This is why we're here, right? These are the kinds of days that matter. Meaningful December Football goes deep at so many levels, and today is about as robust a day of football watching and team-cheering that we've had in years.
Did I tell you that I loved Kirk Cousins?
A lot is buzzing about today, so let's get right to it and explain some of the scenarios that matter heading into tonight's festive -- and I know that because the fans start tailgating in the morning -- Football Night In America game between the Eagles and Chicago.
- Dallas plays at Washington at 1 p.m. This game means a lot to the Eagles, of course. A Dallas wins means that the Eagles game at Dallas next Sunday determines the NFC East title, no matter what happens in tonight's game against Chicago. A Washington win today means that an Eagles win tonight against Chicago clinches the division for Philadelphia.
Did I mention that London Fletcher is my favorite defensive player in the NFL (from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today)?
- The 4:25 p.m. game between Green Bay and Pittsburgh is important for the Bears, who are in a similar position as the Eagles. A Green Bay win at Pittsburgh moves the Packers to 8-6-1 with a game at Chicago next week and the NFC North on the line. Chicago, at 8-6, could clinch the NFC North tonight if Green Bay loses to Pittsburgh and Detroit (7-7) loses at 1 p.m. to the visiting New York Giants today. Would the Bears rest players tonight if Green Bay beats Pittsburgh today? It's a similar question the Eagles have been asked should Dallas defeat Washington at 1 p.m.
So you've got a full day of NFL football to watch and digest and consider leading into what should be an outstanding Sunday night game. Chicago and the Eagles are very alike: Offenses that score a lot of points and defenses that have had plenty of ups and downs this season.
The weather at Lincoln Financial Field is unseasonably warm, with highs at least in the 50s for kickoff. There is a chance of some showers, but the winds are not expected to be a factor and, all in all, the conditions should be outstanding for the game.
It comes down to execution and adjustments and all of the things we understand about the game of football tonight.
That's the main course on a day of delicacies. My expectation is that Dallas defeats the Redskins and that Chip Kelly still plays his starters and the Eagles try to win their ninth game of the season tonight. It's important to win games in late December against playoff-caliber teams. The Eagles need their entire focus to be on beating the Bears.
But there is a nagging thought that Washington can pull the upset and, thus, make for an off-the-charts electric environment at Lincoln Financial Field tonight. Cousins played well in his first start of the season last week in Atlanta. Washington can score a lot of points. Fletcher's announcement of his pending retirement will have the fans into the game against Washington's most hated rival. The players on that team all love and respect Fletcher and want to play well for him in what is likely to be his final home game.
So there's a chance. It's possible that Washington has one last gasp in its struggling season and rises up to beat the Cowboys and puts the Eagles within one victory of their first NFC East title since 2010.
I'll be watching. And I'll be rooting for the Redskins. And then I'll turn my attention to Green Bay and Pittsburgh and all the other games in the NFL on a day that is just about perfect for me. I have a chance to watch all of these games that mean so much to the Eagles before Philadelphia takes center stage tonight against a really good Bears team.
Are we having fun yet? This season has been blast so far, and there's a lot of football to be played. The Eagles are in the playoff hunt and this is a Sunday when we can all enjoy the ramifications together.