You wouldn’t know it from looking at the final score, but the Philadelphia Eagles supposedly had nothing to play for on Sunday night. The Chicago Bears, on the other hand, theoretically could have clinched a postseason berth with a win at Lincoln Financial Field.
Theoretically, because in reality, the Bears never had a chance.
The Eagles jumped all over Chicago the moment both teams walked through the tunnel, and they never let off the gas pedal until the offense went into the victory formation, kneeling away an obscene 54-11 win.
There was actually some debate as to whether the Birds should have even played their starters to begin with. Regardless of the outcome, Philadelphia would have to defeat the Cowboys at Dallas in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs. All that was gained by beating the Bears is the Eagles are guaranteed the third seed—if they get into the tournament.
Was that really worth the possibility of losing key players to injury?
As always, Chip Kelly has his own ideas. Rest? Try tune-up. When pressed about his starters’ playing time leading up to the tilt, the first-year head coach was adamant his squad would compete no matter what the stakes were.
Why? As Kelly explained at his postgame news conference, because that’s what football teams are supposed to do. Via CSNPhilly.com’s John Gonzalez:
'Very simply,' Kelly said, 'we’re from Philadelphia, and we fight.'
He continued: 'If there’s a game on, we’re playing. End of story. All this stuff about backing in, not worrying about things, all these other things, I have no idea. So many different scenarios. Could have been a tie. What if there’s a tie and we go play Dallas next week and then we gave a game away last week? If we’re going to line up and kick off, you tell us what time to show up and we’ll be there.'
In other words, just go play the games that are on the schedule and let things like postseason berths and seeding work themselves out. The Eagles escaped the game unscathed and helped themselves however marginally in the process.
Most of all, though, Chip got his team ready for the playoffs by treating this as a chance to compete, learn and improve—and since do-or-die contests start a week early for the Eagles this year, that can’t be a bad thing. That and more in this week’s Takeaways.