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- Eagles sail, Seahawks whimper through trade deadline

Sports Critic October 22, 2004
Sports Critic

Tell your opinion.

By Alex Fitzsimmons, email alexcolumn@aol.com

Who knew losing two great defensive backs and two elusive running backs could actually make a team better? And who would’ve guessed acquiring two greatly needed defensive players, while keeping the core of your offense intact, would actually make a team worse? Basic summary of the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks season’s thus far. I guess nobody in the NFL cares about balance anymore.

Two teams with Super Bowl aspirations, and insurmountable expectations have played on two completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Both the Eagles and Seahawks started the season 3-0 but in Week 7, the Eagles are entering 5-0 and the Seahawks, fresh off two straight losses to the Patriots and Rams, are 3-2. Is it safe to say the Eagles are the clear-cut favorite to win the NFC, and that Seattle is a distant second? Not yet.

Remember, the 2003 Vikings started the season 6-0, the last team in the NFC to lose, and courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals they suffered a heart-breaking loss on the final play of the game with the season on the line, and missed the playoffs. Now I’m not trying to suggest that the same will happen to the Eagles, all I’m saying is that anything can happen.

I picked the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season, but I’m not ready to lie down and call the Eagles my daddy just yet. Not to call the Eagles a fluke, they are very talented, but I don’t think their second half will be as dominant as their first has been. The Eagles wont run the ball as well the second half of the season with a young Brian Westbrook who hasn’t started at all in his short career—fatigue will catch up to him. And playing one-dimensional will not work the second half of the season.

Everybody has been raving about the Eagles seemingly “improved” defense, well I’m not sold. A defense ranked 20th in the NFL last year, and in my opinion, moderately worse after losing Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent will show the effects later on.

And offensively, I’d still take the Seahawks offense over the Eagles, despite Seattle’s receivers having ball-control problems. At running back there’s no comparison, Shaun Alexander tops Westbrook any day, and receiving, the Seahawks have considerably more depth with the posse of Koren Robinson, Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. At the tight end position, Itula Mili and Jerramy Stevens are more then dependable catchers and blockers. The only spot on the offense I would give a considerable edge to would be at quarterback. Donovan McNabb is a superstar in this league, and Hasselbeck is just not as good. He will have his day will Hasselbeck, but right now, its McNabb’s time to shine.

And how about Jerry Rice? The guy is so old, he could almost be my grandfather (exaggeration), but yet he still finds a way to compete at a high level. For Seattle’s receivers, having a guy like Rice in the locker room could help fix the dropped passes. Though obviously past his prime (anyone who thinks otherwise is a moron), Rice could still make an impact on this team, less physically, but more mentally and psychologically.

As for the Eagles, they are in cruise control, for now anyway. As long as they keep executing plays and play with the same fierce mentality Terrell Owens brings, they will be fine. But once they do get hit with their first loss, and it will happen, the worst thing the Eagles could do is change their game plan. Players might start to get worried or edgy, and that could lead directly to the course of failure. But if I’m an Eagles fan, which I’m not, I wouldn’t be worried about that too much-- And Reid is too good a coach to let a meltdown of that proportion ensue.

Its pretty safe to say both of these teams are heading in positive directions, meaning a playoff spot. How far these teams will advance after that will be left up to the players, not us media buffs. I can say whatever I want about how this team is better than that team but in the end, I’m just a normal everyday guy writing an article.

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