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Can the Philadelphia Eagles run the table?

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Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts
Photo: Getty Images

The Eagles are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. With 10 weeks left, though, it seems impossible that the Eagles could remain undefeated through the rest of the year. Then you look at their upcoming schedule.

@HOU, WAS, @IND, GB, TEN, @NYG, @CHI, @DAL, NO, and NYG

I mean, just look at this. Even worse (for Cowboys and Giants fans that is), almost all of Philly’s toughest games will be in Philadelphia. The Titans, Packers, Saints, and the final Giants game will all be at Lincoln Financial Field. I’m not saying the Cowboys and Giants aren’t tough, but the Titans arguably match up best against the Eagles of anyone on this list, the Saints have shown improvement as of late, and the Packers, as poor as they’ve looked, still have Aaron Rodgers. Furthermore, the Eagles only have to play one of these teams coming off a bye: the Chicago Bears. As surprisingly solid the Bears have been this year, they aren’t going to beat the Eagles though. Sure, they added Chase Claypool, but the Eagles’ biggest strength is their secondary. They also lost their best defensive player in Roquan Smith, so…yeah.

“Any given Sunday” is the saying, right? So, could the Eagles lose one of these games? Absolutely. I’m not saying they will undoubtedly go undefeated in the regular season. Rather, I’m shocked that the Eagles might have the opportunity to do so.

Let’s look at each matchup individually:

Houston Texans – I don’t think I need to delve into this at all. Philly outclasses the Texans in every manner. Should be an easy win.

Washington Commanders – Inconsistent quarterback play from Washington will be their downfall. The Commanders are near the top of the league in pressure rate (4th place, at 26 percent). However, the Eagles’ offensive line has played out of their minds in recent weeks. The Commanders are also a pretty mediocre run defense, and the last time these two teams played in Washington, Philadelphia held them to eight points (only six of which were allowed by the defense), all of which came in garbage time.

Indianapolis Colts – Sam Ehlinger. That’s all that must be said. Jonathan Taylor is also dealing with a nagging injury if that helps the argument at all.

Green Bay – This team is best when Rodgers looks good. The Philadelphia secondary has been devastating this year, and with the inconsistencies running the ball from Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, Rodgers will probably have to throw a lot. Not a good matchup.

Tennessee Titans – Potentially the best opportunity for any team to beat the Eagles. A heavy dose of Derrick Henry will go right into the teeth of the weakest part of the Eagles’ defense. Defensively, the Titans are also pretty solid against the run allowing only 4.2 yards per carry (seventh in the NFL).

New York Giants – The Giants are best when they control the clock. They are third in the NFL in time of possession this year. The Eagles are first. The lack of explosiveness on offense for the Giants will be their downfall. They should’ve made a move at receiver.

Chicago Bears – I already touched up on this. No Roquan Smith will be a problem. Chase Claypool doesn’t help much given the strength of Philly’s secondary. Their best chance to create explosive offensive plays will likely come from oddball usage of their gadget receivers like Claypool and Velus Jones Jr.

Dallas Cowboys – Even with Cooper Rush, the Cowboys weren’t blown out of the water by the Eagles in Week 6. That said, most of Dallas’ offense came in the second half after the Eagles had already built a comfortable lead. If they hadn’t taken their foot off the pedal, who knows what the final score would’ve looked like.

New Orleans Saints – They just lost Michael Thomas for the season, but should be at full strength otherwise. They’ve improved dramatically on the offensive end in recent weeks, coinciding with the resurgence of Alvin Kamara. Still, I don’t trust Andy Dalton to outplay Jalen Hurts.

New York Giants – see above

I’m not ready to say the Eagles will certainly go undefeated, but I can’t help but fantasize about the possibility. I don’t think they’re the best team in the league and thus, if they meet the Bills, Chiefs, or even the 49ers in the playoffs, I wouldn’t be shocked if they pull a 2007 Patriots. That said, an undefeated regular season isn’t just out of the question, it’s looking more and more possible by the day. Regardless of their playoff results, this would be the first 17-0 record in NFL history, and I for one, hope we get to witness it.



