is 31st in the league), and their defense, which was the heart of this team in 2016, is nothing more than a distant memory. The Giants' D is 32nd overall in yards allowed, 31st in passing yards allowed, 31st in run defense, and 27th in points allowed. 

The Eagles are quickly getting over the loss of Carson Wentz, who was having an MVP season. This should be a walk in the park for the Birds even without Wentz, but you won't hear the players say that. They have a lot of respect for their wounded division foe, and as that old saying goes, "On any given Sunday." If Dallas was able to put up 30 points on the G-men, then surely the Birds can do that. You should be able to go holiday shopping by halftime.

Pick: Eagles 34, Giants 13

Bears at Lions, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network
It's hard to believe the Bears are actually seventh in the league in rushing (124.5 yards per game,) but when they get the ground game going, it's pretty special. Just ask Cincinnati. The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives but the right side of their O-line is banged up. Matthew Stafford's air game vs. the Bears' ground attack. I'm going with the Lions through the air.

Pick: Lions

Chargers at Chiefs, Saturday, 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network
A showdown in the AFC West. The Chiefs knocked the Raiders off their perch to snap a four-game slide, but the Chargers are a different story. Philip Rivers and company are hot, winners of four in a row. Both teams have big-play capabilities. CB Marcus Peters is back from his one-game suspension to help the back end of the Chiefs' defense. Winner takes control of the division. Big Red's army will be ready.

Pick: Chiefs

Dolphins at Bills, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Dolphins put a smackdown on New England but that was in the warm confines of South Florida. Now the Fins head to the arctic blast that is Buffalo. The Bills currently hold the sixth seed in the AFC. Miami is one game behind them. LeSean McCoy needs only 39 yards to become the 30th player to rush for 10,000 in a career. Shady gets his, and the Bills get a win.

Pick: Bills

Ravens at Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Ravens are still seething about how they let a win slip by in Pittsburgh. The Browns continue to find new ways to lose games. The Ravens' defense leads the league with 20 interceptions and it should add to that total because the Browns' revolving door of QBs has served up a league-high 23 INTs. The Ravens stay in the thick of the playoff race. The Browns continue to secure the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

Pick: Ravens

Bengals at Vikings, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
It's bad enough the Bengals got steamrolled by the lowly Bears, now they have to face a ticked-off group of Vikings. The Vikings didn't play their best game against Carolina and it cost them. They will not make the same mistakes against the Bengals on their turf.

Pick: Vikings

Jets at Saints, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
The Jets are the Jekyll and Hyde of the NFL. They beat teams like Jacksonville and Kansas City, but lose to the likes of Tampa Bay and Denver. Drew Brees and the Saints will be ready for them down in the bayou. The Saints share the NFC South lead with Carolina, and Atlanta is one game back. There is no room for error. The Saints go marching to a W.

Pick: Saints

Cardinals at Redskins, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
There's trouble in Redskinsville. The team is losing and players are grumbling. To make matters worse, TE Jordan Reed has been placed on IR. The 'Skins now have 18 players on IR. The Cards still have faint playoff hopes but I don't think Blaine Gabbert can outduel Kirk Cousins.

Pick: Redskins

Packers at Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
The fact that Aaron Rodgers has missed seven games and the Packers are still talking playoffs is amazing in itself. Now, Packers nation is really buzzing because ARod posted on his Instagram page that he has been medically cleared to return to action and is expecting to start against the Panthers. Carolina is coming off a huge win over Minnesota and will have to bring its A-game for this one. How rusty will Rodgers be remains to be seen. Rodgers will give the Packers' offense a much-needed jolt, but I don't have faith in their defense stopping Cam Newton and company. 

Pick: Panthers

Texans at Jaguars, Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS
In case you didn't know, there's a new bully on the block and its name is Jacksonville. The Jaguars took a major step towards respectability by out-muscling Seattle. The Jags control the AFC South. Their athleticism and physicality on both sides of the ball is impressive. Meanwhile, as if the Texans' QB situation isn't unstable enough, starter Tom Savage is in the concussion protocol. It's going to be a long day for Houston.

