Andy Reid let it be known Wednesday that Michael Vick will start Monday night in New Orleans.

The fact that Reid needed three days after Sunday's devastating loss to the Falcons to announce his quarterbacking decision tells us it was not an easy, automatic one. Reid won't speak about his thought process until Thursday, when practice resumes, but it's likely he came to the same conclusion many observers reached this week: the Eagles' best chance to save their season and make the playoffs remains with getting Vick back in the flow. The 2-5 Saints have the league's 32nd-ranked defense. Unlike the Birds' last three opponents, they are not coming off their bye week.

If Vick regains some swagger in New Orleans, the Eagles are 4-4 at midseason and everything looks better. If Vick can't beat the Saints, then the playoffs are a distant dream, and Reid might as well go with rookie Nick Foles the next Sunday, at home against the Cowboys. As Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann has mentioned, the only hope Reid has then of keeping his job is some sort of promising finish under Foles that would allow Reid to create a narrative of hope for the future. Though it's very hard to see Jeffrey Lurie buying that. Even harder to picture Lurie trying to SELL that, after last year's tortured postseaon Lurie performance, in which the owner said the only reason not to fire Reid right then was because he thought the team was on the right road to turn things around this year.

Vick's reaction to all this will be interesting. It sure seems he has one game to prove he is more than the turnover-prone mediocrity he has been this season. Does he rise to that challenge with patience and precision behind an unsettled offensive line, or does he try to do too much Monday, and throw the season away in a series of desperate gambles?

A week from now, we'll know if there is any hope for the 2012 Eagles.