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Happy Tuesday, everyone! Before we get to the Super Bowl rematch on Monday night, we have news breaking as we launch today’s newsletter.
🚨 Matt Canada has beenof the Steelers while running backs coach Eddie Faulkner is reportedly expected to take over as OC and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan is expected to call plays. Our NFL crew will continue to cover the fallout from Pittsburgh throughout the day.
With that said, let’s get right to it.
🦅 Good morning to everyone but especially …
THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
All I hear is the offense is disjointed and the defense is “meh.” This, that and the other thing are going wrong.
I don’t want to hear it. The Eagles are 9-1, and their latest win might just be their most impressive. Philadelphia went to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs, 21-17, with a remarkable comeback, some luck and a lot of heart.
- Trailing 17-7 at halftime, Jalen Hurts delivered a pair of second-half touchdowns rushing — the 33rd and 34th of his career, passing Cam Newton for in his first four seasons.
- Hurts has won 13 straight games against teams with winning records, the longest streak since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He’s also won seven straight games when trailing by 10+ points.
- But really the story was the defense, which forced two turnovers to bend but not break throughout the second half. Midseason acquisition Kevin Byard picked off Patrick Mahomes in the end zone, and recent veteran signee Bradley Roby forced a red-zone Travis Kelce fumble that Nicholas Morrow recovered.
- Mahomes entered the game 34-1 (and 20-0 at home) in his career when leading by 10+ points at halftime. So, yeah, this was pretty special.
Do I think the Eagles are perfect? No. Do they have some clear flaws? Yes. But, my goodness, they are terrific at making winning plays. A key first down here, a takeaway there, a timely pressure, a clutch throw. They do it week in and week out. Football is a game of imperfections. The Eagles overcome theirs better than anyone else.
😁 Honorable mentions
😦 And not such a good morning for …
THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
There are a lot of really, really bad offenses this year. Like, really bad.
But do you know which offense ranks last in second-half points per game and fourth-quarter points per game? The Chiefs — at 5.3 and 1.9, respectively. Wednesday will mark one month since the last time they scored in the second half. It’s a real problem, and solutions are lacking.
Normally under Mahomes, the Chiefs have had plenty of margin for error. Mahomes tries a daring pass that doesn’t work out? So what! That willingness makes him a legend, and he’ll bounce back. Kelce gets a little loose with the ball here or there? No problem! Keep feeding arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history.
And even Monday night, all of that could have been overcome when Mahomes drove a nearly 60-yard laser through the wind and the rain to Marquez Valdes-Scantling — a throw that would be right up there with any in his transcendent career.
. Then Mahomes was called for intentional grounding. Then Justin Watson dropped a would-be first down on fourth-and-25 (!!), another incredible Mahomes throw. Game over.
Mahomes doesn’t have a wide receiver he can trust. He has an 87.0 passer rating when targeting wide receivers this season, worse than the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield and only slightly better than Bryce Young. For comparison’s sake, Mahomes had a 106.7 passer rating when targeting wide receivers from 2018-22.
I will never, ever count out Mahomes. The defense is awesome, the running game returned, and again, if Valdes-Scantling makes that catch, we’re talking about all of the good instead of all of the bad. But “if” gets you in trouble. And the Chiefs offense is in trouble.
😔 Not so honorable mentions
🏈 College football rankings adjust for Washington
Monday, Jordan Travis confirmed his magnificent Florida State career, and there’s simply no two ways about it: It’s an awful, awful blow for the Seminoles. We’ve new starter Tate Rodemaker, but Travis leaves shoes that are impossible to fill: He’s the only player in the program’s top 10 of both touchdowns passing and touchdowns rushing.
That absence is impossible to ignore, but it’s not the reason the Seminoles fell from fourth to fifth inor in the mass of college football rankings that have already been released. Washington continues its incredible undefeated run behind Michael Penix Jr. and just defeated another top 10 team Saturday.
Still, the combination of the Huskies’ success and this unfortunate development for the Noles has everyone rethinking their rankings.
- Dodd: “Was that FSU’s playoff hopes being carted off the field along with the injured Jordan Travis? A gruesome leg injury ends the college career of the ‘Noles star. If FSU gets past Florida this week and Louisville in the ACC Championship Game, it’ll be in the CFP. That task looks a lot tougher now, though.”
Washingon also jumped to fourth in the. The top eight in both remained unchanged otherwise:
- Georgia (previous: 1)
- Michigan (2)
- Ohio State (3)
- Washington (5)
- Florida State (4)
- Oregon (6)
- Texas (7)
- Alabama (8)
Sometimes, we focus too much on the top teams. The good-not-great teams are worth celebrating, too. That especially goes for New Mexico, 9-3 on the season and winner of seven straight after crushing Auburn,. Jerry Kill‘s Aggies made the from 67th to 48th.
🏀 Maui Invitational 40th anniversary: What makes it so special?
The Maui Invitational is almost always the best in-season tournament — it’s— but that’s not what makes this year special. What makes this year special and meaningful and wonderful is that it’s the 40th anniversary of the tournament, and the first since the devastating fires. This year’s version is in a different arena, but it’s still going strong.
Matt Norlander takes a look at.
- Norlander: “The competition and the celebration will continue; it’s too important not to. From its humble beginnings, this is what the Maui Invitational means and how it became one of the venerated spectacles on the American sports calendar. … There’s something about Maui — daytime basketball, in bracket form, high-level teams, sometimes an underdog wins a game or two — that makes it a kindred spirit of March and the NCAA Tournament. You steal time during daylight hours to watch future NBA lottery picks and All-Americans, then fight off sleep late at night, lest you miss a Maui classic that wraps up somewhere close to 1:30 a.m. ET.”
Matt also took a trip down memory lane with the, and I wouldn’t be surprised if another one this year makes a case to join the list: today’s action features No. 2 Purdue against No. 7 Tennessee and No. 1 Kansas against No. 4 Marquette.
⚾ Mike Trout should waive his no-trade clause
The hot stove hasn’t exactly heated up yet — it will soon, don’t worry — and while all eyes are on Shohei Ohtani, could a former teammate be another A-list star attraction? Mike Trout might not want to be part of another Angels era heading nowhere. He has a no-trade clause, but Mike Axisa has, including …
- Axisa: “Trout is 32 and the injury troubles are mounting. How many prime years does he have remaining? How much longer can he be a foundational player for a World Series contender? Trout is a special player and special players tend to age differently than everyone else. … The fact of the matter is Trout’s best shot at winning a World Series will come when he’s still in his prime, and can be a difference-maker. He’s the kind of player who can swing the balance of power in a division race or a postseason series, but he won’t be that player forever.”
📺 What we’re watching Tuesday
🏀 Cavaliers at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 7 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Purdue, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Jazz at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Marquette, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN