Friday Football Picks

Willard – Overall Record: (5-3)
Alabama (-17.5) vs. Arkansas
Packers (-6.5) at Rams
Colts (+2.5) at Cardinals
Saints (-6) at Bills

Dr. G - Overall Record (4-4)
Iowa State (-10) vs. Army
Saints (-6) at Bills
Steelers (-4) at Bengals
Bears (-2) at Seahawks

C-Money – Overall Record (2-2)
Florida (-21.5) at Kentucky
Penn State (-9.5) vs. Iowa
Colts (+2.5) at Cardinals
Steelers (-4) at Bengals

Roget – Overall Record: (5-6)
Kentucky (+21.5) vs. Florida
TCU (+2.5) at Clemson
Colts (+2.5) at Cardinals
Lions (+6.5) vs. Redskins

Jack Flack – Overall Record: (5-6)
Penn State (-9.5) vs. Iowa
Miami (-3) at Virginia Tech
49ers (+6.5) at Vikings
Saints (-6) at Bills

Mr. Green – Overall Record: (4-7)
Pittsburgh (+1) at NC State
Redskins (-6.5) at Lions
Steelers (-4) at Bengals
Saints (-6) at Bills

Hollywood – Overall Record: (4-7)
Kentucky (+21.5) vs. Florida
Nevada (+7) vs. Missouri
Lions (+6.5) vs. Redskins
Cardinals (-2.5) vs. Colts

Overall Winning Percentage
1. Willard (63%)
2. Dr. G (50%)
2. C-Money (50%)
4. Roget (45%)
4. Jack Flack (45%)
6. Mr. Green (36%)
6. Hollywood (36%)


Friday Football Picks

Dr. G - Overall Record (3-1)
BYU (-8) vs. Florida State
Northwestern (-3) at Syracuse
Steelers (-3) at Bears
Colts (-3) at Dolphins

Roget – Overall Record: (4-3)
Purdue (-12.5) vs. Northern Illinois
Washington (+19.5) vs. USC
Seahawks (+1.5) at 49ers
Patriots (-3) at Jets

Jack Flack – Overall Record: (4-3)
Eastern Michigan (+24) at Michigan
Southern Miss. (-15) vs. Virginia
UCLA (-12.5) vs. Kansas State
Patriots (-3) at Jets

Willard – Overall Record: (2-2)
North Carolina (-7.5) vs. East Carolina
Cardinals (+3) at Jaguars
Titans (-6.5) vs. Texans
Colts (-3) at Dolphins

Mr. Green – Overall Record: (3-4)
Cincinnati (-1) at Oregon State
Buffalo (+4.5) at Central Florida
Steelers (-3) at Bears
Packers (-9) vs. Bengals

Hollywood – Overall Record: (3-4)
Kentucky (-13.5) vs. Louisville
Arkansas (-2.5) vs. Georgia
Iowa State (-3) at Kent State
Browns (+3) at Broncos

C-Money - Overall Records: (0-0)
Oklahoma (-17.5) vs. Tulsa
Oklahoma State (-33) vs. Rice
Chiefs (-3) vs. Raiders
Giants (+3) at Cowboys

Overall Winning Percentage
1. Dr. G (75%)
2. Roget (57.1%)
2. Jack Flack (57.1%)
4. Willard (50%)
5. Mr. Green (42.9%)
5. Hollywood (42.9%)
7. C-Money (N/A)

Give Kolb a Chance

This town is down on Kolb. We do not believe in him. We do not trust him. Why? Has he actually been given a shot? Does the Baltimore game really count? I don't think it should count. Not many quarterbacks with no experience could play well in that situation. Does the scrub duty or preseason count? Not really as well. He has never really been given a true chance.

Kolb might not turn out to be the future of the Eagles like Coach Reid thought he would be when they drafted him, but we need to find out and give him a chance. Right now is a perfect opportunity. At the end of next year McNabb and Vick will be free agents. There is a good chance we will not resigning either. That decision will be a lot easier if we know what we actually have in Kolb.

McNabb has fractured ribs from the cheap shot he took against Carolina. There is nothing you can do to heal them faster. It is just a matter if he can play through the pain, which we all know he can. But why put him out there this week or next, when week 4 is a bye and we could have a healthier, rested McNabb starting week 5 for the rest of the season and a playoff run? With McNabb or Kolb, you will beat the Chiefs at home in week 3. Randall Cunningham at his age would be able to play for the Eagles after they induct him into their Ring of Honor in a pregame ceremony, and would beat the Chiefs. This week against the Saints is another story. No matter who is the QB, you might not win. McNabb gives us a better chance than Kolb does to win.

If you give Kolb the next two starts, you can accomplish many things: you get to rest McNabb, find out what Kolb is made of, and at worst go into the bye week 2-1. So everyone who thinks Garcia should play this week, or Vick should start next week should give Kolb a chance. We really do not know what we have. Let's let him show us.


Eagles Wide Receiver Draft Day Busts

After I heard of the news that the Eagles made the move to cut Hank Baskett yesterday, I was trying to think of why the Eagles still do not truly have a bona fide number one receiver. The first thing I thought of was their wide receiver picks this decade. I did some quick research and was shocked by what I saw. I will take the time to list the receivers (I threw in tight ends for good measure) to show the lack of scouting/research done when it comes to evaluating these positions.

I know some of you will say that the past few years have been getting better in picking this important position, but I counter with the fact that there is no definite, dominant number one. I am a big believer in the theory that to be a dominating offensive team, you must have a dominating number one receiver. My main example is last year's Arizona Cardinals. Their team was suspect at best, with an aging quarterback in Warner and a defense that was there one week and gone the next. What the Cardinals did have was two number one caliber receivers. Fitzgerald is arguably the best in the league, and Boldin is easily top 5 or 6. A big time receiver like that can carry a team on offense. If the defense can't cover you, just go that guy all day. After the other defense overcompensates, you run the ball, seems pretty easy... I guess I could throw in the fact that when the Eagles got a number one receiver, they lost the Super Bowl by 3 points.

DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin(though still unproven) seem to be steps in the right direction, but neither of them have the size that I believe it takes to dominate a defense. I think Jason Avant is a great route runner and possession receiver, but lacks size and speed to be a number one.

I guess after all this venting, the Eagles did win their first game, and I am just some lowly Eagles fan that wants to win a championship for the first time EVER!!! It just confuses the hell out of me the way the Eagles treat the wide receiver/tight end position, when they know for a fact it can be the difference between winning and losing the goddamn NFC championship game.

Todd Pinkston- 2nd round
Gari Scott- 4th round

Freddie Mitchell- 1st round
Tony Stewart(TE)- 5th round

Freddie Milons- 5th round

LJ Smith(TE)- 2nd round
Billy McMullen- 3rd round


Reggie Brown- 2nd round

Jason Avant- 4th round
Jeremy Bloom- 5th round

Brent Celek(TE)- 5th round

DeSean Jackson- 2nd round

Jeremy Maclin- 1st round
Cornelius Ingram(TE)- 3rd round
Brandon Gibson- 6th round


Shawn Andrews Placed on IR

Shawn Andrews was placed on IR today, in order to make room on the roster for the Vick signing. Andrews has basically spent more time on the Injured Reserve than he has playing for the Eagles. It is a shame, because if Andrews is really seriously injured, you never want to see a guy who has chronic pain, especially back pain. It is also a shame that the Eagles spent a first round draft pick on Andrews, and when he is on the field, he is a beast, and the Eagles are definitely not as good a team when Andrews is not on the field.

As much as I hope that Andrews gets better for himself, I am personally sick and tired of his act, as he just flat out seems like he does not care about playing football. Andrews was injured at the beginning of training camp, but then seemed to all of a sudden get healthy and start practicing towards the end of it, and now he is on IR. Andrews act was getting tired last year, was real tired this year, and next year will be a joke if this act goes on again during the preseason. I first said we have to just cut ties with him, but its hard to when he is such a beast on the field.

Unfortunately, I think the Eagles really planned on Andrews playing and being healthy coming into this season. They are left with Winston Justice at right tackle right now, and no one else. I still don't think they should nor will sign Jon Runyan, but they should at least explore that opportunity right now. However, if they feel confident going forward with Justice at right tackle, I would not want Runyan to be brought in. I also think the Eagles should explore moving Stacy Andrews back out to right tackle, which is what he played at Cincinnati. Stacy Andrews has been a solid tackle before, and the Eagles do have some options at guard in Cole, Jean-Gilles, and McGlynn. Again, not sure they should do this, but they should explore it I believe. But for right now, Justice is the long term starter at right tackle it looks like.

In other news today, the Eagles activated Michael Vick from the exemption list, and thus had to cut a player. They cut Hank Baskett. I do not really like this move, and feel like they should have cut Reggie Brown. I actually am a Baskett fan, and thought he deserved to be on the roster this season. He blocks real well for a wide receiver, and at least can catch 1 or 2 passes a game, and both of those things are a lot more than Reggie Brown can do. Even though the Eagles don't throw the fade really, that option is there with Baskett. Again, this is more than Reggie Brown brings to the table, so it doesn't make much sense to me, but I guess isn't a big deal in the long run. Hopefully this move will let Brandon Gibson let on the field.


Phillies Need a Healthy Romero

J.C. Romero continues to struggle returning from a left elbow injury that has sidelined him the past couple months. This is an issue that I believe is being overlooked, as we need a healthy Romero going into the playoffs.

Romero has been one of the best relievers in the national league the past 2 seasons since the Phillies acquired him, and was real solid throughout the playoff run last season. And the big thing is - he's left handed. Not only is he one of out best relievers, he's easily the best left handed reliever on the team, which is extremely important. The Phillies current bullpen features Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Chan Ho Park, and the still struggling Brad Lidge as the guys who can come in in the 8th and 9th innings to close out the game. All of these pitchers however are right handed.

Because Scott Eyre is on the disabled list as well, it leaves the Phillies with no good left handed relievers, and this needs to change going into the playoffs. Romero is trying to pitch in a simulated game, but the team keeps pushing it back. The team, and Romero have said at times throughout this disabled list stint that they are optimistic he will come back soon, but it has yet to happen.

If for some reason, J.C. Romero cannot go in this postseason, I think you have to consider moving J.A. Happ to the bullpen for the postseason and leaving Pedro in as the 4th starter. Happ would move into the role he had at the beginning of the season, and would be the main left hander coming out of the bullpen to get opposing lefties out in tough situations. Eyre should be back, and is solid, but you need another option there. I'm not sure they should do this with Happ, but they have to consider it. Hopefully, it will be Romero and we don't have to worry about any of this, but as the season winds down, I am starting to worry more and more.

Eagles Sign Jeff Garcia

The Eagles have signed quarterback Jeff Garcia. Garcia last was in an Eagles uniform in 2006, and led the Eagles to the playoffs. Since leaving the Eagles, Garcia spent 2 seasons in Tampa Bay, and was cut this offseason by the Raiders. Garcia is 39 years old. It is unclear if Garcia is just going to back up Kevin Kolb against the Saints, or if he will see any playing time. That is all dependent on if McNabb actually is out against the Saints, which is still unclear. With Vick still on the team and eventually taking up a roster spot starting at latest for Week 3, it is unclear if Garcia is just signing for a week or two and then will be cut or what the Eagles plan on doing. The Eagles will have to release a player to sign Garcia. The Eagles will also have to release a player when they activate Vick.

