Alshon Jeffery played through cracked ribs on Sunday

For the second consecutive year, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery put his body on the line and played through extensive pain in the playoffs.

While it didn’t have a fairy tale ending this time, as Jeffery’s drop turned into a game-sealing interception, the veteran showed how much he is willing to put on the line for his teammates.

Jeffery hung around immediately after the game to answer questions from reporters about his huge drop on the final drive. What he didn’t reveal was a diagnosis from earlier in the week that he has several cracked ribs.

It’s no wonder Jeffery’s teammates quickly went to bat for him after the game. He played a deciding role in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots last season with a torn rotator cuff.

The 28-year-old is clearly one of the most respected and beloved players in Philadelphia’s locker room. Even after a crushing loss with a missed opportunity he’ll never forget, Jeffery should remain beloved by the team, city and fan base as a true representation of everything Philadelphia represents.

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By: Matt johnson

Winners and losers from the Divisional Round of the 2019 NFL playoffs

The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs got underway Saturday night with the AFC’s top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Indianapolis Colts. A week off did nothing to slow the Chiefs’ offensive momentum.

Led by Patrick Mahomes, who did not find his first career playoff start nearly as intimidating as the pundits thought he would, the Chiefs jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, and never looked back. The Colts hardly looked ready to play, nothing like the team that rode a 10-1 streak into the weekend. The Chiefs went on to win by a final score of 31-13.

The Cowboys and Rams met in LA for the late game on Saturday night to decide the first of the NFC Championship entrants. The Rams’ running game had no troubles against a usually stout Cowboys defense, and the home team rolled on for a 30-22 win.

On Sunday, the Patriots had no problems running around and through the Chargers, winning 41-28 to lock down their eighth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship game.

The Saints turned aside the Eagles, sinking their hope of a Super Bowl repeat with a 20-14 win in New Orleans. The Saints will host the Rams there next weekend.

Winner: Michael Thomas

The postseason hasn’t been filled with inspiring performances from offensive skill players. But the Saints wide receiver changed that. He and Drew Brees single-handedly got the Saints offense rolling again after a slow start. His best catch of the day — and there were A LOT of them — was on the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Just watch it.

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1084599206159908864

He finished the game with 171 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches.

Loser: Nick Foles’ magic

You can’t impugn what the guy did prior to this game. The Eagles wouldn’t have been playing this weekend, or last, if Foles hadn’t stepped up as the team’s “closer” again this season with Carson Wentz hurt. But he turned into a pumpkin again, underthrowing his receivers and just unable to get the ball to his receivers when the Eagles needed it the most.

With free agency looming this spring, Foles may have cost himself some money with his performance this week, maybe not much, but enough to notice.

Winner: Time of possession

It feels like we haven’t had a good conversation about time of possession since the early days of the Chip Kelly experience in Philly. This time it was the Saints putting on the clock clinic.

It happened in the third quarter. Trailing 10-14, the Saints got the ball at their own 8-yard line. From there they put together a grinding 92-yard touchdown drive over 18 plays and 11:29 minutes, essentially monopolizing the entire third quarter.

Winner: The Patriots defense

Absent most of the season, the Patriots defense looked like one of the NFL’s most fearsome in the first half of the game. Philip Rivers never had a chance against a pass rush that was previously dormant.

Loser: Philip Rivers’ legacy

He’s got more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions over the course of his career than either Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, but unlike those other two first-round picks from the 2004 draft, he does not have a Super Bowl ring. Instead, he and J.P. Losman have something in common.

Winner: Patriots running backs

The Chargers defense put on a clinic for how to stop a creative running game in last week’s win against the Ravens. Apparently, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was able to find some holes in their game plan.

Sony Michel rolled up nearly 100 yards and scored three touchdowns … in the first half. He’s the first rookie running back in franchise history to rush for more than 100 yards in a playoff game. He finished the day with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.

James White, who led the team in receptions during the regular season with 87, was Tom Brady’s favorite receiver on the day, catching 15 of 17 passes for 97 yards.

