The Eagles are back to work preparing for a Vikings team that has lost a lot of close games, including a heart-wrenching deal in Baltimore on Sunday. The Vikings may or may have running back Adrian Peterson (more on that below) and they haven't named a starting quarterback (more on that below, as well), but Minnesota is going to play hard, and the home crowd is going to be loud and, yeah, the Eagles need to have their focus and bring energy and purpose to the stadium.
I am certain that head coach Chip Kelly is sticking to his mantra of focusing on the day. What good is it holding a lead in the NFC East now if the team doesn't take care of its business on Sunday in Minnesota? This is a young team that has taken its cue from Kelly and the coaching staff as well as some established veteran leaders in the locker room, and leadership at this moment is critical.
No way can the Eagles look ahead. No way they can relax. There is still a lot of football to be played, starting Sunday in Minnesota ...
- Anyone who watched Dallas play on Monday night in Chicago had to be taken aback by the Cowboys on defense. Chicago could have easily gone past 500 total net yards. It was that easy for the Bears against a Dallas defense that generated no pass rush and had so many troubles covering in the secondary. Can the Cowboys rebound with that defense? They host Green Bay on Sunday, and we will find out on Wednesday if Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is given medical clearance to play the game.
- At the same time, take the Bears seriously. They visit Lincoln Financial Field on December 22 with an offensive attack that is robust. Matt Forte is a complete running back and the receiving corps is outstanding. Quarterback Josh McCown has filled in nicely for the injured Jay Cutler. I feel a whole lot better about things given the way the Eagles are playing defense these days, and having big cornerbacks like Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher helps against wide receivers like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
- Am I watching the scoreboard on game days? You better believe it! These are fun times ...
- Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson has an injured right foot and he has no structural damage. This much we know. Since the time of his MRI, on Monday, we've heard conflicting reports on Peterson's availability for Sunday. Will he play? The lastest, coming from an ESPN report, is that Peterson is not going to play against the Eagles, that the Vikings' athletic training department wants him to stabilize the foot in a walking boot all week. We will continue to stay on top of the situation throughout the days to come.
- Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has a decision to make at quarterback. Third-year man Christian Ponder has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion a couple of weeks ago. Does he start, or does Frazier stick with Matt Cassel? The Vikings drafted Ponder in the first round of the 2011 draft and he is supposed to be the quarterback of the future in Minnesota.
- Congratulations to center Jason Kelce for winning the 2013 Ed Block Courage Award, one that is extremely prestigious in the NFL community. This is the 35th year for the Award, presented to one player on every team, voted on by the players. Here is the overview of the Ed Block Courage Award, from the Foundation's website ...
"The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and ending the cycle of abuse. The purpose is to raise Awareness and Prevention of child abuse. That objective is coupled with the Foundation's commitment to celebrating players of inspiration in the NFL.
"Each year, the Ed Block Courage Awards honors those National Football League players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. This award is unique in that the recipients are selected solely by a vote of their teammates. Every fall all thirty two teams conduct a vote which results in each team selecting their Ed Block Courage Award recipient for the year."
Big matchup for left tackle Jason Peters on Sunday, working against defensive end Jared Allen. Although Allen's sack totals are down (seven on the season), by his standards, he is capable of taking over games and causing a turnover that can change a game. Allen remains a force. Peters has really come on after not quite looking like himself early in the season. He's playing at a very high level.
Dallas changed its defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 with a new coordinator, Monte Kiffin. The Eagles went from a 4-3 to a 3-4 with a new coordinator, Bill Davis. Look at the defenses right now and you gain an even greater appreciation for the job Davis and his coaches, along with a lot of hard work from players, have done. Much has been accomplished on the defensive side of the ball in terms of making sure everyone is on the same page with the scheme, communications and technique. Plus, the Eagles have really developed that defensive line group, which helps everything.