Shady McCoy Still #29

When LeSean McCoy joined the Eagles after being drafted, he was given the #29 to wear, as the number he wanted was in use by Lorenzo Booker. After final cuts, with Lorenzo Booker no longer on the team, McCoy went to the Eagles and asked if he could switch his number to the now vacant #25. The Eagles had no problem with this, and last week McCoy came out in practice wearing a new #25 McCoy jersey, the number McCoy wore at the University of Pittsburgh. However, later in the week the NFL disallowed this jersey change to be made, and instead said McCoy had to wear #29 because there were already #29 McCoy jerseys being sold in stores. So, I guess if you bought a #29 McCoy jersey, you are in luck, because McCoy is still wearing the #29 jersey… for now.


Eagles Beat Up on Panthers

The Eagles beat the Panthers in the opener on Sunday to start the season off on a good note. The game however might not have ended on a good note with Donovan McNabb suffering cracked ribs when scoring on a touchdown run.

The game started out with a Panthers touchdown drive that basically took up half the first quarter and ended up with an 11 yard touchdown run from DeAngelo Williams. After that point, the Eagles defense would flat out dominate. After Akers kicked a field goal, on the next Panthers possession, Trent Cole busted up the middle and sacked Delhomme, forcing a fumble. Victor Abiamiri picked it up and fell into the end zone for a touchdown. Delhomme's day would only get worse. DeSean Jackson took a punt 85 yards for a score, and forcing the Panthers to turn the ball over all game allowed the Eagles to take advantage of short fields and come away with a 38-10 win on the road.

On offense, the Eagles were forced to do very little. The offensive box score looks weird for scoring so many points, but nothing really was needed from the offense. McNabb ended the game 10-18 for just 79 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and a rushing TD. I thought McNabb played well for the most part. The interception was the only real bad throw he had, throwing it to the linebacker dropping back in coverage. The Eagles receivers did have a few drops. The Eagles ran the ball well, Westbrook had 13 carries for 64 yards and a receiving touchdown, and LeSean McCoy had 9 carries for 46 yards. The Eagles leading receiver was Brent Celek who had 6 catches for 37 yards and a TD. Going into future games, the offense needs to play better. I need to see more from the receivers in general. Kevin Curtis in my opinion is really just not all that good. He's an average receiver at best, drops too many passes, and can't get open enough from the outside. He belongs in the slot, but isn't used there. When Kolb came in, the offense didn't do too much, and Kolb continues to struggle when he faces game situations.

The story of the game however was the defense. The Eagles defense held the Panthers to just 169 total yards, which included just 86 yards rushing. The Panthers were one of the best rushing teams in the league last season. Sean McDermott really did well in his first game at defense coordinator. To be honest, after watching the Eagles in the preseason, I was a little nervous about the defense coming into this season. Well, in game 1, they were solid. The ended the game with 5 interceptions, 2 from Sheldon Brown, and 1 each from Asante Samuel, Akeem Jordan, and Joselio Hanson. The defense also had 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. Darren Howard led the Eagles with 2 of the 5 sacks. The Eagles defensive tackles did real well against the run, and the Eagles were in the Panthers backfield all game. If this is the defense that will show up every week, the Eagles will again be one of the best units in the league. I will say that I saw Macho Harris miss a few tackles, which can't happen from your free safety, and Harris needs to get better as the season goes on. It won't be as easy next weekend when the Eagles play the Saints who feature maybe the best offense in the NFL.

As I mentioned earlier, Donovan McNabb suffered cracked ribs in the 4th quarter on a 3 yard touchdown run. Reid said after the game that McNabb would need to be re-evaluated to see if he will play next weekend, but all indications are that he probably will not. This injury to fully heal usually is a 2-4 week injury, but players have come back the next week and played, so we will see how that plays out. Either way, it was a good game, and a good start to the season to get out of the gates, especially for the defense.


No Clue What to Expect From Eagles

The OTA's, mini camps, training camp, and the preseason are finally over and the Eagles are ready to kick off the real season Sunday in Carolina. And after following the Eagles throughout all of the offseason camps and games, I still have no clue what to expect when this team takes the field on Sunday. I have never been this clueless as to how the Eagles will perform on the field this season.

On offense, there was finally some turnover on the offensive line this offseason. With Tra Thomas and John Runyan off the team, at least for now in Runyan's case, the Eagles wasted no time taking care of the offensive line by signing Stacy Andrews, and trading for Jason Peters, both solid offensive tackles. It also appeared like they would be getting all-pro Shawn Andrews back, and so the offensive line looked good. Only problem is Jason Peters was one of the worst players in the preseason, Stacy Andrews couldn't make it more than a few series at a time without coming out of the game, Todd Herremans got injured, and Shawn Andrews seems more interested in making stupid videos on youtube than playing football. Honestly at this point it seems like to me that Shawn Andrews is more interested in stealing money from the Eagles than playing. I understand that back injuries are serious, and can start to flare up at any time and take a while to heal, but Andrews is a guy you just can't take seriously at all. The Eagles will open up with Herremans and Shawn Andrews not playing, and question marks as to how Stacy Andrews and Peters will perform.

At the running back position, the Eagles are solid, but Brian Westbrook has yet to play a preseason game, and as recently as yesterday was not able to practice. Not practicing is most likely a precaution for Westbrook at this point, but Westbrook has still never played all 16 games in a season, and is only getting older and more injury prone as his career goes on. The Eagles obviously need a healthy Westbrook to have success this season.

The questions continue on the defensive side of the football. The Eagles last season were the #1 overall defense in the NFC. I believe that to be a good team, the Eagles have to have a great defense. Not even just a good defense; this defense needs to be in the top 10 in the NFL for the Eagles to be successful. At the end of last season, you had Brian Dawkins at free safety, Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker, and Jim Johnson at defensive coordinator. You can't get much better than that at those 3 areas. Now you have Macho Harris at free safety, Omar Gaither at middle linebacker, and Sean McDermott at defensive coordinator. Harris may turn out to be a beast, but has never played an NFL game, and is replacing one of the best players in Eagles history. That is a downgrade right now. Omar Gaither actually was the Eagles starting middle linebacker, and then was replaced by Bradley because Bradley was better. Gaither moved to the outside, and lost his job there as well. Bradley to Gaither is also a downgrade. Jim Johnson as we know unfortunately passed away this offseason, and I believe that Sean McDermott was the correct replacement, and will become one of the best defensive coordinators in the game, just like Johnson. But right now, this will be McDermott's first game as a defensive coordinator, and until he gets some experience, that is a downgrade at that spot as well. Free safety and middle linebacker are the 2 most important positions on the field for making sure everyone knows their assignments, and they are natural leadership positions.

