Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Looking at the Eagles' bright side

Despite being dominated by Seattle, the Eagles can control their playoff destiny by beating Dallas again.

LeSean McCoy leads the offense on the field during pregame warm-ups. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
LeSean McCoy leads the offense on the field during pregame warm-ups. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

NO POINT being delusional, because the evidence speaks for itself. The Eagles likely would lose another encounter with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

Although they came in different fashion, the beat-downs delivered to the Birds by the Packers and Seahawks were convincing indicators of how much more talent and overall ability they have.

But when it is December and you're still in the playoff hunt, even if you are not among the elite few favored to win the Super Bowl, the point is that you still want to find out how you would fare.

Nothing can be gained from the Eagles' rolling over and putting their talons up now.

This isn't the Sixers, for whom deliberately trying to lose to get a higher draft pick has become accepted policy.

This isn't even the Flyers, for whom a shaky start has recently sparked the notion that perhaps they should think about tanking to make a run at "generational prospects" Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 draft.

It's December in the NFL and it is too late for the Eagles to shift focus to a higher draft-pick position. With nine victories, the Birds already are locked into a pick somewhere in the mid-20s.

Fortunately, the Eagles have the right mindset after having the boom lowered on them by Seattle's suffocating defense on Sunday, less than a month after the Packers light-speeded by them with a 33-point victory at Lambeau Field.

"Nothing's out of the picture," safety Malcolm Jenkins said after the Seattle loss. "We're not closing the door on anything."

Actually, things could not be more crystal clear for the Eagles. Their path to the playoffs is right in front of them.

If the Birds beat Dallas Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field and then win either at Washington or at the New York Giants in their final two games, they win the NFC East and will lock up no worse than the third playoff seed.

Of course, other scenarios could lead to the playoffs for the Eagles, but this is the one they have absolute control over - handle their business correctly over the next three game and they make the playoffs.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly always pushes the mantra that his team tries to focus on only what's immediately in front of it, but even the most tunnel-vision group knows what is going on around it and how it applies to its playoff chances.

"We don't talk about [the playoff race], but we're aware of it," Kelly said during his day-after news conference. "Everybody knows the more games you win, the better chance you have of playing in the postseason, and that's what this deal is all about - trying to qualify for the playoffs.

"But I don't think talking about it does anything for us. We're going to meet for a certain amount of time and for me to go over playoff scenarios means absolutely nothing if we don't beat Dallas. The bottom line is just playing well in our next game."

It's easier for Kelly and the Eagles to compartmentalize than it is for the fans. The thing Eagles fans most desperately want is a Super Bowl title. Philadelphia is tired of being the only team in the NFC East without a Vince Lombardi Trophy. So, when fans see the Eagles get taken apart by the reigning champion Seahawks while the beat-down delivered by Green Bay is still fresh in their minds, it is difficult to envision the Birds getting by one or both of those teams to advance to Super Bowl XLIX.

But if you're Kelly or one of his players, you don't look at a potential rematch with Green Bay or Seattle as a futile endeavor.

"We weren't the better team [on Sunday]," Kelly said. "Credit goes to the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe we get another shot at them somewhere down the road.

"[The players] understand that in this league anything can happen. I think they understand [the loss to Seattle] doesn't define them. You're going to have days when you're really successful. We've had days like that. You're going to have days it doesn't work out the way you want it to work out. You're not going to pack your bags after that, take your ball and go home. I don't think we have a group like that."

If you're searching for a reason to be upbeat about the Eagles' chances against Dallas despite how they looked against Seattle, look no further than the ability to bounce back they have shown under Kelly.

The Eagles haven't lost consecutive games since October 2013, when they lost back-to-back to the Giants and Cowboys.

"This team's got good resolve," Kelly said. "I expect them to be flying high when we get in here tomorrow, get ready to go. There's no better thing to get their attention than playing the Dallas Cowboys at home, in the Linc, in front of our crowd."