The Eagles' loss to the Vikings on Tuesday night in South Philadelphia eliminated any Week 17 drama surrounding the team's playoff seeding. As it stands, the Eagles have won the NFC East and will be the third seed in the NFC playoff bracket regardless of the outcome Sunday against the Cowboys.
So the question now becomes who will suit up and play in a relatively meaningless game Sunday afternoon, especially with the possibility of the Eagles hosting a playoff game on the following Saturday night. For those keeping track at home, that would be three games in 12 days.
"You have to look at what's at stake if you play them, injury-wise," head coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. "Some guys need the play time; some guys need the rest time. So I have to look at who those guys are, and what situations I put them in, and so on.
"But at the same time you want to win the game no matter who's playing."
If Reid does indeed decide to rest some of his starters, a prime candidate for that time off would be quarterback Michael Vick. Aside from the wear and tear that a starting NFL quarterback is destined to have this time of year, Vick suffered a quad contusion on the first play from scrimmage Tuesday night and was noticeably limping both during and after the game.
If Vick gets the week off, the Eagles have a more-than-capable quarterback to replace him. Kevin Kolb is 3-3 as a starter (with two NFC Player of the Week awards on his résumé), and he said Tuesday night that he's ready to take the reins of the offense if he's called upon to do so.
"If that's what (Reid) calls for, then I'll be ready," Kolb said. "That's part of my job and I'll look forward to the opportunity to try to get us in the playoffs in the best shape, and get back on track after this one."
While the argument to rest before the playoffs is a sound one, there are those who can see the positives in addressing some concerns before the scenario becomes "win or go home." Safety Quintin Mikell was displeased, to say the least, with the performance of his defense Tuesday night. If it were up to him, Mikell would rather play against the Cowboys in hopes of working out the kinks before the playoff run begins.
"I'm expecting to play," Mikell said postgame. "I think we all should be ready to play. You don't want to go into the postseason after a game like that. We need to go out there and be ready to play."
Ultimately, Reid will determine which starters, if any, will play Sunday against the Cowboys. But regardless of who sees the field, expect to find a refocused and reenergized Philadelphia Eagles team after a humbling loss Tuesday night.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 3:45 p.m., December 29