CHICAGO -- When you visit Chicago, you don't spend the day in a hotel. We're staying at a nice hotel and everything, but Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world, so Sunday was a time to get out and about. I spent the morning on Michigan Avenue looking at the beautiful people and the beautiful shops, and then got down to business: Settled in at a sports bar and watched every possible play of every possible NFL game and let you know what I saw as the time moved slowly toward kickoff at Soldier Field ...
I'm winging it. Having some fun. Seeing how many Eagles fans I see -- I saw a bunch on the morning walk along Michigan Avenue -- and see what kind of trouble I could find ...
11:13 a.m. (Chicago time)
I will tell you straight up that I don't know if Brian Westbrook is going to play. The team set up a mini-athletic training room here at the hotel and Westbrook has been getting treatment since the team arrived on Saturday afternoon. I guess he has a chance, then. He came out here to play. I would have told you a week ago that there was no way that he would play in Chicago. At the time of his injury, I was just like you: Holding my breath and hoping it wasn't serious.
I give a lot of credit to Rick Burkholder and his athletic training staff. Just to get Westbrook to this point, where he has a chance to play, is impressive. Donovan McNabb looked great in Friday's practice and is good to go. I hope Westbrook plays, but let's get this straight: If he plays, he is going out to play. Not to be a decoy. Not to play a couple of snaps. If he is healthy enough to go, he is going to play.
At the same time, I have to be honest: I'm wondering if some key Bears will play. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd has a hip injury. Devin Hester has a rib injury, and defensive tackle Tommie Harris has been bothered all season with a knee injury. Makes me think that while the big story out there is how banged out the Eagles are, the Bears have some lumps, too.
I am seated at Kroll's, located on 18th and Michigan, and there are TV sets everywhere and I'm really excited with my Virgin Bloody Mary and a bunch of Eagles folks on the way to watch the games. But I have to vent. Please, let me vent.
FOX is interviewing Tony Romo, who seems like a nice enough guy. But I want to throw up when I hear the TV talking heads fawn all over him and when Michael Strahan says that Romo is "the best quarterback throwing on the run that I ever played again." Puh-lease. Romo is good and all, but give me a break already. Then they talk about Romo and Terrell Owens and Romo says, "He doesn't want to have a bad relationship with his quarterback."
I am sick to my stomach.
And then Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan comes on and talks about how he was a Philly sports fan growing up and how the teams in the city "always let you down." Does Mr. Ryan know that every Philadelphia fan hears this stuff?
Nearly game time. Lot of 1 p.m. games. Fantasy football is in the air. I have good vibes about this day.
I have just decided that I hate everybody who doesn't have an extreme passion for the Eagles. I know it's irrational. I know it's un-PC. I don't care. And there goes Michael Strahan picking the Bears to beat the Eagles tonight. It just reinforces my theory.
And, oh my goodness, Jimmy Johnson is defending the job Matt Millen did in Detroit. Ugh.
Hate 'em all. I'm a hater. Bring on the games!
There are 20 TVs here and I am already having football overload. I don't know who to watch! Do I focus on fantasy or do I watch games just because I love football?
I am definitely peeking at future Eagles opponents. I want to see the 49ers, who are blitzing the heck out of Drew Brees early in the game at New Orleans. I can't believe how bad the Bengals are -- I say they are going to be 0-4 after today's game against the Browns -- and I wonder if Carson Palmer is ever going to be right this year. Arizona? A telling game at the Jets today. I'm not sold on the Cardinals as a for-real team, although I think they can win the NFC West.
I have to watch Cleveland. Not a good offense, although the Brown are moving early against the awful Bengals.
And now there is this distraction: GoldenTee is here! Game on!
I shot 10 over par, 82, and lost in GoldenTee, so now I can get down to the business of watching. I am impressed with the 49ers' defensive strategy and effort in New Orleans. Is New Orleans a serious contender (yes, Drew Brees TD pass!)? I'm not sure. But the Eagles play the 49ers in two weeks, and it looks like they are willing to sell out and attack the line of scrimmage to stop the Saints on the ground. Very interesting. I am kind expecting to see that tonight from the Bears defense.
What else? Arizona is playing a lousy game against the Jets. Both the Browns and Bengals are horrendous. Minnesota is battling in a physical game against Tennesee.
I need to order some Chicago pizza ...
