Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eagles Divisional Round Recap (And a Big What Is Going On Around the NFL)

So let me get this straight. The Eagles' most tumultous season since the Terrell Owens debacle has resulted in the Eagles going to the NFC Championship game. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, seriously, what is going on in the NFL?

The only thing perhaps a bit more bizarre than the Eagles turning this season into an NFC championship season is the fact that the Eagles are playing the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona! Good grief, what has happened to home field advantage in the NFL? The Eagles just became the 1st 6-seed to beat a 1-seed in the NFC and consequently, the first 6-seed in the NFC to appear in the conference title game. Remember when people were saying that the NFL should amend their playoff system so that teams like the Cardinals who stumbled into the playoffs could not get in and 11-5 teams like the Patriots could make it? Yeah, those people are quiet now.

Both 6-seeds remain. Pittsburgh was the only home team to win this week. And, oh yeah, in case I did not mention it before, the Arizona Fucking Cardinals are hosting the NFC Championship game!

Shifting back to the Eagles-Giants game, it all came down to the Eagles defense. And they were nothing but spectacular. While I have my doubt about Andy Reid (although he is succeeding in making me look like an idiot with my blog title), one person I have always loved is Jim Johnson. He is the man and his defenses are awesome. However, several times in the past, they would crumble in big games against teams just like the New York Giants with a power running back and a real good change-of-pace back. Not this time!

They held beautifully and Eli Manning struggled in his own stadium throwing the ball (although in his defense, as a resident of the northeast, it was cold and a heavy wind in cold weather is absolutely brutal). The Giants started out looking good with that long kick return deep into Eagles' territory to open up the game. However, the Gmen could only muster a field goal out of that drive. That would be a theme for the day as the Giants would not get in the endzone all afternoon. Their only scores were 3 field goals and a safety.

The Eagles forced 3 turnovers which included two interceptions of the unstoppable Eli Manning. who must have forgot to bring his Citizen Eco Drive with him to the game. He constantly missed his targets and while McNabb was not great, and while he himself threw two picks, he was more efficient than Manning, was able to move the ball in the second half, and was a more-effective game manager. It did not start that way, though. The Eagles offense reverted back to Cincinnati and Baltimore form in the first 28 minutes of the game, not being able to move the ball at all. However, the Giants played back at the end of the half in sort of a prevent defense. And the rest is history. Really. For the first time in NFL history, a #6 seed in the NFC but a #1 seed in the NFC and for the first time in NFL history, a game ended with the score of 23-11.

In the playoffs, one thing is a must. A good defense. The top 3 defenses in the NFL still remain (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Philly). As far as Jim Johnson goes, he's had many great defenses in the past with the Eagles. But this one is definitley the best defense the Eagles have had in quite some time. It will be interesting to see how they handle a Cardinal team that has no doubt rejuvenated themselves since they took their Thanksgiving day beating.

The Eagles are going to Arizona to play the Cardinals in the NFC title game. Had you made that prediction at 1:00 on December 28 (Week 17), you would have been laughed at, called crazy, and placed in the insane asylum. But alas, that is the craziness of the NFL. And I'm loving every minute of it.

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