Crystal Ball

WEEK FIFTEEN CRYSTAL BALL – PART TWO: Even THE GURU Feels (Somewhat) Bad for Philadelphia

My friends, THE GURU loves two things from the City of Brotherly Love – food and THE FAIR CLAUDINE. Everything else stinks like TOMMY BIRD on a steamy subway platform.

To that end, I’ve long savored any Philly sports disappointment, especially when it’s the Eagles who fall short. The 2002 NFC Championship loss to the Bucs is a personal favorite. But even I felt for the city’s sports fans after last weekend’s historically devastating injury to stud QB Carson Wentz, his right ACL shredded as if it were a creamy wedge of Monterey Jack.

My first thought when Wentz went down was of Robert Griffin III and how his career traveled due south after his knee was injured during his legendary rookie season of 2012. But Wentz, it says here, won’t go the way of RGIII due to his relative lack of ego and dedication to football over marketing.

Of course, Philly is a city whose denizens are used to kicks in the gut, and not just when they consume too many wit’ whiz and onions. Lindbergh and Jerome Brown died in their athletic primes. Mitch served up a 2-2 meatball to Joe Carter. And McNabb was visibly gassed in the biggest game of his career.

Yes, something about the Wentz injury feels different, truly devastating. In only his second year, the young star is already well on his way to joining the legion of most beloved Philly sporting legends, guys like Bednarik, Clarke, Erving, Iverson, Jaworski and Vermeil. The Eagles, with the best record in the NFC, were going to the Super Bowl. And then they weren’t, just like that.

After Thursday’s loss, the season mark is 110-74 (.598). On to Saturday’s games, with predictions for the remainder of the weekend coming tomorrow – that’s right, three editions of the Ball in one week!

 

SATURDAY

4:30 PM, NFL NETWORK

Chicago (4-9) at Dee-troit (7-6). This Lions team reminds me a bit of the old Dee-troit teams under the original Rasputin, Wayne Fontes. In three straight years with him at the helm, 1993-95, the club was all but out of the playoff picture before the coach rallied the troops (with perhaps a little help from Barry Sanders and Herman Moore) and got them to the postseason.

This Lions team hasn’t hits its stride yet with two straight losses, including a blowout to the Ravens, and a narrow escape of the putrid Bucs last week. Honestly, if this game were in Chitown, I’d love the Bears but there is something about Dee-troit’s homefield advantage. LIONS, 23-22.

8:25 PM, NFL NETWORK

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) at Kansas City (7-6). After the first weekend of October, the Chiefs were the toast of the NFL with their 4-0 record while the Chargers were languishing at 0-4. Andy Reid was on his way to Coach of the Year and Anthony Lynn was headed for a long, painful season. But things changed.

The Chiefs, suddenly and surprisingly, couldn’t get out of their own way, losing six of seven games at one stretch, including five agonizingly close losses. And the Chargers came together, winning seven of nine with both losses coming in hard-fought contests with two of the AFC’s top two teams, New England and Jacksonville.

Conventional wisdom says to take the home team in a tight contest but, as you could attest, THE GURU is neither conventional nor wise. I do know this: 1) San Diego has secured its last five victories by more than a touchdown with an average margin of victory is 19.8 points and 2) Phil Rivers has taken mediocre teams to Arrowhead and won in the past. What will he do with a squad that is firing on all cylinders? He will win, that’s what. CHARGERS, 30-28.

That’s it for this week, folks. Enjoy the games and God bless!

 

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