The Eagles have a lot of skill on their team, just a lot of questions as well. It's not as if I expect bad things out of the guys like Jason Peters, Stacy Andrews, and Macho Harris when they are on the field, I am just saying that we have not seen a lot of these guys play in a meaningful game yet, and do not know how they will perform once the games matter.

It's not enough for the Eagles just to be good. We have been good recently, and that is nothing new for us. 10-6 and a first round playoff loss is not good enough for this team, especially when Joe Banner says before the season that the Eagles have the best roster in the NFL. If he believes this, and the Eagles do not get to the Super Bowl, it sounds like it is on Andy Reid's hands for not being able to get the best roster in the NFL to the Super Bowl.

Donovan McNabb has to be very good for the Eagles to be successful. Westbrook, McCoy, and Weaver have to be very good in the backfield. The Eagles really need DeSean Jackson to continue to progress and become the #1 receiver on this team, and a legit pro-bowl caliber player. On defense, the Eagles will need to continue to get solid play from Trent Cole, Broderick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, and Quntin Mikell. The NFC is wide open this year, and the Eagles are capable of getting to the Super Bowl.

As far as Week 1 goes, the Eagles travel to Carolina to play the Panthers. The Panthers were 8-0 at home last year in the regular season until they lost at home in the playoffs. Winston Justice will be making his 2nd career start at right tackle in place of the injured Shawn Andrews. Hopefully his 2nd start works out a little bit better than his first. It won't be easy though as Carolina likes to move Julius Peppers around the line and line him up at both defensive end positions to get the best matchups. The Panthers also feature one of the best offensive lines in football, and the best rushing attacks. The Panthers offensive line features Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah, 2 of the best tackles in the game. They run block well and they pass block well. The Panthers will run the ball with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart who looks like he will be playing in this game after not practicing recently. The Panthers like to run, and then set up the play action pass with the run. Just when you bring 8 in the box to stop the run, the Panthers will go play action, and have one of the best receivers in the league in Steve Smith to pick apart the secondary.

This should be one of the better games of the opening weekend slate of games, and when looking at the Eagles schedule, this is an extremely important game to win. When you are looking at an Eagles team that could finish anywhere from 7-9 to 12-4, you have to win this game against another good NFC team, and get off to a solid 1-0 start.

Bad Karma?

This creepy feeling of unease about Philly teams has been steadily growing over the last month or so, no doubt due to the Phils erratic performances and the Eagles' soap opera training camp/preseason. But now with playoff crunch time starting in MLB, and the Birds on the verge of games that count, the unease is progressing to full-fledged palpitations in the pit of my stomach. I'd like to disregard this as simply one more case of a life-long Philly fan expecting the worst -- understandable based on Philly sports history, but a premature overreaction all the same. After all, the Fightin's finally put Billy Penn's curse to rest last year, right? And the Birds, who looked headed for the dust heap after the Bengals and Ravens games last season, ended up rallying to make it (again) to the Conference Championships, right? All very good, but this year just feels more ominous, much like watching the character in a slasher film about to enter the darkened basement where we know the killer is lurking. The Phils are entering the most crucial part of the season looking eminently beatable by just about anyone: Hamels continues his Jekyll & Hyde act; Lee is looking human; Happ is nicked-up and is unproven in crunch time; Blanton has been surprisingly consistent but (as last night indicates) can't be counted on to function as the de facto ace; they have no dependable closer; their bats are relying exlusively on HR flurries and can't produce rallies; when they get good pitching, their bats go silent; when their bats are productive, their pitching sucks. Any way you slice it, this can add up to an ugly finish. And then there are the Birds: a wrecked O-Line with more holes than Swiss cheese; a quite possibly bipolar Shawn Andrews who clearly prefers making bad rap songs in homage to Michael Phelps than making any plays on a football field; a highly questionable knee attached to the Pro Bowl running back; a linebacking corps missing its top leader and performer; a 5th round draft pick rookie who never played safety in college taking over Dawk's starting position; a rookie defensive coordinator taking over for one of the best assistant coaches in the NFL; a possibly chaotic offensive scheme occasioned by the peculiar need to find a way to get Vick on the field. And this doesn't even take into account Reid's typical play calling gaffes and game day brain freezes. Given all this, I think it's quite reasonable, even at this early date, to be very concerned about what we'll be seeing at The Link and on our TV screens for the next 4 months. Tums anyone?

Friday Football Picks

Mr. Green – Overall Record: (1-2)
USC (-7) at Ohio State
Wake Forest (-3) vs. Stanford
Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Buffalo
Chargers (-9.5) at Raiders

Roget – Overall Record: (2-1)
Oklahoma State (-15) vs. Houston
Purdue (+12) at Oregon
Cowboys (-6) at Buccaneers
Texans (-4) vs. Jets

Jack Flack – Overall Record: (2-1)
Iowa (-6.5) at Iowa State
Kansas (-12) at UTEP
Oregon (-12) vs. Purdue
Bengals (-4) vs. Broncos

Hollywood – Overall Record: (0-3)
Middle Tennessee State (-1) vs. Memphis
Bengals (-4) vs. Broncos
Cowboys (-6) at Buccaneers
Eagles (-2) at Panthers

