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Friday, January 2, 2009

Football Frenzy: Eagles, PSU, BCS, Playoffs

The Philadelphia sports fan is nothing if not resilient. A week ago no one would have admitted that they thought the Eagles had any chance of making the playoffs. Today, sports talk radio has plenty of “nobody really scares me” calls on the air. All of a sudden, it’s as if the Eagles not making the Super Bowl would be a shock. Sunday’s opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, are practically forgotten.

The notion that the Eagles are the hot team is baffling to me. On a day when USC fans are crying about not being the National Champion, I’ll ask the same question every college fan is asking about every team ranked above their team: who’d they beat? The Eagles were 4-2-1 down the stretch, tying the Cincinnati Bengals, beating Arizona, a Giants team without Plaxico Burress, Cleveland, losing to Washington, and beating a Dallas team that thought it had nothing to play for and has a choker at quarterback.

That’s a team everyone expects to win three road games and go to the Super Bowl because they’re hot?

I’m not down on the Eagles’ chances. I think they will win Sunday, and could beat the Giants. I don’t think they can beat Carolina, if they matched up with them in the NFC Championship. I also wouldn’t be totally shocked if Adrian Peterson and Tarvaris Jackson end up having career days and the Vikings upset the Eagles on Sunday. More plausible would be that Andy Reid goes back to throwing the ball an absurd amount and the Eagles lose.

If that happens, the same fans booking tickets for Tampa will be right back to calling for Reid’s head.

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It’s college bowl “season,” and it’s the same old same old with everybody crying about the system of crowning a champion. I’m a moderate but developing college football fan, so I figured I’d throw a few opinions out there. As always, comments are welcome.

First of all, what is USC crying about? Penn State was clearly outclassed yesterday, and they were a play away from making it a 7-point game. I’ll admit, I was a bit extra annoyed they couldn’t make that happen, but if Penn State doesn’t fumble at the end of the half and give up an extra TD . . . ok, ok, maybe not. But, the point is they didn’t blow out a team everyone agrees wasn’t a match for them. Stop the whining about them deserving a title shot. And, while I’m at it: There was a freakin’ penalty every time PSU did anything positive in the first half. Plus, Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreet were an utter disgrace calling that game. It was bad enough it was a virtual home game for USC. Four hours of those two stroking Pete Carroll, Mark Sanchez, and everything USC including Keyshawn Johnson, now their “colleague,” was a joke.

Ok, back to the system. Make it an 8-team playoff and be done with it. Keep the other Bowls because they’re fun. Stop spreading them out and make New Year’s Day fun again. Stop the BS about keeping kids out of class. Do it from mid-December to early January. They’re not in school anyway, team #9 can go pound sand just like team #66 in basketball, and there’s no more USC’s crying at the end of the year. How tough is that? The Plus 1 idea doesn’t resolve the issue because there is always going to be at least one top 5 team saying they should be in the final game.

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I don’t predict games any more because it’s too easy to look stupid. That doesn’t stop the Brandon Lang types of the world, I know, but so be it. I like all the road teams this week, except for possibly Indianapolis. Overall, no one team – including the Eagles – stands out. If I had to pick, I’d say Pittsburgh beats Carolina in the Super Bowl. But I really thinks it’s a crapshoot.

As for the Eagles, I think Reid will return to form at some point and go pass crazy. They’ll likely win one; I give them a good chance if they face the Giants but underestimating Eli Manning has not gone well for anyone. I don’t think they go to the Super Bowl. (So, maybe you should book a flight after all.)

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