KANSAS CITY - Entering Scott Hanson’s witching hour on Sunday, it looked as if the Philadelphia Eagles might get a little bit of help from an unlikely source elsewhere.
The Chicago Bears were playing about the best they have all season and had their NFC North rivals on the ropes before the clock struck 12 and the one-time Monsters of the Midway turned back into their current lot in life as a league dormant, shrinking in the final moments and surrendering a 12-point lead over the final 3:09 to the Detroit Lions.
The Lions improved to 8-2 and stayed on the Eagles’ heels in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC on the eve of 8-1 Philadelphia going into an actual Lions’ den in the form of Arrowhead Stadium against the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
White there is still plenty of football left to be played and the right injury at the wrong time can take down any perceived contender, you don’t need to be Nostradamus to predict the NFC’s final four and the other two heavyweights – San Francisco and Dallas (both 7-3) – took care of business as well against lesser competition on Sunday.
That means the Eagles, who have had or been tied for the NFL's best regular-season record every week since the start of the 2022 season, have to keep the winning ways going virtually unabated through a ringer of a schedule over the next five weeks: at Kansas City, Buffalo, San Francisco, at Dallas and at Seattle.
Many fans can’t understand why the Eagles played off the Super Bowl rematch of the Chiefs as just another game and not a WWE-like grudge match to be settled in a steel cage.
A number of players expressed the same sentiment about the Chiefs not handing over any rings this week.
“The sentiment of they're not giving us their ring back if we beat them this week. That’s more of like-- we're not going up there to win the Super Bowl,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “We're going to play a good football team in a hostile environment and looking to get better this week to put ourselves in position to go 1-0 this week.”
Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay doubled down by noting there is no rivalry to what is an interconference affair.
“It’s not a rivalry game. People think it’s a rivalry game,” Slay said. “It’s more like a new introduction to each other. So we’re gonna go out and play ball on Monday night and have fun doing it.”
For the Eagles, the Super Bowl rematch is meaningful, just not in the way most think it is,
“This game is a regular season game, but every regular season game we play means a lot to us,” Sirianni said. “We got to go up there with our best foot forward to play against a really good team."
The secret to Sirianni's success is treating everyone the same.
“... it's just that whole mentality of like make sure you're getting yourself up for every game and doing the right things every single game because they're all important," he said. "And this one is the most important because it's the next one.”