The Patriots chewed up the clock with their running backs, leaving little time for Rivers and Co. to put points on the board. It also helped keep the workload light for their defense, and teased out what their game plan might be next week against Kansas City.

Winner: C.J. Anderson

The Rams signed C.J. Anderson in mid-December, when Todd Gurley was dealing with a knee injury. Anderson had been released by both the Panthers and Raiders earlier in the season and was really just supposed to be a warm body while Gurley could heal up.

Instead, Anderson has bulldozed every defense he faced. In two games to end the season, he carried the ball 43 times for 299 yards and two touchdowns — that averaged out to 7 yards per carry. But that was against two of the worst teams in the NFL, the Cardinals and 49ers. Next up was the playoffs — and a Cowboys defense that ranked fifth in the league against the run during the regular season. Last week, they held the Seahawks’ top-ranked rushing offense to just 73 yards on the ground.

Anderson had more than that in the first half alone: 12 carries for 78 yards. Even with a healthy Gurley back in the lineup, Anderson was a force in the Rams’ first playoff win in 14 years. He used his, uh, rotund frame to help the Rams dominate the time of possession and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

Anderson was the leading rusher with 123 yards and two touchdowns. Plus, he did this:

All the Winners and Losers here

 

 

32 things we learned heading into divisional round of 2018 NFL playoffs

The 32 things we learned heading into the 2018 NFL playoff divisional round:

1. If it seemed the wild-card round was chock full of fresh faces and teams, well, it was. None of the eight clubs competing in the opening round was in action for last season’s wild-card games, and only the Eagles (a No. 1 seed with a bye in 2017) even reached the playoff field a year ago.

1a. But you’ll see largely familiar characters in the divisional round with Philadelphia returning along with the four teams on bye — the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Saints, all postseason entries last year, too.

1b. The last team to advance to the Super Bowl after playing on wild-card weekend was the 2012 Ravens, who won Super Bowl XLVII. The next 10 conference champs have all had first-round byes.

2. Gen X-er Philip Rivers, 37, has to be the sentimental favorite to win it all, right? No quarterback in league history has thrown for more yards (54,656) or more touchdowns (374) yet never played on Super Sunday.

2a. And how great (and entertaining) would it be to see Rivers’ Chargers take on the Saints … and former Bolts QB Drew Brees, who kept Philly Riv on the bench for two years?

3. But if you’re into unminted Millennial passers, Patrick Mahomes (23), Jared Goff (24), Dak Prescott (25) and, most certainly, Andrew Luck (29) could ride great story lines all the way to Atlanta, site of Super Bowl LIII.

4. Three quarterbacks made their playoff debuts during wild-card weekend. Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Mitchell Trubisky all lost.

5. Welp, Matt Nagy, guess you shoulda laid down for the Vikings in Week 17 rather than invite a matchup with the Iggles and your old buddy Doug Pederson.

6. Did anyone else want Eagles-Bears go into overtime (maybe double OT) just to see how NBC would handle its Golden Globes coverage, which began minutes after Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wrapped?

7. Rough night for Chicago’s Cody Parkey, whose would-be, game-winning field goal attempt from 43 yards hit the upright then the crossbar before caroming into the end zone. No good. Parkey drilled the Soldier Field uprights four times Nov. 1. Uncanny.

8. But if I’ve learned anything this season, it’s that Parkey is about to get a flood of support from kickers throughout the league as he copes with this unfortunate bounce. Bounces.

9. Nick Foles was picked off twice in Sunday’s win over the Bears. The last time he threw multiple INTs in an Eagles uniform, Oct. 26, 2014, Chip Kelly was their coach and Foles had yet to play for the Rams or Chiefs.

9a. The last time Philadelphia played the Saints in postseason, the 2013 wild-card round, Foles was also the quarterback (in a losing effort) — Kelly’s only NFL playoff appearance.

10. Congrats to Eagles WR Golden Tate, who scored the game-winning TD at Chicago, instantly justifying the scrutinized trade deadline deal for him — which cost Philly a third-round pick that appeared awfully expensive given the struggles to integrate Tate into the offense.

