This is a no-brainer. There is no reason for the Eagles stars to play on Sunday against Dallas. None. They coughed up a potential playoff bye week with that listless performance against Minnesota on Tuesday night. Clearly they need the rest, and no one more so than quarterback Michael Vick.
Andy Reid should give it to them. Sit Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek, Winston Justice, Todd Herremans. Those guys have carried the load for the Eagles this season. They deserve a break.
Rest Asante Samuel, Juqua Parker, Brodrick Bunkley and Dimitri Patterson. They could use a break, too.
There is nothing to be gained by playing them. Make the Cowboys game your de facto bye week. Rest up. Get as healthy as possible. Save legs. Rekindle spirits.
Then be ready to go the following weekend when the Eagles host what is sure to be a dogged wild card game against either the Green Bay Packers or the New York Giants or, possibly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This is an easy choice, although Andy Reid would not say on Wednesday whether he had actually made it yet. Reid's history says he will rest his key players. He did it in 2001, when the Eagles had the No. 3 seed locked up and finished the regular season with Tampa Bay. At full strength the following week, they beat the Buccaneers in the playoffs, 31-9.
Reid rested his starters for the last two games of 2004 after they locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC with a 13-1 record. The Eagles lost the final two games, took a week off, ran over Minnesota and Atlanta and reached the Super Bowl.
The only other season Reid had a chance and a reason to rest his starters - in 2006 - he did. The starters played the first series of the season finale against Atlanta, and as soon as Detroit upset Dallas to give the Eagles the No. 3 seed, Reid pulled his regulars.
He will do it again on Sunday. Bank on it.
"Some guys need the playing time," Reid said. "Some guys need the rest time. I've got to look at who these guys are. . . . You want to win the game."
Sure, the Eagles would like to beat the Cowboys, but really, what does it matter?
There is nothing to gain against the Cowboys, not even momentum. That died when the Eagles lost to Minnesota.
Now it is time to regroup and reload, and that starts with rest - at least for the main offensive players and a few defensive veterans.
Look at Reid's injury report on Wednesday. Vick has a quad contusion, so he should definitely be out. Jackson has an injured foot. No chance. Both of those guys could use a blow, Vick so he can get his body right and Jackson so he can get his mind right.
The Eagles can not win a playoff game without those two playing at their best. If they play on Sunday and the Eagles' playoff game is the following Saturday, that would mean the Eagles would have to play three games in 12 days.
At this point, that could be a season killer.
On defense, rest a few guys, and otherwise try to come up with some scheme that will work. Experiment with blitz packages. Give Akeem Jordan and Jamar Chaney and Joselio Hanson some more reps. And please, don't trot out that seven defensive back set used against the Giants two weeks ago. That didn't work.
The NFL has implored teams to play their starters in Week 17. I get that, in some cases. It would be inherently unfair to the Giants if Chicago, which locked up the No. 2 seed thanks to the Eagles hiccup and will know by game time whether it has a shot at the No. 1 seed, rested its main players against Green Bay on Sunday. All the Packers need to get into the postseason is a win over the Bears. The Giants need a win over Washington and a Green Bay loss.
Of course the Giants would not be in this predicament if they hadn't blown a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead to the Eagles, so really, they get what they deserve.
But you can see Roger Goodell's point.
In the Eagles' case, however, there is nothing to play for. The Cowboys' season ended in October, and while they are playing for Jason Garrett's coaching future in Dallas, they also could gain a little satisfaction in ruining the Eagles' postseason for a second year in a row. Imagine DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge and concussing Vick.
It isn't worth the risk.
The decision is simple. Reid knows it, and will make it.
That means Kevin Kolb will end the regular season how he began it - as the starting quarterback.