NFL 2019 Season - Off


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End of Edges
by Dennis Ranahan

Many consider this the best week of National Football League action. Perhaps the best eight teams meeting in contests with the hopes of all advancing to their conference championship games. In many seasons, this is battles between the best eight teams in the league … but not this year.

If the best teams are determined by won/loss records and points scored and allowed, one of the best teams is at home this week, and not to play, but to watch on their televisions. There is a worthy debate on whether the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots or the two teams playing out of Los Angeles, the Rams and Chargers, are the best team in football.

They are all in action this weekend.

A case can even be made for the Indianapolis Colts, who turned a 1-5 season start into a playoff winning season while gaining triumphs in ten of their last 11 games. Dallas Cowboys fans can point out that since the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders they have been one of the best teams in football. Perhaps no player better fit a team’s need than Cooper adding a deep threat for Dallas. The Cowboys had a four and four won/loss record before acquiring Cooper, and have now won eight of their last nine games with him in their lineup.

But, for those that argue that the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles are among the best eight teams in the league this year, they are counting on results more from last season that this year. The Eagles advanced to this weekend’s action based on beating a Chicago Bears team that got caught in the playoffs battling inexperience.

In beating Chicago last Sunday, the Eagles got a fourth down touchdown late in the game and the Bears missed a would-be winning field goal as time ran out. In other words, the Eagles got here by the slimmest of margins.

Philadelphia also survived the regular season while requiring help on the final day of the regular season from of all teams, the squad they beat last week, the Bears. To earn a Wild Card berth, the Eagles needed both a final day of the regular season win over the injury depleted Washington Redskins and a loss by the Minnesota Vikings, which Chicago provided.

Consider this, only four teams in the NFL this season had a worst point spread record than the Eagles, namely the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, a quartet of squads no one would be placing in the top eight teams this season.

How are the Eagles here then?

For the second year in a row, the main reason the Eagles are moving through the postseason is the play of backup quarterback Nick Foles. Last year, the Westlake High School graduate, who played collegiate ball at both Michigan State and Arizona, replaced an injured Carson Wentz. In that role, he guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl Championship with wins over the Falcons and Vikings in the NFC Playoffs before beating the New England Patriots in Roman Numeral LII.

This year, again he is playing in relief of an injured Wentz, and again he has won a playoff game as an underdog to advance his team to the Divisional round against the Saints in New Orleans.

You like his chances?

His opponent at quarterback this week is Drew Brees, who also attended high school at Westlake in Austin, Texas, and has more experience at winning than nearly any other player to ever suit up in the NFL.

So, what do the Eagles have going for them on Sunday?

Last week, they got the Bears based on inexperience. Last year, they got the Falcons and Vikings in the role of a home team underdog and the Patriots who were looking to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.

This week, they have none those edges. Instead, they are meeting a Saints team that had the second best point spread record in the league, only the Bears were better, and a straight-up won/loss record matched only by the Los Angeles Rams.

The Saints are more experienced in postseason play and are looking to erase the sting of how their playoff run ended last year … that miracle last play of the game catch and run by the Vikings in this same week of NFL action.

So, what does that leave the Eagles with on Sunday?

Something very similar to the result the Saints pinned on them in their regular season meeting eight weeks ago, which was a New Orleans win by the final score of 48-7.

Qoxhi Picks: New Orleans Saints (-8) over Philadelphia Eagles