I've spent a lot of time watching Green Bay at Tampa Bay. Aaron Rodgers is having a poor game, but I have to take the high road here and say that Tampa Bay's defense is impressive. The Bucs are very good again up front, and the back seven gets to the ball so well. I'll put Monte Kiffin and Jim Johnson in the same category: You generally know what you are going to get with their defenses. They are expert schemers and they know how to maximize their personnel.
At the same time, I'm not sure either team is what I would call an "elite" team. Certainly, the Packers are missing cornerback Al Harris. But I just don't see Green Bay playing at that same high level as in previous week.
Other games: New Orleans is pulling away from the 49ers. The Cardinals have lost cornerback Eric Green to what could be a serious injury and, besides, are going to get roasted for staying on the East Coast all week and then going out and playing a rotten game against the Jets. I wanted to see if 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan was an unknown gem, but I don't see it today.
Neither Cincinnati nor Cleveland are worth watching. I am amazed at how poorly the Browns offense is playing. I expect Brady Quinn to be the quarterback when the Browns come to Philadelphia.
I'm going to push away from the games and the pizza (very good) and look at the coming-up Eagles schedule. Does it scare anybody? Washington at home next week. Win. At San Francisco. Win. Only thing that bothers me is that is before the bye week. Falcons at home after the bye week. Win. At Seattle,which has been all kinds of torn apart by injuries this year. Win.
A win tonight sets the Eagles up to be in a very good position. I can honestly see 7-1 at the halfway point of the season. I know things don't always work out the way they should, but I think the Eagles could be, should be 7-1. Just win tonight and get on a bit of a roll.
I keep looking around at these games today and I see turnovers, missed tackles, a bunch of other mistakes. New Orleans is the most impressive team I am watching, but I admit to not seeing much of Tennessee (beating Minnesota) or Jacksonville (beating Houston).
If Denver loses at Kansas City, then I will be completely stunned and shocked and amazed. Then again, hey, every time I look up and watch the abomination that is the Bengals-Browns, I realize anything is possible.
Making the turn into the fourth quarter of games in the NFL is about as exciting a time as any in sports, especially when there are a bunch of games going on at once. Some things I see ...
- Mike Martz is an awful play caller and if I ever see him get credit for being "aggressive,' I'm going to scream. He has Frank Gore running up a storm, with the 49ers offense finally making some things happen and Martz calls for a pass and then his lousy quarterback, J.T. O'Sullivan make a boneheaded throw that is intercepted in the end zone and my rant has NOTHING to do with the fact that Gore is on my fantasy team. Nothing. Really. Kind of honestly. How do you NOT give the ball to Gore every play inside the 20-yard line?
- I keep waiting for Braylon Edwards to pop off. Seems the TV camera are, too. He made a nice touchdown catch to maybe salvage an awful Browns offensive performance.
- Houston is proving my "desperate team" theory is alive and reasonably correct. The Texans have fought back to lead Jacksonville in the fourth quarter.
- How can Denver be trailing the Chiefs? I think the Broncos will win, but give me a break ...
- Carolina is a much, much better team than I thought they would be. They are physical, they play good defense and they run the ball well. Jake Delhomme looks good, too. They could win 10 or 11 games this year.
- Great game in Tampa Bay between the Bucs and the Packers. I am really enjoying this game. Great comeback by Green Bay, which leads with 13 minutes to go. Brian Griese is being Brian Griese. Where is Jeff Garcia?
- I don't know how far the Saints will go this year, but they have a heckuva quarterback in Drew Brees. He is making that passing game go, no matter who is playing at wide receiver. All of a sudden, Robert Meachem is legit.
Great day of football. Jacksonville wins in overtime and the Jags are back and, I think, contenders in the AFC. Tampa Bay beat the living daylights out of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to win a huge game. I still don't think the Bucs are for real. San Francisco can't play defense and has no balance offensively, but the 49ers are playing the Saints tough late in the fourth quarter.
New York is winning the track meet against Arizona. Neither team has a defense, apparently. Cleveland saves its season -- for now -- by beating the horrible Bengals. I can't help but wonder how dysfunctional that Bengals locker room is now. Kansas City still leads Denver. Amazing. The Vikings fall to 1-3 -- take that back -- the game is still going. Who is hurt in Denver? Looks serious ...
I don't like to see injuries. I like teams at full strength playing football. Balling.
This place is jumping now. Lots of Eagles fans. The Eagles-Bears game nears. Time for me to repair back to my hotel and get my game face on ...