The fun of this Sunday cannot be understatated. For the players and coaches to have a few days off is invaluable. The Eagles are going to get back to business at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday with great energy and anticipation for December and the stretch run of the regular season. For people like you and me, today is one to turn on the televisions -- as many of them as I can find offering simultaneous football stimulation -- and watch as the playoff picture continues to develop.
There is some history here. Many Sundays in the past, when the Eagles were in the heat of the race late in the season, I would hustle to a sports bar and watch games and keep tabs on future opponents and basically geek out as you would expect.
These last couple of years, though, the urgency wasn't present. The Eagles weren't in the playoff picture. In 2011, the team needed four consecutive wins to reach 8-8, so December was about establishing some respectability rather than positioning for the playoffs. Last year, of course, December was a time for the Eagles to give some of their younger players a long look as the coaching staff worked hard to keep the team afloat and competitive.
Now, as the standings attest, the Eagles are back. They lead the NFC East with a 6-5 record and have three of their final five regular-season games at Lincoln Financial Field and they have a chance to make some noise down the stretch run.
So I'm amped. I'm excited to watch football today and follow what's going on and understand the implications as they relate to the Eagles. The playoffs start for me today.
What to watch? There isn't much in the 1 p.m. slate that appears interesting, although I think Tampa Bay will give Detroit some trouble and the Lions come to town in two weeks and I want to see how that team looks. I can always tune in on Thanksgiving, though. Detroit is the staple on Thursday and I can get my fill then.
Miami hosts Carolina, and the Panthers are coming off the big win over New England and playing on a short week, but I'm not certain the Dolphins have enough offense to beat anyone these days. Chicago plays at St. Louis, and a Rams win here would be a help for wild-card purposes and, yes, the Bears come to town in a few weeks so a loss knocks them down a peg.
Actually, maybe the most interesting game is San Diego at Kansas City. I want to see the Chargers pick things up, knowing that San Diego hosts the Giants on December 8.
At 4 p.m., the lineup is enticing. Dallas at the Giants is the main course on the menu (kickoff at 4:25 p.m., to be accurate), but Arizona hosts the Colts and the Cardinals are playing good football and have a chance to position themselves nicely with a win today.
What's the strategy for watching football today? Get my workout in early in the afternoon, take care of the have-to-do-list around the house and hustle out to a local Chickie's and Pete's right around 3:15 p.m. I can catch the fourth quarter of the early games then and settle in for the 4 p.m. festivities.
So, I'm into the playoff chase. It's a great, great feeling, one that nobody should take for granted. The good times are back, and we all need to embrace them and appreciate them and cherish them.
It's a day to watch football -- and do yard work and catch up with the bills and whatever else you want to do. Me, I'm trying to do it all. I'm caught up in the fun of the playoff race.
What was it that Buddy Ryan used to say? "You've gotta win when the snow flies ..." or something like that. The snow is flying. The Eagles are winning. It's a happy place for all of us.
And what waits is a genuine playoff race down the stretch. Happy days are here again ...