One game remains. Or maybe more. We're only hours away from the Eagles kicking off (4:25 p.m., FOX, SportsRadio 94WIP, PhiladelphiaEagles.com) at FedEx Field knowing they have to win at Washington and knowing they need some help (in the form of Chicago defeating Minnesota) to reach the postseason. This is a weird feeling. Let's turn it into a positive one, shall we?
Head coach Doug Pederson answered 18 questions at his Friday morning press conference at the NovaCare Complex, and not one of them was directly related to Sunday's game. Oh, there were the usual questions about the injury status of several players, but nothing specifically about Washington. Instead, there were questions about the up-and-down nature of the season and about his methods to ease the players into the work week this late in the season and things like that. It felt more like an end-of-season question-and-answer session than one two days before such a hugely important football game.
Make no mistake, the Eagles are focused on Washington. They know the challenges the Redskins present – a defensive front seven that is disruptive and that has, frankly, dominated the Eagles in the not-too-distant past, a go-for-broke mentality from a 7-8 team, and the natural NFC East rule that says nothing ever goes as planned in the division. The players and coaches aren't talking about playoff scenarios and what-could-have-beens this season, like everyone else out there is doing. The Eagles are an 8-7 team that needs to get to 9-7 to reach the postseason. Simple as that.
If anything, the buzz at the NovaCare Complex is overwhelmingly positive. Good things are going to happen this weekend. The Eagles have the mojo going, and that's the way the team is approaching business. Have a great week of preparation. Know that Washington has absolutely nothing to lose on Sunday, making the Redskins that much more dangerous. And then go into FedEx Field – I'm thanking you in advance, Eagles fans, for a home-field feeling on Sunday – and play a great football game.
"We're going there to win a football game," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We know what it means. We have to win. That's all we know."
After that? Well, go Bears. Chicago has a chance to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs with a win and a 49ers win over the Rams, so the Bears are playing for something valuable. A No. 2 seed earns a bye week. That's huge, as the Eagles found out last season.
Beyond that? It's not time to talk about 2019 and the decisions the Eagles have to make in the offseason. The Eagles are going to finish their walkthrough on Saturday at the NovaCare Complex and take the fleet of buses to 30th Street Station for the train ride into Maryland and then, ultimately, another fleet of buses to the team hotel. Sunday can't get here quickly enough.
Take a look at the best Instagram posts from Eagles players this past week.
What we do know for certain is that Sunday's game is the last of this 2018 calendar year, the greatest in the history of the franchise. One year ago at this time, we were wondering how the Eagles would fare as the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs with an offense still adjusting to Nick Foles at quarterback. Could the Eagles get things straight in time for a deep run in the postseason? What unfolded was magical in every sense. The optimism and the energy from an entire world of Eagles fans came together for two playoff games and an extraordinary environment at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles defeated Atlanta and then destroyed Minnesota. Off to the Super Bowl!
In Minneapolis, Eagles fans jammed the downtown, snow-covered streets and then packed U.S. Bank Stadium and urged the Eagles to the historic victory over New England. And then the celebration was on, and on, and on. Philadelphia has never been so deliriously and collectively delighted.
Now we're at the end of the year. 2018 has been one for the ages and it's going to end on a happy note. The storybook ending of the 2017 season is now carried over to the finale of the 2018 regular season and the Eagles are perched to make another postseason trip. Instead of agonizing over it or feeling even a little bit negative, think the way you thought as the Eagles marched through the playoffs last season and how they stood toe-to-toe with New England to defeat the mighty Patriots.
Every positive vibration helps. Let's make Sunday something special, a winning springboard into the greatness of 2019 and beyond.