Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 12/27/15

  • December 27, 2015

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I’m “old school” when it comes to the game of football. Win the rushing stats on offense and defense and win the game. Control the line of scrimmage and win the game. Deceive the opponent when you can, but physically dominate in the trenches and win the game. That’s the way football has always been, and it’s my belief that’s never going to change.

I’m pretty sure just about every Philadelphia Eagles fan on the planet likely agrees with me right now. The arrival of Chip Kelly generated some great optimism, but I think it’s fair to say things aren’t exactly working out very well.

Kelly has always run what might be labeled a gimmick offense, but if you go back to his Oregon days, you’ll probably notice something right away. His Ducks won the rushing stats by substantial margins on an almost weekly basis. So while the methodology might have offered a twist, the objective remained the same. Beat up the other team at the point of attack and win the game, and that’s what Oregon did way more often than not.

Last night’s loss to the Redskins closed the book on the team’s 2015 season, save for what is now a meaningless finale against the Giants. In the game against Washington, Philly lost the rushing stats for the tenth time this season. They’re 1-9 in those games, and therein is your very simple but accurate reason as to why the campaign will be regarded as an utter failure.

I have no idea why Kelly has chosen to get away from a formula that works, and more specifically, worked spectacularly well for him. I assumed when the team acquired DeMarco Murray it was a signal that pace of play be damned, this team was going to ground and pound. Murray got off to a poor start, and for all intents and purposes, Kelly junked what should have been his continued scheme of attack and the team fell on its face.

I have no idea whether Kelly will return as head coach of the Eagles in 2016. But it’s clear to me that if he does, and stays with the same game plans he put in place on a regular basis this season, Philadelphia is doomed to another disappointing result.


Bump in the road Saturday with a couple of late fades yet again costing me dearly. This has been a pretty good week overall, but a poor December to be sure. I’ll look to make some positive strides today with a couple of NFL games, and I’ll be on at least one NHL game that i’m using here as the free play.

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Miami went wild in the fourth quarter and rallied from a substantial halftime deficit to do in the Magic, ending a small run with the daily free plays. Let’s see about a quick return to the win column with a good NHL spot today.


Take: BRUINS -120 or better (no line currently)

This game figures to be in the pick ’em neighborhood. It’s not too difficult estimating NHL numbers, and I would expect Ottawa -115 or thereabouts. But even if Boston shows as the small road chalk here, I’ll be siding with the Bruins.

I like good teams off really bad games, and that’s the situation for Boston here. Actually, it wasn’t really a bad game for the Bruins as they lost last night to Buffalo. But it was sure enough a very bad five minutes or so heading down the stretch in the third period.

I watch almost every Bruins game, as my New England roots pretty much will me to do so. What I saw last night was a team that decided they’d done enough to win the game leading 3-1 well into the final frame. And the Bruins simply stopped playing. They got lax in virtually every aspect of the game, tried to get really cute with the puck, and just like that, flat out blew the game to the Sabres. The final score was a bit misleading as Buffalo notched two empty net goals for the 6-3 final. But the fact remains Boston surrendered an amazing five goals in the third period and skated off the ice with their heads hanging.

I can’t guarantee the result, but I’ll be shocked if the Bruins aren’t breathing fire today at Ottawa. It’s a quick turnaround for Boston as it’s an earlier than normal start time against the Senators. But the Bruins have had no problem playing back to backs and they’ll also almost certainly have red hot Tuukka Rask back between the pipes today.

Rask is on a big roll for Boston. Whatever was ailing him early this season is not an issue anymore. When Rask is right, there aren’t many better and he’s been right almost every time out recently. The Bruins are doing a decent job of not overworking him, and that should be of benefit come playoff time. As for tonight, it’s a very well rested Rask who figures to get the call.

The Senators should get Bobby Ryan back in action today and it looks like defenseman Cody Ceci might play as well. That’s a nice boost for Ottawa, and they can use it as they haven’t been at their best recently.

Ottawa has been a good home team thus far. But the Bruins have actually been a great road team, last night’s melt notwithstanding, and I like the idea of backing Boston off that fade, particularly with Rask back in goal. The Bruins at -120 or better will be on my card and they’re my free play today.