To watch, or not to watch?
It might not be the most pressing question facing the Eagles this weekend. In fact, it probably doesn't even make the Top Five. But with Monday night's game against the Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field serving as the grand finale for a Christmas weekend packed with playoff-implicated football games, the Eagles players will have a rare opportunity to follow along during a 48-hour drama that should play a significant role in shaping the path they will ultimately attempt to follow to the Super Bowl.
Whether they take advantage of that opportunity is another matter entirely. A cursory survey conducted in the Eagles locker room following Thursday afternoon's practice yielded an array of philosophies regarding the action that will lead up to their Christmas night kickoff.
On one side of the general divide were players such as Corey Graham and LeGarrette Blount, who answered demonstrably that, yes, of course they planned to watch Saturday's and Sunday's games
"I mean, I watch football all the way around," said Graham, the veteran backup safety. "I don't care if it's Thursday night, if it's the Sunday night game, Sunday games. I mean, we all play football, we watch football. I'm in a hotel half the time watching all the games. So, yeah, I'll definitely be paying attention to what's going on."
Equally as adamant, though, was another camp of players who said they rarely watch the NFL on television and do not plan on making an exception this weekend, despite an intriguing slate of games that could reveal some major clues about which team the Eagles will end up facing in the playoffs.
"On Saturday, I'll usually watch some college games," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "Other than that, all you do is football all the time, so when you have time alone, you kind of want to chill out a little bit."
The game with the most immediate impact on the Eagles' future will be Saturday night's matchup between the Packers and the Vikings. A loss by the 11-3 Vikings would give the Eagles home-field advantage throughout the playoffs before they take the field against the Raiders, although the Eagles are well aware of the implication of Green Bay's decision to place quarterback Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve after Sunday's playoff-eliminating loss to the Panthers.
"I mean, if it's on TV, I'll watch it," Graham said.
Not center Jason Kelce, though.
"Obviously, it's a huge game in terms of implications for us, so I'm definitely going to pay attention to see who won or lost it," Kelce said. "Probably won't watch it, though."
His rationale stems more from professional disinterest than a need or desire to minimize distractions.
"I get enough football during the week," he said, "so when I get home, I usually don't want to watch more football."
The players' schedule encourages such detachment. Like most NFL coaches, Doug Pederson structures the daily itinerary to minimize distractions, which includes sequestering the team in a hotel the day before a game. There, the schedule mimics a day at the office: team meals, meetings with offensive or defensive coordinators, meetings with position groups.
"I don't really watch football anyway," rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins said. "I might watch some tape of an opponent or something."
Blount said he planned on watching all of the action across the league on Saturday and Sunday, mostly to keep tabs on former teammates he has relationships with, from the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"I don't really pay attention to what other teams have to do to get to where they want to be — I just kind of stay focused on us and that aspect — but I definitely watch," said Blount, who won a Super Bowl with New England after stints with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. "I've got friends on several different teams, so I just try to make sure I stay locked in on what they have. I like to watch those guys play: Byron Marshall, obviously Le'Veon, A.B., Tom, James White, all those guys. I've got a lot of guys on different teams that I like to pay attention to. So, I'll watch — I just don't really care about their postseason."
It will be tough not to let the mind wander on Sunday, though, when the Saints face the Falcons and the Cowboys face the Seahawks in a couple of games that could play significant roles in shaping the NFC playoff field. A Falcons win, for instance, would clinch a playoff berth for Atlanta and send New Orleans into a near must-win Week 17 game in Tampa Bay. Blount, though, will be consuming his football through a more abstract lens.