Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The A's Lost, In Ways That Defied Belief

The A's In Late Innings
I'm all kinds of numb from this game, considering it was one of the most heart-breaking losses and excruciating experiences of my life as a fan... but, well, I write a blog and have to fill it and so on, and so on. Let's just get into it.

> SP Jon Lester is, we are told and with all kinds of prior experience, a dominant post-season pitcher. So I didn't just see him spit up 6 ERs while national television still fellated him as if he we were in the same world as people like Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez.

Not to sound too bitter about this, but when your best offensive player is a .260 hitting outfielder with moderate power, and the biggest worry is to keep the other team's low OBP guys off the bases because they can steal a lot of them...

Um, no.

Don't let the door hit you on the ass, Jon.

> Brandon Moss held off from surgery so he could play in the post-season, and nearly dragged the team to a win tonight with two no-doubt home runs with five RBIs. It won't be remembered, of course, because that's not the way things work, but he deserved so much more.

> Ron Darling, in his bid to be the next Tim McCarver, talked about how it was a lucky break for the A's to lose C Geovany Soto early in this one, as if C Derek Norris was a better choice to handle Lester.

The Royals, of course, handed out batons at first base and more or less stole their way back into this game in the eighth and ninth innings, 90 feet at a time.

> My laundry blew two saves tonight, for the record. That's hard to do, but anyone who watched the last two months of the season knew that Sean Doolittle wasn't right.

> That might have been the first big hit of Albert Callaspo's like as an A, and, well, yeah. Moving on.

> Adam Dunn's career ends with a playoff game where he didn't start and didn't pinch hit, and I can't say I missed him. It's not like Sam Fuld didn't play his little heart out.

> Would Yoenis Cespedes have caught the ball that Fuld and Jonny Gomes turned into a triple in the 12th? Maybe. But since Lester blew the game tonight, yes, yes, a million times, yes.

> Royals' manager Ned Yost could have won this game with a lot less stress if he had just used his best pitchers in the 6th, when he had a lead to protect and chose instead to go to Yordano Ventura, who was clearly not ready for this level of pressure and inherited innings hijinks. But hey, better lucky than good. And speaking of luck...

> I stopped counting on how many lucky hits the Royals got in the late innings, or how the mere presence of Soto might have changed this game by a lot.

> Finally... I had given up on this A's team for weeks now, but of course, not really. That's not how baseball works, and it's not as if the Angels in the next round are the '27 Yankees.

They are, however, really going to look like them against the Royals.

Well, so much for baseball. Hans, bring on the funny!

NFL Week 5 Picks: There's Always Time To Panic

Yes, Yes It Is
The first month of the NFL season is in the books for most teams, and with the exception of the Cardinals and Bengals, every fan base has had a real good chance to lose their minds over how It's All Going Wrong. Here in the middle lands between New York and Philadelphia, you get to experience three fan bases worth of panic, all depending on what happened in the last game. Jet Fan is chanting for Mike Vick, Eagle Fan thinks it's the last days of the Reid Era all over again, when no OL could remain upright.. and Giant Fan is steadfastly denying that he was panicking after the first two weeks. It's what happens.

When you tout games, of course, your own sense of panic is never far away, but it's far more private... and when you start a week hot, like I did in Week 4, it feels like you need to get every last trick to make up for the bad weeks. Hopefully, I can keep things going, but if I don't, I promise to tear my hair out and curse the vagaries of fate that made me want to try to win a few bucks on this cursed hustle.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Minnesota at GREEN BAY (-9)

Packer QB Aaron Rodgers was as good as his word last week in Chicago, telling Packer Fan to relax and let him, well, just go take of business against a defense that wouldn't treat him like a rag doll. All is still not well in Packer Land, as the running game hasn't really paid dividends yet, and they aren't really a good defensive team... but on this short week, they get the Vikings, who might have a gimpy QB in rookie Teddy Bridgewater, and can't possibly stay better in the running game with a couple of rookies. Thursday night games have been blowouts this year and a mess historically, so I'm going to go with the Hall of Fame QB and the home field, and lay the points.

