Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly absolutely should play the starters this week and do everything they can to beat Chicago, regardless of what happens with Dallas.
The thought arose this past week that if Dallas wins this week, the Eagles should rest their starters against the Bears because the game becomes irrelevent as far as the Eagles’ playoff chances are concerned.
While that is technically true, I don’t agree with it. Here’s why…
I’d much rather the Eagles be the third seed over the fourth seed in the playoffs. It’s not a huge difference, but it could end up making all the difference on a potential path to the Super Bowl.
As the third seed, they would have a better chance of hosting the NFC Championship Game as compared to the fourth seed. It also gives us another thing to root for in the divisional round of the playoffs…
As the third seed, we could automatically root for the winner of the fourth vs. fifth seed game to win their divisional game in hopes to bring the NFCCG back to Philly. As the fourth seed, the only team that we could possibly play host to in the conference final would be the sixth seed…and they could be gone after the wild card round.
Here’s another way to look at it…
What if Carolina ends up winning the NFC South? They would be the second seed and would play host to the third seed if the third seed wins. I’d much rather play there in the divisional round versus going to New Orleans.
If the Eagles were the fourth seed, and the third seed wins in the divisional round, then we’d have to go to Seattle. Hell, I’d rather go to New Orleans than Seattle.
Another thing to consider is the whole “integrity of the game” aspect. There’s a small chance this game won’t mean anything for Chicago either, but odds are it will.
If it doesn’t mean anything for Philly but it impacts the outcome of NFC North division, the right thing to do is to play to win. Imagine if you were the Lions or Packers (or one of their fans) and needed the Bears to lose, but instead saw the Eagles playing their backups giving Chicago the easy win.
We’re all fans of this sport and no team should be given an easy victory when something important is at stake.
Actually, if the game ends up not meaning anything to Chicago and they pull their starters, that’s even better. Take the easy win to ensure the third seed!
If anything, this team needs all the practice it can get anyway. It’s not as if they’re some sort of well-oiled machine that can afford to take time off and then be able to jump right back into fifth gear.
You can’t play the game and worry about injuries. Shit happens. If the game ends up being meaningless for the Eagles and someone gets hurt and misses the Dallas game, Chip Kelly will surely take some heat.
But not from me. Playing the starters and trying to win no matter what is not only the right thing to do, it could also pay dividends in the form of home field advantage in the conference title game as well as a better slate of playoff opponents.
As Herm Edwards said, “you play to win the game!”