Sit back Eagles fans, because today figures to be a good one. With the Eagles set to play their sixth primetime game of the season, you've got the rest of the afternoon to watch closely as two games of significant importance are on tap, consecutively.
New York Jets at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
With the playoffs firmly in hand, the Eagles have set their sights on a first-round bye. By virtue of the Eagles' Week 12 loss in Soldier Field, the Bears hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with both teams currently at 10-4. In order to grab the No. 2 seed and the coveted week off, the Eagles must make up a game on the Bears between now and the end of the season. Here's their first chance, with a Jets team headed to Chicago looking to make their own late-season march to the playoffs. The Bears have already clinched the NFC North, but they certainly figure to be focused on the task at hand.
Jay Cutler has cut down on the turnovers of late and the Bears defense has become one of the best in the league. For the Jets, Mark Sanchez was a question mark during the week, but he figures to suit up Sunday afternoon, though the (lack of) strength in his shoulder could mean an increased focus on the running game. At 10-5, the Jets can clinch a wildcard berth with a win. If that is indeed the result, the Eagles will know by gametime that they control their own destiny for a first-round bye.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, 4:16 p.m.
Another game of huge relevance for the Eagles. With their magic number at one for the NFC East crown, a Giants loss will give the Eagles their first division title since 2006. Despite their one-game lead over the Packers for the No. 6 seed at the moment, the Giants will be slight underdogs playing in Lambeau Field. However, the last time the Giants traveled for a winter game at Green Bay was the 2007 NFC Championship game, which they won, setting up their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots
The ramifications of this game are pretty clear. A Giants win would eliminate the Packers and all but ensure the Giants place in the post-season tournament. A Packers win would put Green Bay in the driver's seat for the last playoff spot, with a home game against the rival Chicago Bears on tap next week. Aaron Rodgers returns to the field for the Packers, which should give the home team a boost after their two-game losing streak. For the Eagles, the rooting interest is clearly for the Packers, so not only will they have the division wrapped up by gametime tonight, but after last week's game, it's probably best to avoid a third game with the Giants.
The other game of interest to the Eagles comes tomorrow night when the New Orleans Saints travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons. Both teams are possible opponents for the Eagles in the playoffs, so it's an opportunity for an advance scouting report. For Sunday though, it's a tripleheader of great, meaningful December football. Jets-Bears to start it off, Giants-Packers in the middle, and then the dessert, Eagles-Vikings to top it off.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:20 a.m., December 26