Packers 34, Vikings 20

CHICAGO (+2.5) at Carolina

Another rough road game for the Bears, who lost their mojo when QB Jay Cutler couldn't keep serve against Rodgers last week at home. They get an angry Panther club that got taken to the woodshed by Angry Steve Smith Sr. last week in Charm City. The Panther defense really isn't the same now that Greg Hardy is not around, and if the Bears don't turn it over, the Panthers won't be able to keep pace, especially with all of their name brand RBs ailing.

Bears 30, Panthers 24

CLEVELAND (+1.5) at Tennessee

Good time for the Browns to catch the Titans at home, what with the injury to QB1 Jake Locker, and the existence of QB2 Charlie Whitehurst. The men from Ohio are also coming off a bye, have a run game that travels, and can get after it on defense. It will be tight for a while, and then really not.

Browns 24, Titans 13

ST. LOUIS (+7) at Philadelphia

Way too many points to give away to a good defense that's coming off a bye, especially against a 3-1 Eagles squad that's been more lucky than good. Look for the Rams' defensive front seven to wreck havoc for several quarters, and the offense to maybe even take a lead against the very pliable linebackers and secondary, until things change with a turnover or special teams play... all of which is saying this will be a cover or worse for the road team. Oh, and don't kid yourselves, Eagle Fans: with the resurgence of the Giants and Cowboys, this is absolutely a must game. And one that will be far too difficult for comfort.

Eagles 27, Rams 24

Atlanta at NY GIANTS (-4)

Why the lack of love for Blue? They've got long rest from the TNF DC Beatdown, have played two very solid games on offense, and are deep on defense, especially in the secondary. Against a Falcon team that's only good when playing from ahead, they'll bend but not break, and score often enough to eventually make this one comfortable. The over is 50.5; take it.

Giants 34, Falcons 27

TAMPA (+10) at New Orleans

The Bucs usually play the Saints tough and physical, and after four games of malfeasance, I'm not sure the Saints are really a good team anymore. I'd probably regret this, especially if Bucs QB Mike Glennon can't avoid turnovers, and the Saint home crowd gets to wilding... but the Bucs didn't fold after blowing an early lead in Heinz Field last week, and that place gets pretty loud, too.

Saints 23, Bucs 20

Houston at DALLAS (-6)

OK, Cowboys, I give: your defense is mediocre rather than a train wreck, and that's all it needs to be when the opposition is turning it over and RB DeMarco Murray is the best in the league. Neither condition will hold through to the playoffs, or maybe even get Dallas there, because Murray will get hurt and Dallas is already working deep into the depth chart in the secondary, but it's not as if the banged-up Texans and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will be able to take advantage. So long as the Cowboys are patient and QB Tony Romo stays as far away from DL JJ Watt as humanly possibly, they'll win and cover.

Cowboys 26, Texans 17

Buffalo at DETROIT (-7)

Consider, for a moment, the recent history of Buffalo QB. EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb... and, well, that's the last ten freaking years. It's been ten years since Drew Bledsoe gave them anything close to a credible starter, and next up on the chuckle parade is Kyle Orton, who cared so much about continuing in the NFL that he pretty much quit a clipboard job for Dallas in the summer, before the Bills paid through the nose to give them a Manuel option. His first assignment is a road game in Detroit, in a loud dome, against a defensive line that's talented enough to bully up bad teams at home. Good luck with that.

Lions 27, Bills 16

Baltimore at INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5)

Colts QB Andrew Luck has been historically productive since that MNF meltdown against my Eagles, though it has been against Tomato Can Row, aka the AFC South. This week, he gets the presumably frisky Ravens, fresh off their clowning of the Panthers. I don't like either of these teams against a decent opponent on the road, which means I'm laying the points with Indy. Besides, there's no way that Smith Sr. didn't use up four games of hate in the last game.

Colts 27, Ravens 20

PITTSBURGH (-7) at Jaguars

How do you figure the Steelers? Beat a presumably good Panther team on the road, lost to a presumably terrible Buc team at home, and extra rest be damned. Jacksonville approached competence last week for long stretches of the game in San Diego, but being at home won't help much when Yinzer Fan is such a road guy, and HC Mike Tomlin is too good at bounce back games to let this one get away. But man alive, are they going to regret that Buc loss later.

Steelers 34, Jaguars 20

Arizona at DENVER (-7)

The marquee game of the weekend, for my money, with the undefeated Cardinals going to Denver in a game where both teams, glory be, are coming off the bye. I like the Broncos to cover the number for one very big reason: TE Julius Thomas, who is one of the best in the league at his position, and gifted with a Cards' defense that struggles to cover ordinary TEs. QB Peyton Manning is going to use him early and often, and then take advantage when they overshift to take him away. And the Cards don't run it well enough to drain the clock and limit Manning's touches.

Broncos 31, Cardinals 20

KANSAS CITY (+6) at San Francisco

Here's a secret that's becoming less secret by the day -- the Niners aren't very good on offense. QB Colin Kaepernick isn't very exact, the OL struggles to keep the pocket clean, and the play-calling gets away from the running game way too easily. On defense, they can dominate a running game, but a mobile QB should give them issues, and the special teams have been below par. Add that up with a home field that isn't helping them very much, and I'm seeing all kinds of opportunity for the suddenly hot Chiefs, fresh off a MN smackdown of the Patriots. Also, wouldn't you expect Alex Smith's Vengeance to at least be worth a cover?

Niners 27, Chiefs 24

NY Jets at SAN DIEGO (-6)

This is one of those perfect spots for QB Geno Smith to bounce back and ruin me, but the Jets' secondary is just too weak right now to deal with QB Philip Rivers and his ridiculous accuracy. In the long run, the Chargers' lack of health at RB will be a major problem, but against a Jets' team that eats the running game and can't get enough push against passing, it's actually a benefit. Points in garbage time to boot.

Chargers 31, Jets 20

CINCINNATI (-1) at New England

The temptation here is to stay with the brand name and home team... but man alive, have the Patriots been bad. They also face an undefeated Bengals team, coming off a bye, while they face a short week after a brutal beatdown. You can judge these teams by the names on their jerseys, or the laundry involved... or you can look at the talent and the way they've been playing. It's time for the Bengals to put on their big boy pants and actually play to their talent level. (Besides, I own Brady in fantasy. He's not rebounding, people. I'm going to own him into the fires of Hell. You're welcome.)

Bengals 24, Patriots 13

SEATTLE (-7.5) at Washington

I know, I know, a lot of points on a road favorite with a huge travel schedule. But the Seahawks are coming off the bye, might be better at 18 of 22 starting positions, and have a defense that might make Slurs QB Kirk Cousins curl up into the fetal position. And when QB Russell Wilson gets a short field, he doesn't usually waste it.

Seahawks 27, Slurs 16

Last week: 7-5

Year to date: 25-34-1

Career: 513-534-40

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm Blackmailing The New England Patriot Fan Base

Ka Ching
Hopefully, I have your attention now.

Remember 2008, kids? That was the year in which your Hall of Fame to be QB went down in the first quarter of the first game, when Bernard Pollard and the Kansas City Chiefs turns your man into a bystander for the rest of the year. That was the worst year in fantasy football to own the Brady, until, well, this year... when he's gone 2-2 with 2 ass-kicking blowouts, has put up numbers similar to those of guys who no longer start, and has thrown deep balls as if his last name was Detmer.

Want to know the commonality between these years?

They are the only ones in which I've drafted Brady for my fantasy squad.

Everywhere in fantasy football, people are dropping Brady for flavors of the week like Kirk Cousins or Teddy Bridgewater or even, God help them, Kyle Orton. (Hey, unlike Brady, he's got a WR1 in Sammy Watkins.)

