On Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans will ring in the New Year by playing for an 8-8 record. They won't be playing for a playoff spot. They won't be playing for a division championship. They won't be playing for a bye or home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
They will be playing for mediocrity. They will be playing for purgatory. They will be playing to make this season as a whole just one big tie. 8-8. That's not what this season was supposed to be.
Is anyone happy with that? Is anyone satisfied? It almost seems as if the Eagles themselves are. Were things so unbelievably bad at 4-8 that 8-8 seems successful now? Is a four-game winning streak that impressive when it ends with anything other than a Super Bowl?
Of those four wins, assuming they beat Washington, none will be against a team with a good quarterback. Matt Moore and J.P. Losman in Miami. Mark Sanchez with the Jets. Stephen McGee in Dallas and the venerable Rex Grossman this week.
Yes the defense looked better, but it is a unit that couldn't stop Tarvaris Jackson and proved little more than a small speed bump for Tom Brady.
Offensively, Michael Vick has been excellent for two weeks, but has he proven yet, in two seasons, that he can be either consistent or healthy for 16 games?
There were some bright spots late, but the sun has rarely shined on this team throughout the season. For some reason it seems as if this partly-sunny finish is good enough for the Eagles brass to validate a season which was a complete and total failure. But that is all it's been good for.
Is the Eagles late-season surge encouraging?
Some will say that this is only the fourth time in 13 seasons that the Eagles have missed the playoffs under Andy Reid. While that is impressive, it also happens to be the 13th time in 13 seasons that they failed to win a Super Bowl.
That is just not acceptable, at least to the people who love the team. It is clearly acceptable to the front office, who continue to support the same formula that never leads to the equation's solution.
They were all to happy to pat themselves on the back in the preseason, after all the flashy free agent signings, but they are eerily silent in accepting fault for their nightmare season's end.
So there you have it. New Year's Day. NFC East foe. A home game to decide nothing more than whether this season ends below .500 or merely at it. Is that really good enough? For the team in western Pennsylvania it wouldn't be, but for the one in Philadelphia, sadly it is.