A game on Thursday allowed for an orgy of football watching on Sunday, and some big games said a lot about the league and the NFC playoff picture. Some random thoughts with the sole focus now on Seattle next week ...
- The top of the NFC playoff picture, with four games to play in the regular season, is all kinds of jumbled. Arizona, Green Bay and the Eagles are all 9-3. The Eagles have lost to both teams. Head coach Chip Kelly and the coaching staff and all of the players care only about Seattle, but everyone else is thinking beyond. Arizona's schedule is a killer: home with Kansas City, at a playing-well Rams team, home against Seattle and at San Francisco. Green Bay hosts Atlanta, plays at Buffalo and at Tampa Bay and then hosts Detroit to finish the season. You look at those schedules on paper and say that Arizona has a brutal final four games and Green Bay has a pretty easy slate and .... the Eagles? One game ata a time, but you know the schedule: Home with Seattle and Dallas and at Washington and New York. Gonna be a fun, fun December.
- The New England-Green Bay game lived up to the hype and showcased two teams playing extremely good football. What you see from the elite teams -- as the Eagles are -- is a defense that gets key stops and an offense that wins in a variety of ways. And the quarterback play is beyond essential, as is strong play at the line of scrimmage. No turnovers. Minimal penalties. Excellent tackling. Great decision making by the quarterbacks. Really good play calling and use of personnel by the coaches. It's hard not to love watching when the best teams in the league play.
- A peek around the NFC East on this Sunday: Colt McCoy plays well on the road, but Washington loses to Indianapolis as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws 5 touchdown passes and 370 yards on only 27 attempts. The Giants, meanwhile, somehow lost at Jacksonville and continued a rough season. Observers expected the NFC East to really struggle this year, with the exception of the Eagles. Certainly, both Washington (3-9) and New York (3-9) have been on the downward spiral the last five games (New York, 0-5; Washington 1-4) and the Eagles and Cowboys have played good football. In the big picture, there are a lot of questions in New York and Washington. Huge questions. Potentially franchise-changing answers will be coming.
- As a general rule of thumb, I'm saying now, it would take an awful lot for me, as an Armchair General Manager, to use a first-round draft pick on a running back. Denver's C.J. Anderson is playing fabulous football after his career as a rotation-running back at California, and he wasn't drafted in 2013. All of a sudden, he's a stud. It really seems it's easier to find good (Baltimore's Justin Forsett, for example) running backs in the mid to late rounds, or even after the draft. The great running backs? Where were LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch drafted?
- How huge will special teams be going down the stretch? Could change a playoff seeding. The good news is that the Eagles have been great on special teams all season. *FootballOutsiders.com *ranks the Eagles first (as of November 25) on overall special teams, ahead of Baltimore and New England. It's been a total team thing and you have seen how every player has bought in. Smart acquisitions like Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, Nolan Carroll II and, no question, Darren Sproles helped the picture, and trading for placekicker Cody Parkey have lifted the Eagles to the top of the special teams list in the NFL. Seattle, by the way, is ranked 20th.
- What does defensive coordinator Bill Davis do to combat the mobility of Seattle quarterback Russell Wiilson on Sunday? It's going to be one of the keys to this game, which is going to be a great one. Seattle pounds the league's best running game with Lynch (956 yards) and Wilson (679 yards) along with Robert Turbin (179 yards). Wilson runs when he has to and he runs when the situation presents itself. He's thrown just 15 touchdown passes, bu9t he has only 5 interceptions. Wilson defines efficiency and a will to win. The chess match within the game is going to be terrific.
- Have you ever looked forward to a matchup more than the one coming on Sunday: This Eagles offense, with its tempo and versatlity, against Seattle's crunching, extremely effective defense featuring speed up front and a great secondary led by cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas. Finding openings in that secondary is not easy at all.