That's not going to be me. I'm keeping him; I'm going to own him into the fires of hell. (On my bench, please. Matt Ryan is saving my bacon in a big way.)

So, why am I keeping him? It's very, very simple, Patriot Fan: I Hate Your Team. And Brady. And I'm going to keep him around, rub him up with my stink (Want to know my backup QB last year? EJ Manuel. No, seriously) until your eyes water. I'm going to keep him around until this season is well and truly lost for the Patriots, since Ryan doesn't have a bye until Week Nine. It's going to be my version of public service.

Unless, of course, you people pay up.

Consider it a Kickstarter for your club, a crowd-sourcing effort to do the only thing you can do for your beloved team. You don't want to see Brady go out like this, do you? Bill Belichick isn't going to put him on an ice floe like Drew Bledsoe and send him to Buffalo; he's going down the drain with him, rather than try the backup and adjust the offense to personnel that aren't sitting ducks for a pass rush that's always getting there. You don't want your last memory of Brady to be the guy who was in that Chiefs MNF game, right?

PayPal link's at the top of the blog, people.

Give 'til it hurts... or embrace the hurt.

Either way, I'm winning big.

Unlike, well, your team...

Monday, September 29, 2014

News and MLB Playoff Predictions You Could Not Possibly Care About

Toss Coin, Hope
The worst champ- ionship team in my fantasy league's history has been put to bed... and it's mine, god dammit, and flags fly forever. It's my first championship in my own damned league; I've finished distant second twice, and sixth last year, in a league of 12, so that's now officially a win on the money. Combined with my second place in hoop, and it's the one thing that's gone well this year in re hustle money.

Having said that... man alive, did I hate this team. I finished the year Logan Morrison and Ryan Rua (yeah, he's some kid in Texas) as my corner infielders, along with the spectacular disappoint that was Xander Bogaerts. (Didn't do much this year, but he's still 21 and relatively cheap on auction numbers, so, meh.) My offensive output was a middle of the pack collection of not good enough, saved by Dee Gordon's emergence as SBs from Heaven, and the other top contenders not doing enough to stop my armada of slugs. The club was carried by pitching, and not even the kind of pitching that makes you feel good about winning (i.e., all-in bets that worked of cost-nothing guys that worked out); instead, I go there with middle bets like Kyle Lohse, Jon Lester, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir.

About the only thing that made me happy about this year, beyond the money and the championship, was that I did nothing in the way of rent a pennant deals to get over the hump. Even when my team was last in saves and just needed a fungible closer to get into contention, I didn't pull the trigger on the dozens of deals that the non-contenders threw my way, mostly because closers tend to get hurt and lose their jobs as soon as you deal for them. I never believed in my guys, and they won; it's the perfect abusive relationship. (Also, I secretly think they're great and will be better next year, especially if Manny Machado comes back strong and Javier Baez ever makes a little bit of contact. But don't tell them this. We've got a good thing going here.)

And with that... on the crapshoot predictions of the not really playoff games, before the actual playoff games.

Oakland (Jon Lester) v. Kansas City (Jams Shields) - Tuesday night

Well, this is why Jon Lester is here, right? Unfortunately for the A's, James Shields isn't exactly a small game kind of guy, and the Royals have been (a) playing better and (b) at home. Lester is 3-0 against the Royals this year and 9-3 lifetime, with a 1.84 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, his best marks (by far) against any other AL team. However, those numbers are just 2-3 / 3.10 / 1.31 at Kaufman Stadium, so most of the damage has been in road games. Shields is 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.15 WHIP lifetime against the A's, and 1-0 in two starts of 14 innings against them this year. If you are looking for Green and Gold hope, Shields is 4-6 / 3.51 / 1.22 at home this year, and a lot better on the road. So by the numbers, the A's have a small but significant advantage at SP.

