When you were younger, your parents probably sat you down at some point to discuss the “birds and the bees”. But did they ever teach you about “Da Birds and Da Bears?”
Probably not, because there is really not much to tell, save for the mid-1980’s when Buddy Ryan became the head coach of the Eagles after leaving his job as the defensive coordinator for the then Super Bowl champion Bears, and bickering with Chicago head coach Mike Ditka in the process, there is really not much history or bad blood between these two teams.
There was, of course, the infamous “Fog Bowl” playoff game back in 1988 in which a thick fog covered Soldier Field during the 2nd half of the game, which prevented the Eagles from mounting a comeback and advancing in the playoffs (speaking of fog, many parents I’ve talked to are sometimes in a “fog” as to how to approach the subject of the birds and the bees with their children, but I digress).
When the NFL schedule came out, most looked at this game just like any other in terms of the opponent. And that’s all it is, save for the fact that the 2017 edition of the Eagles is very, very good.
So this week we have birds, bears, no bees, but a plethora of turkeys, being Thanksgiving and all.
Last week, after crossing the Betsy Ross bridge and driving down Route 90, I happened to spot not one, not two, but FIVE turkeys at the side of the highway (no joke), with two of them sitting on the highway railing as if they were waiting for an Uber to pick them up. One can only assume that they were scrambling to get out of town before they became the main course at someone’s dinner table?
Then Thanksgiving came and while we now have three football games to watch if we desire on the holiday (which is probably not a bad idea just to distract us from having the “elephant in the room” conversation of whether you are pro-Trump or anti-Trump), only one of them was one I considered to be a marquee matchup going in (Vikings at Lions as the appetizer game).
Every time I think Minnesota is primed to lose, they keep winning. And not only winning, but doing so with Case Keenum, who has been a journeyman mostly shuttling back and forth between the Houston Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams until this season, when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings to be their backup.
An injury to starter Sam Bradford (surprise, surprise) opened the door for Keenum, who has not relinquished his starter spot even though Minnesota’s previous starter, Teddy Bridgewater, has been cleared to play and is waiting in the wings for Keenum to screw up.
Even on Thanksgiving, which is Detroit’s chance to “be seen” (since the Lions don’t get much national TV exposure), the Vikings stole the show and won 30-23, staying on the Eagles heels for that highly coveted #1 seed in the NFC.
Next up was the Cowboys – Chargers game, and while those of us in the Delaware Valley usually have a rooting interest in the Cowboys losing on Thanksgiving, this year I was perfectly content to shut off the television and discuss more interesting subjects such as 1) Why politicians don’t want to give us the ability to buy health insurance across state lines & 2) Using your airline miles to fly in business class to far flung destinations.
This season, the Eagles are playing the role of the “Road Runner” with the Cowboys playing the role of “Wile E. Coyote”. And while the head coyote (Jerry Jones) thinks he’s a “super genius”, his team has been left way back in the dust, even without the use of an “Acme anvil” like in the cartoons.
Then there was the Giants – Redskins contest as the nightcap, to which even most “New Yawka’s” were saying, “FUGETABOUTIT”! This game used to be a regular NFC East classic featuring the likes of Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor facing off against Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. Nowadays, the closest you’ll get to intrigue between these two teams is watching these two in a strange commercial where Taylor asks Theismann if he wants a turkey leg, to which Theismann replies, “I’m ok, thank you very much”.
For those who may be too young to remember, this was a bizarre exchange, to say the least, because it was Taylor who broke Theismann’s leg in a Monday night football game 32 years ago, ending his career.
As for the Eagles, they probably got to enjoy Thanksgiving like the rest of us, feasting on turkey on Thursday while also hoping to feast on bears on Sunday. Chicago, like the Eagles last season, come in with a rookie quarterback who was the 2nd overall pick in the NFL draft. And while Mitchell Trubisky holds a lot of promise for the future, he is learning the ropes of the NFL in a “trial by fire” method.
After this game, the Birds will enter one of the toughest stretches of their season – three straight road games which will take them to Seattle and Los Angeles before ending with the Giants in the swamp lands of North Jersey.
A win against a “not ready for primetime” team with a 3-7 record like the Bears is something that good teams like the Eagles should pull off rather easily. The Birds do so, knocking the stuffing out of the Bears in their last home game before Christmas night, winning 37-20.
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:
Vikings at Lions 12:30 PM FOX (Thurs)
Saints at Rams 4:25 PM CBS
Packers at Steelers 8:30 PM NBC