10a. Congrats to Eagles LT Jason Peters, RB/KR Darren Sproles and LB Jordan Hicks, who all missed the 2017 Super Bowl run with injuries but tasted a playoff victory Sunday.

10b. Feel for you, Wentz.

11. Was wild-card weekend’s MVP Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley? His unit was on the short end of a 22-10 loss to Baltimore two weeks ago. Sunday, it showed the rest of the league how to contain Jackson — essentially deploying a defense comprised of linemen and defensive backs to shadow, flummox and confuse the rookie.

12. Jackson, who turns 22 on Monday, became the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history. He looked like it. Make no mistake, the Ravens don’t win the AFC North without Jackson’s heroics in the second half of the season, when he went 6-1 as the starter. But Bradley and the Bolts provided a blueprint to stopping him and a fresh reminder that, though Jackson remains an elite athlete and highly effective with the ball in open space, he’s got a long, long way to go to be a fully-formed pro quarterback. He was sacked seven times, picked off once and fumbled thrice, losing the ball on his team’s final possession.

13. Who figured on Chargers rookie K Mike Badgley outperforming Ravens all-pro Justin Tucker? Badgley set a Bolts’ postseason record with five made field goals, while Tucker was 1-for-2 on three-point tries. Tucker missed five FGs this season, three against L.A.

14. Who figured on Chargers FB Derek Watt making a longer playoff run this season than brothers J.J. and T.J.?

15. The Chargers haven’t beaten Tom Brady since 2005. Rivers is 0-7 head-to-head against TB12, including two losses in postseason.

15a. But Sunday, the Chargers became the only team in the league to win eight times on the road this season. A visit to Foxborough, daunting as it is, won’t phase them.

16. The last time Rivers appeared in a playoff game at Gillette Stadium, the 2007 AFC Championship Game, he played on a torn ACL.

17. Baltimore’s second-ranked run game, which had averaged nearly 230 yards in Jackson’s seven regular-season starts, was limited to 90.

Full List Here

By: Nate Davis

 

Bing Predicts: NFL Wild Card

Top matchup for each Week 6 NFL game

During this week’s slate of NFL games, a ton of individual matchups will take center stage as 30 of the league’s 32 teams take to the field.

Can Denzel Ward continue his great rookie season in route to leading the Browns to a winning record against Keenan Allen and the equally hot Los Angeles Chargers? Patrick Peterson will look to continue his excellent play in hopes of stopping a Vikings receiver in Adam Thielen who is on pace to break the single-season catch mark. And in Kansas City, the Patriots must contend with the league’s best offense, Tyreek Hill included.

These are among the top individual matchups for each Week 6 NFL game.

Winners, losers from Thursday Night Football

We hope the rest of the Week 3 NFL preseason slate doesn’t come close to what we saw Thursday night between the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

For the defending champion Eagles, it was about as bad as one can imagine. Reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles turned the ball over four times.

He was consistently threatened in the backfield by Myles Garrett, and couldn’t click with Philadelphia’s second-team offense.

On the other side of the ball, Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor exited in the game with a hand injury in the first quarter. Seemingly done for the remainder of the preseason, Browns head coach Hue Jackson made the most Hue Jackson of calls by bringing Taylor back into a meaningless game.

These are among the winners and losers from Cleveland’s ugly 5-0 preseason win over Philadelphia Thursday evening.

Winner: Myles Garrett, defensive end, Cleveland Browns

a close up of a person wearing a helmet © Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai had absolutely no answer for this second-year stud Thursday evening. Throughout the first half, it was apparent that Garrett could get to Nick Foles on a consistent basis.

Philadelphia even sent double teams in Garrett’s direction without much success.

It’s this type of domination that the Browns expected from the Texas A&M product when they made him the No. 1 overall pick back in 2017. It’s a game-changing ability, one that will help this defense improve leaps and bounds once the regular season starts.