In the starting 8, it's a pretty mixed bag. KC is better defensively in lots of places (C and OF being the most obvious), especially with Oakland battling injuries. The infield is pretty much a wash, or even a KC edge with 3B Josh Donaldson gutting it out through knee issues; it kind of helps him that this game isn't in Oakland, since he won't have as much foul ground to deal with. Offensively, KC doesn't hit for a lot of power, which Oakland theoretically does... but that's been mostly a theory for a month and a half now.

It's also, of course, the first playoff game in KC in a stunning amount of time, and the place is going to be crazed for it. Which isn't that big of a deal for Lester, given his past experience in WS meat grinders... but he's also been working without his best stuff for weeks now, and could be more pliable than expected. The bullpen is also a KC advantage, and frankly, I think the A's are going to have better chances against Shields than they would the KC corps.

So... I'm leaning KC, but it's not very solid, because teams in front of desperate crowds like this don't always pan out (see Pittsburgh v. St. Louis last year), and Oakland might actually play a little loose and easy now that the threat of Worst Collapse Ever is off their chests. The better bet is with the home team, and it's hard to see how Oakland just flips the switch and starts hitting and playing defense like a good team again.

Royals 4, A's 2

San Francisco (Madison Bumgarner) v. Pittsburgh (Edinson Volquez) - Wednesday night

Bumgarner is a weird case; alternately dominant (18-10 and 2.98 ERA) and fungible, more combative than most, and able to handle the stick. He's usually better later in the year and has been good against Pittsburgh in relatively few lifetime starts, but it's hard to know exactly what you are going to get.  It helps that he's also their best SP in 2014, which has to give them a nice bit of confidence going into this game.

This pales in comparison with Edinson Volquez, who has given the Pirates a fine year (13-7, 3.04 ERA) and is probably their best this year... but is on his fourth franchise and 66-59 lifetime. He doesn't have the best stuff on staff -- that's either Gerrit Cole or Francisco Liriano -- but he keeps them in games, for the most part, assuming he's not battling control issues. In other words, this is a big edge for the visitors.

Offensively, the Giants are better than you think (their home park murders their numbers), and have loads of post-season experience to fall back on. They get after it pretty well defensively, and do pretty well in late and close situations, though the bullpen isn't as airtight as past years. Pittsburgh has the more electric offensive talent with Andrew McCutcheon and Josh Harrison, but they also have the letdown of not winning their division and getting in this game in the first place.

So, despite the home field, you have to think the road team are the favorites here... and for cause. Overcoming experience is one thing, but experience and the better SP is too much.

Giants 5, Pirates 3

Eagles - Niners Takeaways

Toe, Tap, Torture
> KR/RB Chris Polk lost his daring as the show went on, which was a little silly considering the day that the STS were having

> HC Chip Kelly gave away his lack of confidence in the OL with the pass-heavy play mix early

> Niner HC Jim Harbaugh is Reid-esque in his use of challenges and timeouts

> This wasn't QB Nick Foles' best day, but the run game gave him no margin for error

> The pass pressure from the defense made me more encouraged than the previous victories

> Fox's analysts went on about how the short snap range made the punt block possible, but given the bum's rush that STer Trey Burton was giving his man, I think the blocks happen at normal distance

> Harbaugh's play-calling seemed designed to minimize RB Frank Gore, which was quite a favor, really

> Short of putting on red poms poms and tassels, I'm not sure how Joe Buck and Troy Aikmann could have been more in the bag for Red

> I'm normally a bit soft on Ed Hochuli's work, but today's officiating was piss-poor

> WR Brandon Lloyd pretty much has one NFL skill left, and that is a freakish leaping ability to save bad balls]

> WR Anquan Boldin didn't do nearly as much damage as I thought he would in this matchup, mostly because QB Colin Kaepernick played a pretty poor game, really

> This was the first game of LB Emmanuel Acho's NFL career where he looked a little like the guy wearing his uniform in pre-season

> Normally time of possession doesn't really matter that much, but not when it's 3 to 1 against, and it's accompanied by big yardage discrepancies

