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WEEK FOUR CRYSTAL BALL - WEEKEND: Bird Day Afternoon
Commies face tough foe in Philly
My friends, it’s a big day in the National Football League as my beloved Commies travel to Philadelphia to take on the 3-0 Eagles. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be very tough for Ron Rivera & Co. to bring home a victory.
Putting my bias aside, this game feels like a football version of Little Bighorn with the visitors playing the role of Custer and his 7th Calvary. That was a rough afternoon for the General though I do recall reading that it wasn’t a total loss — a few limbs were not severed, and the Calvary’s beef jerky supply was untouched, even if no one was left to eat it.
We are three games into the Josh Harris honeymoon in Washington with fans like me, THE CHIEF and THE TRE MAN over the moon at the change in ownership. Harris brings stability, ethics and a moral compass to the franchise and we know how hard those qualities can be to find in our nation’s capital.
What Mr. Harris didn’t bring to DC was an offensive line and, through three weeks, quarterback Sam Howell has been sacked 19 times or 6.3 per game. Putting that in perspective, the 2-1 Commies have allowed two more sacks per contest than any other team.
To be fair to the o-line and their lead coach, Travelle Wharton, a fair number of sacks and pressures can probably be attributed to Howell, who has a Heinicke-like tendency to try to extend plays instead of tossing the pill to the checkdown receiver or throwing it out of bounds. Running backs in pass protection are also surely culpable, in part.
Of course, none of that matters to the fierce Eagles defensive front, which added University of Georgia product Jalen Carter in the NFL Draft, giving an excellent group even more firepower. Carter hasn’t disappointed to date and likely won’t let Iggles fans down today, either.
How can Washington combat the formidable Philadelphia defense? I’d suggest getting the ball to Brian Robinson and Terry McLaurin, calling plenty of screen passes and punting as early in each series as possible. Just trot Pro Bowler Tress Way out on first down and let him boot the heck out of it.
Kickoff is at 1 pm on Fox. Let’s call this one 30-17, Birds.
In other games, we’ve got an early-morning kickoff in London today with the Falcons (2-1) taking on the 1-2 Jaguars at 9:30 am on ESPN+. I like what Arthur Smith and the Falcons are doing, especially in the mustache arena where he is locked in an epic duel with Andy Reid for league-wide supremacy. More to come on this front but, for now, I’ll focus on today’s game. Jacksonville by three.
In the 1 pm tilts, I’ll take New Orleans over visiting Tampa Bay in a battle of 2-1 teams, Cincy (1-2) in Tennessee (1-2), the Rams (1-2) in Indy (2-1) and Minnesota to get off the schneid in Carolina as two of the league’s four winless squads meet.
I’m taking Baltimore (2-1) at host Cleveland (2-1) due to the 11 a.m. news that Browns QB DeShaun Watson won’t play with an injured right shoulder. In his place steps UCLA alum Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a rookie. That swings the pendulum to the Ravens, even with left tackle Ronnie Stanley still sidelined and Myles Garrett on the loose.
Elsewhere at 1 pm, let’s go with Miami (3-0) at Buffalo (2-1), Pittsburgh (2-1) in Houston (1-2) and the Bears (0-3) to take down Denver (0-3) in the Windy City. Best guess: Chicago wins this one on a late rouge.
At 4:05 pm, I like the Chargers (1-2) against the visiting Raiders (1-2) with Jimmy G. on the shelf due to a concussion and rookie QB Aidan O’Connell getting the nod. LA may only have one win, but Justin Herbert is off to a strong start, completing passes at a higher rate than anyone this side of Leonardo DiCaprio.
In the 4:25 pm window, I think Dallas (2-1) topples New England (1-2) in Big D and San Fran (3-0) holds off Arizona (1-2) in a tight one. This Cardinals team is a couple of lucky bounces from being undefeated and is turning into an early season favorite of THE GURU.
In the night games, I’ll roll with Kansas City (2-1) at the Jets (1-2) this evening and Seattle (2-1) at the Giants (1-2) tomorrow. This could be a make-or-break game for the Jints and BROTHER BLUENIK, with the latter’s gastroenterologist on speed dial.
One final note: the record currently stands at 32-17 (.653) after Detroit’s Thursday night win over Green Bay. Thank you, Dan Campbell.
Enjoy your NFL weekend, all, and God bless!