If the Eagles were looking for an early Christmas gift from the NFL schedule makers, they got it in the form of the New York Giants.
The G-Men, in a game that meant nothing for them but everything for the Birds, got off to a 20-7 lead, while the Eagles played the first quarter as if they were nestled all snug in their beds, with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads.
At least they managed to wake up after one quarter of play and realize that there were still a lot of presents left to be delivered to their fans before Super Bowl morning on February 4th.
In fairness to the Birds, they were on the 3rd leg of a 3-game road trip. And after defeating a very good team in the Los Angeles Rams the week before, it was perhaps understandable that the team would not be at full throttle playing a New York team who’s season was effectively over somewhere in between Halloween & Thanksgiving Day.
But while the game ended up being a 34-29 Eagles victory which wasn’t decided till the waning minutes, it should hopefully serve as a wakeup call to the team that they can’t simply show up and expect to win.
If the Giants were not a 2-win team going in, the Eagles would have lost this game.
If the Giants were not a train wreck who had fired their coach a few weeks back, the Eagles would be looking up at the Minnesota Vikings for that coveted #1 conference seed instead of in the driver’s seat.
It’s hard to believe how much things have changed since these two teams first met back in Week #3.
The Giants were going in at 0-2, while the Birds stood at 1-1, having just come off a tough loss on the road against Kansas City after having defeated the Washington Redskins on the road in their opener.
That game not only resulted in an exciting, down to the wire finish, with rookie field goal kicker Jake Elliott kicking a 61-yard field goal with no time left to win the game, but it kick started the Eagles on a 10-game winning streak, which has put them in the enviable position to win the conference.
The Giants, meanwhile, will go into the offseason with a lot to fix, including the question of whether Eli Manning will continue to be their quarterback in the future. In addition, they will have to search for not only a new head coach, but a new general manager as well after Jerry Reese, who held the job since 2008, was also let go.
I actually spent last weekend in Tampa and got to watch the game with the “Tampadelphia” group, which gets together to watch the Birds at the Crowne Plaza bar in the Westshore area. Great atmosphere and great to watch the game with fellow Eagles fans. A different kind of “road” game of sorts for me last week.
The Eagles will now come back to the creature comforts of home for their final two regular season games, which will be against the Raiders on Christmas night, followed by the Cowboys on New Years Eve.
This game is difficult to predict, if only for the fact that who actually plays for the Eagles might hinge on the outcome of the Vikings – Packers game, which will take place this Saturday night.
A Packers win would give the Eagles the #1 conference seed, and render their final two regular season games moot. And since the Packers were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, they will be resting Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of the season and going with 2nd year quarterback Brett Hundley, which should help the Vikings chances.
If the Birds have clinched the conference before they set foot on the field Monday night, expect the starters to play a quarter to a half before they start playing with their newly opened Christmas gifts on the sideline.
But if the Birds need a win to clinch the conference themselves, they will be facing a Raiders team that, at 6-8, is quite a disappointment considering that they had a chance to be the #1 seed in the AFC last season before losing both their 1st & 2nd string quarterback in consecutive weeks.
Part of me would like to see the Eagles needing to win the game, as opposed to watching Nick Foles’ backup Nate Sudfeld (who ironically looks like Foles) coming in for mop-up duty.
Frankly, that’s the only time Eagles fans should want to see Sudfeld on the playing field. If Foles gets injured and he is forced to start, the Birds chances of making the Super Bowl would be severely hampered…unless Sudfeld can somehow turn into “Studfeld”.
Assuming the Birds need this game, they win easily, 34-17. And Santa watches from the North Pole with a glass of eggnog in his hand and forgives three idiot Eagles fans for throwing snowballs at him some forty years ago.
The Last Word:
R.I.P Dick Enberg. While everyone remembers the #1 CBS crew of Pat Summerall and John Madden, Enberg was always my favorite as the #1 NFL broadcaster for NBC from 1980 to 1997. Ironically, the first Super Bowl that Enberg called was the Eagles-Raiders Super Bowl in January of 1981.
More recently, Enberg served as the San Diego Padres play-by-play man from 2010-2016. I still remember watching so many classic NFL games that were made even better by his voice, and his signature line, “Oh My!”, will surely be missed.
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week:
Bills at Patriots 1:00 PM CBS
Falcons at Saints 1:00 PM FOX
Rams at Titans 1:00 PM FOX
Seahawks at Cowboys 4:25 PM FOX