> I'm not saying that he's the full problem here, but when you are going with second and third string OL, a dancing boom-bust RB like LeSean McCoy isn't helpful, and the team might have been better served with more carries for RBs Darren Sproles and Polk

> The biggest difference in Foles 2014 v. Foles 2013 is the missed deep balls

> S Earl Wolffe had the best play of his NFL career when he separated TE Vernon Davis from the ball, which didn't stop Troy Aikman from fellating Kaepernick for the throw anyway

> The flag for defensive holding when everyone on the field was assuming offensive holding was a special moment of Ref Fail

> Kaepernick's TD to Gore was one of those plays that should never ever work, and made the Fox booth all sticky

> I'm really worried that C David Molk is just too small for this level, and the running game won't be good for as long as he's in there

> S Malcolm Jenkins's pick and TD was the kind of play that gets you to Hawaii, and further proof that the front office is better at signings than draft picks

> The ensuing close up let see Kaepernick's dental work, and he's got some gold in the back molars, so that's good

> Every Red snap uses full clock, which is rarely a sign of a confident and competent QB

> On the Sproles PR TD, the kick was nearly blocked and the only issue for the returner was staying upright after a face mask

> Being up 21-10 with no offensive points on the road should never happen, really

> I'd like to see teams try onside kicks whenever they are kicking from the 50 yard line, since it's not like it costs you that much in field position

> It was nice of Fox to talk about last week's QB hit on Foles during this week's game, because talking about things that don't matter is such a great thing for play by play people to do

> Offensive PI is being called a lot more this year, along with every other kind of flag, so, um, yay

> For a mobile QB who seems more comfortable out of the pocket than in, Kaerpernick misses a lot of throws on the run

> CB Cary Williams removed Crabtree's helmet without touching his face mask, which seems like it should be hard to do

> Dawson's 51-yard figgie was huge, as it was points, nearly a block for DT Brandon Bair, flipped the field, and wound up being a game-changing play

> Play calling before the end of the half wasn't exactly inspirational

> LB DeMeco Ryans had back to back plays of putting TE Vernon Davis on the sidelines, then Gore for a loss

> T Jason Peters really has to stop taking plays off for heart-stopping injury scares

> Ertz's fumble was just the kind of game-changing mistake you can't make, especially on the road

> The defense then went out and got a sack, drop and sack that was wiped off by a phantom holding call, and that was as bad as any call made in this trainwreck of a game

> I thought Aikman and Buck were going to go down to the sidelines and yell at Harbaugh to call more running plays at one point

> Jenkins with the ball at the end of another Gore run, but after the Williams flag, I don't think anyone rooting for Green expected any breaks

> I'd really like to see a QB sneak on third and inches stopped, just once

> DT Cedric Thornton with one of the better games of his career, as well

> Kaepernick missed Crabtree for a walk-in score against the blitz as Fletcher whiffed

> Kaepernick to WR Stevie Johnson for the toe-touch TD was just good offense beating good defense, and the completion of the 4-point flag

> Four point flag on Williams for a play that should never, ever be called

> McCoy for nothing as Foles didn't block for the reversal, which is probably for the best, but still a little telling

> Foles incomplete on third as Matthews is blown up for some reason that isn't a penalty

> On 3rd and 14, the Niners called a weird draw to set up a long figgie, showing Harbaugh's confidence in his defense

> 46-yard figgie from Dawson is another good moment from an old K in a new yard with odd wind patterns

> Foles tries Maclin deep, and that's just bad decision making on pressure, into double coverage

> The WR also doesn't judge the depth to play DB, three turnovers in four possessions and an arm punt

> The defense might have gotten a three and out, but Kaepernick to Boldin isn't challenged and moves the sticks; not a great moment for Kelly

> Watching Red blow a timeout on snap count shenanigans was just unconscionably dumb

> 14 minutes left and Red with just one timeout, and if you want to tell the narrative of how Kaepernick is just too dumb to win big games, well, yeah