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U.S. beats England, 0-0

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What psychopath called the long-awaited United States men’s national team’s Black Friday showdown against England a scoreless draw? I’ll have whatever you’re drinking. After gaining my bearings after that stiff cocktail, and realizing Matt Turner nor Jordan Pickford allowing a goal wasn’t just fallacy, it yielded a simple consequence for the American’s group-stage finale on Tuesday against Iran: win and the USMNT advances to the knockout stage. Lose? It’d be on the next flight out of Qatar. Tie? Who the fuck plays for a tie? It’ll come down to goal differential for you marks.

The American’s play in Qatar will draw plenty of comparisons to their efforts at the 2010 World Cup. Ties against England, yes that game with Robert Green’s all-time gaffe in net, and Slovenia to start group play. The exact same stakes were in the balance for the USMNT’s group finale against Algeria. A Landon Donovan extra-time goal was the difference as the USA went from eliminated to group winners with one kick of the ball. One goal against Iran could very well be the difference for the United States.

The goal for the USMNT coming into Friday’s game was proving it could hang with the Three Lions. In the four years Gregg Berhalter has led the Yanks, they’ve played an opponent of that quality exactly never. Zero minutes against a world-class team, especially in a competitive environment. The Americans not only hung with the country they gained their independence from, the USA would’ve won under Queensberry Rules. The first 20 minutes for the USMNT were tough, but it didn’t concede a goal. After that, the Stars and Stripes got the better of the Union Jack.

While the United Kingdom beats up on each other, all that stands between the knockout stage is Iran. What American fan wouldn’t have taken a victory over Iran to make the final 16 a week ago? You would’ve been crazy to want more. Iran hasn’t looked strong in either game so far in the tournament. The USA has had time in both games against the U.K. where it has looked organized and intimidating. It’s only yielded one goal.

Coming out of the game against Wales, the Americans felt lucky to get a point. After the draw against England, the Americans must feel like they can play with anyone. And their next game is against the team who gave up six goals to England. If the USA loses to Iran, Berhalter doesn’t come back stateside with a job. His overstated mindset of splitting the World Cup into two tournaments, the group stage and knockout stage, should be a great standard of how to evaluate the program going forward. Without seeing the USMNT in both of those phases, Berhalter shouldn’t be employed.

After two draws, Berhalter must make a few changes to his starting lineup. Do enough to not disrupt chemistry and facilitate the proper change to score more. Haji Wright didn’t get it done at striker and Josh Sargent at least looked comparable against Wales. We have yet to see Berhalter’s favorite coming into the tournament, Jesus Ferreira. I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a large shift against Iran. The USMNT has been looking for a consistent striker who can score in big games for about forever. It won’t be solved at this World Cup. Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Another change I’d make would be Tim Weah coming off the bench and starting Gio Reyna or Brenden Aaronson in his place. Even though Weah scored the USA’s only goal of the World Cup so far, he didn’t do much against England. The USMNT should give Iran a set of personnel it couldn’t have scouted together.

With that new-look USMNT, the must-win scenario looks much more attainable. Let’s not dismiss Iran completely here, it’s a solid soccer team. It did more than enough to make the World Cup. Let’s not also pretend like the Americans shouldn’t win this game with some ease at their best. We saw one of the best efforts from the USMNT in recent memory, albeit without a goal, against England. Now the Yanks must do it again with their World Cup lives at stake.



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Reality check for England as World Cup 2022 hopefuls second-best to USA in deflating draw

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E

ngland were second best in a deflating 0-0 draw with the USA, which will go down as a reality check on their World Cup ambitions to leave Qatar as champions.

Gareth Southgate’s side were booed off by their travelling fans after a pedestrian performance, which leaves the manager with a raft of questions to address ahead of Tuesday’s final group game against Wales and before the business end of the tournament gets under way in the knockouts.

