Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Pick 6 – Week 5: Oh Wow, Tennessee is Actually Back

A million years have occurred. Pigs have flown. And hell has frozen over: Tennessee has beaten Florida!

The Volunteers erased eleven years of shortcomings against their SEC East rivals last Saturday, thanks in part to Joshua Dobbs’ enormous second half in their 38-28 win. Dobbs threw for four touchdowns down the stretch that had Neyland Stadium rocking, and the Volunteers rolling back up the rankings. Butch Jones’ team can firmly take hold of the division this week as his team rolls into Athens to take on an embarrassed Bulldogs team, who lost at the hands of Ole Miss 45-14 a week ago. It may only be the first weekend in October, but its safe to say this Tennessee team has grown into the SEC and title contenders many thought they could be. 2015 saw this team lose four times by one possession or less, and they were determined to flip the script this fall. Time will tell if Tennessee can hold on and claim the SEC East, but this team has the looks of one who will be playing (Alabama) in Atlanta come conference title weekend. Kudos to you Butch Jones. Now it’s time to finish the job.

Week 4 made its mark through a number of thrilling finishes from ranked teams. Utah pulled it out at home late Friday vs. USC (Clay Helton is 1-5 in this last six games in charge). Stanford pulled off a clinical TD drive late in the Rose Bowl. Washington stayed unbeaten vs. Arizona in the desert. And down went LSU in controversial fashion, along with their (former) beloved leader, Les Miles.

Oh and by the way, Lamar Jackson is still amazing (473 total yards, 7 TD).

But as we look ahead to week 5, teams will continue to be tested, and the big games keep on coming. Be sure to leave a comment below on your thoughts on where this college season has been, where it is going, and who you think will be in be playing in the playoff on January 1st! Here’s this week’s 6:

Pick 1: Week 5’s Best games to Watch

6.) Oklahoma   1-2   @   TCU (21)   3-1   

OKLA -3.5   5:00 PM   FOX

5.) Utah (18)   4-0   @   Cal   2-2   

CAL -2.0   6:00 PM   PAC 12 NETWORK

4.) Tennessee (11)   4-0   @   Georgia   (25)   3-1   

TENN -3.5   3:30 PM   CBS

3.) Stanford (7)   3-0   @ Washington (10)   4-0   

WASH -3.0   9:00 PM   ESPN

2.) Wisconsin (8)   4-0   @   Michigan (4)   4-0   

MICH -10.5   3:30 PM   ABC

1.)  Louisville (3)   4-0   @   Clemson (5)   4-0   

LOU -2.0   8:00 PM   ABC

Pick 2: Week 5 Storylines

6.) If both Miami (at Georgia Tech) and Florida State (vs. North Carolina) take care of business this week, we could be looking at a classic top 10 rivalry game that is always great for college football.

5.) If Oklahoma can’t take down TCU on the road this weekend, they’ll fall to 1-3 on the season and will be crawling into their rivalry game with Texas on October 8th, and the inevitable will take over the news: what does Bob Stoops’ future hold in Norman?

4.) Can Nebraska keep the ball rolling this weekend and get to an impressive 5-0 by beating Illinois? Their schedule sets up nicely in the coming weeks (Illinois, Indiana, Purdue), and could be 7-0 by the time they head into Wisconsin on October 29th.

3.) Who will take hold of the title as the best team in the Pac 12 in the battle of the established commodity (Stanford) and the up and comers (Washington)?

2.) Will Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines survive their first real contest this week at home vs. Wisconsin? A surprisingly high spread for a top 10 matchup of -10.5 MICH says they will be just fine.

1.)  Can Lamar Jackson have his “Heisman moment” and defeat DeShaun Watson and Co. in Death Valley?

Pick 3: Book Suggestions for College Coaches

6.) Nick Saban, Alabama: Sometimes it’s nice to read a book that is all about you. We all know all Saban does is win titles, and it would be nice for coach Saban to sit down and enjoy his story for once.

