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Do you believe it? NFL season is here, and Eagles have high expectations

This is crazy, because the NFL seasonal opener caught me by surprise…I got carried away by my excessive worrying over the world political situation, the flooding in Texas and the imminent hurricane/tropical storm path of Irma as she takes dead aim upon many of our brothers and sisters in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas…Who knows, she may be gunning for me next?

Anyway, the season officially opens tonight in New England… eeeek!

I picked the Patriots to beat the Kansas City Chieves in the CBS Pro Football Challenge…but secretly I hope Big Red has a huge surprise in his sled for them Belichickers…

You wanna see the rest of my picks? I had the hot hand in this contest until I broke my hip last November 30 and missed the rest of the season:

 Pickem’ Game:
I picked New England over Kansas City…
Buffalo over the Jets…
Steelers over Cleveland…
Oakland over Tennessee…
EAGLES over Washington…
Houston over Jacksonville (I mean London)…
Arizona over Detroit…
Atlanta over Chicago…
Baltimore over Cincinnati…
Indianapolis over L.A. Rams…
Carolina over San Francisco…
Seattle over Green Bay…
N.Y. Giants over Dallas…
New Orleans over Minnesota…
Denver over the San Diego, I mean L.A., Chargers…
And as you know by now, the Tampa vs. Miami game has been postponed until Week 11 (the week of November 19th, which was the original Bye week for both teams) due to the impending threat of Irma.
Now, if my picks hold up, you will notice I had only four (4) home teams winning their season debut games. That’s because I think it’s going to be that kind of year. Home field advantage will be meaningless. The concept of parity in the NFL has reached an all-time level—I don’t know whether to call that a high or a low.
You have until 7:45 P.M. EST on Thursday September 7 to get into this Pro Football Challenge Contest, so if you’re reading this, GET IN now. Here’s the link for you to either log in as a prior contestant or to sign up as a newbie:
Now there is also the CBS/WIP Radio “Last Fan Standing” Challenge, which is akin to the old “Suicide Contest” espoused by GK Brizer in which you pick one sure-shot team to win each week—but you cannot pick the same team twice during the course of the season. It’s like the “King of the Hill” contest managed by our own Don Pardo, with prior winners being ATV (2011), Brizer (2012), Spiffo (2013), ATV (2014), Brizer (2015), and Palmy (2016).
I have to quickly run over to http://phillylastfanstanding.cbslocal.com 
in order to establish my Week 1 entry. I am going to make the Thursday night game interesting by picking the Chieves to upset the Patriots. I know, this could be a manifestation of my own death wish, but…
I also am supporting my teammates…
You can join Brizer’s EYE in this thing by accepting the team option:
Team: the EYE
Password: JBisadope
I like the idea that we get extra points as a team. I don’t like the flak I am going to get from Brizer for going rogue on the Kansas City pick in the very first game, but…life is short. Go for it!
As for the Eagles-Redskins matchup, I have some major concerns.
I know Carson Wentz is going to be really good someday sooner than later, and I know he is being marketed to us as the second coming of John the Baptist. But if the Eagles fail to establish a running game behind him on Sunday, I am concerned that the Redskins defense will reduce our offense to a chuck and duck fiasco.
I like our defense going into this game a lot—we are faster and smarter than we have been back there in a while. But if Wentz is forced to throw 40 times like he was in most games last season (607 pass attempts over the course of the season),  I don’t like our chances.
You may disagree, but the Redskins are a lot more explosive on both sides of the ball than people give them credit for this year.
We’ve got to control time of possession and field position. There is not that much margin of error to play around with in this game.
You may remember, The Redskins, who have won the last five meetings with the Eagles, were the only NFC East team to sweep them last year, beating them 27-20 in Week 6 and 27-22 in Week 14.
A lot of the reason the Redskins creamed us last year was their sacking Wentz a total of 9 times in the two games.
Yeah, I know, we didn’t have Lane Johnson at right tackle for those two games.  And a pass-rusher named Ryan Kerrigan took full advantage.
At least this time around Lane Johnson will be manning the position he was being paid for— to provide running lanes and to provide Wentz time to set up and survey receiving routes.

“It’s good to have Lane back, obviously,’’ head coach Doug Pederson said. “To have him back and the confidence he has there, it should be a good matchup all day.’’

Tight end Brent Celek put it more succinctly.

“We need him,’’ he said. “Lane’s a great player. We need him out there and on the field. Glad to have him back. It’s going to help big time.’’

Kerrigan is one of the league’s top edge-rushers. He has 58 ½ career sacks, including 34 in the last three seasons. Nine-and-a-half of those 58 ½ sacks have come against the Eagles.

The Redskins lost one of their other top pass-rushers – linebacker Trent Murphy – last month when he tore his ACL. That means they’ll be relying even more on Kerrigan to seek and destroy Wentz.

Another big angle on this game is how well Alshon Jeffery will respond to being targeted by big-mouth CB Josh Norman in coverage.

Let’s wish for Norman’s huge ego to demand so much TV spotlight attention to his hammer-time coverage of Jeffery that he gets caught biting on a double move.

Jeffery (6-3, 218), who signed with the Eagles as a free agent in the offseason, has faced Norman (6-feet, 200) twice before. Last Christmas Eve, Washington romped past Jeffery and the Chicago Bears, 41-21, with Jeffery catching five passes on 10 targets, for 92 yards. In 2014, Norman and the Carolina Panthers defeated Jeffery and the Bears, 31-24, with Jeffery catching six balls on seven targets, for 97 yards and a touchdown.

“There’s good and bad on the film … It’s not a highlight film, by any means,” Pederson said. “Alshon won his share. Josh Norman won his share. It’s a good battle. I think those two have a lot of respect for each other. It should be a good competition.”

Jeffery said Norman “does a great job making plays on the ball. He reminds me a little bit of Peanut Tillman — he was my teammate in Chicago — the way he plays the ball … He does a great job, just like Peanut, of punching the ball out.”

Norman is known as a trash-talker. Jeffery is not.

“I go out and just play football, man. I let my game do the talking,” Jeffery said. “I can’t recall” if Norman had much to say in last year’s meeting.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said he won’t try to force the ball to Jeffery. Of Norman, he said: “You’re aware of him, but you don’t let it necessarily change your game plan.  You don’t actually go into a game fearing anybody, but you’re aware of where a player like that is.”

Wentz said Norman is “sometimes a risk-taker. In zone coverage, he’ll just read a quarterback’s eyes, really heavy. He can jump some things and make some plays. And he’s not afraid to come downhill and make some tackles.”

 

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