Willard – Overall Record: (0-0)
Jaguars (+7) at Colts
Vikings (-3.5) at Browns
Redskins (+6.5) at Giants
Chargers (-9.5) at Raiders

Dr. G - Overall Record (0-0)
Syracuse (+28.5) at Penn State
Navy (-8) vs. Louisiana Tech
Chargers (-9.5) vs. Oakland
Cowboys (-6) at Buccaneers

Overall Winning Percentage
1. Roget (66.7%)
1. Jack Flack (66.7%)
3. Mr. Green (33.3%)
4. Hollywood (0%)
5. Dr. G (N/A)
5. Willard (N/A)


Lidge Pulled in 9th

Brad Lidge came in in the 9th inning tonight, and wasn't able to get the save. In fact, he wasn't even able to make it through the inning. Lidge got 1 out in the inning, and then left the bases loaded, on a single, hit batter, wild pitch, and a walk. Luckily for Lidge, after he came out of the game, Ryan Madson struck out Ryan Zimmerman, and retired Adam Dunn on a groundout to preserve the 5-3 win for the Phillies.

I'm not really sure where this leaves the Phillies bullpen in terms of who the closer is. Brett Myers came in in the 7th inning, relieving Martinez, and got an out in the 7th, and then pitched a scoreless 8th. As previously mentioned, Madson came in and got the save with 2 outs, and held the Nationals to 0 runs when he came in with the bases loaded and no one out. It's obviously not good when you pull your closer in the 9th inning.

The Phillies really needed to win this game, as the Nationals are terrible, but yet always seem to battle against the Phillies. The Phillies scored 5 runs, on 5 solo home runs... classic Phillies. It's good that we hit a lot of homers, but the homers will always be there; we need to get better at generating runs. Rollins and Victorino need to get on base, and start stealing some bases. The 5 solo home runs were hit by Ibanez, Werth, Ibanez again, Ruiz, and Utley. Utley and Ibanez reached 30 home runs on the season, which gives the Phillies 4 players with 30 or more homers this year. Pedro Martinez moved to 4-0 on the year going 6.2 innings, and allowing 3 earned runs.


Eagles Name Starting Free Safety

Qunitin Demps less than a week ago that the Eagles need to get it over with and name their starting free safety. Well they did, and it's rookie 5th round draft pick Macho Harris. About a week ago, no one even really knew that Harris was in line for the starting free safety job. Harris was being mixed in at safety, but also was playing cornerback. Harris obviously has some big shoes to fill as this has been the spot held down by Brian Dawkins for the past decade. Guys like Harris, and Omar Gaither will need to step up their game a lot this season to make up for the absences of Dawkins and Stewart Bradley.

Demps also will not be the main kick returner this year, as that job looks like it will belong to Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs was the kick returner last season with the Patriots and was one of the best in the league.

Also, since the Eagles made their final cuts, I still feel like a move needs to be made at wide receiver, as the Eagles kept 7. Reggie Brown seems likely to not be on the team by the start of the season, as he doesn't have much of a role on this team anymore. The Eagles need to activate Vick so he gets to practice with the team, which will also require getting rid of a player. I really want the Eagles to sign Alex Smith, the tight end who was just released by the Patriots. Smith is a good sized tight end, who is above average at both blocking and catching the ball. The latest news on Smith is that the Giants brought him in for a workout. The Eagles only kept 2 tight ends in Brent Celek, and Tony Curtis, so I anticipate something will need to be done there also.


Pitt Starts Season Off With Win

The Pitt Panthers won the first game of the season 38-3 over Division 1-AA opponent Youngstown State. It was a good win for the Panthers, even though it was against a clearly inferior opponent. The Panthers may have found their next start in true freshman Dion Lewis, who ran for 129 yards and 2 TD's, and also had a receiving touchdown. Lewis had over 100 rushing yards in the first half alone. Jonathan Baldwin led all Pitt receivers with 70 receiving yards.

The quarterback situation, which seems to be one of the few weak spots on this Pitt team was alright. Bill Stull was boo'ed heavily in the first half, and ended the game 11 for 16 for 123 yards, 2 TD's and 1 INT. Backup Tino Sunseri, who is a redshirt freshman also saw time and went 5 for 8 for 80 yards and 1 TD. If Stull struggles at all, look for Sunseri to play a lot this season, as it looks like Pat Bostick will be redshirted.

On defense, Pitt played well, and picked off 2 passes, and had 6 sacks. New starting middle linebacker Adam Gunn had 8 tackles and 2 sacks for the Panthers. Pitt faces a much tougher game next weekend when to go to Buffalo, who has one of the best young coaches in the nation, and also played Pitt tough last year in Pittsburgh.

Other thoughts from the opening weekend of college football--

The Big East has some good receivers - Mike Williams of Syracuse, Mardy Gilyard on Cincinnati, and Pitt's Jonathan Baldwin. Give credit to Oklahoma State, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia Tech, BYU, and Oklahoma, because most big teams just schedule cupcakes the first weekend of college football, and it would have been some boring football without those teams scheduling some tough games in week 1. Penn State plays 4 non-conference games, all at home against Akron, Eastern Illinois, Temple, and Syracuse. Jimmy Clausen is an official Heisman candidate. Dion Lewis - Remember the name. College football is so exciting, but then disappointing when you remember that there is no playoff system. This still sucks, and a college football playoff would be unreal. Luckily, we do our own here at Kotite's Corner, check out our 2008 college football playoff.


Pitt vs. Penn State

This post isn't to talk about how Pitt and Penn State should somehow renew their rivalry, because it isn't going to happen anytime in the near future. I will however say that it is absolutely ridiculous that these two teams do not play each other anymore, as it could be one of the best rivalries in college football. Being a Pitt grad, and having many friends who went to Penn State, it would be an entire weekend filled with travel, drinking, trash talking, and good football. There is a whole wikipedia page right devoted to the Pitt-Penn State rivalry. From where I hear, the reason that the two teams do not play anymore is because Joe Pa wanted 2 home games for Penn State for every home game for Pittsburgh. While it is true that monetary-wise, a game at Penn State will generate a lot more money than one at Pittsburgh, but it is still unfair. Anywhere this game is played, it would pack the stadium, and be a great game. Pennsylvania is a great state for football, and the fact that the only two teams in the state worth talking about (sorry Temple) do not play is ridiculous.