The Lord of the Rings

5.) Bobby Petrino, Louisville: Your team is on a magical ride, sitting at 4-0 and number 3 in the polls. So remember, Bobby: it’s not all about where you end up, but the journey and road you took to get there.

The Odyssey

4.) Chris Ash, Rutgers: 38.5 underdogs in conference play (at Ohio State)? Only one way to try to fix that situation.

The Holy Bible

3.) Ed Orgeron, LSU: “Coach O” is in his first week in charge of the Tigers, and is looking to unite his team and get them moving in the right direction. What better way than a little team bonding?

Chicken Soup for the College Soul

2.) Tom Herman, Houston: Herman has his Cougars ranked 6th in the nation, and he has his sights set right on the playoff this season. Can the Cougars shock the world and be playing in a semifinal on New Year’s Day? You better believe Herman thinks so.

The Little Engine that Could

1.)  James Franklin, Penn State: Calling a timeout, on the four yard line, down 28-0, in the second half, just to kick a field goal? There could only be one suggestion:

Football for Dummies

Pick 4: Possible Les Miles Replacements at LSU

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Goodbye to The Big Piece

The Phillies say farewell to the last remaining piece of the 2008 World Series Championship team Sunday, as Ryan Howard will play his final game in red pinstripes after 13 seasons in Philadelphia. Regardless of how you might feel about him now, the guy was a human U-Haul for the Phils on their playoff run from 2007-2011, singlehandedly carrying them down the stretch of the season and serving as their best run producer.

For as much as Howard did for this club and for this city, this send off seems rather uninspiring, awkward and in my opinion, unfulfilling. It also seemed odd to me that the Phillies waited until Wednesday to announce plans for honoring the slugger, as if they didn’t know this was coming.

Out of that fantastic homegrown core of Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz and Hamels, it always has felt to me like Howard has been the most underappreciated. He was certainly booed more than any of them.

To be honest, this isn’t the way things should be ending for him. Before that ill-fated night on October 7, 2011, when the Phillies lost Game 5 of the NLDS to the Cardinals and Howard tore his ACL breaking out of the box on the final out, the Big Piece had been one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. In case you forget what a force he actually was at the plate, here’s some facts and figures to jog your memory:

From 2005 (his first full season in the bigs) to 2011, Howard launched 284 home runs, drove in 859 runs, slugged .560 and had a .928 OPS. During that span, he won a National League MVP, was selected to three All-Star games, and finished in the top ten of NL MVP voting in six of those seven seasons, and in the other season, he won the NL Rookie of the Year. In 2006 and 2008, he led the majors in long balls, and was tops in RBIs three times (’06, ’08 and ’09). He remains the fastest player to reach 100 homers and 200 homers, and has 381 for his career — good enough for 69th on the all-time home runs list. In his prime, Piece could flat out rake.

Despite all the shit he got from the fans, the media and even his former GM, Piece was never one to go full-blown Papelbon on us. In fact, the guy rarely bitched to the media. No, he never lived up to that much maligned contract he signed with the Phils in April 2010 — five years and $125 million. But what he did do was pick this team up when it needed it most and brought Philly its first title since 1983.

Today, he’s certainly not the player he once was. Not even close, actually. If you haven’t been keeping up with this team, Howard has put together a slash line of .196/.259/.453 this season. He still hits home runs (he’s got 24), but has lost playing time to an impressive young player in Tommy Joseph.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now, but the time to say goodbye is now here. I hope the ovation for Howard this Sunday at CBP is nothing short of spectacular. Howie deserves it. So as we say thank you to the Big Piece and wonder what might have been had he not had that freak accident five Octobers ago, here are six of our favorite moments from #6’s Phillies career:

1. Ut and Piece Go Back-to-Back

World Series. Game 3. The dynamic duo strike. Four days later, the Phils would capture their first title since 1980. In the five-game series against the Rays, Howard belted three homers and knocked in six runs. I still remember this like it was yesterday.

