Yes, the Dallas Cowboys outlasted the Redskins today, and Week 17 will decide the NFC East title and whether or not the Eagles will go to the playoffs this season.
No, tonight’s game against the Bears on Sunday Night Football is not completely unimportant anymore. It still has a lot of value for Eagles fans.
Tonight’s game will be key in determining who gets the NFC’s 3rd seed. If Chicago wins, they will be in the driver’s seed for that spot and it will take both an Eagles win and Chicago loss for the Birds to regain it. If the Eagles win this week, however, all they need to do is win next week (which is a given, seeing as it also decides division title).
Why is that important, you ask?
First, it would mean, in all likelihood, facing the struggling Saints rather than the streaking 49ers. New Orleans has lost three straight games on the road; if the Eagles are the No. 3 seed, they would face New Orleans in Philadelphia. Given the Saints’ struggles on the road and the woes New Orleans’ offensive line has been having, that is a very winnable game.
The Niners, on the other hand, have won four straight (will likely be six by the time the playoffs roll around) and are definitely a better team all around than the Eagles. So there’s that.
Then, you have to look at 2nd round implications. If the Eagles are the No. 4 seed, and they were to get past the 49ers, they would have to face the NFC-leading Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. Since QB Russell Wilson entered the league, the Hawks have never lost at CenturyLink Field. They are 14-0. That is a game that the Eagles would have an extremely tough time winning; not only do the Seahawks boast the league’s best secondary and an incredible home-field advantage, but the Eagles will be hard pressed to stop their balanced offense featuring a mobile QB, one of the league’s toughest backs, and a plethora of solid wideouts.
If they can secure the No. 3 seed, however, they get to play Carolina in Raleigh. The Panthers are by no means a bad team, don’t get me wrong; in fact, their front seven is one of the league’s best and the Eagles will have to deal with dual-threat QB Cam Newton, who has emerged as one of the NFL’s elite young QBs. But it is a much more winnable game. Carolina doesn’t have the balance and depth on offense that the Seahawks have, and I feel much more comfortable throwing the ball against their secondary than Seattle’s.
Tonight’s game against Chicago is by no means vital. But don’t think that it is unimportant. When you look big picture, it means a lot to the Philadelphia Eagles.