So on this, the first Saturday of college football, I figured I would remind everyone about the last time that this great rivalry actually did play. The date was September 16, 2000 at Three Rivers Stadium, and Pitt shut out Penn State 12-0. Pitt was led by star wide receiver Antonio Bryant, and running back Kevan Barlow. See the recap below--

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- For the first time in years, it appears
that Pittsburgh is Pennsylvania's best college football team.
And now the Steel City school has bragging rights for the
foreseeable future.

The Panthers shut out intrastate rival Penn State for the first
time since 1987, frustrating Rashard Casey while holding the
Nittany Lions to just 225 total yards in a 12-0 victory at Three
Rivers Stadium.

Nick Lotz kicked a pair of field goals and John Turman threw a
62-yard third-quarter touchdown pass to Rod Rutherford as the
undefeated Panthers (3-0) broke a seven-game losing streak to
Penn State (1-3).

The Nittany Lions failed to score a point for the first time
since a 27-0 loss at Michigan on November 7, 1998. But that
loss came in the midst of a 9-3, Outback Bowl victory campaign.
This season has already turned into a nightmare.

Penn State has lost three of its first four games for the first
time since 1983 and the Nittany Lions would have to win six of
their final eight contests in order for Joe Paterno to break
Bear Bryant's all-time victory record this season.

Today, the running game was completely shut down, managing only
64 yards on 33 attempts, a 1.9 yards per carry average. Casey
completed only half of his 34 pass attempts for 159 yards with
an interception.

The interception was also very costly. Penn State had moved
deep inside Pittsburgh territory when Tim Stein picked off
Casey, giving the Panthers control on their own 20-yard line.
Two plays later Turman connected with Rutherford.

Pittsburgh totaled 379 total yards but did not need much offense
to claim the victory. After a scoreless first quarter, Lotz's
29-yard field goal capped a 12-play, 62-yard drive, giving the
Panthers the only points they would need with 9 1/2 minutes left
in the second quarter.

Lotz connected again from 39 yards with 8:38 remaining.

Turman completed 11-of-19 passes for 272 yards and Kevan Barlow
accumulated 99 yards on 23 carries for the Panthers, who
improved to 42-50-4 all-time against Penn State.

No further meetings have been scheduled in the series.


Friday Football Picks

Friday Football Picks returns today, with a bunch of picks from the college action this weekend.

Mr. Green – Overall Record: (0-0)
Ohio State (-21.5) vs. Navy: Ohio State is trying to prove that they are among the nation’s elite. And what do the nation’s elite teams do? Beat up on a crappy opponent the first weekend, and put up a big number. Pryor should have at least 4 total TD’s in this game.

Wake Forest (-2) vs. Baylor: Wake Forest returns Riley Skinner at QB for what seems like his 8th year as starter. Wake Forest still has a good defense even though they lost Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith, and should cover the 2 points.

Oklahoma State (-4.5) vs. Georgia: Oklahoma State is one of my national championship pick this year, so that will suck for me if they lose Week 1. Oklahoma State has a very solid offense, and some question marks on defense. They still should be able to win and cover this game in Stillwater.

Roget – Overall Record: (0-0)
Ohio (+3) vs. UConn
Buffalo (+9.5) at UTEP
Purdue (-10) vs. Toledo

Jack Flack – Overall Record: (0-0)
Oklahoma State (-4.5) vs. Georgia
BYU (+22) at Oklahoma
LSU (-17.5) at Washington

Hollywood – Overall Record: (0-0)
Texas (-40.5) vs. Louisiana Monroe: McCoy's Heisman campaign will begin, and UL Monroe will be the victim on Saturday. Texas moves into Fla/OK territory this year as an elite team, and elite teams beat bad teams badly. Word out of Texas is that they want to prove that they are as good as Florida, so they plan on running up scores this year. Oh yeah, and McCoy’s stache is ballin.

Ohio (+3) vs. UConn: Sometimes, the gem picks are in the games that most people over look. We have a team in UConn who lost their star QB and WR and open on the road against a team that has bowl game aspirations this year. Ohio makes a statement in their home opener and wins this game.

Minnesota (-6.5) at Syracuse: I don’t understand this line one bit. That can be a bit scary, but if I can lay less than a TD vs. Paulus in his first start, there is no way I can decline. Minnesota should score just enough for this cover, even though they are not a great road team.


Pitt Panthers 2009 Season Preview

College football officially starts tonight, and the Pittsburgh Panthers open the 2009 campaign this Saturday at home against the Youngstown State Penguins, Ron Jaworski's alma mater. Pitt starts the season just outside the Top 25, ranked #28 in the AP Poll.

Pitt basically loses its top offensive player from last season in LeSean "Shady" McCoy, now a Philadelphia Eagle, and the top defensive player in Scott McKillop, who was drafted by the 49ers. Pitt will also have to replace their backup running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, and leading receiver, Derek Kinder, both of whom were 7th round draft picks.

When you look at this 2009 Pitt team, you see a very good defense and a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball. The main question mark starts with the quarterback position. Pitt has really struggled to find solid quarterback play since Tyler Palko left the team. Bill Stull, the starter going into this season, Kevan Smith, and Pat Bostick have all gotten starts the past couple season, and all have looked flat out bad. Bill Stull, a senior, will be the starter to start this season off. He has not been good in past years as the starter, and there is no indication he will be any better this season. All indications are that Pat Bostick may redshirt this season, which would give him 2 years after this season in order to start. This means that redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri will be the main backup. There is a lot of talk of Sunseri getting into some games, and playing some this season. Sunseri may be the starter by the end of the season if Stull struggles.