2. Game Tying Double in Game 4 of the 2009 NLDS

A huge hit at a huge time. Before this at-bat, Howard famously said to his teammates, “Just get me to the plate, fellas.” They did, and he didn’t let them down. Down 4-2 in the top of the ninth, Howard smacked a double off the right field wall to score two off Rockies’ closer Huston Street. Jayson Werth would follow with an RBI single, and the Phils would go on to win the game, as well as the series. In the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Howie hit two homers and drove in eight runs on his way to being named NLCS MVP.

3. Phillies Homerun Record

This blast off the Nationals’ Pedro Astacio put Howard in the Phillies franchise record books, with his 49th home run besting Mike Schmidt’s record of 48 set in 1980. Howard’s 2006 season was one for the ages: 58 round-trippers with 149 RBIs to go with a .313 average and an absurd .659 slugging percentage. He would take home the NL MVP that season, along with a Silver Slugger.

4. First Career Homerun

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Can Delco Product Make NBA Dream Come True?

Derrick Jones is a living, breathing human highlight reel. If you don’t believe me, watch this 15 second video from when he was still in HIGH SCHOOL.

Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon can piss right off. I’m 1000000% positive Derrick Jones is the best dunker in the entire country, probably the world, at this moment in time. I’ve personally seen the Chester native take off from a foot behind the free throw line, whip it between his legs, and slam it down HARD. I’ve seen him jump clear over four people and destroy the rim with ease. I’ve seen his chin clear the rim, and his finger-tips touch the top of the backboard. But does he possess learned basketball skill? Nope, not really. He’s extremely raw. But his ceiling is incredibly high if he works at it. He has elite athleticism, rebounding and shot blocking ability, roaring confidence, an above average handle, and is an excellent defender. What he lacks is finer skills. He needs to develop his jump shot, expand his court vision, bulk up drastically, and alter the understanding of his role while at a higher level.

Derrick was top 5 in the entire college basketball nation in FG% last year, and also shot 73.5% in the halfcourt which is almost unheard of. He is 6’6”, 185 lbs. He defended extremely well at the 1, 2, 3, and 4 positions, and is very much capable of doing so at the next level once he adds some weight. His quickness and hops help him obstruct shots and disrupt passing lanes very well, but he will be easily pushed off the block in the NBA until he tacks on some real muscle.

Derrick will be at the Pheonix Suns training camp this year after leaving college due to being declared ineligible mid-season because of questions surrounding the legitimacy of his ACT scores (hint: he undoubtedly cheated.) He has a slim chance of making an NBA roster this year and has a long road, full of hard work and learning, until he has legitimate NBA skill and knowledge. I believe he’ll make it, and all of you Delcites (or Delconians) should too. But in the meantime, cue the god damn highlights.

Written by Brendan Feeney

Image Source: zimbio.com

Scheduling in Eagles Favor for Division Crown

Right now, my mind consists of 5% sexual thoughts and 95% Eagles football. The Eagles are 3-0 and Donald Trump just debated to be President last night. Follow your dreams, kids. I am going to take a look at the NFC East and the schedules of those teams because bye week depression has already kicked in.

giants-sched

First, the Giants. Right now they seem to be our greatest threat at the NFC crown. Next week, we can all once again cheer for our boy Sammy Sleeves. Sam had two of his best games last year against the Giants and has a monstrous defense to help shit on Eli next week in Minnesota. Following that, the Giants are on the road again playing the Pack. Have to think those two games are losses. They come back home to play the Ravens and then travel again to LA to play the 7-9 Rams. It’s not crazy to think that they can go 1-3 in this stretch with 2-2 being more likely. Week 8 they have a bye, and following that the Birds stroll into New York to play them. Huge game there.

