So that makes two weeks in a row of abject horror and frustration for Eagles' fans. The last two games, both tough losses, haven't exactly been delightful samples of NFL entertainment. We've watched our favorite team make crucial mistakes and get pushed around by decent-but-not-great opponents. We rationalized the loss in week 2 to the Cowboys because we talked ourselves into the Cowboys being sooooo good. We're now out of excuses on that front. The Birds are now in a position where they have to convince us that they are slightly better than mediocre. And even that is unlikely to be settled this week.
Whatever anxiety you might feel as an Eagles' fan today, don't for a second think there's a scenario where you feel significantly better at 8 pm this evening. That is, even if the Eagles do emphatically win on the road, what do we know? That the Eagles can triumph against another middle-of-the-road team? Super. Then we have two weeks to think about being 3-3 in the toughest division in the NFL. And if they lose, well, time to dust off the Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid eulogies.
This is all a long way of saying that very little will be awesome this afternoon or for the next two weeks, and there's the possibility that things could be really really awful for Eagles fans. It's the Kobiyashi Maru.
Everyone got that? Sound sweet? Negadelphia eanough for you? Okay, on to things that'll make me shout at the TV this afternoon:
What I imagine the Niners will be up to. On offense? How about Frank Gore off tackle left. Followed by Frank Gore off tackle right. Followed by Frank Gore off tackle left. Lather rinse repeat. The Eagles got downright pushed around last week, especially to the outside in the running game. I imagine that the Niners will try to challenge the Eagles in a similar way. And man do I hope that the Birds are up to stopping them.
What I hope the Eagles will be up to. Throw it to number 10. Run it with number 10. Get him deep. Run wide-receiver screens. I'm shocked that a rookie is far and away the Birds' most threatening player at this point, but he is. And he's got a bit of a homecoming thing happening here (played college ball across the bay) -- let him show the locals that he's a baller. Sure, he might do something stupid, but that's the rookie tax, and given the dearth of actual playmakers who made the trip, I think we're all willing to pay it.
25? Have a seat next to 37. Fingers crossed that the Klecko-to-fullback move actually means Hunt-to-tailback which actually means Booker-to-bench. Booker isn't a lost cause quite yet, but it's too early to expect much from him. We'll all feel better (especially 5) if he doesn't see too many snaps.
Will Curtis play? I would assume Curtis' participation will be similar to Reggie Brown's first week back -- he'll be out there, might see a ball or two, but we can't expect fireworks. Now's definitely the moment to snag him in your imaginary football leagues though.
Does LJ read PFT? So the Birds are interested in Tony Gonzalez? How you feeling about that contract extension, LJ?
The defense is officially on the hook this week. Shame on us all for focusing on the offense this week. The Birds need their defense to play well if they're going to win against the Niners. We should assume a mediocre showing from the offense -- they're missing a bunch of starters. The defense? Nope. They look pretty healthy. This team needs help, and the defense was humiliated by the Redskins last week. Sooo, Trent Cole, Asante Samuel, and other defensive players whose jerseys get sold? Time to participate in the culture of accountability!
Obligatory David Akers non-excuse. Dude, we do NOT want to hear about how windy it is out in San Francisco. Seriously. I'm mentioning this in advance.
A humble request. Can the kickoff return team make a play? Being in the stadium last week I finally got to see what the return team was up to, and it wasn't very impressive. Blocking was beat, and Demps seemed content to barrel into the back of the pile. It'd be nice to start a drive beyond the 25-yard line.
And the score? I'm a sucker. A total sucker. I actually believe that the Eagles can tough this out. I think they'll need some sort of Donovan McNabb scramble on a big play in the fourth quarter to seal it, but I think they get it done (ever so barely): Eagles 26, 49ers 22.