Six from Sunday  

 

Chemistry experiment blows up in the face of Reid, Eagles

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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Each Monday, Pat Kirwan provides six observations from Sunday's action.

The Eagles have (crash) landed!

No team came into the season with more hype and expectations than the Philadelphia Eagles. They hit rock bottom this weekend when they benched wide receiver DeSean Jackson for rules infractions and then went out and lost to the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were led by second-year quarterback John Skelton, who threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns against the "dream team" secondary.

The Eagles are basically out of playoff contention in mid-November. How did things get this bad? Michael Vick threw for only 128 yards and no touchdowns. The Eagles might be the greatest example of just how misleading statistics can be: They entered the game with the No. 3 offense and No. 12 defense, while Arizona came in with the No. 25 offense and No. 28 defense.

The Eagles tried to build an all-star team that never really came together as an actual team. Some blame defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who lacked experience on that side of the ball. But it's never about just the coach -- especially when the defense has given up 17 touchdown passes.

I have great respect for Andy Reid, but maybe he's learning what I learned back in 1996 with the New York Jets. We tried to buy a championship team and had the whole project blow up in our faces when the guys we signed didn't deliver and the homegrown players wanted more money after seeing what we paid the newcomers. We lost the glue every team needs to be great and I suspect that is what has happened in Philadelphia.

Turn back your football clock

John Fox, coach of the Broncos, is in the business of trying to win football games any way he can. That really hit home Sunday as he turned his clock back 30 years to get it done. The coach has to be commended for looking at Tim Tebow's skill set and not trying to create a conventional offense. Call it the wildcat, call it the single wing, call it what it is -- the Tim Tebow offense.

I never thought I would see an NFL game won with two pass completions. I thought the days of a running quarterback like Bobby Douglass, who logged 2,654 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns from 1969-78, were done. But Tebow is 3-1 and has run 48 times for 320 yards and two scores to go with his seven touchdown passes.

Under Tebow, the 4-5 Broncos have division wins over Oakland and Kansas City, so it's time to consider them part of the division race. It will not surprise me if we see a 20-carry game from Tebow in the coming weeks. Tebow is a winner and will cause problems for teams not ready to deal with his unique game.

Road warriors continue to win

Last week, road teams went 10-4 and I thought it was just an aberration. This week, road teams were 10-5 going into Monday night's game. I asked a few players and coaches what might be the reason for this unusual turn of events and the answers were interesting. The no-huddle package, the spread offense, and the pressure to succeed at home were all cited as factors favoring the visiting team.

Over the past four years, an average of nine teams a year finish with a winning road record. After 10 weeks, we have 11 teams with a winning road record.

The Texans are dangerous

Most of the talk about the best team in the league has been about the Green Bay Packers, and deservedly so, but who is the second-best team? The 49ers have a good case. In the AFC, I like the Texans.

Their 37-9 win over the Bucs solidified my opinion that they are very dangerous and ready for a deep playoff run. The defense lost its best player, Mario Williams, early in the season and the unit is still tops in the NFL (the Bucs were held to 231 yards).

The offense lost its best player, Andre Johnson, weeks ago and teams promptly dropped a safety in the box to stop the run. It didn't work this week any better than it has in the past three. Add this week's rushing totals for Arian Foster and Ben Tate (30 carries for 147 yards and two TDs) to the previous two games and they have 108 carries for 520 yards and five touchdowns. Johnson should be back after the Texans' Week 11 bye and I can't even imagine how explosive this offense will be as Houston makes a run for home-field advantage.

Bears solidifying playoff chances

The Bears' last lost was at Detroit in Week 5, when the Lions' four-man rush was all over Jay Cutler, Chicago had too many penalties and couldn't stop Detroit's offense. But the Bears avenged the 24-13 loss with a 37-13 victory.

Chicago's defense led the way with four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. I talked with Cutler last week and he was excited about the direction of the offense, using Matt Forte and a quick passing game during what is now a four-game winning streak. The return of wide receiver Earl Bennett a week ago has made a big impact: He added six receptions for 81 yards against Detroit to last week's five receptions for 95 yards.

The Bears aren't going to catch the Packers for the division title but Sunday's win will go a long way toward positioning them for a wild-card spot. I see at least 10 wins on the horizon.

On NFL Network
"NFL Replay" will re-air the Steelers' 24-17 win over the Bengals on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.

» NFL Network schedule

Could have predicted the Steelers

The Bengals are for real, and they should get to double-digit wins. However, they happened to run into the Steelers coming off a loss, and Pittsburgh responded in usual fashion. Prior to Sunday, the Steelers had won their last six games coming off a defeat. In those six rebound games, Ben Roethlisberger averaged two touchdown passes and threw just two total interceptions. Meanwhile, the defense gave up nine points a game.

The trend continued Sunday, as Roethlisberger hit nine different receivers, overcame five sacks and led a 24-17 victory. Make that seven straight after a loss.

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