Next, the Cowgirls.

cowboys-sched

Also 2-1 right now and looking pretty good, but I think this team has the most potential to implode. Have to think they go into San Fran and continue to embarrass Chip Kelly, but after that they have to play 3 of the best offenses in the NFL with that defense. It’s only a matter of time until Sean Lee breaks something and they really can’t afford that. All else does look good though. Romo will come back soon, and they finally found a suitable backup for his obligatory old man injuries. They are back to the successful run game which is something they need to ride through the season if they want any hope. Heading into week 7 against us, I see them being either 4-2 or 3-3 which makes for an awesome Sunday night game.

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GET YOUR DELCODELPHIA APPAREL HERE!

The wait is finally over. You can officially rep your favorite sports blog wherever you go.

Thanks to C&M Sporting Goods we were able to open up an online store for men’s t-shirts, ladies t-shirts, unisex long sleeved t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts.

To access the online store please click HERE!

There are 3 order options.

  1. Bulk Delivery – You pickup from C&M Sporting Goods in Havertown
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You can only pay by credit or debit card on the online store. If you insist on a cash transaction please contact any of DelcoDelphia’s writers and we will collect your cash and place your order for you.

The online store will be active until October 10th, 2016 so get your orders in before then. Once the store closes please allow about 2 weeks for shirts to be printed and after that you will receive them.

We appreciate your support and please feel free to reach out to any of us with questions.

11 Things to be Excited About After Week 3

I got that special feeling again, and I’m not alone. Tony Dungy is declaring us the team to beat in the NFC East. Gargano has lost his mind. And I think Ray Didinger may have even raised his voice a few notches on Sunday.

The Birds are back in town and there’s a lot of good shit to talk about. Here’s 11.

(P.S. We literally just posted one of these yesterday but this is one of those wins that I had to go off about so here you go.)

Carson MF Wentz

First and foremost, we have a franchise quarterback, folks. I rarely get to be one of those guys who brags about being right… But God Dammit I was right about Wentz. He’s tall, he’s tough, and he’s got just the right amount of nerd, which are basically the only 3 qualities you need to be an NFL QB.

All those concerns about the NFL game being too fast look dumb. He owned arguably the fastest LB in the NFL in Ryan Shazier on that gorgeous flip to Sproles.

Carson’s diagnosing the opposing D pre-snap, going through progressions, and spreading the ball around like a vet. On Sunday there were 7 different Eagles receivers with multiple catches. If you don’t trust your receivers with the passing game, throw it to the backs and tight ends. That’s some early 2000’s Donovan McNabb shit.

Dougie P trusted him enough to basically make this offense 75% passing the last couple games. No training wheels for this guy. Hey son, here are the keys to the family car, go crazy and be home before curfew.

I love this kid and I don’t think the hype will be too much for him. He basically carried an entire state on his back as a 20-year-old so what’s a few million more? Hop on everyone!

Dougie P Has Impressed

Who saw this coming? Pederson had 97.5’s Bitch and Complain Line named after him immediately after he was brought in, but so far there has been absolutely nothing to bitch and complain about. He’s handled Wentz perfectly, he’s been creative enough on offense to keep teams on their toes, and he hasn’t shown any sign of Andy Reid clock management, all while showing the same Andy-Reid mastery in the screen game.

And he values time of possession, unlike some people. The Birds have dominated the TOP every game thus far.

39 minutes in Week 1
36 minutes in Week 2
35 minutes in Week 3

That’s 110 to 70 through 3 weeks, saving the defense roughly an entire games worth of plays.

And he’s sounded like a true Football Coach in interviews, eating up and spitting out every dumb Howard Eskin question that’s been tossed his way. Keep it up Dougie P.

Schwartz

FIST PUMP OF THE WEEK

How awesome is it to have a defensive coach with this much passion. I love this guy.

Howie realized we were a 4-3 defense all along and got the perfect guy to deploy our front 7. Cox is a nightmare, Logan is a force, and Graham is living up to his draft selection. Bradham is also a pleasant surprise. Barwin and Kendricks have been relatively quiet, but that’s not always a bad thing.

