Philly In Turmoil

Handicapping News: Turmoil in Philadelphia

Perhaps the most anticipated NFL game today for sports fans, the sports media, and sports bettors is the showdown involving the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles (1 p.m. on FOX). Both teams are playoff contenders. Both teams are coming off a bye. But, one team in particular may be staring the end of an era right in the face.

That team is obviously the Philadelphia Eagles...with head coach Andy Reid on the hot seat after a disappointing 3-3 start...and Michael Vick drawing boos because he can't stop turning the ball over. The Eagles were a popular Preseason pick to go to the Super Bowl. They were ranked by many in Vegas as #1 in the NFC or NFL in Power Ratings. A loss to Atlanta would drop Philly to 3-4 on the season with a demanding schedule still ahead.

You can't say this would be the beginning of the end. Last year's stunning failure to reach the playoffs was the beginning of the end if the end is indeed on the immediate horizon. The first six games of 2012 just continued that storyline.

CONSISTENT FAVORITES TURN INTO CARDIAC KIDS

  • Philadelphia's season opener was supposed to be a breeze against a Cleveland Browns squad that had the look of an expansion team. The Eagles were 9-point favorites, yet barely won 17-16 after suffering 5 turnovers.

  • Philadelphia won another one-point nailbiter the next week vs. Baltimore as field goal favorites.

  • Philadelphia's only non-close game of the 2012 season was in Arizona, where they never showed up in a 27-6 debacle.

  • Philadelphia moved to 3-1 in Week Four with a 19-17 win over the NY Giants...once again failing to cover as a favorite.

  • It was time for the Eagles to lose a heartbreaker in game five, dropping a 16-14 decision against state rival Pittsburgh.

  • Philadelphia fell to the .500 mark with a fourth quarter collapse and overtime loss to Detroit two weeks ago. The Eagles had been favored in five of six games, but was just 3-3 in the standings heading into their bye.

Philadelphia returns back to action Sunday in the favorite role once again...in a matchup many expect to go down to the wire because Atlanta looks to be the better team and is also fresh off a bye.

This is a HUGE game for handicappers because the result here could shape the rest of the season for the Eagles. They're about to play several more close games vs. quality teams. A confidence-builder vs. Atlanta sets the stage for a strong finish that lifts the Eagles into the playoffs and back in the championship discussion. A loss, particularly a bad loss filled with poor decisions by Vick, and we may be looking at a collapse that seems a collapse to something as bad as 6-10 or 5-11.

THE ROAD AHEAD FOR PHILADELPHIA

Let's check out the remaining schedule.

Today:  vs. Atlanta, which is seen by many as a toss-up.
November 5: at New Orleans, where it's very hard to win as a visitor
November 11: vs. Dallas, another squad in desperation mode
November 18: at Washington, the NFC East's hot new story
November 26: vs. Carolina, the first relative comfort spot
December 2: at Dallas for a huge rematch
December 9: at Tampa Bay, far from a sure thing
December 13: vs. Cincinnati, might be easy but a short prep week
December 20: divisional rematch with Washington
December 30: at NY Giants

That's a tough stretch for anyone...but a BRUTAL stretch for a team that stays in turmoil. Yet, it's also a manageable stretch for a championship contender because nobody outclasses the Eagles talent wise. Today could launch them to 11-5 just as easily as 5-11. Playing nailbiters with the likes of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and the NY Giants means you're a playoff team. Playing a nailbiter with Cleveland and losing badly to Arizona means you're not. The real Philadelphia Eagles are about to stand up!

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