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Will the Eagles rest players if the Cowboys beat the Redskins
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly sees Week 16 as a chance not to rest starters but to get back on track before the Week 17 showdown with the Cowboys. (USA Today Images)
The Eagles are in an interesting situation. Not that it makes any difference to Chip Kelly
The Eagles are 8-6. The Cowboys are 7-7. The Cowboys play Washington on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles play the Bears on Sunday evening. If Dallas loses to Washington and the Eagles beat the Bears, then the Eagles are NFC East champions. But if Dallas beats Washington, regardless of what happens in the Chicago game later that evening, the Eagles would still need to beat the Cowboys in Dallas in the last game of the season in order to win the division and reach the playoffs.
The question, then, was whether the Eagles might rest their starters against the Bears if the Cowboys win and make the Chicago game moot. Earlier this week, Kelly said he wouldn’t consider it.
“We’ve got to play,” Kelly said. “We’re not in a situation where we’ve got to rest anybody. We’ve got to play and get back on the winning track. We’ve got to be ready to play winning football. I think our philosophy has been it’s on the line every time you play. It’s not really what goes on outside of there. It’s we need to get better as a football team. Everybody needs to play."
There’s merit to Kelly’s thinking. It’s not as though the Eagles have dominated the NFC and the NFL. They haven’t locked up the division. They’re not playing for home-field advantage and a playoff bye. Those are the traditional scenarios that have prompted teams in the past to consider resting their starters as the regular season funnels toward the playoffs. The Eagles are in a much different situation.
“We’re not there,” Nate Allen said. “You never know what can happen. We have to play these two games like they’re everything.
A week ago the Eagles were on a five-game winning streak. Then they traveled to Minnesota, where they played the Vikings, who had just three wins at the time and were without their best player in Adrian Peterson. If the Eagles were beginning to think of themselves as a top-tier NFC team impervious to bad losses against bad teams, they were divested of that notion in Minnesota (as Cary Williams so eloquently noted).
“You can’t worry about what the Cowboys are doing,” Trent Cole said. “We’ve got to worry about us. That’s one thing I believe in. You can’t worry about what other people are doing. You have to take care of your own business … as a team we have to go out here and win games. We have to win out. Regardless of what they do this week or next, we have to go out and win this game against the Chicago Bears and then go down to Dallas and win against Dallas.”
Similar sentiments were expressed all around the Eagles locker room on Wednesday. Yes they all want to play. No they aren’t worried about what the Cowboys may or may not do on Sunday. But when they were asked if they’ll be apprised of what happens in the Dallas game, Mychal Kendricks, Allen and others said they’ll certainly know the score before they take the field for their outing against Chicago.
“[We’ll] know the score,” Kelly said. “We have phones and televisions and all that other stuff. But am I going to be glued to the set? No. I mean, it is what it is. Whatever happens in that game doesn’t affect us. We still have to go out and play the Chicago Bears. I don’t think we’re going to have a victory party and say, ‘Oh, we have to get to the stadium and play right now.’ We have to play.”