Nightmares for the dream team

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love; the home of Rocky Balboa, and cheese steak. Now it’s also home to a team primed to make a Super Bowl run. That’s what we were led to believe anyway when selecting where to go for our annual football trip.

The city of Philadelphia is certainly a great sports town. It has a rich sporting history, mostly filled with disappointment. It has fantastic stadiums all within spitting distance of one another. The fans are passionate about every team (even the now relocated AHL Phantoms). The Phillies and Flyers have emerged as perennial contenders for the title. But even still, one team commands most of the attention of Philadelphians.

The Philadelphia Eagles receive more support than any other team in the city. Tailgating starts five hours before the game and stretches for miles around the stadium in every direction. There is apparently no such thing as a parking violation when the Eagles are playing, as cars are left in the middle of the street. The fans themselves, many with the stereotypical Philly accent, are as tough and as passionate as they come. However on Sunday, their passion was conveyed through boos and insults.

The Eagles were embarrassed by the Giants in every phase of the game. Eli Manning threw four touchdowns, two to unknown receiver Victor Cruz, as the Giants rolled to a 29-16 win. The Eagles owned the time of possession, but failed to find to pay dirt going 1 for 5 in the redzone. The defence couldn’t make a tackle as the supposedly stacked Eagles secondary was torched by a Giants team very thin at wide receiver. To make matters worse Michael Vick was knocked out of the game, with what was later called a bruised hand.

As bad as the Eagles were, the Giants do deserve a ton of credit for coming on the road with a long list of injuries and securing a big win. They silenced even the most obnoxious of Eagle fans (that’s right guy in front of me in the Vince Papale jersey, I’m talking about you). The Giants defence forced three turnovers and never allowed Vick to get comfortable in the pocket.

After the game, most of the fans turned their attention to doing what they love best, questioning Andy Reid. The offence couldn’t convert short yardage situations, the middle of the defence is incredibly vulnerable and Michael Vick might not survive the season. Fans were quickly dismissing the notion of the playoffs, and a few of the ones we talked with debated selling their season tickets. Even if Vick doesn’t miss any starts, the team does not look as poised to make noise as they did at the start of the year. If the team does falter this season, look for some big changes at the top of the Eagles organization.

All in all, this year’s trip was an interesting one. I ate great cheese steak (Tony Luke’s, as seen on Man vs. Food), drank many beers and my friend dislocated his thumb. But the most interesting thing happened around 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, when I saw 60,000 fans collectively lose hope in their team.

Week 3 Notes:

• Only three undefeated teams remain; the reigning champion Packers… oh and the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills! If you saw this coming, go buy a lottery ticket, because you are probably psychic.

• The Falcons are another preseason favourite that is struggling mightily. Matt Ryan is doing his best Jay Cutler impression, getting sacked 14 times already (and some of these are big hits). If the Falcons offence is going to take off like last year, they have to protect the centrepiece.

• I don’t care what Tom Brady has done so far, Darren McFadden has to be the early favourite for Offensive Player of the year. The Raiders offence rolls through him. Teams know he is going to get the ball, but he is simply too quick to stop.

• I went 0-4 on Bodog this week. Teams that weren’t given a chance really performed covering the spread, and showing that perhaps there is still hope for the season (Chiefs and Colts I’m talking to you).

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