Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
It's with great pleasure and raw energy that I roll out another mailbag column, which is now read in more than 72 different languages, including English. You've once again outdone yourself with probing questions and charges of Cowboys bias. In this session, you'll read about the four teams in the NFC East and at least one team from the Big 12. Please proceed with caution.
Waxhaw from parts unknown writes: Who do you feel is the safest pick this week besides the New York Giants?
Mosley: Waxhaw, don't sleep on the Rams. If seven or eight plays went the other way, they would've been right in the thick of things against Philly. OK, I'm kidding. Load up on the Giants -- if you're into that sort of thing. I don't see a lot of safe picks this week, but I do think seven points is a lot for the Eagles to be getting at Texas Stadium, a place where they've played well in recent years. Give me the Eagles and the points, but take the Cowboys to win straight up.
Paul in New York City would like to make the following point: I think Eagles-Cowboys or Redskins-Giants are better rivalries than Cowboys-Redskins. When was the last time a Cowboys-Redskins game meant something? Compare that with how many meaningful games the Giants and Redskins played from 1984-1993. Or how many meaningful games the Giants and Cowboys have played from 1993 through today. I actually think Redskins-Cowboys is one of the weakest rivalries among the four teams.
Mosley: Paul, the Eagles and Cowboys have gone through fairly long stretches where only one of the teams is dominant. The Eagles were great (1960) when the Cowboys first started, but there were some lean years before Vermeil arrived on the scene. And I agree that the Parcells Giants and the Gibbs Redskins had some great battles, but nothing compared to what was going on with George Allen and Tom Landry in the 70s. The two teams hated each other, and honestly, those were always the two most important games of the regular season. A rivalry like that transcends some of the tough stretches. The Eagles might like to think they're the Cowboys' biggest rival, but it's simply not true. Don't be a stranger, Paul.
Chip in Midland, Texas, has a question that's been on a lot of your minds: Hey Matt, hope you're staying dry in Dallas. It's been pouring rain out here for a week and a half. I have your RSS set up on my phone which gives me your columns. Is it possible, though, to get ESPN.com to RSS your blog? I've been looking for this RSS and can't find it if there is one. Thanks!
Mosley: Chip, I'm told that Hurricane Ike is headed toward Dallas on Saturday, which means we'll have at least one inch of rain. You'll be happy to know that my house was built at the highest point in Lake Highlands and the yard drains much better than Heinz Field. Regarding the RSS question, I've forwarded that to the NFC East blog IT center. I expect an answer in the next six to seven months. Stay classy, Midland.
Jason from our Canadian bureau asks: Matt, is ESPN's hype machine in the shop for repairs or something? Where's the hoopla for the Monday Nighter? I thought with the T.O.-Philly history, two "East Coast" teams that had slaughters for victories in week 1 and two media favorites at quarterback, the hype machine would be on its Super Bowl setting. As a Philly fan, I fear a letdown, but this matchup has me really excited. I think the Eagles are one of the few teams in the NFL that has a defense to line up with the Dallas offense, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the Philly offense being able to move the ball a bit. Thoughts? Finally, will Jessica show up? If she does, and if Dallas loses, she has to fear for her safety, right?
Mosley: Jason, we're trying to let this thing build a little before unleashing an all-out assault on game day. By the way, I'll have two columns Monday and a bit part on "Monday Night Countdown." Regarding your football questions, I don't think you should be worried about a letdown from the Eagles. Why would you ever come out flat in this game? I think both teams will be able to move the ball. And something (actually someone) tells me that Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman will sit this game out, so that would put some pressure on his replacement, Adam Jones. I'm pretty sure Donovan McNabb might look Jones' way a couple of times.
Greg from Seattle makes his first appearance in The Bag: If DeSean Jackson continues to perform at a high level, is there any reason that Andy Reid would take him out of the starting lineup when Reggie Brown and company are healthy again?
