Thank God for the Eagles.
The Birds have been a rare bright spot in what has been a relatively dark year for Philadelphia’s professional sports teams. The quick recap: the Sixers continue with Tank, Round Two and have only twomore NBA victories this season (as of this writing) than I do sitting on my couch, the Flyers have two wins in their last 12 and the Phillies are staring a long rebuild in the face. Ouch.
As bad as things sound, there is still plenty of time left in each of their seasons (or in the Phillies case, offseason). Heading into Christmas break, here’s a look at what each team has to look forward to (or dread) over the next month.
Eagles: Of all the teams in this city, the Eagles are definitely looking at the most exciting road as they gear up for a playoff push, even after this Sunday’s 24-14 loss to the red-hot Seahawks. This Sunday will offer the most compelling drama of the season as the Birds take on the hated Cowboys with a division crown on the line. The Eagles hammered the Cowboys 33-10 on Thanksgiving behind a breakout performance by LeSean McCoy (159 yards), who passed Wilbert Montgomery as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. After what is sure to be an emotional game, the Eagles travel to Washington and New York for matchups against DeSean Jackson’s Redskins and the Giants. In the words of Philly sports radio network WIP, “Drama guaranteed.”
Sixers: Well, they won a game. That was nice. Then they won again. After winning an ugly game over the Timberwolves (36 combined turnovers) and an overtime thriller over the Pistons, the Sixers have stumbled their way through the second year of their famous “tank” to the NBA’s worst record. Joel Embiid is still hurt. Dario Saric is still in Europe. But at least this team plays hard every night. They will probably win a game or two in the next month. I would keep an eye on Dec. 21 against the Magic (who beat the Sixers by only a point and will be without star rookie Aaron Gordon) and Dec. 27 against the Jazz (5-15, only one game better than the Timberwolves).
Flyers: Despite a win against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the L.A Kings, the Flyers’ season has been so far extremely disappointing. The team is currently 9-13-4 and has more problems than one can count. For starters the Flyers have no defense. The only defensemen to exceed expectations is Michael Del Zotto, who for some reason was a healthy scratch Tuesday against the Sharks. The Flyers are also having trouble getting goals from players outside of the first line. This bad start has left many wondering whether or not head coach Craig Berube’s job is in jeopardy. GM Ron Hextall has come out and said Berube’s job is safe.
Phillies: After missing out on the sweepstakes for Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas (who signed with the Diamondbacks for far less than his expected value), the Phillies are stuck with a farm system and major league club that offer little in terms of future upside. The team will undoubtedly begin trading some of their more valuable veterans, most importantly ace Cole Hamels—and even their less valuable ones (see: Howard, Ryan). When that happens, though, will be highly contingent upon when some of the most valuable free agent pitchers such as Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields are signed. Teams that miss out on the top pitching free agents will be more willing to part with top-tier prospects to add Hamels, who is coming off the best season of his career. The team may begin shipping players out in the next month or later in the offseason.