Coming back from a minor injury, the reigning Super Bowl MVP struggled in his second consecutive preseason outing. This week against Cleveland, it was about both a lack of accuracy and an inability to get rid of the ball on time. Out of the gate, he threw the ball late on an out route. It was a pass that Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell almost turned into a pick-six.

Then, later in the first half, this Foles pass was picked off by defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun.

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Eagles Trade Torrey Smith

Written by Ryan Wilson at CBS Sports.com

The Eagles might be a month removed from their first Super Bowl title, but they’re not taking anything for granted. The team will trade wide receiver Torrey Smith to the Panthers  for cornerback Daryl Worley, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move comes days after Philadelphia bolstered its defensive line, acquiring Michael Bennett from the Seahawks.

Worley, originally a 2012 third-round pick out of West Virginia, now gets a chance to play in his hometown. In two seasons in Carolina, he started 25 games and had three interceptions, 19 passes defended and two sacks. Worley was a replacement-level talent last season, according to Pro Football Focus, where he ranked 79th out of 120 cornerbacks. As a rookie, he ranked 33rd overall, and the hope is that Worley will flourish on an Eagles defense that was among the league’s best a season ago.

The latest offseason maneuvering reiterates the point made by Warren Sharp and others about how teams with young, relatively inexpensive quarterbacks are building to win titles right now.

Smith, meanwhile, gives the Panthers a much-needed deep threat. He started 14 games last season but had just 36 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ well-balanced offense. In Carolina, running back Christian McCaffrey was the leading receiver, hauling in 80 passes. He was followed by Devin Funchess (63 receptions), which goes a long way in explaining why the Panthers would be interested in Smith, who averaged 20.1 yards per reception with the 49ers in 2015.

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Eagles Win First SuperBowl as Philadelphia Burns.

Written by Colin Dwyer at NPR.com

You’d be forgiven if you went to bed early having chalked up another win for New England.

After all, the Patriots may have been losing to the Philadelphia Eagles with just a few minutes to play — but they had Tom Brady under center, the man who has helmed countless fourth-quarter comebacks, including a rather historic one to win last year’s title game. He had thrown for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns already by this point. Surely this Super Bowl would play out just like so many we’ve seen before, with Brady steering the Pats down the field to pull out the win — right?

It didn’t exactly pan out that way.

In a slobberknocker of a matchup, with both offenses looking unstoppable for much of the game, it was ultimately Philadelphia’s defense that made the decisive plays in the final minutes to win Super Bowl LII, 41-33. First, they forced an uncharacteristic fumble by Brady, then — after a brief drive by Philadelphia — they stopped the Pats again on the last drive of the game.

Now, the Eagles are Super Bowl champs for the first time in franchise history.

And, in a development that even a psychic would have had a hard time believing at season’s start, Nick Foles has been named Super Bowl MVP. The oft-maligned quarterback — who had been a backup riding the pine until a late-season injury sidelined franchise QB Carson Wentz — threw for more than 370 yards and went blow for blow with Brady, arguably the greatest player in NFL history.

In fact, it was Foles who connected on the game’s final haymaker, hitting tight end Zach Ertz for the go-ahead score with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.

But it was far from just Foles who led the Eagles’ relentless attack. Rookie running back Corey Clement racked up 100 receiving yards, including a touchdown, while ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount gashed his former team’s defense for 90 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.

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Which NFC Playoff Team is the Strongest?

Written by Marc Sessler, Around the NFL Writer

We’ve arrived at the doorstep of the games that matter most.

The playoffs are here, and this year’s flock of NFC contenders are a glorious gaggle of powerful teams dotted with watchable stars. Each of these clubs are laced with positive traits, but also quirks that render them vulnerable.

In a conference tournament that’s truly up for grabs, let’s take a look at what makes these playoff teams tick, shall we? Teams below are arranged according to how they’re seeded.

NOTE: Be sure to check back Thursday for a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each playoff team in the AFC.