The Birds only blitzed twice on Sunday but managed to sack Big Ben 4 times and forced 2 turnovers. They held a top 5 offense to 3 points. Awesome.

The Secondary is Solid

Malcolm Jenkins is a pro-bowl safety and a great leader for that unit. MJ and McLeod boast versatility as sound tacklers and plus cover guys. Those two are up there with the Seattle, Arizona, and Denver safety combos at the top.

Depth at corner is still relatively weak. But Mills has been serviceable, which is way more than you can ask for out of a 7th round rookie. Carroll and McKelvin are solid outside corners, and Brooks has been decent in the slot. It’s truly amazing how they held the Pittsburgh passing game in check (not to mention the above-average Chicago passing game).

The Eagles have yet to allow a passing TD this year.

I Love Our Running Backs

This is probably the most underrated unit on the squad right now. While there’s no star, there is depth. Smallwood’s got JUICE. I don’t care that he said precisely ¾ of “philly n*ggas gay”, he’s a good football player and I’m sure he changed his mind. He gained 79 yards on 17 attempts, for 4.6 yards per carry against a defense averaging 3.4. He had four runs of 10 or more yards between the 20’s and has the muscle to punch it in when up close.

Barner’s made the most of his spot on the team, averaging 6.1 yards a carry so far, including a very nifty summersault. Mathews was a no-show, but he’s a solid thumper who averaged over 5 yards a carry last season. Sproles is Sproles. More on him soon.

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Nerlens Noel Unhappy

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer spoke to Nerlens Noel before media day, and it turns out Nerlens is pretty frustrated about the current log jam at center. This was hinted at earlier this summer when he blacked out his twitter avatar and gave Boston a shoutout.

“I think it’s just silly . . . this situation that we are in now with three starting centers,” Noel said on the eve of the Sixers’ media day. “With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to get something done this summer.”

“I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers. And it’s just not going to work to anybody’s advantage having that on the same team. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated.”

Noel has the right to be pissed. He’s been on this team throughout the tanking process, and he played well, finishing 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting two seasons ago. Since then, the Sixers have rewarded him by drafting a center with the 3rd pick in back-to-back seasons.

But come on, man. Give me 40 more games of solid play and I guarantee either you or Jah will be dealt at the deadline. If that doesn’t happen, then you have every right to be pissed. But just before training camp, when the city is abuzz and excited about the new look Sixers? Come on, man.

Nobody wants 3 starting centers on this team, especially Colangelo. But even with 3 centers on the team, Nerlens was bound to get solid starter minutes, as Embiid will likely sit on back to backs, and Okafor would probably find himself on the bench in some stretches. Plus, Nerlens is Embiid insurance if god forbid JoJo gets nicked up.

Now all you’re doing is forcing his hand to trade you for pennies on the dollar (which probably would have happened anyway), and that will only hurt both you and the Sixers in the long run. The Sixers will have less talent, and your perceived value will dip in a contract year.

I’m a believer in Nerlens, but I can’t deny that this is a bad look.

Written by Tyler Cloran

Image Source: Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Week 3 Wrap-Up: A Contender is Born

What in the hell did we just watch? A few of us predicted Eagles wins in our preview this week, but I don’t think anyone aside from our own “Local Drunk” Finegan saw this one coming. I got vibes of that 44-6 trouncing of Dallas watching our Birds play today. This team is for real and has to be considered one of the top teams in the NFC after the 34-3 ass-whooping they handed Pittsburgh in Sunday’s win. Here’s our five takeaways from an absolutely fantastic day in South Philadelphia. Let it rip.

1. The Eagles may have found a new starting RB

Ryan Mathews carried the ball twice for a whopping -5 rushing yards, and Doug Pederson was quick to pull the plug on him. In came Wendell Smallwood, the Birds’ 2016 fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, and he was quick to show the potential he has. Smallwood carried the ball 17 times for 79 yards and walked in the end zone for his first career rushing touchdown. He also showed off some shiftiness, an ability to make cuts and overall toughness. Kenjon Barner was also very effective, coming in to spell Smallwood and rushing eight times for 42 yards and a TD. Don’t be surprised if Smallwood continues to get a bigger chunk of the carries when the Eagles return from the bye against the Lions in two weeks.

2. Jim Schwartz is the truth

The defense has been featured in my five takeaways every week of the season so far, and for good measure. This unit is nasty. The Eagles’ front four of Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham made Big Ben’s day a living hell. He was sacked four times and hit eight times. Most importantly, he was never able to get comfortable, and was forced into a lot of on-the-run throws. When he did complete a pass, the Eagles swarmed to the ball and didn’t give up any big plays. The D also shut down Pittsburgh’s rushing game, allowing just 29 yards on 10 carries. Giving up just three points to a team that many believe have a strong chance to at least get to the Super Bowl this season? Fantastic stuff. Schwartz has been a master thus far, and nothing got me more hyped than his triple fist-pump on a third down stop late in the game.

3. The O-line protected Wentz

All people talked about leading into this game was Carson Wentz needing to cut down on the hits that he has been taking. Well, the offensive line made sure that Wentz kept a clean jersey on Sunday, not allowing a sack against a pretty solid front three of Cameron Heyward, Jason Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt for Pittsburgh. Wentz was hit three times, but did a much better job of looking out for himself in this game.

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Philadelphia is Far Better Than Pittsburgh and it’s Not Even Close

Whenever we play the Penguins or Steelers, one jabroni will always write a cute little article on why their precious city is better than ours. Reading each one makes me want to vomit. When a Pittsburgh fan tries to tell you that their pierogies are better than a cheesesteak, that’s usually when I stop reading.

To be fair, I enjoyed my visit to Pittsburgh last year for a Flyers and Penguins game. I thought the city had a gritty vibe to it, just like Philly does. I had an absolute blast when 40 screaming Penguins fans all turned to taunt me after Pittsburgh would score. I think deep down, every Pittsburgh fan wanted me to do something awful, like throw a beer at them or say something about their mother, but I kept I kept my composure and showed them what brotherly love was all about.

Keeping that in mind, Pittsburgh is not even close to the sports city that Philadelphia is or ever will be. I know, they have the championship edge by a lot right now and you can argue that’s the most important thing. The reality is, passion is the most important thing to consider in a sports town and Philadelphia takes a whopping dump on Pittsburgh in that category. Let’s take it back to 2007.

After years of the Penguins sucking ass in the NHL, they were awarded Sidney Crosby and were STILL having thoughts of relocation. Mind you, this is only 8 years after Mario Lemieux had to buy the team in bankruptcy court to keep them in Pittsburgh. Yeah, Mario Lemieux. At one point in 2007 according to ESPN, the Penguins “moved a step closer to leaving Pittsburgh, declaring on Monday an impasse in their new arena negotiations with state and local leaders and saying they will actively pursue relocation.” That’s insane. Now, I know that this isn’t really the fault of the Pittsburgh fans at the time. This is just your organization being shitty enough to almost have to relocate your team for like the third time in franchise history. This will never happen to any team in the city of Philadelphia. Ownership knows that if relocation became the slightest bit of an idea, we would find them, and tar and feather their ass. Hey Pittsburgh, ever wonder why you guys don’t have an NBA franchise? I know why! Because your city doesn’t care enough and can barely handle the teams you have now.

Something I always notice in an opposing city is how spread out the sports arenas are. I remember driving by the Penguins hockey arena and saying to my friend who was a Pens fan “Yo, where is Heinz field?” It wasn’t in walking distance or even in that much of a convenient driving distance. Also, the parking at the Consol Energy Center (Penguins Arena) is equivalent to a high school football game. We had to park in some random little parking lot not even in eye’s view of the arena. They had a bunch of these lots. All of them were spread out, only having enough room for 20 or something cars. How are you supposed to properly tailgate like this?

