What Would Buddy Do?
Giants game preview part 1 (in which BountyBowl visits other parts of the Internet)
Posted on November 9th, 2008 at 3:52 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

The good people over at the Most Valuable Network invited me back to answer some questions about tonight’s big game.  You’re certainly welcome to click over and check it out, but I’ve also pasted the piece below.  It’s a bit high-level, but I worked hard to nerd it up with the Prospect Theory reference:

1. To what extent is the jury still out on this Eagles team, as they head out of the bye at 5-3?

Well I’m not quite sure which jury we’re talking about here, as I think that the Eagles actually have a pretty clear identity for the rest of the league: an above-average team in a tough division with a few important characters (Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid, Brian Dawkins) who are familiar…and maybe a little dull at this point. For the team’s fans, the team’s identity is eerily and frustratingly similar to that of last year’s team — occasionally brilliant, just enough to convince you that they might amount to something, but ultimately doomed to fail at the moments that matter most. Apart from the punt returner and a little bit more luck with takeaways, there isn’t much that’s convinced Eagles fans that this isn’t just last year’s 8-8 team all over again.

So I guess said jury actually just checked in, and their answer is “Same as last year; try not to get too excited.” Luckily, the jury also reminded us that the Phils just won the World Series, and so maybe we should have a wee bit more patience with the football team.

2. How would a win this week impact their postseason prospects — and how would a loss impact their playoff positioning, as well?

We’ll dispatch with the “they’re all big game” disclaimers and pleasantries, and note that the Eagles are currently 7th in the NFC, and 3rd in their division — both of which feel extremely fair for the team’s performance to date. The problem with respect to playoff positioning is that the Birds are 0-2 in the NFC East. A loss to the Giants drops them to 0-3, with two of the three remaining division games on the road. Ugh. This scenario might have been slightly more palatable were both the Bucs and Panthers playing very well right now (in Wek Nine, I’ll reluctantly admit that I’m now taking the NFC South seriously) — meaning that it’ll be tough to get a third NFC East team into the playoffs, especially if said team has only a middling conference record.

At the risk of being a complete Negadelphian, I’ll conservatively say that a loss will be a lot more damaging than a win will be helpful. That is, if the Birds win, they’re still in the mix for the division, at least on paper; if they lose, then the residents of the Delaware Valley will need to start worrying about the Tampa Bay from next week on — yikes!

(In defense of my Negadelphianess, a couple guys won the Nobel Prize for proving that people perceive losses as more painful than wins are pleasing, so maybe I’m not completely crazy.)

3. What is the single-biggest key to Sunday’s game for the Eagles, and what is your predicted final score?

In honor of Coach Reid’s midsection, I’m going with the big guys with the unattractive numbers and awkward knee braces. More specifically, line play both ways. The Eagles’ offensive line was humiliated by the Giants last year, and have struggled in certain (namely short-yardage) scenarios this year. They will definitely have quite a few things to worry about with the Giants’ front seven. On defense, the Eagles are stout in the middle of the defensive line but a little smaller to the outside — I expect that they’ll see a lot of Brandon Jacobs to the outside. I guess I could be anxious about the standard skill-position hype (Eli versus Donovan! Plax versus Asante!), but I feel like those matchups are window-dressing; the Eagles will need to stand up to the Giants along the line of scrimmage if they have any hope of winning Sunday night.

I wish I could pick the Eagles in this game. I really do. But I’m not convinced that they’ll be able to handle the Giants at the line. Maybe more importantly, I’m not convinced that the Eagles can get it done in a primetime game — with good reason. Forgive the factoid, but they’ve lost seven night games in a row and 13 of their last 15. That does not inspire confidence. I think the Giants are very confident about handling the Eagles, and that that confidence will carry them in a relatively tight and nervy game: Giants 26, Eagles 20.

(BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Here’s to hoping I’m very very wrong.)

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