> Lee blows the pooch attempt, and the Niners only get 20 yards of field position

> McCoy loses five on the slow developing stretch play that hasn't worked all year

> Foles barely avoids a sack on the read option play action where the line isn't up to the task

> Third and 14 to Cooper gets 12, and it's been about a year since Green's offense has been this dominated

> Weak punt by Jones, not his best day, and the defense has to go do it again somehow

> Third and long is Kaepernick to Crabtree for 25, just burns Williams, and while it wasn't a kill-shot, it's more evidence that he's not CB1

> Hyde destroyed by Thornton, and that was manly for a loss of three; amazing how well they hold up in second halves

> Kelly took a 10 yard holding flag and gave the Niners another shot at converting a third down, rather than a figgie; Kaepernick converted it and wound up draining more minutes off the clock with an easier FG

> My only thought there was that Kelly didn't think his offense was up to scoring a TD today, and that he needed to keep this as a figgie wins it game... but if that's the case, that's just as bad as the decision in any other way

> Red's delay flag on third and 2 from the 11 was just more evidence that this team's time is passing

> Third and 7 from the 16 is a give to Hyde, who gets slowed by Jenkins and stopped by others (barely)

> Dawson connects, and it's 26-21 with 6:38 left; still possible for the offense to show up and win this, after missing the first 54 minutes

> Polk can't make it to the 20, there are flags, and OK, it wasn't hard enough before

> Foles to Maclin for a first down, and hey, that wasn't a slow developing run to loss by McCoy

> McCoy's worst day as a pro in pass protection, too

> Foles to Maclin for a first on what might not have been a catch

> Foles has Cooper open deep, but doesn't connect, and it's second and 10 and a lack of patience

> Screen to WR Brad Smith, who stumbles for 11 and a first down, and hey, Smith's still on the team

> First snap in Red territory is Foles to Ertz for 14 more

> Foles tries Maclin on the little known fly out of bounds route; the WR pulled up and that looked bad

> Double fake screen goes nowhere and the QB takes a shot to boot, and maybe you shouldn't call that play against the best LBs in the league

> Third and 14 to Maclin is the catch of the year; left handed, one hand, first down and unreal

> Harbaugh challenges as the Eagles try to quick snap it

> There's no way that should be reversed, or anything but applauded

> Foles tries Cooper in the end zone; should been caught for a score, shouldn't have been thrown given the coverage

> Foles to Matthews for a first down and out of bounds, nice work by the WR

> Foles out of the end zone on first, and no ground game at all on this drive, which says more about the line than anything

> McCoy to the 1, actual holes by the lie on that play, and the offense lets it go to the 2-minute warning

> Third and goal from the 2 is Foles to Ertz, misses, as McCoy blows the block and the clock doesn't even run

> Fourth and goal, Foles misses on a keeper, but the QB's lack of foot speed limits options, and Maclin wasn't open at all

> It's amazing how little Red respected the run on third or fourth down, and how Green didn't give their theoretically best player a chance to take the lead

> Still a game with 3 timeouts and 1:50 left on the clock, and a safety would do wonders

> Gore for three yards takes some pressure off for Red

> Second and 7 is Gore for 2, DT Bennie Logan with the play, and the second timeout taken

> Third and 5 and still a game is Gore and stopped, and that's everything you could hope for there

> Sproles back for the punt, and gets 8, but instead it's Fletcher for a weak clip

> 69 yards from an utter theft win, but the club never got a first down

> Only the second time in NFL history that a team has lost with three return TDs

> This was a game everyone in Philly thought the Eagles would lose, but the way in which they did it was still really disappointing

> With luck, Lane Johnson returns next week to give the team a semblance of an OL again... but with the huge Dallas and New York wins, you will forgive the fan base for not freaking out

> Next week is the Rams, off a bye, at home, but with a defensive front seven that is as good or better than what the Niners run out there

> So much for locking down the division with a lack of drama