To me, that’s what separates Philadelphia from Pittsburgh as a sports city. That picture right below.

sports-complex

Take a look at that. Pittsburgh doesn’t have anything close to this. Do we hate having to sometimes leave in the 8th inning for a baseball game because of traffic? Yeah, but trust me Philadelphia it’s worth it. We’re one of the few privileged cities to be able to park so close to the stadiums.

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Eagles-Steelers Preview

Welp, here we are. Already into Week 3 of the NFL season and a doozy of a matchup in South Philadelphia on Sunday, as our 2-0 Birds welcome the 2-0 Shittsburgh Pittsburgh Steelers to town. The Steelers and Eagles are two of just eight teams left in the NFL still undefeated, and Sunday’s game will tell us a lot about just how legit this Eagles squad is. Here’s some quick nuggets of info to know before kickoff:

Who: Eagles (2-0) vs. Steelers (2-0)

When: 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Weather: 71 degrees and sunny

Last Meeting: October 7, 2012, Steelers won, 16-14 at Heinz Field

What You Need to Know: The Steelers’ wins have come against the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals, and they’ve put up a combined 62 points in those games. Behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, they boast the NFL’s third leading rusher, 33-year-old Deangelo Williams who has been a solid back for Pittsburgh since coming over from Carolina last season. Williams, who has been starting in place of the suspended stoner Le’Veon Bell, has carried the ball 58 times this season for 237 yards and a pair of TDs.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has already thrown for 559 yards and six touchdowns — most in the NFL — and seems to be getting better with age. He’s also got arguably the best receiver in the NFL at his disposal in Antonio Brown, who led the league with 2074 all-purpose yards in 2015. Brown had a big opening game against Washington on Monday Night in Week 1, catching eight balls for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He was kept in check by the Bengals’ defense last week, however, as he only managed four catches for 39 yards. Still, the Eagles’ secondary will have their hands full with Brown, who is one of the fastest players in the league. A player with his skillset surely won’t have two bad games in a row.

Defensively, the Steelers have been stout against the run, allowing an average of just 50.5 yards per game. Eagles’ running back Ryan Matthews has had a tough time getting going thus far, and it won’t get any easier on Sunday. However, the Steelers have given up the second-most yards through the air, (347.5) to quarterbacks named Kirk Cousins and Andy Dalton, which means there may be opportunities for Carson Wentz to exploit Sunday.

The Steelers’ secondary isn’t anything to write home about, as they start William Gay and Ross Cockrell at the corner spots and Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden at the safety positions. But if the Eagles aren’t able to set up the pass through the run and Doug Pederson gets too one-dimensional, it could turn into a disaster.

I said in my last piece that the Eagles would be tested in ways they haven’t yet been this season in this game. That includes Doug Pederson, who will be facing a top 5 coach in Mike Tomlin, who’s now in his 10th season in the Steel City and has a 100-57 career head coaching record. Tomlin will surely be throwing all he can at the Eagles’ rookie coach and QB. Speaking of Wentz, he’ll need to do a better job of taking care of himself than he’s done in his first two games, and that means throwing the ball away when necessary and not subjecting himself to big hits when taking off and running.

The Birds will be missing Zach Ertz and Leodis McKelvin once again, and the loss of McKelvin hurts particularly in this game with a quarterback as good as Big Ben. The good news is they’ll have more time to heal with next week’s bye, but it’d be nice to have them in a game like this one.

After playing two abominations of NFL teams in the first two weeks, it’ll be good to see the Eagles line up against on the league’s best. Win or lose, we’ll get of good sense of what to expect the rest of the season after the Battle of PA is over.

So without further delay, here are our much anticipated predictions:

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