‘We want Dallas! We want Dallas!’

‘We want Dallas! We want Dallas!’

The Chicago Bears had everything to play for with a division title on the line. The Philadelphia Eagles had the bare minimum to gain—improved seeding in the playoffs, if they get in. Guess which team showed up?

The Eagles blew the doors off the visiting Bears 54-11 at Lincoln Financial Field in front of a national TV audience. Nick Foles was flawless. LeSean McCoy paced the running game to 289 yards. The defense and special teams shut down numerous Pro Bowl players. It was a complete effort in every phase, and the outcome was never in question.

Long before the final gun sounded, 70,000 Birds fans echoed the message the home team had just sent: bring on the Dallas Cowboys.

Throughout the second half, an energized South Philly crowd could be heard chanting, “We want Dallas,” as the Eagles continued pouring it on, using the Bears like a punching bag with a blue star on it. The Eagles head to Cowboys Stadium for their long-awaited Week 17 clash to decide the NFC East championship, just as it had been foretold way back at the beginning of September.

Frankly, the Cowboys should be scared after what they saw. Dallas is ranked dead last in total defense, 30th versus the pass, 27th against the run and 25th in points allowed. They barely knocked off the 3-12 Washington franchise earlier on Sunday, otherwise Philadelphia would’ve clinched the division with their decisive victory.

[Chip Kelly Video: "We're from Philadelphia and we fight."]

Nick Foles hit on 21 of 25 attempts (84.0%) for 230 yards (9.2 AVG) and two touchdowns, good for a 131.7 passer rating. Three of his four incompletions were throwaways, and the two sacks he took only lost five yards.

LeSean McCoy likely solidified himself as the NFL’s leading rusher for the year. He racked up 133 yards on 18 carries (7.4 AVG) with two touchdowns, and added six receptions for 29 yards. Bryce Brown also went over the 100-yard mark thanks to a 65-yard scamper for six, and Chris Polk punched one in as well to give all three backs scores.

[GIF: Shady McCoy's Madden-like spin move]

Brent Celek and Riley Cooper caught touchdown passes from Foles.

Meanwhile, the Birds’ defense recovered in a big way after allowing the Minnesota Vikings to post 48 points a week ago. Philadelphia was able to get tremendous pressure on Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler from the jump. Outside linebacker Trent Cole recorded three sacks, giving him eight in the last seven games, while Mychal Kendricks added two from his spot on the interior.

That helped the secondary immensely against perhaps the best wide receiving tandem in football. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were held to a combined 10 receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown, as Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher’s physical style of coverage really worked well against those big targets.

Brandon Boykin capped off the secondary’s big day with a 54-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter to finally end Cutler’s night.

Of course, some of the Bears issues were self-inflicted. For one thing, Matt Forte only got nine carries for 29 yards, in part because Chicago was trailing almost immediately. A back of Forte’s caliber still needs the ball more, although the run defense really came to play. Cedric Thornton tackled Forte for a safety in the third quarter and made a handful of big plays in the backfield.

Chicago’s special teams didn’t do them any favors, either. Adam Podlesh shanked a punt and Devin Hester fumbled a kick return—stripped by Fletcher, recovered by Williams filling on an injury-plagued kick coverage unit—to setup the Birds with great field position on their first two scoring drives.

Regardless, the Bears didn’t appear to have any answers for the Eagles this week. The question is will the Cowboys have better luck?

It’s worth pointing out Dallas did shut down the Philly’s bid for first place once before this season. It was the worst day of Foles’ career, as he struggled to complete 37 percent of his passes in a baffling performance, then exited with a concussion. Matt Barkley threw three interceptions in relief, as the Birds were held out of the end zone in the 17-3 loss.

Times have changed though. Foles still has occasional bouts of inconsistency, but by and large has developed into a steady leader for the offense.

With the win, the Eagles improved to 9-6, guaranteeing a winning season in Chip Kelly’s first year on the sidelines. The fun is just getting started though. It’s December, Week 17, and we want Dallas.

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Ben Simmons is on track to return to the Sixers in January, Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. 

Previous reports indicated that Simmons, who suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in the Sixers' final training camp scrimmage on Sept. 30, would be out three months. Friday's news jives with that, but this is the first time the Sixers have given a timetable.

"It's not doom and gloom," Brown said. "Ben is coming back in January. We are still trying to find information on Jerryd (Bayless). Jahlil (Okafor) is still trying to touch the court in his first preseason game."

With long-term ramifications in mind, there had been some speculation that Simmons' camp wanted him to sit all season. 

This is rather encouraging news and it means the Sixers may avoid watching another of their top picks miss his entire first year.

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

USA Today Images

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

Playoff soccer is returning to Chester for the first time in five years, and while fans prep for the Union’s first postseason games since 2011, there is no shortage of seating options for Union tickets on the primary market.

Perhaps most importantly, fans won’t have to break the bank to be on hand as the Union compete for their first MLS Cup in franchise history. Union field level seats are available for both the team’s final home regular season game against the New York Red Bulls and the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 30 should they advance past the knockout round.

The team’s official website lists feet-on-the-pitch seating starting from $155 per ticket for this weekend’s game against the Red Bulls. The first-place Red Bulls head to Talen Energy Stadium with a first-round bye secured, but Union head coach Jim Curtin expects them to bring the pressure with them on Sunday. Fans can look on up close – and for relatively cheap - as the Union look to hand the Eastern Conference leaders their final loss of the regular season.

The Union will take on either New York City FC or Toronto FC in the knockout round either next Wednesday or Thursday. Pending a victory on the road, they’ll return to Talen Energy Stadium to host an Eastern Conference Semifinal game on October 30. Field level seating is still widely available for the team’s first home playoff game since 2011 and start from $178 per ticket.

2016 marks the franchise’s second MLS Cup Playoffs berth in its seven-year existence. They clinched a first-round bye in 2011 but fell to the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 aggregate in the Conference Semifinals. The Union bring a much different vibe into the playoffs this season, however, after a formidable stretch from September on nearly drowned their postseason hopes. The team won its last game on August 27 against Sporting Kansas City, losing four games and drawing in two others since. 

Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is a sense of renewment that will carry them into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Records are cast aside and the slate is wiped clean, beginning a new path on the long and often tumultuous road to a national championship.