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Turns Out, Eagles Never Had To Worry About Chicago's Effort

The Eagles entered the final week of the regular season with a lot of stress. They knew they had to take care of business in Washington but also needed the Vikings to lose to the Bears in order to qualify for the postseason.

Chicago was motivated to play for a win. If the Bears knocked off Minnesota on the road and the Rams lost to the 49ers, they would grab the No. 2 seed and a bye week in the playoffs.

Instead, the 49ers were blown out right from the start and Philadelphia fans feared the Bears would pull their starters with nothing to play for and maybe even trepidation of playing a red-hot Eagles team.

As it turned out, the Eagles had nothing to worry about.

In a conference call with Philadelphia media on Wednesday, Bears head coach Matt Nagy told reporters that they were always playing to win against the Vikings. Even when the Rams took a lofty lead, Nagy stayed the course.

"It's so easy to coach when you coach to win," Nagy said. "And when you start getting into all these other variables, then your guys aren't going to play because there's reservations in how they're doing it and we weren't going to do that.

"So, that's the approach we took and so in the fourth quarter was probably when it was the most difficult as far as decision-making goes because there is that balance of, you have a 14-point lead, there's seven minutes to go, our defense has done a great job all game of shutting them down on offense. ... I like how we handled it and it wasn't just one person, it was everybody, and I think it prepared me for if I ever get in that situation again."

That mentality helped the Eagles into the playoffs and everyone was appreciative. Nagy, who coached in Philadelphia and grew up in nearby Lancaster County, received messages offering thanks immediately.

"My phone was blowing up after our win in Minnesota," Nagy said. "It's all in good fun. I know how passionate Eagles fans are. It will be a fun day, we will all compete our tails off."

The tables have turned now, and the Bears are the Eagles' playoff opponent instead of their best friend. With the win, the Bears finished the regular season at 12-4 and have won nine of their last 10 games. If nothing else, beating Minnesota allowed Chicago to stay hot at an important time of the season.

This will be the first playoff game for much of the Bears' roster as well as Nagy is his role as rookie head coach. Without an ability to rely on experience to build confidence, momentum down the stretch can inspire some.

"It helps out as a coach just because your guys, you're winning and that's what you want to do," Nagy said. "Everyone always talks about how you want to hit your peak at the end of the season and that's obviously what Philadelphia's doing. Doug's (Pederson) done a great job at keeping those guys going and done an amazing job at getting those guys in, so you definitely want to be doing that and not be on any type of losing streak and backdoor yourself in.

"I think both of us are in good spots right now, both teams feeling confident, and it will be a good game."

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