At running back, there are also some question marks. True freshman Dion Lewis may be the starter in Week 1. The Panthers backfield also features redshirt freshman Chris Burns, and redshirt sophomore Shariff Harris. These three guys will have to replace the production of LeSean McCoy, who was top 10 in college football last season in rushing yards and touchdowns. Even though this group is very inexperienced, all indications are that they can all play. Pitt will need to have a solid rushing attack if they cannot get much from the passing game.

At wide receiver, look for Jonathan Baldwin to have a breakout season. As a freshman last year, Baldwin had a good season, and caught a lot of deep balls. Baldwin can go deep, go over the middle, and has the size to go up and get the high ball in the end zone. Senior Oderick Turner is also a solid wide receiver on the other side. Pitt also features a very good tight end in senior Nate Byham. Byham has always been solid, but never really had a breakout season. If Byham is used correctly, he could be one of the best tight ends in college football this season.

While Pitt has many question marks on offense, the defense should be one of the best in the country. The defensive line is excellent, led by junior defensive end Greg Romeus. Romeus is a typical pass rushing defensive end, who will get his fair share of sacks this season. Jabaal Sheard, and Mick Williams are also very good players on the defensive line. The linebacking corps may not be as strong as last season, with McKillop gone, as McKillop led the team in tackles the last two seasons, and was among college football's leaders in tackles. Sophomore Greg Williams and senior Adam Gunn should be able to have success behind a good defensive line. Freshman linebacker Dan Mason should be one of the true freshman who will contribute immediately. The secondary is also very good, and led Pitt with 16 interceptions last season. Senior Aaron Berry leads the group, and is one of the better cornerbacks in the nation. Jovani Chappel, and Dom DeCicco also should be strong contributors.

It will be an interesting season for the Panthers, and I could essentially see Pitt finishing poorly around .500, or winning the Big East, and going to a BCS Bowl. Pitt will play NC State and Notre Dame in the non-conference, and gets South Florida, and Cincinnati at home this season. Pitt can put itself in a very good position going into their final three games of the season which are against Notre Dame, West Virginia, and Cincinnati. The final two should go a long way in determining the winner of the Big East. Even though the Big East does not feature any Top 25 teams in the preseason, there are a bunch of teams right outside the top 25, led by Pitt at #28, and also Rutgers, Cincinnati, and West Virginia are right there.

Hopefully this is the year that Wannstedt finally puts his solid recruiting to good use on the field, and gets Pitt a Big East championship and BCS bowl berth.

Vick Suspended Two Games

Roger Goodell met with Mike Vick today in New York, and announced just recently that Vick is suspended for the first two weeks of the regular season. Vick will be eligible to play Week 3 at home against the Chiefs, one week before the Eagles have a bye. This is probably a good thing for the Eagles, as they can try to work on more effective ways to get Vick involved in the game, and have some more time to do this. If Vick were eligible to play Week 1, there might be some temptation to play him when the plays with Vick on the field are gimmicky and not really working. Hopefully this will allow the Eagles to draw up some good plays for Vick on the field when he returns in Week 3.


National League Playoff Picture

The NL playoff picture is shaping up, and I wanted to take a look at what the Phillies should expect in October.... if they were to get to the playoffs. In the division, the Phillies are 7.5 up on the Braves, and 9.5 up on the Marlins. Ohh yeah, and they are 18.5 up on the pathetic Mets, and that is still hilarious.

In terms of the National League, the Phillies currently sit 1 game behind the Dodgers, and in a tie for 2nd place overall with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Rockies are back to leading the wild card, and are up 1 game on the Giants in the wild card, thanks to the Phillies win last night. If the wild card winner comes from the NL West, which would be either the Rockies or Giants, the Phillies cannot possibly play the Cardinals in the first round. This is probably a good thing, as the Cardinals have been playing great baseball as of late. The reason they could not play in the first round is because no two teams from the same division are allowed by rule to play each other in the first round of the playoffs. This would exclude the Dodgers from playing either the Rockies or Giants in the first round of the playoffs. It also means that whoever finishes ahead in the league between the Phillies and Cardinals would end up playing the wild card winner. Again, that is all assuming the Rockies or Giants win the wild card. If the Braves or Marlins go on a run and take the wild card, the Phillies would not be able to play either of those teams in the first round.

Personally, I want to avoid playing the Cardinals or Giants, especially in a best of 5 series. I feel like the underdog has a better chance the shorter the series is, and a 5 game series with the Phillies and Giants might cause some problems for the Phillies. Often times the team who gets the best pitching in the playoffs wins the series - this is especially true in a shorter 5 game series. The Giants feature a great pitching staff which includes two of the best in the league, Lincecum, and Cain. Also, Barry Zito had under a 2 ERA since the all-star break, and Jonathan Sanchez seems to own the Phillies. The Giants offense is fairly pathetic, but they are still a scary team to play.

As I stated earlier, the Cardinals are another scary team, no matter where you play them in the playoffs. Their pitching is very underrated, and they throw 3 quality starters out there in Carpenter, Wainwright, and Pineiro. Also, their offense is really starting to click since the addition of Matt Holliday. We all know about Albert Pujols, and now the Cardinals have some pieces in the lineup around him to beat teams. The Cardinals are playing very good baseball right now, and are clicking on all cylinders.

If at all possible, I would like to play the Rockies in the first round. The Rockies have a couple good sinker ball pitchers, but the Phillies pitching staff is better. The Rockies also feature a solid offense, but they do not have the offense the Phillies have - no team in the NL does.

The Dodgers are the team that really no one is talking about right now. The Dodgers have basically been in 1st place in the NL for the entire season, but have been struggling as of late, and coming back to the pack. The Dodgers are still a scary team, as they also have a very good hitting lineup, and when their pitching in on, they are a tough team to beat.

