Trap game? It's not even a thought for the Eagles as they prepare for Sunday's game at the Chicago Bears. There is just too much at stake, the Eagles say, and they don't ever think that way, they insist, for a "trap" game to happen.
"We just try to stay disciplined and have that 'hunger' attitude that we've had all season, since last year, really," running back Miles Sanders said. "Even though the year has gone the way it has gone, we haven't accomplished anything. Yeah, we made the playoffs, but there are two more things we need before the playoffs start (winning the NFC East and having the No. 1 seed in the NFC postseason). That's what we're trying to do, and we're just taking it one game at a time."
The Bears are a 3-10 team, but six of their defeats have been by eight points or fewer (one possession). The Eagles know that. They have all week studied a team that has been thisclose to playoff contention.
"They're not a team that you can sleep on by no means," Sanders said.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni emphasized those points in his Friday press conference, dismissing the notion of a "trap" game. Every team is capable in the NFL, he said. And, the way the Eagles run things on a daily basis, the focus is on that day and that week and nothing more.
"I don't really believe that," Sirianni said when asked if "trap" games are real, "because if your preparation is the same each and every week, it doesn't really matter. We all understand this, is that everybody in this league can play. Everybody in this league, if you're not on your game, can beat you. We know about this team that we're playing, whether their record is what it is, but they have been in every single game. I was watching the four-minute tape yesterday. We're gameplanning four minute. It was just game after game after game after game, like there is another one-score game. Because sometimes, when you watch it, sometimes you don't watch games until the end of the week; you watch cut-ups.
"So, when I'm watching these cut-ups you don't realize how close all these games have been. You see it on tape. You see, 'Hey, this is a good team.' They have players at every level. They have offense, they have defense, I know they're well coached, so they've been in every game. But as far as a trap game, that doesn't exist in the NFL. You have to be on your game every single week, or it doesn't matter. You can lay an egg if you're not on top of your stuff."
At 12-1, the Eagles have a two-game lead on Dallas and Minnesota (both 10-3) for the top record in the NFC. Only one team receives a bye week heading into the conference playoffs, so the Eagles are striving to clinch that No. 1 seed as soon as possible to get the bye week and, just as importantly, have the NFC playoffs come through Lincoln Financial Field.
To take a step closer to that goal, a win on Sunday is extremely important and that is a message that everyone on the team and within the walls of the NovaCare Complex understands completely.
"I think it starts with the entire organization, our captains, myself, our coaches, our leaders on this football team. We are solely focused on how we get better today. Again, it's control the things you can control, so I think that's just coming from all angles," Sirianni said. "Of course, I'm preaching it every day and I hear our players talking about it every day, so it's from all of us."