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Climbing Overlook Mountain

According to head coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles don't look past any opponent.

Chip Kelly speaks to reporters before practice at the NovaCare Complex
Wednesday December 11, 2013. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)
Chip Kelly speaks to reporters before practice at the NovaCare Complex Wednesday December 11, 2013. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)Read more

WHEN YOU ARE the quarterback of the team with the longest active winning streak in the National Football League, Nick Foles said, it is different.

"The weeks go fast - the weeks really go fast when you're playing well as a team," he said. "Because everybody's having fun. Obviously, winning is a lot more fun than losing - you don't want to lose. But, if anything, I think the weeks just speed up. You get into a rhythm. You get into a battle rhythm - and it's exciting when everybody's on the same page.

"When you don't get complacent with it, when you really come to work every day and you know at the end of the day, when you leave this building [and think], 'Man, I feel like I got better today. I feel like we get better as a team today.' That's what it's about and that's why I love this game and that's why I love playing here."

All of which suggests that, if the 3-9-1 Minnesota Vikings were to pull the upset and beat the Eagles and end their five-game winning streak on Sunday, it will not be because they were looking past them. It will be because they got beat - on the road, in a dome, by another professional team.

For what it's worth, Eagles coach Chip Kelly says he has never had a team that overlooked an opponent. Not one.

Not one?

"Good question," Kelly said. "I don't think so."

It's always been an interesting question - the overlooking thing, the "trap game," all of that stuff. We have heard about it forever, and it becomes a handy explanation whenever an underdog beats a favorite - and, truth be told and 800 words to fill, a handy explanation is often a way to get through the day.

The Eagles are in an interesting spot here. The Vikings are the easiest opponent remaining on the schedule. The final two games after that, against Chicago and Dallas, will likely be against teams with the same kinds of playoff aspirations that the Eagles have. The last game is likely to mean everything.

First, though, come the Vikings and the questions about overlooking people. Does it happen? Or is it more narrative device than reality?

"I think it happens," Kelly said. "But, I mean, I've only been a head coach for a short time, too. I was 4 years at Oregon. This is my first season here, so . . . "

Fair enough. But this is a tricky spot, for Kelly and for all of them. He says there was no special letdown speech this week. Foles, too, suggested that it was business as usual.

"Chip's been great with that," Foles said. "Week to week, like I've said, when he speaks, it's been something powerful all the time. It's always with meaning - that's what he wants. And credit to the leaders on the team, guys like DeMeco [Ryans], guys we look to. As a quarterback, you have to be a leader, too.

"Every week, when we go to practice on Tuesday, we get after it. Everybody's going to be pretty sore and you're trying to move as fast as you can, but we're all going through it together and there's definitely been a team bonding to go through it."

And here they are. It's an odd feeling - with a young team and a new coach and you really don't have a sense that they will overlook anybody. Again, that does not mean they're going to win out or anything - because balls bounce funny, and people get hurt, and offenses don't always function well in the noise on the road. We have all seen it.

But you really sense that the Eagles will show up, that this will not be a trap game.

"I don't think we do anything to avoid it happening," Kelly said. "I think we have the same approach every week no matter who we play. We respect all, but we fear none. That's just a concept that we've always had.

"I think on any given Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday, whenever you have to play, there's another opponent out there on the field. Anytime you don't take them for what they are, then you're bound to be on the losing end of it."

The Eagles seem to have heard the message.