Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On November 8

Last week I wrote a column about the Eagles raising expectations by acquiring running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins.

Well, if the Ajayi trade raised expectations, Sunday’s 51-23 dismantling of Denver blew the expectations through the roof.

The Eagles didn’t simply win. They blew out the Broncos, scoring 31 points during the first half. The offense looked unstoppable. The defense was dominant.

These aren’t the Broncos of old. Their quarterback situation is a mess. Brock Osweiler, who started Sunday, couldn’t secure the starting quarterback job for the Browns. That’s sort of like being judged unqualified to handle the drive-thru window job at McDonald’s. But the Broncos have a terrific defense and solid running game, yet you wouldn’t know it while watching them get obliterated by the Eagles.

The Eagles enter their bye week at 8-1. That’s one more win than they had last season, and it took wins during meaningless games in the final two weeks of the season to reach seven.

The second portion of the Eagles’ schedule appears tougher than the first portion, but the playoffs already seem like a lock. In a worst-case scenario, the Eagles would go 2-5 after their bye. That would still result in 10 wins and a likely playoff spot. A 4-3 record, which is certainly reasonable, would likely earn the Eagles an NFC East title, a first-round bye and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

You never know what is going to happen in the NFL, but the Eagles making the playoffs is almost guaranteed. And, the way they’re playing, they would be the favorites from the NFC to reach the Super Bowl.

The only legitimate danger for the Eagles is injuries. Obviously, an injury to – I won’t even say his name for fear of jinxing him – would be devastating. The rest of the team seems to feed off the excellence of their second-year quarterback. But injuries in areas in which they are already thin, such as the offensive line or linebacker, could cause this team to end up short of their goal.

One other change, though, is the feeling that nothing can stop this Eagles team. To this point, injuries to key players such as Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles, haven’t slowed down the train one bit.

Instead of the customary waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop mentality, there is an aura of positivity surrounding the Eagles, which is why expectations are skyrocketing to the point that a Super Bowl appearance seems to be a legitimate possibility.


INTERESTING START: The Phillies certainly thought outside the box when they hired Gabe Kapler as their manager. Kapler’s initial round of media interviews when he was introduced last week indicate that the Phillies will at least be interesting.

Kapler’s views on coconut oil and “all over” tanning received as much attention as his baseball philosophy. Although it’s refreshing that the Phillies didn’t simply recycle a manager from the old boys’ network, Kapler’s lack of experience should be a cause for concern. The highest level at which he’s managed in professional baseball was with a Class A team in the Red Sox organization.

But Kapler brings a lot of energy and interesting ideas to the job. At 42, he is a relatively young manager. He also is the first Phillies manager in ages not to have a prior Phillies connection.

Will Kapler succeed? I’m not sure. But his tenure certainly should be interesting.


FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Congratulations to the Houston Astros, who defeated the Dodgers in seven games to win their first World Series title. For those who say the Phillies are on a similar path as the Astros, please look at the pitching staff. The Phillies have a long way to go to have a starting rotation as good as the Astros’ rotation (although the Phillies had Charlie Morton in 2016).


LATE NIGHTS: The World Series between the Astros and Dodgers has been labeled a classic, but it may not remain in many people’s memories for very long. That’s because they didn’t see it.

The games took much too long and ended much too late. There’s not much that can be done – or should be done – about a 7-6 extra-inning game. But, if a 2-1 game is still in the sixth inning at 11 p.m., the game is taking too long.

Major League Baseball needs to begin enforcing its rules about batters stepping out of the batter’s box between pitches. That’s one way to make sure most fans are still awake to see the sports’ classic moments.


COLLEGE HOOPS IS BACK: The local college basketball season tips off Friday night with sixth-ranked Villanova hosting Columbia (8:30 p.m.) and Drexel hosting Bowling Green (7 p.m.). Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Penn kick off their seasons Saturday, and Temple begins next week. Keep an eye out for a season preview later this week.


HUGE LOSSES: Penn State loses road games to ranked opponents Ohio State and Michigan State by a combined four points, with the decisive points coming during the final two minutes (the final play against the Spartans), and the Nittany Lions drop from second to 16th in the national rankings. I never felt that the Nittany Lions were good enough to win the national championship, mostly because of their offensive line, but that’s a big drop for such narrow losses on the road.


ANOTHER HUGE LOSS: If you want to know how important a quarterback can be, look at the difference in the Texans with Tom Savage at quarterback instead of Deshaun Watson, who outstanding rookie season ended with a torn ACL. One week after giving the Seahawks a run for their money on the road, the Texans lost to the last-place Colts at home on Sunday.


UNION TURNOVER: After failing to qualify for the playoffs, the Union cut ties with a bunch of players, some of whom were once heralded as players who would put the Union over the top and make them contenders. If the Union follows their typical pattern, they will bring in some new faces next year, signaling a change in the franchise’s fortunes, and then release them a year or two later after still not securing the franchise’s first playoff victory.


BROADCAST NEWS: I recently watched a broadcast of Upper Moreland High School’s one-point victory over Upper Dublin, preserving the Golden Bears’ undefeated season. The thrilling game was enhanced by the broadcast duo of Kevin Walder and Ryan Coyle. They may employ a little too much irony and sarcasm for some viewers’ tastes, but they were funny and entertaining while providing excellent analysis and insights. On several occasions, Coyle’s comments foreshadowed something that happened within moments after he said it. If either Coyle or Walder ends up excelling as a professional broadcaster, remember, you read about them first in Fish ‘n Chips.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 29 years, did not stay awake for the finish of most of the World Series games.

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