It’s Round 2 of Doug Upstone and Swinging Johnson 17-week head to head NFL conflict and somebody started with a loss and wasn’t happy about it. Will that person rebound or start to look like the Milwaukee Bucks?
Los Angeles Rams vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, Sept. 20 – 1:00 pm ET (FOX) at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
For the second week of the NFL season, bitter, yet somewhat friendly rivals Doug Upstone and Swinging Johnson are putting on the eight-ounce gloves again and are ready to go toe-to-toe again.
Both are coming in on a short week (just a little football talk for you) as Doug prevailed with Pittsburgh 26-16 as six-digit favorites. Swinging Johnson certainly has his chances for the cover and maybe the outright victory but a couple of Giants miscues and good fortune for the Steelers allowed Doug to start 1-0.
Doug Upstone: Whew! Honestly, that was tougher than I thought it was going to be Swinger. Your guy Daniel Jones was throwing darts most of the game and if New York could have assembled any running offense, you could have covered.
For this week, when I first saw the Los Angeles Rams were still catching +3.5 points, I was nearly as happy as I was Saturday with my two Sun Belt Conference winners. OK, not that happy, but you get what I mean.
When I checked back later, the sportsbooks got around to more realistic NFL odds and made the Rams a one-point road favorite over injury-ravaged Philadelphia.
Last week, it was known the Eagles were starting the game with a plethora of injuries, but I like many still believed Carson Wentz and the Philly defense would be enough. The Wentz threw the first of two terrible interceptions, which allowed the “Football Team” back in the game and the rest we know.
My feeling coming into the season was the L.A. Rams are better than being given credit for and could win 10 games. I do like L.A. here Swinger, please tell me why you think Philly can compete?
Swinging Johnson: Doug, it pains me to start the season this way after the second half battering you gave me last year. I’m already behind the eight ball and now we have a matchup where I am taking a flier on a team that looked so good early but so, so, very bad late as the Eagles watched a 17-0 lead over the Washington No Names melt like butter in a blast furnace.
Well, I’ve got to tell you, Doug, that as disheartening as that loss was to Philadelphia fans, it did wonders for the number moving in a favorable direction for those inclined on backing the Eagles in their NFL picks this coming Sunday. The opening line had Philadelphia as a four-point favorite and now we can get them as high as a 1 ½ point home dog! I’m not going to grind you for the half-point Doug, we’ll go with the Rams -1 for the purposes of this discussion, but I don’t believe I’ll need the hook.
As bad as Wentz looked late, I believe the offense will learn from this loss and don’t forget that reports are buzzing that offensive tackle, Lane Johnson, will be back in uniform. The Eagles were already without offensive linemen Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard but getting Lane back will be a big boon to Wentz’s protection and time in the pocket.
The bottom line here is that I am unimpressed with the Rams offense and believe young Jared Goff will have issues avoiding the Philadelphia pass rush. This looks like a slow, plodding affair to me and I like my chances with this underrated home pup, especially after the public swallowed the Rams whole.
Remember, Joe Q. Public has a very short-term memory and vastly overrates victories and defeats on a weekly basis. If you want to walk hand-in-hand with the masses like sheep to the slaughter, I can’t help you…but I’m willing to try.
DU: SJ, a few worthwhile points on Philly, but it won’t matter. Wentz has developed or maybe always had it, the willingness to hang onto the ball WAY too long. He took eight sacks for 62 yards and I believe two of them were over 10 yards. If you are a championship-level quarterback, you have to get rid of the ball after what, the fifth or six sack, no matter how your offensive line is playing.
No question every great QB has had such a game or maybe three, but this is a pattern and where is the play-calling to run screens or passes to the flat with a blocker or two?
Actually what excites me about the NFC City of Angels team is the offensive line being physical again. The two prior years when Rams were really strong, they had all the fancy stuff to move the ball, but what was most important is they won both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Last week, coach Sean McVay was committed to the run and his team had 40 attempts for 158 yards. The Philadelphia injuries are also in the defensive line and that is where L.A. can control the game, even on the road and with no fans. Running the ball sets up the play-action for Jared Goff and that is where Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp can wear out the Eagles.
Lastly, Carson, meet Aaron Donald, you two will meet frequently. (In the Philadelphia backfield)
SJ: I’m not sure Carson Wentz will ever be a championship-caliber quarterback, to be honest. And on Sunday I don’t need him to be. But as you pointed out, taking eight sacks is more than just poor protection from his offensive line, it’s poor decision making by the quarterback.
Wentz is a serviceable passer and I think that’s simply who he is and who he is going to be but I don’t think he’s a bust by any means. He will review game tape and a plan will be devised to avoid those costly mistakes. He and his offensive coordinator are undoubtedly aware that Aaron Donald is coming to exchange unpleasantries with the Eagles’ offensive line, with the sole intention of getting up close and personal with Carson Wentz. That’s a meeting Wentz certainly wants to avoid and is capable enough to avoid it.
I’ll give the Rams three sacks on Wentz this week but more importantly, I think that the Philly pass rush is much better than the one Goff faced last week from the Cowboys. You noticed that he had to continually go with quick slants to avoid getting hit and/or sacked. So, while I believe that the LA offensive line is better than last season, it still isn’t where it was and will get exploited by Philadelphia.
I guess the thing is that I love when the public overeats and, in this case, we have an example of just that. These two teams are pretty similar in terms of overall talent and I like the fact that I am getting Philly at home against a team that played better than most anticipated but whose offense scares no one, including the Eagles. This line gives us tremendous value on Philly so follow me to the Promised Land, and let’s cash those tickets!
Doug, you have the last word. I hope you don’t continue to try to lead our readers down a boulevard of broken dreams by imploring them to bet the Rams here. Don’t do it, Doug! Don’t do it!
DU: Geez Swinger, I sense some sadness in your tone.
When looking into the numbers SJ, the head to head battles do favor your pick long term, with Philadelphia 10-3 SU and 11-1-1 ATS dating back to 1995 and 6-1 SU and 6-0-1 ATS in the City of Brotherly Love. And as you and the readers here at SBR know, I’m a big numbers guy (not just my weight), however, injuries impact so many games in the NFL, especially when they become so numerous like what has happened to Doug Pederson’s club.
In truth, I just cannot get past that part, and my preseason belief that this L.A. crew will be better than anticipated. I’ll take it one step further and let you know the Rams are road warriors of late and are 8-2 against the spread when traveling and cover the -1 and move to 2-0 in 2020.