LANDOVER, Maryland — The Bears might have messed up.
Matt Nagy played his starters. He played to win Sunday against the Vikings and that’s exactly what happened. I’m sure a thank you card is already in the mail from Doug Pederson.
But the real result for the Bears is this: Instead of playing a Minnesota team they are clearly better than, they will be hosting the red-hot, reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field in the wild card round.
These Eagles are a dangerous football team.
“We ain’t sneaking in,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said to his teammates Sunday night. “We kicked the mother f------ door down. We in this party. Nobody wanted us in. But guess what, they gotta deal with us now.”
The Eagles have won five of their last six games. They have won their last three in impressive fashion. They beat two good playoff teams, division winners, in the Rams and Texans. And then they put together one of the most dominant performances in recent franchise history against the Redskins.
Sure, the Redskins stink right now. But a shutout is a shutout. And the Eagles didn’t just shut them out; they embarrassed them. They won 24-0 and gave up just 89 net yards.
Zach Ertz feels it:
We feel like we’re peaking at the right time. You always talk about peaking at the right time in the NFL. We won five out of six and we feel like we’re finally starting to click as a team. All three phases are playing well. All you can ask for is a chance and we got our seat at the table.
The Eagles have their swagger back. This doesn’t seem like the team that was crushed in New Orleans or the one that gave up leads to Tennessee and Carolina. This feels like the team that went on that magical run last year. This team is starting to feel special again.
Maybe it’s Nick Foles. Maybe it’s Darren Sproles. Maybe it’s that silly ski mask Rodney McLeod keeps toting around for the suddenly sticky-fingered defense. Maybe it’s as simple as the offensive and defensive lines continuing to dominate.
Whatever the cause, the swagger is palpable.
“Anytime you’re in the playoffs, you can make some noise,” Lane Johnson said. “That’s kind of where we’re at. Snuck in there and (let’s) make some noise.”
Predictably, the Eagles opened as 5 1/2-point underdogs. But really, there’s no position they’d rather be in. When we talk about swagger with this team, a lot of that is based around them doing things no one thinks they should be able to do. Johnson on Sunday night noted the Eagles were counted out a long time ago.
Now, they’re hot and heading to Chicago next week for a tough test, no doubt. But I really wonder if the Bears aren’t exactly thrilled they just drew the reigning champs who are starting to look an awful lot like the reigning champs.
The Eagles have a ton of playoff and big-game experience and they’re about to face a young quarterback going into his first playoff game.
“We didn’t care who was going to be — we’ve been through so much already this season, we’ve been battle-tested — it doesn’t matter who comes to Soldier Field, we’re ready to play them,” Bears left tackle Charles Leno said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “Just let us know what day it is. We’ll be there.”
Well, the day is Sunday. And the opponent is Philadelphia. I have a hunch that might matter.
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