So much for the Patriots testing the Eagles. Thanks to some brutal scheduling that has New England playing three games in a 10-day span, Bill Belichick decided he would rest a few starters tonight -- all of them, actually.
Of course, this comes as horrendous news for the Birds, who thanks to some similarly awful scheduling -- playing their Week 1 opponent four days from now -- intended to use tonight's game as their regular season primer. So, uh, now what?
For what it's worth, I don't think you can say this game becomes any less important for the Eagles, but it does change our expectations a bit. Rather than going head-to-head with a top-tier opponent, this should be more akin to a top-25 college football program hosting an FCS opponent to open the schedule.
In other words, what we should be looking for out of the Birds' starters tonight is execution on both sides of the ball, plain and simple. On offense, move the chains, put points on the scoreboard. On defense, wrap up the ball carrier and get back to the sidelines.
Does the lack of serious competition hurt them down the road? Probably not. What matters for the Eagles in any given week is to take care of whoever is standing in front of them. If they go out and wreck the Patriots, nobody is going to shower them with praise, but as the saying in the NFL goes, good teams beat bad teams.
Not to say it wouldn't have been nice if Belichick treated this game with even a modicum of consequence, if only for pure entertainment value. Then again, I'll probably feel much better about it if Andy has his guys run up the score as much as they can in the first half.