The Eagles hold their playoff destiny in their own hands. If they beat the Cowboys Sunday night at 8:30, they will only need to win one more game, against the Redskins or Giants, to clinch the NFC East (due to their edge in tiebreakers).
If the Eagles fall in their home finale, they will need some help from the Cowboys as well as wins of their own to win the division, though a Wild Card spot will still be a possibility.
But that doesn’t matter to the Birds one bit. What matters is waiting at Lincoln Financial Field this weekend. And Chip Kelly is treating it like a regular game even though it’s really not.
“I don’t think one game is more significant than any other game,” the coach said. “If you didn’t prepare and win nine games to this point, this game would mean absolutely nothing. You just can’t wake up one day and say, ‘Hey this game is really important this week,’ and then that diminishes the game the next week.”
The Eagles’ defense struggled mightily last week against Seattle, but the No. 25 ranked Dallas passing defense should give the Birds more of a chance to spread their wings.
But the run-defense will have its hands full. DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s leading-rusher is coming off a season-best 179 yards vs. Chicago last week.
This after the Birds surrendered 188 rushing yards to Seattle last week.
Here are three other things to keep an eye on:
1. Much more McCoy
LeSean McCoy told reporters last Sunday after collecting just 50 yards on 17 carries and coughing up a costly fumble that he had played his worst game this year. Perhaps it’s good scheduling then, that he will play the Cowboys this Sunday, a team he’s gained over 100-yards four times against and whom he tore up in a Week 13, 33-10 win.
“I thought we blocked really well and I thought our offensive line had a really good game,” Kelly said, recalling McCoy’s 159 yards on Thanksgiving Day. “And I thought LeSean hit the holes really well. So it was a combination of both of those things.”
And in this game?
“It’s just about really going out and executing and which team can execute better and which team can block better and which team can tackle better,” he said.
2. Rested Romo
Battered Tony Romo looked like himself last week against Chicago, and the Eagles expect him to be mobile and to be a threat offensively alongside Murray.
“We’re preparing for speed option,” Kelly said. “A lot of quarterback power runs now that he has the extra days to go.”
Dallas, of course, played back-to-back Thursday games, starting with their Thanksgiving loss and continuing with their win vs the Bears.
“They are going to do what they do,” Kelly said.”But with any player, when you have a couple extra days of rest, that helps you. We’re preparing for Tony Romo at his best, and when Tony’s at his best, we have to be at our best.”
The Cowboys posted 41 points last week and Romo tossed three touchdown passes.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis is bracing for Romo.
“We’ll see a healthier Tony Romo,” Davis said. “We’ll see a healthier team, a team that’s got plenty of time to prepare for us, including a game with us under our belt but we also have that time.”
3. Strong regular season finale at the Linc
Prior to their letdown last week against the Seahawks, the Eagles were unbeaten at home.
A win Sunday would cap off a pretty impressive 7-1 run at Lincoln Financial Field. And the fact the Philly gets to play another night game makes it even more likely the Eagles will prevail, based on recent events.
Philadelphia has won its last five night games and six of seven during the Chip Kelly era.
It’s a big game, but the Eagles live for big games.