This is a one-game-at-a-time league, a one-game-at-a-time team, but I can't help but consider the big picture of the small window of opportunity here is fascinating. The task is to beat Minnesota and beat Dallas. That is all the Eagles can control. What happens with the rest of the playoff picture happens. We know the Eagles are in the postseason. We know the Eagles have an extremely unique week in front of them.
It is possible, as the reports suggest, that the Eagles will face a pair of young quarterbacks. Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre hasn't passed concussion tests and is extremely doubtful to play on Tuesday for the Vikings. Favre, according to reports, doesn't have another concussion test planned until later in the week, and so while it is absurd to ever label him as "out" until you actually see him out, it seems that rookie Joe Webb will line up for Minnesota at Lincoln Financial Field.
Webb is a big, strong, extremely active kid who is going to make plays with his legs. He is tough to bring down in the pocket. He is fast. He doesn't have much experience at all, and the Eagles are going to try to take advantage of that. It would seem likely that Minnesota will order up a game plan of easy throws for Webb -- slants, hitch routes, go routes, screens -- to keep the defense honest. Hey, with Adrian Peterson apparently healthy and ready to go, any defense has to cognizant of the running game and might very well be apt to crowd the box.
On Sunday, when Dallas comes to town, Stephen McGee is a possible starter with veteran Jon Kitna hurting. McGee threw 17 passes and completed 11 in relief of Kitna on Saturday night in the loss to Arizona, the only game in which he has played in his two seasons since the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.
Webb and McGee to end a regular season? Is anything predictable about this NFL?
When the schedule was announced, the thinking among many was that the Eagles had better load up on wins in the first half of the season, because the second half of the schedule was filled with land mines. Well, the Eagles have won 6 of their last 7 games and have clinched the NFC East title, and after that 2-2 open to the season the Eagles have gone 8-2.
The Eagles knew when it was time to turn it up and play their best football. They certainly can't let down now, not with the possibility of a No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Instead of Favre and Tony Romo, Pro Bowl-caliber players, quarterbacks who we expected to see when the schedule was announced, the Eagles are in line to see Webb and McGee. Now, both youngsters have a lot of talent, and both pose serious threats to the defense. But the fact is that they don't have the experience of playing against a variable defense that the Eagles present.
This is going to be a bang-bang week. The Eagles don't have the luxury of even the hint of a letdown. They have two games in five days and they have two games they need to win.
The Pro Bowl teams are announced on Tuesday night, adding to an incredibly busy time for the Eagles. My guesses as to which players make it: left tackle Jason Peters, running back LeSean McCoy, quarterback Michael Vick, defensive end Trent Cole, cornerback Asante Samuel and placekicker David Akers. DeSean Jackson? I'm not sure he has the numbers to sway voters. Ditto Jeremy Maclin. Both are certainly players of that caliber. I think guys like fullback Owen Schmitt, defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, safety Quintin Mikell and offensive guard Todd Herremans deserve strong consideration.
- Lincoln Financial Field looked great on Monday and the conditions will be outstanding for Tuesday night's game. The good news is that the sun shined on Monday and is expected to shine on Tuesday. The field was re-sodded after the Army-Navy game, so there are no concerns about the playing surface. The Eagles spent all day Monday cleaning out the stadium, the seating area and the parking lots for a wonderful fan experience on Tuesday.
- Both the Eagles and the Vikings held a walkthrough practice at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, at separate times of course, as the players try to stay sharp for Tuesday's game. As is the usual prior to a game, the teams spend the night in hotels through the night and into Tuesday afternoon.
- Great test on Tuesday night for rookie middle linebacker Jamar Chaney. He played well in his first game as a starter against the Giants, but seeing Peterson is another challenge altogether. Peterson is more powerful and has more moves than any back in the league, so Chaney has to be aggressive and disciplined and he has to tackle very well. It will take a group effort to slow Peterson.
- The matchup to watch on offense is Peters at left tackle against Minnesota right end Jared Allen. Peters has been outstanding this season, especially after his knee surgery. Allen is a high-energy speed rusher who has power, so Peters has to be at his best. In a matter of five days, Peters has Allen and then DeMarcus Ware. Tough duty ahead.