The Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 21: Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles runs with the ball against Antrel Rolle  of the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on November 21, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With all due respect to the Falcons and Packers (and remember, I am saying with all due respect), the Eagles are clearly the team to beat right now in the NFC.

Atlanta currently owns the best record now in the NFC at 8-2. But they had a chance to go head to head against the Eagles in Week 6 and they were beaten like a rented mule in all facets of the game. And that was when Kevin Kolb was at quarterback for Philadelphia – not Michael Vick.

The Packers beat the Eagles in the opening week of the season but Kolb started that game too. Vick nearly lead Philly to a fourth quarter comeback, but Green Bay hung on for an impressive road win. Since then, the Packers have been decimated by injuries and Vick is now playing at an MVP level.

The Giants had their opportunity to beat the Eagles as well and while they played well for about a quarter, Philly eventually beat them too. New York did some good things defensively in efforts to contain Vick, but the Eagles also missed several opportunities in the first half to build a sizeable lead. Either way, the scoreboard at the end of the game read Eagles 27, Giants 17 and that’s all that matters. The rest is just details.

We’re going to find out more about the Packers and Falcons when they play each other this Sunday. Both are solid football teams and are red hot at the moment, but people hesitate declaring either the best in the NFC. Again, the Packers have injury issues and the Falcons’ defense is still a work in progress.

But we know what we have in the Eagles. As long as Vick stays healthy, this team will be tough to beat down the stretch. Granted, they still have to go on the road to New York, Chicago and Dallas (which is rejuvenated under Jason Garrett), but the Eagles seemingly have fewer weaknesses than their NFC counterparts.

Forget the records – this is the best team in the conference at the moment.

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Eagles have options if they eventually decide to dump Michael Vick

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on from the sideline in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported that the Eagles were seriously considering dumping Michael Vick, although the rumor was quickly denied by reputable NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN, as well as the team itself.

But what if the Eagles decided to part ways with Vick in wake of his latest off-field situation? Would they be comfortable releasing him with no veteran to backup the inexperienced Kevin Kolb next season?

Considering Vick was mostly used out of the Wildcat formation last year, the answer to that question is easy. Jeff Garcia, the veteran QB who has history with the Eagles, would be the most logical option if Vick were released. Garcia is already well versed in Andy Reid’s offense and despite his weak arm strength, he’s a better passing quarterback than Vick, who may have a rocket attached to his left shoulder but whose accuracy remains a major issue.

Another option the Eagles might have is one that was brought up by ESPN and that’s Troy Smith, who probably could be had for the right price. The former Heisman Trophy winner is rotting behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore and would like the opportunity to start somewhere else. Kolb is entrenched as the starter right now in Philly, but that doesn’t mean Smith wouldn’t have the opportunity to unseat him if he starts to struggle at any point during the season.

The point is that Vick isn’t worth the trouble for the Eagles. Reid’s experiment with him in the Wildcat last year often produced poor results and at 30 year’s old, it’s not like the former No. 1 overall pick has regained his lightening-quick speed. (He’s reportedly in better shape than he was last year, but that doesn’t mean he’s the athlete he once was.)

I would stop short of calling Vick expendable, but he’s certainly not worth the headache if he gets into even an ounce of trouble with the league over the Quanis Phillips shooting. And truth be told, the Eagles missed out on a golden opportunity to trade him this offseason by asking for a second round pick (which was way too high) in exchange for his services.

Refs blow crucial call in Falcons-Eagles game

Falcons-EaglesIt wasn’t anywhere near as crucial as Ed Hochuli’s gaff in the Broncos-Chargers game earlier this season, but the refs blew another call Sunday, this one costing the Falcons a chance to possibly drive for a late score and beat the Eagles.

The 27-14 final suggests that Philadelphia soundly handled Atlanta, but it doesn’t provide the full story. Rookie QB Matt Ryan connected with Roddy White for his second touchdown pass of the game to cut the Eagles’ lead to 20-14 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

After forcing Philly to go three and out on their next possession, the Falcons were set to get the ball back with just over two minutes left and no timeouts. But after returner Adam Jennings let a punt bounce at his feet, the refs called a muff and awarded the Eagles the ball at that spot. Replays clearly showed that the ball never touched Jennings but because the Falcons had used all of their timeouts, they couldn’t review it. Brian Westbrook (who had a huge day coming back from injury) then broke off a 39-yard touchdown run to put the game away.

Granted, Atlanta might not have scored anyway, but they never got the opportunity either. And it seems that more than ever, refs are way too flag-happy and it has cost teams chances to win ballgames. Earlier in this game, Trent Cole was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a hit on Ryan that couldn’t have been a worse call. Cole hit him square and it wasn’t head-to-head or malicious at all.

I hate to talk about blown calls because they happen to every team every week. But they’ve seemed especially bad this year and it looks like they’ll continue throughout the season.

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