Pick: Jaguars

Rams at Seahawks, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
The Rams have no one to blame but themselves for their loss to Eagles. The Seahawks are one game behind the Rams in the NFC West and must shake off the cobwebs after getting roughed up by Jacksonville. The 'Hawks beat the Rams earlier this season. Seattle continues to hurt on defense. The heart of its D, linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion), are questionable for this huge showdown. The Rams know what's at stake and they haven't lost two in a row all season. The boys from SoCal get their revenge.

Pick: Rams

Patriots at Steelers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
This could be a preview of the AFC Championship. The Patriots were off their game in Miami, but now it's game on for top seeding in the conference. The Steelers are stoked to have this one in their backyard. The loss of LB Ryan Shazier is huge for the 'Burgh. Big Ben vs. the G.O.A.T. is always a special treat. Advantage: Steelers at home.

Pick: Steelers

Titans at 49ers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
The Titans have a lot at stake, still chasing Jacksonville in the AFC South. The Niners are playing for pride. It looks like a mismatch on paper, but not so fast, as Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo is 2-0 as a starter. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has been way off his game. In his last four outings, he's been picked off eight times, while tossing just three TDs. I don't know if Garoppolo has been the Niners' missing link or not, but I gotta believe the Titans' ground game can bail them out.

Pick: Titans

Cowboys at Raiders, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. on NBC
The Cowboys are riding a two-game winning streak and talking playoff run. While not officially eliminated yet, the Raiders are in trouble. Oakland's loss to the Chiefs put it in a deep hole. There's a lot at stake for both teams in this one. Can Dallas survive one more game until the return of Ezekiel Elliott? I think it can.

Pick: Cowboys

Falcons at Buccaneers, Monday, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
The Falcons are coming off extended rest after a must-win over the Saints. The Bucs have been one of the more disappointing teams in the league this season. The Falcons are currently the six seed in the NFC and can still win the NFC South if they run the table. The Dirty Birds should run right through Tampa Bay.

Pick: Falcons

Updating Eagles position battles after 2nd preseason game

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Updating Eagles position battles after 2nd preseason game

We’ve already updated our five Eagles position battles three times since the start of training camp, but it’s time to do it again. 

We have the last days of training camp and the game against the Patriots to judge. 

Let’s jump in: 

Nickel corner 

8/11: Sidney Jones practices after suffering a sprained left ankle in the game, but doesn’t do 11-on-11 drills. De’Vante Bausby starts the day as the nickel corner, but rookie Avonte Maddox also gets some first-team reps. This is the first time we’ve seen Maddox with the starters. 

8/12: After getting some first-team reps yesterday, Maddox gets all the first-team reps. He’s come really far and gets praised by Jim Schwartz after practice. It’s possible he has overtaken Bausby on the depth chart. Jones is back doing 11-on-11s but works with the second team. 

8/13: Maddox again gets first-team reps and has his best day of camp. He gets an interception and several batted passes. Jones works with the second team, has a rough day, but comes up with a huge pick-6 late in the practice. 

8/14: Maddox again gets work with the first team. Jones comes on as the LCB after Mills leaves practice early. 

Preseason game 2: Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas start the game outside (Mills is out) and Jones starts in the slot. But Maddox quickly rotates in. Both Jones and Maddox give up a touchdown but do some good too. 

Updated prediction: The Eagles have given Maddox a lot of time with the first team, but I think it’s still clearly Jones’ job. But it also seems like Maddox might have passed Bausby on the depth chart. 

Weakside linebacker

8/11: As we’ve seen for a long time, Nate Gerry gets first-team reps, but only at the start of 11-on-11s. Finally, Kamu Grugier-Hill gets worked in with the ones. Not sure why this took so long, but KGH definitely deserves the extra reps. 

