Chip Kelly has stated unequivocally that he does not intend to bench key Philadelphia Eagles starters against the Chicago Bears this Sunday night. An 8-6 team discussing resting their starters in Week 16 is odd, but in this particular case, the idea has some merit.
Philadelphia is up on the Dallas Cowboys by one game in the NFC East, and the Eagles and Cowboys play in Week 17. This Sunday, Dallas travels to play the Washington Redskins at 1 PM EST, and then Philadelphia squares off against Chicago at 8:30 PM EST. Even if the Cowboys defeat the Redskins (Dallas is a 5.5 point favorite), the Week 17 showdown between the Eagles and Cowboys will be the game that ultimately determines the NFC East.
Kelly got ahead of this issue during his Monday press conference by telling reporters that he intends to play his starters regardless of the Cowboys-Redskins game outcome. His goal is to get the team back on a winning track after an embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week.
The Eagles would be wise to keep their foot on the accelerator through the season’s conclusion for reasons that go beyond simply maintaining momentum. An extra win could vault the Eagles from either the No. 4 or No. 6 seed into the No. 3 seed, assuming they win the NFC East. This could mean the difference between traveling to the New Orleans Superdome for a playoff game or hosting it in the friendly confines of “The Linc” – a tremendous advantage.