How much of an advantage is the 10-day leadup between games afforded to the Eagles ahead of their clash with the Cowboys this Sunday night There's no way to quantify just how much of an edge it is, of course, but there's no question that Andy Reid and crew are happy with the "mini-bye."
Consider first that Reid is a perfect 12-0 after a regular bye week, when he and the coaching staff have extra time to prepare for the opponent. Prior to last week's Thursday night victory over the Houston Texans, Reid's Eagles had played two other Thursday night games – both wins (2008, 2001). Both times, the Eagles won the post-Thursday night game, including a 2008 win in New York that halted a seven-game Giants win streak.
So Reid's qualifications with extra time off are flawless. How about the performance of the rest of the league this season with extra rest? Prior to the Eagles' win over the Texans, there were six Thursday night games in 2010. The participants in those games are a combined 8-4 in their subsequent games, though two of the losses came in games contested this past weekend in which both teams were working with the extended layoff. Five of the six teams who won their Thursday night games went on to win their next game, with the lone loss coming on the Jets' 45-3 loss on Monday night to a Patriots team that enjoyed the same 11-day preparation time.
It should also be noted that the Eagles' Week 12 loss in Chicago came to a Bears team that had their own mini-bye.
Since 2008, when Thursday night games became a larger part of the NFL schedule, the record for teams afforded the "mini-bye" (including the follow-up to last year's Friday night contest between the Chargers and Titans) is 32-20, a winning percentage of 61.5 percent.
Of course, that slight advantage is no reason for the Eagles to get comfortable. But when combined with the extra healing time for banged-up Eagles like Asante Samuel (knee), Juqua Parker (hip flexor), Michael Vick (quad) and Winston Justice (knee), things seem to be tilting in the Eagles' favor. Reid, by the way, said he expects Samuel, Parker and Vick to practice when the team gets back on the practice field Wednesday.
So what does it all mean? Not much necessarily, but it's food for thought, especially with the work Reid has done in his Eagles' career when given extra time. In advance of such a pivotal game against a red-hot Cowboys team, the Eagles won't apologize for any advantage they're granted.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:!2 p.m., December 7