1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

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Strength: The offense is compromised by the loss of quarterback Carson Wentz, but the Eagles held their own on defense over the past two weeks after giving up 434 yards passing to Eli Manning in Week 15. No team this season generated a higher disruption rate (the combination of pressures and run stuffs divided by defensive snaps), and no defense was stingier against the run. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Chris Long anchor a front line with the power to wreck game plans and rattle quarterbacks. The Eagles will need this side of the ball to play pristine football week after week for any shot at the Super Bowl.

Weakness: Philly’s weakness? It’s what used to be the club’s unquestioned core power: the quarterback position. Losing Wentz to a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 stripped the Eagles of their beating heart and one of the game’s most promising young stars. Backup Nick Foles was exposed on Christmas against Oakland and was downright awful last Sunday against the Cowboys before giving way to third-stringer Nate Sudfeld. It really shows in Philly’s vertical air game, too, with Foles sporting a 2.1 passer rating on deep throws — small sample size noted — while Wentz produced a 94.9 mark before the injury. Eagles fans went from watching Wentz operate as a cannon-armed, pre-snap magician with next-level mobility and Brett Favre-level derring-do to wondering if the postseason might be a one-and-done affair with Foles at the controls.

2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

Strength: Where do we begin? You can point to the team’s star-studded offense, Minnesota’s ability to overcome key injuries or the franchise’s rock-solid, slump-proof and resourceful coaching staff, led by Mike Zimmer. It all starts with the defense, though, which has held teams to under 20 points in a whopping 12 games. If the pass rush hasn’t quite been itself over the past two weeks, the Vikings still have reliable, Pro Bowl-level talent at every level. Beyond the team’s nasty front seven, the back end of this unit — led by cover man Xavier Rhodes and sensational safety Harrison Smith — has the raw power to frustrate a high-flying team like the Rams in January.

Weakness: I don’t see an overt weakness on this roster. Don’t tell me this year’s Case Keenum isn’t a Super Bowl quarterback, either, because he’s done nothing but magnify the play of his skill-position players. When Keenum ran into trouble in a Week 14 loss to the Panthers, his six sacks charted back to a banged-up offensive line currently missing left guard Nick Easton, who went on injured reserve on Dec. 26. The line can’t suffer any more setbacks. I’d also be concerned that tight end Kyle Rudolph came out of Sunday’s win over Chicago in a walking boot. Finally, we need to see Everson Griffen return to his pass-rushing heights from a couple of months ago, but chalk this up as nitpicking. This is the NFL’s most complete team, with a roster that thrashed the Rams in November.

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Alshon Jeffery is Doubling Down On His Super Bowl Prediction

Written by Jeremy Bergman at NFL.com

Typically, professional athletes tend to walk back bold predictions or statements made in the heat of the moment or the aftermath of battle. Alshon Jeffery is not one of those athletes.

The Eagles wide receiver on Tuesday doubled down on a hot take from over nine months ago, when he was playing for the Chicago Bears and nowhere near playoff contention.

“I guarantee you we’ll win the Super Bowl next year,” Jeffery declared then, right after Chicago had dropped to 3-13. The wideout said this knowing he was about to enter free agency, which made the statement all the more peculiar.

Now the most-targeted receiver on the best team in football, and ahead of a revenge game this week against Chicago, Jeffery’s confidence hasn’t wavered.

“I never said a team, though,” Jeffery told reporters Tuesday. “I never said a team.”

Jeffery’s transferable Super Bowl hot take looks better by the week. The 9-1 Eagles are in pole position to secure home-field advantage in the NFC and have put to bed any semblance of a race in the NFC East after dispatching of the Dallas Cowboys on national television.

No one would dispute that the Eagles at this moment have a far better chance to win a title than the Bears, who without Jeffery (or any go-to receivers, for that matter) are rebuilding with Mitchell Trubiskyand are stuck at 3-7 in the NFC North cellar.

But Jeffery cares not that his take has cooled.

“Winning championships, that’s most important to me,” he said. “A lot of players make a lot of money, but some of them never make the playoffs, never get to experience a lot of things. Like being here in Philly, the atmosphere where we all want that for each other. We all want to go to the playoffs. We all want to win a championship. We’re all together.”

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