Mosley: Some coaches have a policy that players shouldn't lose their jobs due to an injury. I don't think Reggie Brown's going to start against the Cowboys, and it won't surprise me if he's inactive. There might be a point where Brown starts ahead of Jackson, but the rookie will receive plenty of playing time. Let's try to have just a tad of perspective here. Jackson's been great in the preseason and against the Rams. Let's see him put up numbers over the course of several weeks before we get too excited. Kevin Curtis (when he's healthy) and Brown (same) will probably have the opportunity to start, but that doesn't mean anything with the way Donovan McNabb likes to spread the ball around.
Jonathan from Rockville, Md., writes: Do you ever write strictly about the Eagles in any of your posts? It seems like a lot of your posts have some Dallas angle, and all your other posts are about the Giants and Redskins.
Mosley: Jonathan, you'll be pleased to hear that ESPN.com has hired someone to monitor the number of Cowboys entries I publish each day. On the seventh mention of "Romo," alarms will go off in Bristol, and I'll be instructed to blog about the Eagles. We're still trying to iron out some of the details, but I wanted to tip you off.
Ryan from Germantown texts: If Donovan McNabb stays healthy this year, do you think that he will silence the media about this "being his last year in Philadelphia?"
Mosley: Ryan, you can't "silence" the Philly media. It's just not realistic. McNabb has to do more than stay healthy, although that's a good start. I think he needs to lead the Eagles back to the playoffs and win at least one game if he wants to keep "For Sale" signs out of his yard. Barring injury, he's poised to have a big season. But the "i" word will follow him the entire season. This is the first season he hasn't been coming back from some type of injury since 2004. It wouldn't surprise me if he comes out on Monday and has a huge game.
Burke from Frederick, Md., has an issue with my guys at Scouts Inc.: In the Scouts Inc. rundown of the game, only one thing really caught me off-guard: They say the Eagles hold the advantage over the Cowboys in terms of WRs. Is this true? It sounded a little absurd to me.
Mosley: With all due respect to the great work that my friends at Scouts Inc. do, I do disagree here. The dreaded DeSean Jackson-Hank Baskett combo was great against the Rams, but I think T.O. and Patrick Crayton win this matchup hands down. Perhaps the folks at Scouts Inc. felt like the Eagles had more depth at the position. When Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown return to the lineup, maybe that will be true, but that's not the case right now. I think the boys at Scouts Inc. also picked the Eagles' offensive line over the Cowboys'. In my mind, that's the most ... curious selection. The Cowboys had three Pro Bowlers on the line and right tackle Marc Colombo's pretty solid. The Eagles' best offensive lineman spent most of training camp dealing with clinical depression. I'm a Jon Runyan fan from way back, but he and Tra Thomas are getting a little long in the tooth.
Kerry from somewhere in the Lone Star state is compiling a list of University of Texas players in the pros: Mack Brown Era: The list continues to grow. Justin Blalock, Tarell Brown, Jamaal Charles, Tim Crowder, Leonard Davis, Derrick Dockery, Jermichael Finley, Cedric Griffin, Michael Griffin, Ahmard Hall, Casey Hampton, Tony Hills, Michael Huff, Quentin Jammer, Derrick Johnson, D.D. Lewis, Cullen Loeffler, Frank Okam, Cory Redding, Brian Robison, Shaun Rogers, Aaron Ross, Bo Scaife, Jonathan Scott, Lyle Sendlein, Chris Simms, Kasey Studdard, Limas Sweed, David Thomas, Nathan Vasher, Roy Williams, Rodrique Wright, Selvin Young. Why are you so hard on Ol' Mack?
Mosley: Any reason you left off Ricky, Cedric and Vince? I actually like Mack Brown personally. It's just that players in his program are pampered to the point that some of them have a really difficult time adjusting to life in the NFL. And it seems to be an issue with Mack's higher-profile players. Vince Young was one of the greatest college players I've ever seen, but he's not showing a lot of maturity (or accuracy) with the Titans. Ricky Williams has already blown (sorry) the prime of his career and Ced Benson has thrown away his opportunity. I don't just make this stuff up. There's a scout with an AFC West club that refuses to recommend any UT player because of some of the issues I just mentioned. And one of the Cowboys' top scouts has the same philosophy. That list you provided wasn't exactly a "Who's Who?" in the league. Davis has turned his career around in Dallas, Johnson's a good player in K.C. and Casey Hampton, Roy Williams and Selvin Young can all play for me. But the rest of those guys aren't that special. OK, maybe I'll give you Jammer, and my neighbor, Frank Okam, is destined for greatness.
