If the Philadelphia Eagles are to emerge as something other than phonies, it’s imperative that coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb show some urgency.
The lackadaisical approach of the underachieving Eagles is not getting old — it was old a long time ago. It became difficult to take the Eagles seriously after their loss at Oakland on Oct. 18.
Now, after Philadelphia’s back-to-back losses to Dallas and San Diego, McNabb returns home to Chicago to face Jay Cutler and the Bears, who play so poorly at times it’s comical.
The Eagles are 3-point favorites over the Bears on Sunday, and the loser can start looking ahead to free agency and the NFL Draft.
With the NFC East still up for grabs, Philadelphia (5-4) remains in the playoff picture, so the time for excuses and letdowns has passed.
I’ll lay the points with the Eagles, who have more to play for and are far more talented offensively. Once again, though, the preseason hype surrounding Reid’s team has not equaled results.
Reid’s experiment with Michael Vick has been a complete failure at this point. Vick has completed 2 of 7 passes for 6 yards and added just 27 yards rushing. Why waste the effort and money?
Vick could be Philadelphia’s so-called quarterback of the future if McNabb fails down the stretch, and that’s the only way his signing makes sense.
But the Eagles have done a few things well. They added weapons around McNabb through the draft, picking up speedy wideouts DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy.
Jackson and Maclin have combined for eight touchdown receptions this season. McCoy has 353 yards rushing, and his presence helps make up for the absence of injury-prone veteran Brian Westbrook.
McNabb’s passing numbers look good — 12 touchdowns and four interceptions — but he too seldom finds the end zone. Philadelphia’s red zone failures led to three David Akers field goals and a 28-9 deficit against the Chargers last week. McNabb passed for 450 yards but did not produce a TD until the fourth quarter.
Still, all things considered, they should handle the self-destructing Bears, who are 4-5 with one victory against an opponent with a winning record. Cutler has not helped, throwing 17 interceptions.
If McNabb can’t win this one, it might be time for the Eagles to unveil Vick and plan for next year.
Four more plays for Week 11 (Home team in CAPS):
• Colts (Pick) over RAVENS: This appears to be a better situation for Baltimore. Indianapolis is wounded on defense, sputtering some on offense and has failed to cover its past three games. The Colts are fortunate to be 9-0 and look vulnerable. But Peyton Manning is 5-0 against the Ravens, and the Colts are 4-0 against the spread on the road. When in doubt, go with Manning.
• 49ers (+61/2) over PACKERS: San Francisco tends to hang tough on the road — 3-0-1 ATS this season — for coach Mike Singletary. Frank Gore’s hard running can keep the 49ers close in the fourth quarter. Offensive line breakdowns and quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ indecisiveness are crippling the Green Bay offense.
• RAIDERS (+91/2) over Bengals: This pick is a reach, because I almost never take Oakland. But the quarterback switch from JaMarcus Russell to Bruce Gradkowski should boost the Raiders. The underdog is 9-0 in Cincinnati’s games. The Bengals are on the road after a big win at Pittsburgh, and running back Cedric Benson is doubtful.
• Chargers (-3) over BRONCOS: San Diego is getting hot and seeking revenge. The Chargers were impressive in road victories over Kansas City and the New York Giants. Quarterback play should make the difference, and one has to believe Philip Rivers will outplay either Chris Simms or a hobbled Kyle Orton.
Last week: 2-3 against the spread
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports writer Matt Youmans can be reached at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.