The bigger picture is that England now have one foot in the last-16, and this result mirrored their second group game at Euro 2020, when they were held to a goalless draw by Scotland at Wembley but went on to reach the final.

That result sparked widespread criticism of Southgate and his players, which was vastly overblown in hindsight, so an element of calm is needed, particularly given the strange and warped conditions of this tournament.

Nonetheless, an impressive and hard-pressing USA side exposed flaws in England that were obviously not apparent in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran, and raises questions about Southgate’s setup and selections.

The US, who face a decisive final group game against Iran, were unfortunate not to win, with Christian Pulisic striking the bar and Weston McKennie firing a half-volley over from ten yards.

Jude Bellingham, who opened the scoring on Monday, was pressed out of the match by the USA’s excellent midfield three of Tyler Adams, McKennie and former England youth international Yunus Musah.

Bellingham was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go after what has to go down a lesson about the realities of this level for England’s prodigious teenager.

With the 19-year-old subdued by the US pressure, England struggled to establish a midfield foothold and the danger is that Gregg Berhalter’s team have now provided a blueprint which other teams can follow.

Southgate may need to introduce another midfielder for the knockouts or even against the Welsh, but then he would have to sacrifice a forward player. After such a promising start to the tournament, the England manager is back to having to make difficult compromises to balance his team.

Another question for Southgate was why he ignored Phil Foden, who remained an unused substitute as England struggled to find a spark.

When Southgate eventually turned to his bench, Jordan Henderson replaced Bellingham and Jack Grealish came on for Raheem Sterling, leading to an improvement, but Foden’s ingenuity and silk on the ball would surely have been beneficial as England toiled.

On the plus side, Southgate’s defence held firm and Harry Maguire was particularly impressive in another outing that will dampen doubts around the defender.

Southgate was alarmed by the lapses which allowed Mehdi Taremi to score two second-half consolation goals for Iran and demanded improved focus for the duration against the US.

PA

While England were pedestrian going forward, John Stones and Maguire, winning his 50th cap, held firm at the back.

Stones was England’s brightest player for the first hour, twice getting across to make important interventions against Pulisic, while Maguire continued his encouraging start to the tournament with a series of defensive headers in the second half when the US piled in corners and crosses.

England did not follow Germany in protesting inside the colossal Al Bayt Stadium but back in London the Wembley arch was illuminated in rainbow colours ahead of the game – as the FA made their point to FIFA over armband-gate, albeit from afar.

Southgate predicted the game would be played at “100 miles an hour” but for most of the first 70 minutes there was only only side at the races.

England were hesitant and ponderous in and out of possession, a stark contrast to their aggression from the off against Iran, but the US were full of purpose and a constant threat on the counter-attack.

McKennie should have opened the scoring when he half-volleyed over from ten yards before Pulisic spanked a brilliant left-foot shot off the crossbar, with Jordan Pickford beaten.

England went close at either end of the half through Harry Kane and Mason Mount, who extended US goalkeeper Matt Turner, but would have been the more relieved at the half-time whistle.

The US faded in the second half in their 1-1 draw with Wales, unable to maintain the intensity of their press, and the big question after the interval was whether they could keep it up, particularly given England’s arsenal from the bench.

By contrast, the US only continued in their ascendency after the interval, and were soon camped in England’s half, sending in a succession of crosses and corners, expertly repelled by Stones and Maguire.

It was not until Southgate finally turned to his bench with the introductions of Henderson and Grealish, and latterly Marcus Rashford, that England were roused from their slumber.

Grealish provided some verve down the left flank and began finally asking questions of a US back line who must have expected a far sterner examination.

With England back on the front foot, Kane nearly nicked the victory with a stoppage-time header which flashed wide but three points would have been far more than Southgate’s side deserved.



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'England were unrecognisable' | 'It shouldn't be all doom and gloom'

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Rob Dorsett and Kaveh Solhekol analyse England’s 0-0 draw against USA at the World Cup in Qatar.



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