8/12: The Eagles weren’t in their base package very much today, but KGH gets the minimal first-team reps. Interestingly enough, at one point Gerry and Grugier-Hill were the two linebackers in the first-team nickel package. They’re not overtaking Jordan Hicks or Nigel Bradham, but maybe coaches wanted to see them side by side with the ones. 

8/13: Gerry picked off a pass at point-blank range. When the Eagles use their jumbo package, Hicks, Bradham, Gerry and Joe Walker are out there. 

8/14: Gerry gets first-team reps, but Walker is on the field in the jumbo package again. 

Preseason game 2: As has been the case for a while, Gerry gets the start ahead of Grugier-Hill at the WILL. He has a good game but plays a lot longer than I would have anticipated. Both guys get in with the first team at WILL, but Gerry stays on the field in the jumbo package, with Hicks, Bradham and Joe Walker. 

Updated prediction: We haven’t even mentioned Corey Nelson in a while; that’s how little impact he’s made. Gerry is the frontrunner, but KGH has been really good too. If nothing else, the Eagles’ linebacker depth is a little better than we first thought. 

Defensive line

8/11: The starting line of Long, Cox, Vaeao and Barnett remains the same. Michael Bennett continues to get worked in for Vaeao on third downs, creating a scary, scary line. Elijah Qualls bounces back from a penalty-filled game to make a TFL and does well in 1-on-1s. 

8/12: For the first time for a non-rotational reason, we see Haloti Ngata get first-team reps at DT instead of Vaeao. Bennett gets work inside on clear passing downs. 

8/13: Didn’t see too much new with the starters, but keep an eye on rookie Bruce Hector. Hector has been working with the second-team defensive line ahead of Qualls at times. 

8/14: Ngata gets some first-team reps next to Fletcher Cox again. The Eagles might be preparing him to start Week 1 very soon. 

Preseason game 2: Big day for Ngata, who starts next to Cox. And Ngata makes some plays; really the first time we’ve seen evidence he still has something left to give. That’s a great sign for the Eagles. A lot of Bennett inside and not just on third downs. Vaeao doesn’t start but shows some good pass-rush ability. 

Updated prediction: For a long time, it looked like Vaeao was going to be able to hold off Ngata. Don’t think that’s happening. Expect the old vet to start next to Cox until Tim Jernigan is ready to return. 

Running back 

8/11: Donnel Pumphrey misses practice again, but Matt Jones returns. Corey Clement was also not at practice after apparently suffering an injury during the first preseason game. Without some bodies, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood both got some work with the first team. 

8/12: Still no Pumphrey or Clement. Pump wasn’t even out watching practice; Clement showed up late with a compression sleeve on his calf. It seems clear the Eagles are more interested in getting Adams and Smallwood reps with the ones and twos than Jones. 

8/13: Pump and Clement are still out. Adams is having a good day until he pulls up lame after a run play in the red zone. He doesn’t get back in. 

8/14: Adams misses practice after pulling up lame yesterday. Pump and Corey Clement each miss today as well. That means Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones get all the reps. 

Preseason game 2: Adams and Pumphrey sit with their injuries, which gave Jones and Smallwood plenty of opportunities. They didn’t make the most of them. Smallwood had one yard on four carries, while Jones dropped three passes. Ajayi, minus one bad play in pass pro, head a good night. 

Updated prediction: I still think one of those last four running backs is going to make the roster, but I have no idea which one. For now, I think Smallwood has a slight advantage. 

Third safety 

8/11: Corey Graham made a nice play on a receiver and would have popped him in a real game. 

8/12: Not much here. Graham and Sullivan continue to work with the second team, with Stephen Roberts being the next guy up of note. 

8/13: Trey Sullivan has a really good day, making a few plays in the end zone. 

8/14: Not much again. Graham is the next guy up, but Sullivan gets some significant snaps too. 

Preseason game 2: Graham gets on the field early as a safety so Malcolm Jenkins can play nickel corner a little. Jeremy Reaves has a nice game but gets called for a new helmet penalty. Stephen Roberts gets hurt. 

Updated prediction: This battle hasn’t been much of one for a while. Graham is the third safety. Trey Sullivan is likely on the roster because of Chris Maragos’ injury. Maybe Reaves can sneak on the practice squad.

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A closer look at Nate Sudfeld's dimes against Patriots

A closer look at Nate Sudfeld's dimes against Patriots

If you don’t want to buy into the Nate Sudfeld hype after just one good preseason performance, that’s certainly understandable. 

So just to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m not either. I’m not saying he’ll ever be a great quarterback or a starter or even a good backup in the NFL. 

But after watching him against New England on Thursday night, I am ready to say this guy can toss some dimes. 

He did it all night against the Patriots. 

I don’t care if it’s preseason and I don’t care if there are high school kids out there on defense, it doesn’t change the fact that some of his throws Thursday were simply impressive. I’m not too surprised by it; he’s shown that ability in practice. But what we’ve also seen from Suds in practice is inconsistency. It looked like he was able to get into a rhythm Thursday. 

Let’s take a look at some of his throws (we’ll go in chronological order) that impressed me from the other night: 

This first one came on Sudfeld’s second drive (second quarter). It’s been interesting watching him this summer. Sometimes it seems like moving around in the pocket gets him going. On this one, it was the opposite. Wendell Smallwood picked up the blitz to buy some time, but Sudfeld couldn’t step into the throw. He was forced to throw off his back foot but showed the arm strength to get the ball downfield. 

Suds sees the blitz and recognizes the 1-on-1 down the sideline. DeAndre Carter was basically tackled early for DPI, but it looked like he had a step on the defender and the throw was going to be right there. 

Sudfeld normally looks pretty good throwing on the run. You could argue this pass was a little underthrown, but it was still put in a good spot for Kamar Aiken in the end zone. Keion Crossen, No. 35, seemed determined to just never let a receiver catch a ball against him again. Another clear DPI. 

A few plays later, Sudfeld hit Shelton Gibson for the first touchdown of the day. We’re going to skip that one, because Gibson’s route was so great, all Suds had to do was loft it up. 

This one came with just 52 seconds left in the first half. Really good experience for Sudfeld in the two-minute offense. The Patriots are using a deep zone, trying to prevent a huge play, but Sudfeld hits Goedert perfectly in stride over a trailing Patrick Chung for 28 yards. Hitting Goedert in stride is huge here because it allows Goedert’s momentum to help get him out of bounds and stop the clock. 

Just two plays later, Sudfeld hits Carter in perfect stride. Poor Crossen didn’t have a very good night. But even with Sudfeld’s double-pump and without him stepping into it, he has plenty of arm and hits Carter in stride. Again, that helped stop the clock. 

Those two throws got the Eagles down inside the 10-yard line with 30 seconds left. The Eagles didn’t score, so Sudfeld gets some of the blame, especially after a weird shovel pass on the fourth down play. But that experience of moving a team down the field in 52 seconds is very valuable. 


We lumped those two together because they happened the same way in a game. First, Sudfeld tried Goedert in that corner of the end zone and then on the next, he came back to Richard Rodgers for the touchdown. Good idea by Doug Pederson to pretty much run the same thing again.

On that second one, watch Sudfeld throw that ball off his back foot. That’s impressive arm strength. That’s a few times now we’ve seen him show off that arm without stepping into a throw. 

I love this one. The Eagles are backed up on their own 2-yard line but they’re coming out firing. Watch Sudfeld look off the safety and then drop a perfect pass in there. Bread basket. 

 
The touchdown to Rashard Davis was just pretty. Nice clean pocket and Sudfeld picked apart the defense. There wasn’t a ton of room for error there between two defenders and near the sideline, but it’s a perfect pass. 

There were a bunch of perfect passes from Sudfeld on Thursday night. I know it was just one preseason game, and that’s why we’re not getting carried away. 

But … feel free to at least be a little intrigued. This guy is probably the backup of the future and fans should feel better about that today than they did this time last week.

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