Mark from Mechanicsburg, Pa., asks: Hey matt, love your blogs. I got a question for you: Do you think I should start McNabb in my fantasy league this week. Lets face it, I like the Cowboys' secondary agianst those second-tier wide recievers the Eagles call starters. What are your thoughts?
Mosley: Mark, it depends on who your other option is. If you have a backup quarterback (E. Manning) and a favorable matchup (Rams), go with that. But those Eagles receivers didn't look "second-tier" to me last week. Just stick with Donovan and see how it works out. Something tells me that Jackson will burn Adam Jones early in the game. Go ahead and pencil me in for that bold prediction.
Chad from Reading, Pa., wants to know: Matt, I seem to follow you and your blogs around. I discovered you on the Dallas Morning News Web site, then followed you to Hashmarks, and now here... anyway, let's hear your prediction for Monday night's game. Who do you have winning and what's the score?
Mosley: Chad, thanks for the kind words. We've been trying to pump up our numbers in Reading, so keep up the fine work. Cowboys 31, Eagles 27 in an absolute barnburner. You have two quarterbacks performing at a high level and they each have dangerous weapons. Also, keep your eye on Jackson during punt and kick returns. Adam Jones is still a bit rusty on punt returns, but Jackson looks really comfortable. Eagles cover! Eagles cover!
Lonny from an undisclosed location writes: Matt, normally I love your work, especially when you're on the radio... but, I have to tell you this article about the best fan base is silly. Did you even go to one stadium and talk to the fans? An article like that should be done by going to all stadiums and ranking them AFTER at least talking to a few fans. I realize that you have to come up with something to write about and your time is limited, but this type shot-gun approach rubbed me the wrong way. I am a Cowboys fan through and through... but to put the Chief fans ahead of the Raiders? Good grief!
Mosley: That "silly" story was based on the votes of several experts. I didn't vote on the Chiefs or the Raiders -- just the NFC East. But I do think the Chiefs have better fans than the Raiders. The Black Hole might be one of the scariest sections in sports, but in general, Chiefs fans are more loyal than Raiders fans. And the reason we did this was to spark a debate. Seems like it worked. Now, get back to focusing on my radio work.
Michael in the D.C. area writes: Regarding "Redskins review: A horror flick," Great piece -- thorough, fact-driven and probably something that Daniel Synder will cringe reading. How many games will the Redskins win this year?
Mosley: If you read this blog enough, you know that I'm a fan of Jim Zorn's. He's going to experience some growing pains, but his players have bought into what he's selling. I really think they have a good chance to beat the Saints on Sunday. Quite honestly, it's sort of shocking that they're favored. But Zorn will stay the course and the Redskins will wind up with eight wins. That's probably not what you wanted to hear, but it's a realistic answer.
Tim from Philly gets the last word: Matt, just wanted to say that I think you've done a phenomenal job with your blog throughout the preseason. It has jumped right to the front of my "must read" list when I need NFC East news, which of course is all the time. About the Lito Sheppard situation, I'm nervous that he's not savvy enough to help his own situation at all. Obviously the only thing he should do going forward is to play with a chip on his shoulder to increase his value, however, by allowing Rosenhaus to throw Sheldon Brown under the bus he has displayed that he doesn't really get it. Lito isn't anywhere near as disruptive as T.O., so what exactly does he think he's going to accomplish?
Mosley: Tim, we appreciate your visit today. I wouldn't worry too much about whether Sheppard's savvy enough to figure this thing out. He'll play well when he's healthy and then the Eagles can figure out what to do with him after the season. Actually, Drew Rosenhaus told me last Thursday that he thinks Sheppard will be traded some time in the next month. Sounds like wishful thinking to me, but thought I'd pass it along. What is Lito trying to accomplish? He wants to get paid. But he also realizes that he has no leverage right now. He needs to have a great season, and then maybe things will work out.
As usual, you guys have been amazing. I can't imagine that any of the
other blogs have 800 questions waiting in the mailbag. That's what makes the Beast special.