The stage, or shall we say cage, is set.
The Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons this Saturday at 4:35pm on NBC. The Birds are home underdogs, something that hasn’t happened for a one seed in the playoffs since 1970. The Falcons face the Birds because they took down the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night, 26-13. In the other Wild Card Weekend games, another Andy Reid team collapsed, Jacksonville was not as bad as Buffalo, and the Saints managed not to give it away to the Panthers.
It was an entertaining weekend, here is the schedule for the divisional round:
Saturday, January 13
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:35 p.m. (NBC)
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots, 8:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, January 14
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, 4:40 p.m. (FOX)
Now we have the week to over-analyze and overreact!
But first, a word from our sponsors:
Legal. Check out Krasno, Krasno and Onwudinjo when you need a workers’ compensation or social security attorney.
Birds. Get one. Shop now.
Fresh. The best meal delivery service, without question. Sign up for Hello Fresh now and get $40 off your first two boxes.
Amazon. If you shop Amazon, support your favorite website and use our link.
Propane. Enter our contest to win $500 worth of tailgating equipment from AmeriGas!
The Flyers have been busy over the last few days and fared well as they are currently riding a three-game winning streak. The team is now boasting a 19-15-8 record.
Anthony SanFilippo took a look at the team at the midway point:
Despite all the ups and downs of the season, the Flyers find themselves at the halfway point just two points out of a playoff spot, which is pretty hard to believe considering a 10-game losing streak was included in that first half.
But it might be because of three players – Giroux, Couturier and Jake Voracek.
This isn’t to slight anyone else – Ivan Provorov has been excellent. Shayne Gostisbehere is third in the league in scoring for a defenseman and Elliott has done his job keeping the Flyers in games.
But this season has been and continues to be about the big three.
And while they might not be a line anymore, they’re still doing some really good things.
Philly has a few days off before it returns to the ice on Saturday at the New Jersey Devils.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are on the uptick as well. The team saw the Flyers win streak and raised them one as the 76ers are winners of their last four games. The team now has a 19-19 record, a .500 record that is historic… or something:
Paging Doug Collins! At 19-19, this is the latest into a season the Sixers have been .500 or better since April 26, 2012
— Dan Gelston (@APgelston) January 6, 2018
In addition to the players on the game court, there is another player on the practice court as well with the return of Markelle Fultz, who is now the star of several videos of random, over-criticized shots on side courts:
Sixers play tonight but you're really just here for the grainy Fultz free throw video: pic.twitter.com/Th71q2Ynhs
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) January 5, 2018
In another step forward over the weekend, the rookie returned to to five-on-five and the majority of practice.
From Kevin Kinkead’s Sixers’ Sunday piece:
We did get an update from Brett Brown, who says the rookie guard is coming along nicely.
“He didn’t go through the full practice today, but he went through the large majority of it,” Brown said. “Anything that had transition defense, or play calls, or slides, or passing drills – he went through the whole thing, in relation to, he had the ability to do whatever I wanted. He didn’t go through the entire practice, but he was available to do a very large majority of it.
“He played five-on-five and got up and down the court in a more detailed, lengthy way. I think that’s the thing that stands out the most, that he was more available to do things that he had been less available to do in the past.”
That included full contact, according to Brown, who says Fultz will travel to London, though he’s not expected to play. There’s no target date for a return, though 1/15 against Toronto, MLK Day, seems like it would be the goal.
The team hits the road today to London, where it faces the Boston Celtics at the 02 Arena on Thursday at 3pm eastern. So set the DVR, plan a sick day, and find a way to get your hands on this:
— Chris Heck (@chrisheck76) January 7, 2018
The Sixers are heading across the pond this week and the Eagles may be following suit next season:
The #eagles could have schedule announcement this week for coming season. They will know if they play in London. I’m told #NFL will announce this Thursday January 11 the matchups for London games. Eagles could play #jaguars or #titans there. @SportsRadioWIP
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) January 7, 2018
Jon Gruden called the Chiefs-Titans game on ESPN on Saturday night and at the end, basically confirmed his future as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Later on, the Raiders officially announced it. Press conference coming on Tuesday.
Marcus Peters knows where he is going after that loss:
Chiefs fan: 'Lets go Marcus!'
Marcus Peters: 'S–t where we going, home?' 💀💀💀
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 7, 2018
Jeff Triplette, who poorly reffed the Chiefs’ game, is reportedly also going home:
Jeff Triplette, the much-criticized referee who worked Saturday’s Titans-Chiefs game, has reportedly decided to call it a career.
Triplette has told people around the league that he is retiring from the officiating business, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network reports.
A guy ate at 16 different Philly cheesesteak places in 12 hours and lived to tell the story:
What was I looking for? It starts with the steak. The Philly cheesesteak is made with sliced ribeye, and it can be prepared in three distinct ways. The steak can be chopped finely, pulled or chopped into loosely-separated ribbons, or left in fully-intact large pieces. For me, the best cheesesteaks have ribbons of steak. The fine chop generally gets too dry, and the full-sized slices don’t let the cheese permeate every nook and cranny of the sandwich. Ribbons preserve the juices, allow for slight crisping, and let the Cheese Whiz and onions hang out in one beautiful mess.
North Dakota State football won its sixth FCS title in seven years over the weekend.
Some instant replay and officiating decisions came to the forefront again over the weekend and we’d be foolish not to think that it will be more prevalent as we get closer to the Super Bowl. This season the inconsistencies seem even more profound and the NFL agrees something needs to change. Their reported solution? Bringing back Dean Blandino:
There’s already talk in some league circles about a possible Blandino return in 2018. I recently joked with Blandino during a recent appearance on the PFT PM podcast regarding the possibility of returning for the postseason. He initially said he’s happy in his current job at FOX, but when pressed he said that it “depends on what the numbers are, what the finances look like.”
This stat should start your week off right:
Today, the Jags won their first playoff game in 10 years…
…and they still have twice as many wins as the Cowboys since 1996. pic.twitter.com/TXCJDcq2Ei
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 7, 2018
In non-sports news:
The cold snap looks to be winding down here on the east coast. Meanwhile, Sydney, Australia hit 117 degrees over the weekend.
The menu at Dunkin, and its doughnuts, may look a bit different then next time you visit.
People keep stealing Google’s bikes.