The Philadelphia Eagles could have taken a night off against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 22. The Eagles had their hearts broken that afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys narrowly survived the Washington Redskins, meaning Philadelphia had to play Dallas on Dec. 29 for the division title after all. As such, the Eagles could have rested up while the Bears played their hardest to clinch the NFC North -- yet none of that happened in Philadelphia's 54-11 victory.
Although the Eagles would have been safe with a loss, it would have given them a two-game losing streak going into a do-or-die game at Dallas. Regardless of the Cowboys' own problems, the Eagles couldn't afford to be cold before facing them in a virtual playoff. Then again, now Philadelphia has to worry about whether it was too hot against Chicago, and whether it has anything left for Dallas.
All the Eagles could do is show the Cowboys what they'd face if they can't stop them next week -- and the Bears helped prove what a nightmare it would be. Once Chicago gave up a touchdown on Philadelphia's opening drive, then saw Devin Hester turn the ball over on the subsequent kickoff, the rout was on from there. Before the Bears knew it, they were down by 21-0 and had to look ahead to their own divisional title game against the Green Bay Packers.
If the Eagles could destroy one team that was playing for a division championship, what can it do to the next one? With Nick Foles throwing for two touchdowns and only four incompletions, as well as LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown leading a rushing attack that had 289 yards, Philadelphia looked every bit like an NFC East champion.
Yet because the Eagles couldn't do this to the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 15, and because the Redskins couldn't manage a fourth-and-goal stop a week later, Philadelphia can still get knocked out altogether in Dallas. Considering how quickly the Eagles' fortunes changed from last week -- to say nothing of the Cowboys -- no outcome would be too unlikely or shocking next week.