Now, the playoffs.
The Eagles are hard at work preparing, again, for the Seattle Seahawks, a team that is rebounding from the game-of-inches ending to its regular season. It wasn't pretty five weeks ago when Seattle came to Lincoln Financial Field and beat the Eagles, 17-9. Dominating defenses. Ugly offenses. A poor way to come off a tough loss the previous week to the Patriots.
But everything changes in the postseason.
The Eagles have the home-field advantage, and that could be significant for a team that announced on Monday the losses of Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks (dislocated shoulder, surgery forthcoming) and reserve defensive end and solid special teamer Daeshon Hall (torn ACL) to add to the obscenely lengthy list of injured players.
Doesn't matter. Head coach Doug Pederson has the hottest NFC team going heading into the playoffs – four straight wins! – and he has a locker room full of believers.
"I still feel good," Pederson said following his Monday press conference, when asked how he felt about this team. "I look back at where we've come and, you hate to say it, but injuries are a part of this football game. You hate to lose any player. Brandon has been a huge part of our success and to lose him is big for our offensive line, but Matt Pryor stepped in and played well yesterday and we're hopeful that (right tackle) Lane Johnson can come back this week and give us some valuable time, but it's always been the next-man-up mentality and I really feel like where we are as a football team, we can overcome just about anything.
"We were faced with adversity in New York and we were able to overcome it ... obviously, we have to put in the hard work and preparation again this week. We've got to study this opponent and clean up the mistakes we made from that game."
We'll know later in the week who will be available for Seattle. Pederson said during his press conference that running back Miles Sanders (ankle) will take treatment all week and has a chance to play. Same with cornerback Avonte Maddox, who left the game at New York with an undisclosed injury. Tight end Zach Ertz (back, ribs) will be "integrated" into practice later in the week and the Eagles will see how he looks. Maybe he has a chance to play.
Pederson's focus isn't on the injuries, it's on a team that has to play a much better game this time around against Seattle. The offense turned the ball over five times in the November 24 meeting, with Wentz throwing two interceptions and fumbling three times, losing the ball twice. The Eagles went into Miami a week later and lost – the game ended on a Wentz Hail Mary pass into the end zone that was intercepted – and the season looked dreary with the Eagles at 5-7.
But look what has happened since that time. The Eagles swept through the NFC East and Wentz has thrown seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
"Carson's just saying, 'Hey guys, I'm going to put you on my back. Follow me. We're going to get this thing done, no matter what,'" Pederson said.
The Eagles are still alive! We're at the start of the week, so the coaching staff is just now digging in and putting a game plan together. The players are getting their massages and their rehabilitation and squeezing the soreness from their bodies.
It's that time of the year again. For a third consecutive season, the Eagles are in the postseason. They join New England, Kansas City, and New Orleans as the only NFL teams to do the playoff dance in each of these past three seasons. It's quite an accomplishment.
But the Eagles aren't here to enjoy the moment, stamp their ticket, and go home. No matter who lines up and how many more practice squad players they have to call upon for Sunday, the Eagles intend to win. They're here to "get this thing done, no matter what."
"That's the exciting part," Pederson said. "I went around the locker room after we beat the Giants and, while everybody was pumped about beating them and clinching the NFC East, it was like, 'We're on to next week. We have more football to play, Coach.' That's exactly what I wanted to hear. We're not just satisfied being here. It's quite an accomplishment, given everything that has happened, that we won our last four games and won the division. But we still have a lot more football to play. That's our mindset."