Bottom line, I think the Phillies are the best team in the National League. We can definitely beat any team in the National League, and if we get good pitching, I think we will. Essentially, I shouldn't worry about where the Phillies end up, I should just hope they make the playoffs and go from there. Also, I should be confident that the Phillies can beat any team in any round in the playoffs. I would like to get into 1st place in the NL, to lock up home field in the NL. The Phillies have actually been better on the road than at home this year, but you still want to play at home in the playoffs as much as possible. The Phillies went 9-0 in the playoffs at home last year, and have a tremendous home field advantage. It is a hitters ballpark, we are a hitting team, and other teams can often struggle here. Ohh, and we are the best fans in baseball. But first things first, we have to clinch our third straight NL East.


Eagles Final Roster

The Eagles roster currently sits at 75 active players after the team cut Charleston Hughes and Brandon Harrison today, and placed Stewart Bradley and Cornelius Ingram on IR for the season. The Eagles will have to get the roster down to the final 53 on Saturday. Here are my thoughts on what I believe the final roster should be, by position.

Quarterbacks (3)
Just a couple weeks ago, you thought this would be the usual lineup of McNabb, Kolb, and Feeley. Then all hell broke loose, and now there are talks of Feeley being traded, and which QB will be lined up as the #2 QB with the signing of Vick. McNabb obviously is the starter, and Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb will make the team. Hopefully we can get maybe a 6th rounder for Feeley, if we cut him, he will obviously not clear waivers.

Running Backs (4)
This number includes the fullback, which will be locked in with Leonard Weaver, who is a beast. The running backs feature one of the best camp battles for the 3rd and final running back spot between Eldra Buckley and Lorenzo Booker. Westbrook and McCoy will make the team, and should both be featured in this offense prominently. Personally, I don't know why people aren't talking about Kyle Eckel, because he is underrated, and can simply get the job done. Eckel probably won't make the team though, and I believe Buckley should make it. Booker essentially brings nothing to the team that the Eagles don't already have. Both Westbrook and now McCoy can do the same things as Booker, but better. Buckley seems to have some strength and should be able to run up the middle, although I'm not sure we will even need him to do that with Weaver on the team, who I believe will get a good amount of carries in short yardage situations.

Wide Receivers (6)
Another position that is featuring a great camp battle as to who will be the final wide receiver on the roster. DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, and Jeremy Maclin are locks. I think Hank Baskett will make the team. That leaves Reggie Brown, and rookie Brandon Gibson for the final spot... sorry Danny Amendola. I like Amendola, and I don't think he will clear waivers, someone will pick him up. Anyways, like Feeley, there is some talk that teams are interested in Reggie Brown. Also like Feeley, if the Eagles can trade him for a low draft pick, they should. Brown doesn't really bring much to the team anymore, and Brandon Gibson, who probably won't contribute much at first, at least has a decent upside.

Tight Ends (3)
Brent Celek is the starter here, and really the only player who will be on the team that the Eagles had a few weeks ago before Ingram went down. I also think the recently signed Tony Curtis makes the team, as he apparently is the best blocker of the tight end bunch, something Celek does not excel at. The final spot is between Rob Myers, Eugene Bright, and Matt Schobel. I do not think Schobel makes the team, and while I think Bright might have a better upside than Myers, and did have a good preseason game 3, Rob Myers still makes the team.

Offensive Line (10)
It's no secret Reid and the Eagles like keeping players at the offensive line, and keeping quality backups. Jason Peters, Todd Herramans, Jamaal Jackson, and the Andrews brothers are your 5 starters. Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles should make the team, especially since Herramans won't be ready to start the regular season. Winston Justice makes the team as the backup at the tackle positions. I think Matt McGlynn and King Dunlap are the final two who will make the team.

Defensive Line (10)
The Eagles should keep 10 here, but they could possibly keep 11. If there is an area where they might keep an extra guy, it could be the defensive line, and have to go one player short at another position. At the defensive end position, the Eagles will keep Trent Cole, and Victor Abiamiri, who if healthy should get the start week 1 at left defensive end. Darren Howard, who actually led the team in sacks last year, will also make the team. Juqua Parker's job isn't as safe as you would think, but the Eagles will probably keep him also. Chris Clemons can rotate in at left defensive end, and did well last season. I also think that both Bryan Smith and Jason Babin will make the team. At the defensive tackle spot, Broderick Bunkley, and Mike Patterson are the starters, and are among the best in the league. Trevor Laws is the backup at the defensive tackle spot, and has also done a solid job. Dan Klecko is the odd man out here, and I say this only because Darren Howard can play defensive tackle in 3rd down situations, and had success there last season. If Klecko makes the team, look for possibly Parker to be cut.

Linebackers (6)
The loss of Stewart Bradley hurts, especially since the Eagles not say they will start Omar Gaither in the middle, who already was the starter in the middle, and had his job taken by the aforementioned Stewart Bradley. Gaither, Akeem Jordan, and Chris Gocong are the starters for now. Joe Mays will make the team, and could see some time in the middle if they don't like what they see out of Gaither. Rookie 7th round draft pick Moise Fokou will make the team also, as he has had a very impressive camp. I believe the 6th spot will go to Tank Daniels, as he is the top rated special teams player on the team. That will knock out Matt Wilhelm, who will be cut in a numbers battle.

Secondary (8)
At cornerback, Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, and Ellis Hobbs are locks to make the team. At safety, you throw in the foursome of Quintin Mikell, Quintin Demps, Sean Jones, and Macho Harris. Macho can play either the cornerback or safety position. Jack Ikegwuonu, unfortunately has not played well enough to make the team, and hopefully can clear waivers and sign onto the practice squad.

Special Teams (3)
The usual here with David Akers, Sav Rocca, and Jon Dorenbos making the team. Rocca could be pushed for a job next season if he doesn't have a great year, but he is safe for the start of this season.