Nick Foles and the Eagles made a nationally televised statement by blowing out the Chicago Bears Sunday who had a chance to wrap up a division championship in advance of their showdown with the Cowboys in the season finale. (image courtesy of PhiladelphiaEagles.com)
Chip Kelly could have rested his starters against the Chicago Bears in advance of next Sunday's matchup with the Dallas Cowboys and few would have batted an eye.
To Kelly's credit, he stuck to his guns. Did it his way, played the starters and the result was a 54-11 shellacking of the Bears - who had the chance to close out the NFC North championship - that sent shock-waves across the NFL.
While the game still had meaning to the Eagles in terms of playing for a possible third-seed in the playoffs if they clinch the division next Sunday in Arlington, Texas, there was much more on the line for the Bears and they rolled over by halftime.
Meanwhile the Eagles rolled up 514 yards of total offense and the defense scored eight points of it's own on a safety and interception return for a touchdown.
"Very simply, we're from Philadelphia and we fight," Kelly said. "If there's a game on, we're playing. End of story. And all this stuff about backing in, not worrying, all these other things, I have no idea.
"So many scenarios. What if there's a tie when we go play Dallas next week and we gave a game away last week? If we're going to line up and kick off, tell us what time to show up and we'll be there."
And so, the stage is now set for a winner-take-all battle on Sunday Night Football that also is an opportunity for redemption for the quarterback who was dismal against the Cowboys the first time around and now is the most efficient quarterback in the National Football League.
Nick Foles was as close to perfect as one can get Sunday night against the Bears, going 21-25 for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with his first three incompletions being intentional throwaways. However, when the Eagles first met Dallas back on October 20th, Foles finished 11 for 20 for 80 yards and departed late in the third quarter with a concussion.
So, what will be different for Foles this time around?
“You can’t let one game defeat you,” Foles said when asked how he'll respond to his previous performance against Dallas. “If I know anything about myself, it’s that I am going to keep fighting. If I know anything about this team it’s that we are going to keep fighting.
“You learn from mistakes in games. You learn from games like that, and you move forward. The team kept together and we kept together as a team. The coaching staff did a great job. Everybody at the NovaCare Complex did a great job of keeping the beat of the team going.”
Not only has Foles consistently improved each week, but this Eagles team has now won six of it's last seven games and playing some of the best football in the league right now.
Against a Bears offense that mirrors what the Cowboys do in terms of weapons, Trent Cole, Bennie Logan and the Eagles front seven lived in the pocket against Jay Cutler and kept Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett under wraps.
“It’s gonna be the biggest show on Earth,” Cole said after sacking Jay Cutler three times, raising his team leading total to eight. “It's gonna be a circus like always.”
With the debacle in Minnesota an obvious outlier, Kelly has had his finger on the pulse of his team and understands what is at stake next week at AT&T Stadium.
“Playoffs just start a week early for both teams,” Kelly said. "If you win, you get an opportunity to keep playing. If you lose, you’re going home. That is really just the first week of the playoffs.”
Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.