Why Winning Tonight vs. Bears is Still Important for Eagles
The Eagles are finally playing meaningful December football at the Linc.
That describes not only this team's playoff positioning, but the direction of the franchise.
Philadelphia's legitimacy is still a question as the team sits at 8-6 on the season. The Eagles need a win Sunday against Chicago to clinch a winning record for the first time since 2010 and move one step closer to the NFC East and possibly the third seed for the NFC playoffs. There is a matter of legacy, though, and that goes to more than just the question of whether the Eagles will win this city's first Super Bowl, but to how Chip Kelly's first NFL season and this team will be remembered.
There's a chance this could be one of the league's truly great offenses not just this year, but in the history of this organization. A unit that gets mentioned along with the 2003 team and many of the other great teams in the early 2000's.
They're not there. At least not yet, but the Eagles have scored 24 or more points in 10 of 14 games this season, they have scored 30 or more seven times this season.
Now, Philadelphia top rated rush offense (152 ypg) faces a Bears team that gives up the most yards in the league on-the-ground (152 ypg) - something special could happen for the Eagles tonight. LeSean McCoy is 170 yards from breaking the single-season record for yeards in a season, while DeSean Jackson needs 135 yards to break Mike Quick's single-season mark.
The biggest question for Philadelphia's offense on Sunday will be whether Chip Kelly will elect to run the ball against a Chicago team that has allowed the most rushing yards in the league - the Eagles ran the ball just eight times last week vs. Minnesota. For Philadelphia's defense, however, the question is just how will the turn it around after giving up 48 points last week vs. the Vikings.
"We just talked about playing Chicago and preparing well enough to beat them," said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
The Eagles have scored 364 points, good for ninth in the league. This is after scoring just 280 points all of last season, fourth lowest in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Eagles defense, which gave up 444 points a season ago, has been a big part of the teams turn-around, giving up 349 points with two games left in the season.
And as well as Philadelphia has played, they have exceeded most fans expectations, don't try and tell Kelly that.
"I don't look at it from the standpoint of what the expectations were before, what the expectations are," Kelly explained. "We prepare each week to win a football game. That's our job and that's what we do."
That's the reason that it's so hard to imagine Philadelphia sitting it's starters tonight and losing not just against Chicago but at home with seeding on-the-line tonight. Furthermore, if the Eagles win their next two games, they will win the NFC East in Kelly's first NFL season, earn the third-seed and avoid having to go to Seattle until a potential NFC title game.
That reality changes the stakes this weekend. Not only are the Eagles facing an Chicago team that has won two-in-a-row, but a win for Chicago, gives them the upper-hand in the NFC North and puts them in position for the third seed in the NFC.
While this is not a "must-win" game for the Eagles, they'll have to beat Dallas in their regular-season finale next week no-matter-what to make the playoffs, but it is a game that can earn this team respect, a better seed, momentum and start a legacy for Kelly.
So the Eagles enter this game, not being able to win the NFC East, thanks to Dallas' win over Washington earlier today. However, this game is about making a statement about just where this organization stands after missing the playoffs the past two seasons, and firing Andy Reid.
"If we lose to anybody, it's a huge disappointment to me," Kelly acknowledged. 'That is the way I've always approached it. I don't look at it as if we were to win one game and lose another, well, that game won and got us in. If we don't win every game we prepare to play, I'm disappointed."
That's why I think Kelly understands why winning tonight is important for this organization.