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Goals in Flyers’ last 2 preseason games for defenseman Travis Sanheim

The Greek God of Wrestling previews WWE’s Elimination Chamber, including speculation about a surprising development. Achilles Heel also tells you how NXT warmed up its fans at the Tower Theater, how Shaquille O’Neal may get involved in WrestleMania, and how far you’ll have to travel to see CHIKARA’s King of Trios.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions about his previous Little League World Series column, the Union’s schedule and the importance of the Eagles-Steelers preseason game.

The Greek God of Wrestling explains why adding Seth Rollins to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship bout at the Royal Rumble makes the match more interesting. Achilles Heel also offers his opinion on TNA’s television return, informs us of broadcast changes that go into effect this week and praises the storytelling on RAW.

Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Putting it on the Line

Posted by Eric Fisher On September - 21 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

As we entered the late afternoon games last Sunday, I had only lost one game. And I caught a bit of bad luck on the one defeat because I wouldn’t have picked the Vikings to cover (+5½) at Pittsburgh if I had known Sam Bradford wasn’t going to play.

I cooled off a bit during the late afternoon games, but still finished with an 11-5 record. My “best bet” was correct for the second straight week and went 3-1 in my “other top picks,” with the only incorrect pick being the Vikings. I’m 20-10-1 so far this season, so I’m going to try to continue to ride that wave.

I usually don’t like to pick bad teams, but you can see that my first five selections are of teams that range from awful to mediocre. It’s not that I love any of these teams, and I’m not bold enough to make them one of my top picks, but 7½ points are a lot to be giving at home, even if you are the Bears hosting the Steelers. The same is true of the awful Jets, who are giving 6 points at home to the Dolphins, who aren’t exactly Super Bowl material. The Colts are 1-point underdogs at home against the Browns, who should never be favored as a road team. The Ravens need to beat someone other than the overmatch Ohio duo (Bengals and Browns) before I pick them as 4-point favorites on the road (against the Jaguars).

My best bet was originally the hometown Eagles over the Giants. I liked this game a lot more when the line opened at -3½, but I still like the Eagles a lot at -6. The Giants have only scored 13 points all season. Even if they match that total against the Eagles, they need to hold the Eagles to fewer than 20 points to cover or earn a push. However, the depleted Eagles secondary, with three players sitting out Wednesday’s practice with hamstring injuries, caused me to shift the Eagles to my “other top picks.”

That left me to choose among four 3-point road favorites from my best bet. I think the Cowboys, who were destroyed by the Broncos, will bounce back Monday night at Arizona, which needed overtime to get past the Colts last week. Speaking of the Broncos, they were the team I considered making my best bet instead of the Eagles. They are 3-point road favorites at Buffalo. I simply can’t see the Bills’ ineffective offense scoring many points against the Broncos defense. The Falcons should beat the Lions, but maybe the 2-0 Lions are for real. In the end, I went with the Raiders over the Redskins on Sunday night as my best bet because I think the gap between the Raiders and Redskins is larger than the gap between the teams in the other games.

Let’s try to keep the roll going with my Week 3 selections:

(Home team in CAPS)                                           

(Winning team against the line in bold)

Rams -2½ at 49ERS

JAGUARS +4 vs. Ravens

COLTS +1 vs. Browns

BEARS +7½ vs. Steelers

JETS +6 vs. Dolphins

Broncos -3 at BILLS

Texans +13½ at PATRIOTS

Saints +6 at PANTHERS

Bucs +1 at VIKINGS

Falcons -3 at LIONS

EAGLES -6 vs. Giants

TITANS -2½ vs. Seahawks

Chiefs -3 at CHARGERS

PACKERS -9 vs. Bengals

Raiders -3 at Redskins

Cowboys -3 at CARDINALS

Best bet: Raiders -3 at Redskins;

Other top picks: Broncos -3 at BILLS; Cowboys -3 at CARDINALS; EAGLES -6 vs. Giants; Falcons -3 at LIONS

Last week: 11-5 (20-10-1 overall)

Best bet: 1-0 (2-0 overall)

Reid casts large shadow

Posted by Eric Fisher On September - 16 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2Nearly five years after they fired him, Andy Reid still casts a large shadow over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Many key players, such as Jason Peters, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce are holdovers from the Reid era. Tight end Brent Celek and Mychal Kendricks also played under Reid with the Eagles, as did Vinny Curry and Najee Goode. Nick Foles, who started with the Eagles before moving to Kansas City, where he was reunited with Reid, is back with the Eagles as Carson Wentz’s backup.

Reid’s influence continues through Doug Pederson. The second-year head coach was Reid’s offensive coordinator with the Chiefs. He also was Reid’s starting quarterback in 1999, Reid’s first season with the Eagles, until, amid growing public outcry, rookie Donovan McNabb was promoted to a starting – and starring – role.

Perhaps the most surprising connection, though, is the emotional one between Reid and Eagles fans. And most of it is negative.

The positive vibes toward Reid were never as passionate as the negative ones. As time has passed, the less-passionate positive attitude has faded away, leaving only anger and disdain.

Reid’s image still elicits a visceral reaction from many Eagles fans. The twitch of his moustache, the laminated play chart or the patented clearing of the throat during news conferences still anger many Eagles fans.

Let’s put it this way. Some fans will be rooting for the Chiefs to lose on Sunday (1 p.m.) nearly as much as they will be rooting for the Eagles to win. That’s how deep the dislike for Reid goes.

Outsiders may wonder why so many fans have so much disdain for a man who guided the Eagles to five conference championship games and one Super Bowl. Reid transformed the Eagles from a three-win team the year before he arrived to an 11-win team in two seasons. The 2000 season was the first of five straight seasons in which the Eagles won at least 11 games.

But Reid is vilified for not winning the big game. He never won a Super Bowl despite four consecutive trips to the NFC Championship game.

Eagles fans seem to blame Reid and McNabb equally for the Eagles’ failures in big games. The best example, of course, was the Eagles’ apparent lack of urgency during the fourth quarter of a 24-21 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. Fans blamed both Reid and McNabb for the failure to run a hurry-up offense as they battled from behind.

But Reid’s public standing goes beyond his record in postseason games. Dick Vermeil’s Eagles suffered a lopsided loss in Super Bowl XV, and he’s still a beloved figure in the Delaware Valley, doing commercials for a health insurance company. Maybe that’s because Vermeil was an incredibly popular coach. Reid was not.

Reid’s public persona while coaching the Eagles was not likeable. Although those who encountered Reid off-camera saw a more relaxed and funny Reid, the public only the saw the gruff exterior Reid presented during news conferences.

Reid’s demeanor during postgame news conferences was brimming with irritating qualities. Fans tired of the repetitive phrases: “First, the injuries;” “Hats off to (opponent);” “I’ve got to do a better job;” “I’ve got to put them in a better position to succeed;” and “Time’s yours.” Fans and media bristled at the non-answers to legitimate questions. Sometimes Reid couldn’t even be bothered to make up an answer, instead throwing out “and so on and so forth” and other nonsensical statements.

On the field, time management was a major issue. Reid’s poor use of timeouts was an ongoing source of angst for Eagles fans.

You might think that time has erased some of the anger toward Reid. You would be wrong.

There was some sympathy for Reid as his sons struggled with legal issues related to drug use, culminating in the tragic death of his oldest son, Garrett, at Eagles training camp in 2012. But the sympathy has faded. The anger has not.

For some Eagles fans, rooting against Reid is second only to their passion in rooting against the Cowboys. I wrote a column last January about a potential Cowboys-Chiefs Super Bowl being a nightmare scenario for Eagles fans.

Ridiculing Reid is still a hobby for Eagles fans and sports talk radio. A story from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie about Reid ordering multiple entrees during a dinner that was part of his interview process became fodder for conversation this week.

The end of December will mark five years since the Eagles fired Andy Reid, yet he still casts a wide shadow, literally and figuratively (although not as wide literally as in past after his latest offseason weight loss), over the Philadelphia Eagles.

R.I.P. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan